An archetype is a prototype of behavior that comes out of the collective consciousness such as Earth Mother, Geek, Bully, Princess, etc.; it is a recognizable pattern of behavior. In her best selling book, Sacred Contracts, author and medical intuitive, Caroline Myss talks about approximately 85 archetypes, describing each both in shadow and in light and how it is a valuable tool to understanding ourselves and those around us. It is a complex system that can be used to glean insight into all areas of our existence, including our sacred contract and our purpose in life but in this brief article, I would like to introduce the concept of the four survival archetypes present in each one of us, influencing every aspect of daily life.
The four survival archetypes are: Victim, Child, Prostitute and Saboteur. We will take a short tour of all four today but in my articles of the coming months, each one will be delved into in greater detail, along with ways to support our personal growth. As we begin to look at our lives through the language of archetypes, they become more easily recognized and we can spot when we are in shadow or in light and adjust accordingly. This is also useful in understanding the behavior of others around us and can help us to better appreciate our communication.
The Victim in Light can show us when we are in danger of being victimized, about to victimize another or perhaps using the energy of victim to manipulate others, allowing us to then adjust our behavior accordingly. The victim in shadow of course is fairly easy to recognize as the narcissist, the self-pitying “it’s all about me” person, blaming others for their misery, perhaps extracting a penalty for perceived wrongs.
The Child archetype is a bit more complex in that there are several child archetypes, i.e. Wounded, Orphan, Magicial/Innocent, Nature, Eternal and while we each have some traits of all of those, there is generally one that dominates. The child in light is magical, creative, buoyant, playful, curious, and utterly delightful but the child in shadow can be petulant, demanding, selfish, irresponsible, immature and so forth, behavior perhaps understandable in a child is far less so in adults.
The Prostitute archetype relates to how we negotiate our power, our life force energies in exchange for what we perceive we need/want, i.e. security, financial survival, safety and is largely about lessons in our integrity, self-esteem, self-respect as well as the value we place on others and material goods. For example, a woman I once knew worked in a job she intensely disliked because it paid very well and she had four children she wanted to put through college. Every day she would say how much she hated what she was doing, how she felt stuck and wanted to get out of it which obviously added to her discomfort and caused me to worry she was eventually going to make herself sick, thus making the decision by default to change jobs; not at all an empowering state of mind. But taking the same example and moving the prospective into light, she could say that she is seeing clearly and deciding to continue in this job to a certain date because in that process, she is earning the money she needs to launch her children into adulthood with a college education and without student loans. In the second example, she has moved herself into a powerful, decisive position of acknowledging and achieving a valuable goal while recognizing her need to take good care of herself, begin to make plans for a change, etc. The action was the same in both examples but the experience of each was very different.
The Saboteur is also about our fears and self-esteem but focused on how we undermine ourselves and our empowerment and success. In the light, it can warn us when we are about to be sabotaged or about to sabotage ourselves while in shadow, it can cause us to make the same mistakes over and over again as we engage in self-destructive behavior and/or abuse others.
Archetypes are in essence, the language of human behavior and full of life lessons if we engage in conscious dialogue with them; they Are us and we have much to learn from them.
Blessings on the road of self-discovery,