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Archetypes — Mental Models for Personal Transformation

An archetype is a mental model or universal pattern of behaviour that helps us better understand ourselves and others.  Plato believed archetypes were pure mental forms imprinted in the soul before our birth.  Psychologist, Carl Jung, described them as universal patterns of thought present in an individual’s unconscious and inherited from humanity’s past collective experience.  Archetype’s quintessential nature generalizes across age, race, religion, gender, education and profession.

One of the more common archetypal myths experienced in contemporary life is that of the hero’s journey which epitomizes our human desire to discover our purpose and manifest our potential.  The Hero, as a mythical archetype, is represented by the Sun in the centre of our solar system and is one of the 12 universal patterns associated with Zodiac astrology.  If you are familiar with astrology, you know your Sun sign is your birth sign, that is, your central identity and true self.  In my case, my birth sign is Scorpio.  In astrology, our birth sign is one component of our multi-faceted, richly textured persona as depicted in my astrological natal chart below.

Natal Chart

Our natal chart is an archetypal representation of our purpose and potential.  Chaos Astrology will gift you with a free astrological profile, report and natal chart.  To download your natal chart, simply click on the Sun/Moon icon left of the title in your profile.

Not unlike our unique thumbprints, each of us has a unique persona, which we determine by developing it across our lifespan.  Our persona is a combination of ideal and shadow qualities.  What I mean is, in our human duality, we are constantly attempting to integrate or balance the good and the bad, the light and the dark aspects of ourselves.  Archetypes, because they depict essential human qualities, shine a light on previously unconscious knowledge to help us in this developmental process.

To confront a person with (their) shadow is to show (them their)
own light . . .     
Carl Jung

To illustrate how helpful archetypes can be in determining who we are and who we want to become, look at the archetypes below associated with your Sun sign — your Hero/Villain.  First find your Sun sign on the left, then choose the ideal/shadow pair that best represents you.  In my case, I am a Scorpio and at this stage in my life, the Alchemist-Destroyer most represents my life experience.

Archetype Chart

What typically happens when we first encounter archetypes is we only want to acknowledge the Ideal.  Try to move beyond your judgment of the Shadow or you will only succeed in denying its existence in your life rather than recognizing and claiming its hugely developmental qualities.  We often learn as much, if not more, from the Shadow influences and influencers in our lives.

Once you have chosen your Hero/Villain archetype, take some time to answer these questions.  You might want to mind map any thoughts, feelings, insights, memories, behaviours or sensations that emerge as you consider each question —

How do you experience your Hero/Villain?

What behaviour or thought patterns can you associate with your archetype?

Is there a story you could tell about yourself that depicts these archetypes?

To learn more about archetypes, join my Relax, Recharge:  Right Now series beginning October 8, 2013.

Author: Helen Maupin

Author: Helen Maupin

Helen is passionate about transforming fear into love — from her, for her, for all. She expresses her commitment to transformation through writing poetry, self-awareness and yoga books, co-designing organizations into adaptive enterprises and deepening her daily meditation and yoga practices.

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