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Archetypes: Who Are You?by Caroline Myss
Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to certain people, ideas, or products and turned off by others? Are you constantly searching for something you can’t put your finger on, or wondering whether you are living a life that truly fits? In Archetypes: Who Are You?, New York Times best-selling author Caroline Myss delves into the world of archetypes,
Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to certain people, ideas, or products and turned off by others? Are you constantly searching for something you can’t put your finger on, or wondering whether you are living a life that truly fits? In Archetypes: Who Are You?, New York Times best-selling author Caroline Myss delves into the world of archetypes, which have been the subject of her work for more than 25 years. Archetypes are universal patterns of behavior that, once discovered, help you better understand yourself and your place in the world. In short, knowing your archetypes can transform your life. Within the pages of this book, Myss writes about ten primary feminine archetypes that have emerged in today’s society: the Caregiver, the Artist/Creative, the Fashionista, the Intellectual, the Rebel, the Queen/Executive, the Advocate, the Visionary, the Athlete, and the Spiritual Seeker. In each chapter, she explains one individual archetype, showing how it has evolved and then in fascinating detail lays out the unique characteristics, the defining graces, the life challenges, and other information to help you understand if you are part of this archetype family and if so, how you can fully tap into its power. She also offers tips and practical advice on how to fully engage with your archetypes. Learning which archetypes best describe you is just the beginning. You can then use this knowledge to make more conscious decisions about everything from careers to relationships, avoiding common pitfalls of your personality type while playing up your strengths. The result is a happier, more authentic you. It’s never too late to change your life by embracing your archetypes to the fullest. So are you a Rebel? An Artist? A Visionary? Join us . . . and find yourself.
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Verdict Read Joseph Campbell, Carol Pearson, Carl Jung, or your favorite fairy tales and/or myths and be inspired by the magnitude of the archetype’s true form. This book is an unnecessary purchase. Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH
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Read an Excerpt
Who Are You?
By Caroline Myss
HAY HOUSE, INC.Copyright © 2013 Archetypes Publishing LLC
All rights reserved.
Archetypes: The New Inner-net
If I said to you, "See that man over there? He's my Hero," or "That woman is the Perfect Mom," I know without a doubt that you would understand exactly what I was communicating to you about two people you had never met. With just three words—Hero and Perfect Mom—I would have awakened in you two complete archives of myths and symbols that you automatically associate with those terms. In seconds, these two people would cease to be strangers, as your psyche wrapped them in stories, fairy tales, and your own memories. The man would instantly take on the appearance of a super-strong Hero able to face any adversary. Despite knowing nothing else about him, you would instantly trust him. After all, Heroes don't betray the women they're sent to rescue—at least not in the fairy tales we know and love, right?
The Hero would be a Lone Ranger type: solitary, intense, a one-woman man who would sweep you off your feet. (How could he be a real Hero if he were messing around with other women?) Every woman wants a Hero of her own. From ancient Greek warriors like Hercules, Odysseus, and Achilles to legendary figures like Robin Hood and Braveheart to real-life Heroes like the Navy SEALs who risked their lives to take down Osama bin Laden, they enthrall us with their exploits. And now we've added Heroines to the paragons of heroism we admire, with contemporary eco-warriors like Karen Silkwood and Erin Brockovich. Their strength is moral courage.
Heroes and Heroines are the most popular movie figures of our day. Make a movie about Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, or Wonder Woman, and it will be the #1 draw on opening week. Why? It's simple: We not only love our Heroes and Heroines, we need them. A society without Heroes is a defeated society. They are our power icons, symbolizing to the world that we are invincible as a nation.
You, too, have at least one Hero. If not, you long for one. You may not be in the market for your own personal comic-book figure come to life, but the idea of having someone to rely on who gallops in to save the day—psychologically, if not literally—is right up there on most people's list of necessities for a happy and secure life. We all share this need for Heroes in some way because it is built into our emotional DNA. What we call human nature is also our archetypal nature. Certain qualities and characteristics are inherently human: caring for others, protection of the young, loyalty, the ability to love, the need to safeguard home and family. And all these innately human qualities are represented by archetypes, by these universal, impersonal patterns of influence that reside in the collective unconscious—in the psyche of the species, as it were, that we share with every other human being.
Consider the archetype of the Perfect Mom. You don't need to meet the woman I'm speaking about to flesh out an idea of her in your imagination. The words Perfect Mom pack a powerful punch, especially in our society, where we have commercially enhanced this archetype beyond its already deeply rooted sentimental meaning. The instant someone tells you that a woman is a Perfect Mom, you immediately picture a great cook with a charming, well-ordered home, who helps her kids with their homework, attends all their sporting events, listens to their problems, hosts sleepovers with their friends—and bakes brownies. Even if the words Perfect Mom bring up painful associations with a not-so-perfect upbringing, you still have the projection of the ideal Mother figure firmly planted in your psyche.
So how do those words—Hero and Perfect Mom—communicate so much visual, emotional, intellectual, and mythic information to us? They carry the power they do because they are archetypes, psychic power patterns in the unconscious mind. Although archetypes are collective symbols that everyone in the culture shares, they can also speak to us individually, as personal archetypal patterns that are the foundation of our beliefs, drives, motivations, and actions, organizing and energizing all our relationships in life. Archetypes are the power images we identify with as children. The Athlete or the Artist or the Actor or the Princess or even, sad to say, the Victim or the Vampire represents a complex of stories and myths that we somehow imagine happening in our own life. We are drawn to movies, books, and video games with characters that represent our power images. Little girls dress up as Princesses and Wonder Woman, little boys as Batman and Warriors. Archetypal identification begins early.
As we grow up, we continue to pattern our lives around these images, unconsciously living our archetypes. I think of archetypes as our energy companions. From birth, we are living out the archetypal patterns that are active in our psyche. As human beings we love patterns—they bring order to our lives. We are continually scanning our world for patterns, particularly in people, because we know intuitively that if we understand someone's behavior patterns we understand how she relates to herself, to her life, and to us. We understand a person better, for instance, if we know that she is essentially an Intellectual; that explains, for example, why she loves foreign films and biographies of great historic figures. We appreciate our friends for understanding that because we have the Athlete archetype, working out each day is vital to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Exercising is more than a hobby; it's part of who we are at our core.
You may not be conscious of it, but you have been doing "archetypal power readings" of people since you were a child—only you probably think of it as labeling someone or even judging them, if the label is a negative one. People watching is all about archetypal power readings—scanning strangers and instantly gathering information about their lives. What you are scanning for are what I call archetypal "fun facts"—common traits that are dead giveaways as to what a person is like. The Bad Boy has tattoos that reflect a tough image. A Vampire has that look about her that says she's in need of someone's energy to drain. The Diva, of course, is nearly unmistakable. And Eye Candy is obvious, but the Good Samaritan can be a bit tricky to spot. You never know what type of package the Good Samaritan may come in, which is, in itself, a characteristic of this archetype. We are continually downloading these intuitive energy snapshots of people into our archetypal scrapbooks.
We can't help reading the archetypes of one another: it's a natural part of our intuitive survival mechanism. We trust patterns that are familiar to us—archetypes we intuitively recognize. When we don't trust someone, it's because we can't get a fix on her archetype or we've encountered someone else with that archetype before and we don't like how that archetype behaves.
We are wired to "speak archetypes" just as surely as we are wired to crawl, walk, and communicate. Archetypes, symbols, and myths comprise aspects of our intuitive intelligence. We are naturally intuitive, as we require these senses for our very survival. The fight-or-flight response and the highly reactive "gut instinct" are examples of organic intuitive intelligence that we rely on all the time. Similarly, you sense or read archetypes intuitively, even though you may be unaware that you have an inherent skill at understanding or responding to the language of myths and symbols. But recall that the language of your imagination consists of myths and symbols, and fantasizing is one of the earliest languages in the child's mind. We are in touch with our imagination and dreams before we engage with logic and reason.
You were in mythic contact with your world before you learned to read and write about it. You had invisible friends, and you imagined visiting schools where wizards learned their craft. And it was real for you, at least for a time. Even though as an adult you realize those mythic places don't exist in the physical sense, you still cling to them in your psyche. They represent your sacred psychic space, your personal archetypal territory.
The language of archetypes is the universal language of the human soul, psychically uniting us all through what the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. Jung saw archetypes as the quintessential navigational tool of the psyche, providing a gateway between the conscious mind and the unconscious that could help us in becoming integrated human beings.
He also noticed that archetypes frequently partner with other archetypes, which accounts for the variety of ways in which an archetype may express itself, depending on the individual. One woman I know, for example, has a very strong Artist archetype. She has been in touch with her artistic talent from childhood and stepped into her "artistic skin" naturally, easily, and gracefully. Everything she does, from how she dresses to how she sets her dinner table, has an artistic touch. She truly exists in harmony with her Artist archetype, without giving it conscious thought.
But in another person I know, the Artist archetype is blended with other archetypal patterns to form a very different type of power unit. His childhood was not quite as abundant as our first Artist's; thus, his Artist took on the qualities of the Starving Artist, an aspect of the Artist archetype made famous by painters like Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh. This man's inability to fully believe in his talent continually diminished his self-esteem, leading him to withdraw into a Fragile Child archetype. The Fragile Child partnered with his Starving Artist to produce a constant narrative of fear within him. Like a mental sound system he could not turn off, it played all day, telling him he could not survive in the world as the kind of Creative Artist he once envisioned himself as being. He eventually returned home to take a part-time job as a house painter and handyman. In order to pay the bills, he had to revise his inner myth, the story he told himself about who he "really" was and what was happening to him. He now told himself that he was just painting houses until he could save enough money to take the art classes he needed. So long as the Starving Artist and the Fragile Child archetypes were in charge of his inner myths, he would never leave home, so powerful are the myths contained in our archetypes. He would always have the option, however, of revitalizing his inner Creative Artist. The only thing standing in his way was his fear that he lacked the talent required to make it in the competitive world of art. Archetypes will always find expression in one way or another—in his case, house painting became a rest stop until courage came along.
The Emerging Inner-net
What Jung referred to as the collective unconscious, I think of as our Inner-net, a high-speed, interconnected psychic network that links us to every other human being through a vast system of archetypes. Each archetype is its own computer program, complete with its own particular set of myths and its own reservoir of symbols and cultural legends associated with each of those myths.
Now picture Earth and imagine that there are billions of lines crisscrossing the surface, serving as a rapid-fire network transferring all human psychic activity at an infinitely fast rate. Every thought, feeling, sensation, and human vibration is transmitted instantaneously across this archetypal grid, transferring the one common ingredient of the human experience: power. Whatever you do, say, think, calculate, consider, or wear is carried out with power in mind. Power is the single ingredient common to your every human action, from the moment of your birth to your death. Everything about your life is a power negotiation, with all of that power transitioning through this archetypal grid.
Think about why you make the choices you make, and what motivates you to act as you do. At the end of the day, your choices are based upon power calculations: Will what I say or do in this moment empower me or disempower me? Should I keep quiet? Speak up? Be honest? Should I act on my intuition or seek out more information? What's my best course of action here? Something as simple as getting a second opinion on a restaurant your friend has suggested can be intimidating. Better to just agree and go along with the group, most people think.
But why do we reduce every choice to a power calculation that gets transmitted across the energetic power grid? Because we're all connected, all part of the same web of life. We are born already connected to this Inner-net, this energetic power grid, arriving with a backpack filled with truths and wisdom inherent to the human experience. This is what we innately know, such as a deep understanding of right and wrong. It's in our cellular DNA. We aren't aware of these DNA truths from birth, however; we gradually become aware of them as we mature. This is sacred knowledge, which needs to be awakened, stirred from within, and recognized intuitively, not with the rational mind. If you have ever wondered what the real purpose of your life is, or said to yourself, "I need to find out what's really important to me," then you have already begun the process. Those inner stirrings are an invitation to awaken, to go in search of the more authentic you.
We are drawn to stories about ancient Heroes who go off on the archetypal Hero's Journey, the solo quest to uncover your true self. In finding a route to that precious sacred knowledge of who you really are, you reach a place of empowerment. This is the essence of genuine self-esteem, the holy grail of the inner quest.
Consider for a second the question around which I wrote this book: Who are you, really? We all ask ourselves Who am I? many times in many ways throughout our life, but we need the right language to excavate the answers from deep within us. We ask that question because we are actually seeking to understand the reason why we were given the gift of this life: For what reason was I born? This question marks an archetypal passageway, a turning point in our desire to know ourselves more deeply. It symbolizes a maturing in which we shift from defining ourselves by what we own to wanting to know ourselves by what we can do or be or contribute. Do I have the Artist in me? Was I born to be a Visionary? To know the deeper truth about yourself requires traveling to your interior on the power of your archetypes.
Connecting to Your Archetypes and the Inner-net
In this book, I introduce you to the Inner-net and to ten archetypal patterns that reflect the power trends of our times: the Advocate, the Artist/Creative, the Athlete, the Caregiver, the Fashionista, the Intellectual, the Queen/Executive, the Rebel, the Spiritual Seeker, and the Visionary. Each archetype is presented as the representative of an archetypal family, a team of archetypes with similar patterns. These general archetypal families cover both men and women. The Caregiver, for example, is the lead member of the Caring family, a team associated with nurturing that includes the Mother, the Rescuer, the Teacher, the Healer, and the Companion. Similarly, the Rebel comes from a family of archetypes that includes the Maverick, the Warrior, and the Hero. All members of an archetype family share a body of characteristics, but there are subtle distinctions between the members that sometimes cause confusion. People frequently have difficulty distinguishing between the Healer and the Rescuer, for example, as both have an inherent need to respond to those seeking aid. However, the initiation of the Healer—known as the Wounded Healer's Journey—is unique to the Healer and not a part of the Rescuer archetype. (Not all archetypes have a journey of initiation. Initiation is a sacred ritual associated with archetypes that serve in a sacred role, such as healing.) The Wounded Healer's Journey is an important initiation that many of you may recognize.
The journey of the Wounded Healer begins with a "wound." The wound could take the form of a serious accident, an illness, or life circumstances that cause the person to lose most of her earthly possessions, leaving her the choice to collapse under the strain or "take up her bed and walk." The Wounded Healer's wound brings the person to a do-or-die choice, offering the person the opportunity to completely transform her relation to power. Up to that point, she defined power as something external—status, money, fame, security, and belief in her own invincibility. The wound destroys the illusion that any of that is truly empowering, showing that emptiness, the false promise of external definitions of power. The choice for the Wounded Healer is to shed all her beliefs about power and earthly security and discover an alternate healing paradigm. She comes to understand that her wound can only be healed in full partnership with her spirit.
This explains why many Wounded Healers experience remarkable recoveries from illnesses or situations that would have sent other people to the grave. In coming through the ordeal healed, the Wounded Healer is empowered to assist others in healing their wounds.
The Ten Archetypes
The ten archetypes in the book embody the primary power issues that define women today, including their underlying struggles with personal empowerment. Ten years ago, the list of defining archetypes would have been different, and it may change again ten years from now. But in the world as we know it today, the modern woman is likely to consider herself a Professional, or if not a Professional then someone looking for her place in the world. The current definition of Professional has expanded beyond someone employed in a practice or corporate setting to include anyone who has mastered a craft or created a home-based business. Today's woman is also likely to see herself as a Caregiver, whether or not she is a mother. Her Caregiver may have a rebellious streak, simply by virtue of adapting to life in a world so vastly different from the one in which previous generations of women lived, or she may be a woman in whom the Rebel is a full-time force. Many women today find themselves called to make a difference in the world, as Advocates for their communities or as Eco-Advocates—environmental activists—an archetype that has taken shape only recently in the collective unconscious. (Mother Nature didn't used to need human beings to represent her cause within political circles, but these are the times we now live in.) Women Visionaries play a greater role today as engines of societal change. And more women have become Athletes, as fitness and exercise have become prime values in today's world. As society shifts, so do the archetypal images that govern our Inner-net, altering our definitions of beauty, power, and life goals. Today's Fashionista, for example, introduces us to ways to feel good about ourselves through clothing, makeup, hairstyles, and shoes.
Excerpted from Archetypes by Caroline Myss. Copyright © 2013 by Archetypes Publishing LLC. Excerpted by permission of HAY HOUSE, INC..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Caroline Myss has been in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness for over 20 years. Since 1982, she has worked as a medical intuitive, providing individuals with an evaluation of the health of their energetic anatomy system. She specializes in assisting people in understanding the emotional, psychological, and physical reasons why their bodies have developed an illness. Her New York Times bestsellers include Anatomy of the Spirit, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, Sacred Contracts, and Entering the Castle. Listen to Caroline every week on HayHouse Radio.com® Website: www.myss.com
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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If you are intrigued about diving deeply into life, Caroline Myss provides an avenue for you to explore. She presents a symbolic language of power that is transformational. When we recognize and understand this language we have the advantage of great insight(s) into our lives. This symbolism, as Caroline Myss describes, connects every single one of us. Archetypes are not to be confused with labels we project onto others rather they serve as a guidance system into our real selves. What propels you in one direction or the other? Archetypes are universally recognizable, however, the challenge lies in finding the ones that drive and describe you personally. Have no fear; Caroline writes her expansive ideas with clear and concise intention. Her message is conveyed with an honest integrity. Upon reading her work, I felt she really wanted me to get it by understanding and applying this wisdom. Caroline thoroughly outlines the most prevalent archetypes in society during this time. She defines and differentiates the archetypes on a deep and soulful level that will leave the ego either resisting or insisting. This book ignites a deep discovery for conscious decision making in our lives. Grab a highlighter, make some notes and have fun with this symbolic language for and in your life.
"Archetypes, Who are you" really gave me insight into self and others! Basic and simple knowledge that made great reading! Thoroughly enjoyed the testing on their website, as well.
Carolyn Myss is an incredible teacher, guide, advisor. I have read 80% of her books. She is very knowledgeable and I trust guidence.
Another guide to help me on my way through this life. Learning about the archetypes has helped me to see aspects of mine and others personalities. The positives and negatives.
I found this book to be mostly useless. There are a lot better books in this category.
How do u delete books? I need to know cuz i have some books i hate