As we approach the holiday season, most of us look forward to spending time with our families and loved ones.
However, such intensive family time can come with its own challenges! The people in our families mean a lot to us, usually more so than other people we know less intimately, and so we can be more easily affected. As much as we love our family members, we can also get triggered, hurt, or upset by them.
Our feelings around our family members are often subject to our own personal perceptions and projections, which lead to us being more sensitive to certain people than others. We all make these unconscious associations between the people in our lives and what is meaningful to us. The additional dimension of the symbolic is what makes us more susceptible to anything that person says or does.
By doing the following exercise, you can begin to uncover what that person might represent to you, and by bringing that dimension to consciousness, the extra strain on that relationship can be alleviated along with any emotional stress that might come with the holidays.
For this exercise, you will need some paper, a pen or pencil and at least 20 minutes of quiet time.
1. Write down in a column the names of all the family members with whom you will be spending the holidays.
2. Create two more columns, a narrow one for one or two words and a wider one for a sentence.
3. Now, next to each name, write down what that person represents to you.
Use the symbolism of an “archetype” to describe them. Match each one, one at a time, to an Archetypal Energy in the list below. Scan the list and notice what word you are instinctively or energetically drawn to, or intuitively feel for that individual. Write down that archetype in the narrow column next to their name.
You may have more than one archetype for a person, but for the aims of this exercise, try to restrict yourself to a maximum of two archetypes for any individual.
4. Go through the individuals one by one and write down in the wider column in what way they play that role for you. The role they play for you is the purpose they serve in your life. Your reaction to them is your reaction to their fulfilling the role/purpose they play for you (from your point of view – the symbolic representation from your eyes).
After the exercise: Consider from this deeper dimension how the people in our lives that we are closest to are often the people who are most able to push our buttons, and send us on a downward spiral into places we would rather not go. Throughout the holiday season, notice your own reaction to them and reflect on your reactions after doing the exercise. How much more freedom of response have you gained? Is it easier to see the individual beyond the archetype? Is there less of an attachment to the way that you perceived them and more self-understanding from taking the time to reflect why we get along so easily with some people and feel so challenged by others? What can you do to further liberate yourself from knee-jerk responses?
List of Archetypes
- The Magician
Enchanting, prolific, entertaining. Able to manifest whatever he/she wants. Impresses others, influences them, is magnetic. Innovation— doing and creating what has not been done before.
- The Protector
Coming to the defense of others, compassion in action. A passion to transform social concerns, specifically on behalf of others. Inspires personal empowerment.
- The Knight or the honourable one
Chivalry, courtly romance, protection of the Princess, and going to battle for honourable causes. Service and devotion, walks a fine line between self-sacrifice and. The knight assists when needed and, once the rescue mission is accomplished, withdraws.
Strength of the human spirit as represented in the power and magnificence of the human body. Connected to spiritual as well as physical strength, a code of ethics and morality is also associated with the archetype.
- The Warrior (Can also be the bully or the coward)
Fuelled by a sense of always being able to stand up to any challenge, this individual forces situations, themselves and or others. They can also take on bullies for others. Symbolically, the Coward must stand up to being bullied by his own inner fears. The warrior archetype represents physical strength and the ability to protect, defend, and fight.
- The Princess
The Princess is associated with romance and romantic ideals. She awaits a Knight who is worthy of her beauty and rank and will take her to a palace. Consciously or unconsciously awaiting the arrival of their Knight in Shining “Amour”. Hoping to be rescued. Implies a certain weakness, and inability to take care of themselves.
- The Prince (Power as Entitlement)
The Prince can be an innocent, awe-struck traveler of the world. The shadow Prince can manifest as a young man with great feelings of entitlement, an heir apparent who uses his position solely for self-aggrandizement, or one who stands to inherit an evil empire and so takes on all the negative characteristics of the “king”.
- The Ruler: Queen, Empress or King (Power as Authority)
Power and authority can be associated with arrogance and a defensive posture that is symbolic of a need to protect one’s power. Control, personal authority and leadership play a primary role. Rulership is expressed the ability to oversee others. A true leader guides and shields those under his care, sacrificing his own desires when that’s appropriate. The shadow Patriarch emerges when that caring guidance and protection turns into dictatorial control or abuse of authority.
- The Rebel
The Rebel can be a powerful aid in helping a group break out of old tribal patterns. It can also help people to see past tired preconceptions in their fields of professional or creative endeavor. The shadow Rebel, conversely, may compel you to rebel out of peer pressure or for the sake of fashion, or may also reject legitimate authority simply because it is asking them to do something they find difficult or unpleasant.
- The Gambler
The Gambler is a risk-taker who plays the odds. This archetype includes any one who takes risks such as gamblers, stock traders and those who take risks in politics and other activities that amount to gambling with one’s reputation. Gambling is an attempt to outrun the speed at which ordinary change happens.
- The Saviour (Justice)
Balances the scales of justice, sometimes by employing aggressive techniques. Fuelled by a sense of righteousness and motivated to avenge an injustice against
oneself or one’s family. On a mission.
- The Judge
One need not be an attorney, judge, or critic by profession to identify with this archetype. This individual may be a natural mediator or involved in interventions between people. They display high standards related to justice and wisdom in the manner in which they interact with other people. The shadow Judge manifests as consistently destructive criticism, judging without compassion or with a hidden agenda.
- The Mother (Nature/Nurture)
The life-giver, the source of nurturing and nourishment, unconditional love, patience, devotion and caring. This archetype is the keeper and protector of life. The Devouring Mother “consumes” her children psychologically and emotionally and often instills in them feelings of guilt at leaving her or becoming independent. The Abusive and Abandoning Mothers violate natural law by harming their own young.
- The Good Samaritan (Surrender, or The Martyr)
Samaritans make sacrifices for those they might be least inclined to serve. The shadow Samaritan helps one person or group to the detriment of another, one’s own family, or the greater good of society. The shadow Martyr is viewed as a person who uses service and suffering for others as the primary means of controlling and manipulating her environment, even if it means his or her own death.
- The Alchemist or Healer
Can manifest as a highly intelligent individual who produces results outside the ordinary rules of life. Especially inventive. Or as someone who you feel is healing to body, mind, and spirit. Essential characteristics include an inherent strength and the ability to assist people in transforming their pain into a healing process.
- The Angel (Purity)
Angels are pure, and embody loving and nurturing qualities of character. Unconditional in their love. The Virgin Mother of Jesus represents the purity of motherhood. The shadow side of the Virgin is the prudish disgust with or fear of genuine sensuality.
- The Artist
The passion to express a dimension of life that is beyond the five senses. The signature of artists is not in what they do but in how intense their motivation is to manifest the extraordinary.
- The Child (Innocence)
The Wounded Child is someone of any age who is needy, and tends to focus on abuse,neglect, trauma and past wounds. The Magical Child, on the other hand, is enchanted and enchanting to others and is gifted with the power of imagination and the belief that everything is possible. Seeing the potential for sacred beauty in all things. The child archetype can also be expressed as someone who is determined to remain eternally young in body, mind, and spirit.People who maintain that age will never stop them from enjoying life, which may lead to them rejecting adult responsibilities.
- The Clown
The Clown archetype is associated with three major characteristics: making people laugh, making them cry, and wearing a mask that covers one’s own real emotions. Because of the mask he wears, the Clown is allowed to cross the boundaries of social acceptance, representing what people would like to do or say themselves.
- The Loyal Companion
Loyalty, tenacity, and unselfishness. Companions are associated with providing emotional and platonic support.. Betrayal is a common example of the shadow side of the Companion.
- The Traditionalist or the Priest
Ordination empowers the Priest to convey to the public the power of sacred teachings, rituals, wisdom, morality, and ethics of each spiritual tradition. The shadow side of this archetype manifests through the inability to live according to those teachings, especially in lapses of personal morality.
- The Guru, or the Wise Woman
The Guide takes the role of teacher to a spiritual level, seeing the Divine in every aspect of life. This individual represents the ripening of natural insight and the acceptance of what is, allowing him or her to pass that wisdom on to others. Provides wise counsel and shares experience and wisdom.
- The Mystic
The genuine Mystic’s path is arduous including extraordinary states of consciousness such as prolonged ecstatic trance, and preternatural abilities of precognition or bilocation. Yet they also contained sometimes great physical as well as spiritual suffering, hard work, and mundane activities that made up much of their days. The shadow Mystic manifests as an egocentric concern for one’s own spiritual progress to the exclusion of others, and an attendant sense of self importance at having achieved “higher” states of consciousness.
- The Mentor (Mastery)
Mentors do more than just teach; they pass on wisdom and refine their students’ character; they take individuals under their wing. In its shadow aspect, however, the Mentor can take on an overbearing attitude that is more about imposing control than imparting wisdom.
- The Sexpot
Sexual energy provides great power when properly channelled. Although associated with sensuality and sophistication, this archetype represents the sake of conquest alone. Sex addiction is not about sex but about the need to gain control of someone. The positive aspect of this archetype is its underlying vulnerability and its power to open wide a heart that is capable of deep love.
- The Beautiful one
Embodies the perfection of both appearance and inner nature. The perfect man or woman, the ideal lover, mate.
- The Pleasure Seeker/Hedonist
This Archetype has an “appetite” for the pleasurable aspects of life, from good food and wine to sexuality and sensuality. In positive terms, they inspire creative energy in the psyche to embrace the “good” things in life. Enchanting, prolific, entertaining. Able to manifest whatever he/she wants. Impresses others, influences them, is magnetic. Innovation— doing and creating what has not been done before.
Feel free to do this exercise with anyone you feel triggered by – colleagues at work or school, friends, and even public figures and politicians who can sometimes push our buttons. What could be a better gift for ourselves and others, than a deeper understanding of our own nature and our relationships to others?
Kate Hudson – BA, E-Ryt, ND
Kate is deeply passionate about the practice of homeopathy and its ability to bring awareness and clarity to her clients. She feels privileged to be invited into their inner experiences and enters into their worlds, with them, from a space of curiosity and exploration. Visit her profile page in our professional directory to learn more.