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But in everyday life, any number of people can play a similar role on a smaller scale, helping to liberate us from the tyranny of self-inflicted negative thought patterns and beliefs, spiritual sluggishness, poor nutrition, destructive relationships, or addictive behavior. This archetype can be an invaluable ally in helping to free us from old, entrenched beliefs and attitudes that have been inculcated from without, much like colonial occupying armies.
Jesus, Muhammad, and the Buddha were Liberators in this sense, offering options to the violence, suffering, and spiritual stagnation of their respective times and places. You do not have to be a charismatic leader to have this archetype, however.
Richie Millstone & Dakota’s Revenge of the Firewater Dragon
Thousands of people have taken part in long campaigns to win freedom from various kinds of oppression, from the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights movement in this country to the Freedom Fighters of the Hungarian Revolution. The shadow Liberator manifests in those who would liberate us from one tyrant only to impose their own tyranny over our lives—corporate, political, religious, and spiritual leaders who speak of freedom as a way to their individual aggrandizement.
In evaluating whether this archetype belongs in your circle of twelve, ask whether you have shown a life-long pattern of helping to free others from injustices, from adverse economic or social conditions, or simply from their misconceptions. This archetype appears not only in those who are romantically inclined, but also in anyone who exhibits great passion and devotion. One can be a Lover of art, music, gardening, Persian carpets, nature, or needlepoint. The key is having a sense of unbridled and exaggerated affection and appreciation of someone or something that influences the organization of your life and environment.
Even if you have the Lover archetype prominently in your psyche, you may repress this pattern out of a lack of self-esteem, especially regarding your physical attractiveness. The Martyr archetype is well known in two arenas: as a classic political or religious figure, and in the self-help world of contemporary psychology. Within the self-help field, the shadow Martyr is viewed as a person who has learned to utilize a combination of service and suffering for others as the primary means of controlling and manipulating her environment.
Ironically, in the social and political world, the martyr is often highly respected for having the courage to represent a cause, even if it requires dying for that cause for the sake of others. Suffering so that others might be redeemed, whether that redemption take a spiritual or political form, is among the most sacred of human acts. While people recognize this archetype in others, particularly when they are directly influenced by the individual sporting this pattern, they often cannot see it in themselves. Smoothing relations between potentially antagonistic groups or individuals requires patience and skill, an ability to read people and situations with great acuity.
If a good Advocate must empathize with those he is helping, a good mediator must be able to see and respect both sides of an argument or cause, thereby bringing warring parties together. One member of a family often assumes this role, so you do not have to be a career diplomat to qualify for this archetype. But you must have a life-long commitment to resolving disputes and bringing people together.
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The shadow Mediator manifests as an ulterior motive or hidden agenda, working two sides of an issue for personal gain. A Mentor is a teacher in whom you can place your implicit trust. The word comes from the character in The Odyssey to whom Odysseus, on setting out for Troy, entrusted the care of his house and the education of his son, Telemachus. Today the role of Mentor is crucial in a surprising range of life situations, from many forms of art and artisanship to business and spiritual practice.
In its shadow aspect, however, the Mentor can take on an overbearing attitude that is more about imposing control than imparting wisdom. The distinction between this archetype and the Teacher is mainly one of degree. This archetype is associated with the embodiment of divine power and being sent on a mission by heaven to save humanity. For all of its Judeo-Christian significance, the archetype of the Messiah has also become associated with psychological behavior. The Messianic complex, for example, applies to a person who is convinced of his divine mission and, in almost all cases, becomes obsessed with his mission to the point of psychosis, reaching an extreme in which a person begins to hear voices directing him to take lethal action.
Its subtle expression, however, is far more common and more difficult to identify as a personal pattern. People can become obsessed about their spiritual purpose, convinced that God needs them to do something.
Appendix: A Gallery of Archetypes
These two archetypes are so close that for practical purposes you can consider them together. Midas turned everything he touched into gold, including, tragically, his beloved daughter. The archetype is associated with entrepreneurial or creative ability. That Midas was a king symbolically implies that the Midas figure has the power to generate wealth for an entire kingdom, yet is interested only in his personal aggrandizement.
Greed is his downfall. For that reason, lessons of generosity are a large part of the characteristics of this archetype.
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The shadow Midas or Miser creates wealth by hording money and emotions at the expense of others, and refusing to share them. Although the desire to earn a living or become wealthy is not negative, this archetype also represents a need to control the forces around you for fear of losing your wealth. The challenges inherent in the Miser and Midas can go so far as to make a person confront what he is willing to do to create a mountain of wealth. The positive aspects of this archetype are fairly obvious: spiritual intensity, devotion, dedication, persistence, and perhaps wisdom.
On the shadow side, the role of a religious recluse could be seen as removed from the real world, overly pious, even privileged in the sense of not having to be concerned about earning a living or raising a family. Yet, historically, monks have been extremely industrious and involved in real-world enterprises, whether draining swamps and planting vineyards in medieval Europe, working the rice fields in Asia, building monasteries, teaching, or copying and preserving texts. Today the Monk archetype may show up in the ability to be single-minded, assiduous, devoted to a spiritual path or to any great achievement that requires intense focus.
In this sense, novelists and entrepreneurs can carry the Monk as readily as spiritual adepts. Yet one can be a Monk, even a religious one, without being celibate, as is the case with some Tibetan lamas, Yogis, and Islamic scholars. Then there were Abelard and Heloise, the twelfth-century Monk and Nun who forsook their vows of celibacy out of passion for each other.
Both were superior in their fields—Abelard as lecturer, debater, and philosopher, Heloise as a radical prioress and founder of convents—and, although their passion caused them great suffering, it does not seem to have hurt their spiritual work. The Mother is the life-giver, the source of nurturing and nourishment, unconditional fountain of love, patience, devotion, caring, and unselfish acts. This archetype is the keeper and protector of life, from children to the family to the greater Mother Nature archetype whose province is the Earth and all life.
Mother Nature, also known as Gaia, is the Goddess of Life, the caretaker of the living environment of this planet. She is recognized as powerful, and when storms leave death and destruction in their wake, she may be referred to as wrathful. The power of compassion and the endless capacity to forgive her children and put them before herself are essential to the Good Mother.
The Devouring, Abusive, Abandoning, and Working Mother each represent different aspects of this primal archetype within the entire human community. Although Mothers have always worked, the contemporary archetype of the Career or Working Mother reflects the crises experienced by many women who seek also to be Devoted Mothers.
Measured against the impossible mythic ideal of the Perfect Mother, the Career Mom is sometimes assumed unfairly to be a mother who puts her own needs before those of the children. This is an archetypal crisis for many women.
The Abusive and Abandoning Mothers violate natural law by harming their own young. Connections to the Mother archetype are not to be measured only by whether a woman is a biological mother. If you are intimately connected to nurturing and protecting the environment, including through gardening or farming, or supporting any life form, you should strongly consider whether your bond to Mother Nature is part of a life-long devotion that defines you. You may also recognize a strong bond to the Mother archetype in the form of one or all of her shadows.
While it is difficult to admit, some women may have to face the fact that their children see them through the shadow aspects of the Mother, including the Abusive or Abandoning Mother. The qualities that are associated with this archetype can be expressed in other than biological ways, such as giving birth to books or ideas, or nurturing others. Perhaps no archetype is more coveted by my students, or more misunderstood than the Mystic. Many want to believe that they have mystical inclinations, yet underestimate how arduous the genuine mystical path is.
Yet they also contained sometimes great physical as well as spiritual suffering, hard work, and mundane activities that made up much of their days. If you truly want to name this archetype as part of your sacred consortium, ask yourself if you are ready to pay the price in blood, sweat, and tears. If mystical consciousness is something you engage in once a day during meditation, or on a weekend retreat or a yoga workshop, you may be a spiritual seeker, but not a Mystic.
It may also emerge in behavior that takes advantage of admirers or students in base economic, emotional, or sexual ways. Although networking seems like a very modern skill tied to career advancement in the media age, it is actually quite ancient. Networkers expand their sphere of influence by forging alliances and making connections among vastly different groups of people, and can be traced back to the intrigues of the Middle Ages, Greece, Rome, and ancient China. Networking would also have been an integral part of any military alliance as well as all social and clan confederations inprehistory.
In its positive aspect, this archetype has a it helps us develop social flexibility and empathy that enables it to find commonality with others who might not at first seem to be potential friends, allies, or confederates. Like the related archetypes of Messenger and Communicator, the Networker has the skills to bring information—or power— and inspiration to disparate groups of people. The shadow Networker merely uses others for personal gain. The Pioneer is called to discover and explore new lands, whether that territory is external or internal.
The passion to explore the South Pole is as much a pioneering endeavor as the passion to explore medicine or spiritual practice. Even initiating new fashions, art, music, or literature may qualify as expressions of this archetype.