The Heroic Archetype and the Human Beneath

Removing the Armor

We took the time last week to explore the role of the heroic archetype at work in the therapeutic process. In doing so, we named the hero as the champion of our endeavor to make changes and confront obstacles. We teased out some distinctions between the hero as identity (archetypal inflation) and the hero as an image by which we imagine the processes of change. And this is exactly what soul psychology is after. Rather than literalize all our efforts in measurable goals and clear rules, we instead enter the realm of how we imagine these things as they take place. More often than not the struggle is not between a heroic position and a villain at all. Rather, it is amongst our resistance to the outpouring of the emergent moment. Remember the importance of removing the armor or war paint and remembering our own name.

Space for the Unknown and Vulnerable

Think of the differences between an archetypal role and the human experience beneath them. It isn’t hard to imagine what happens when we carry our roles home with us. Remembering the space for the unknown and vulnerable person that we truly are engenders us with the room for the archetypes to belong to psyche and not our identities and self-worth. After all, from this perspective, it is inflation and loss of the human experience that ultimately estranges us from the soulful experience to begin with. Not only do we learn to enter new archetypal patterns that imbue our lives and efforts with new meaning, but also to remove ourselves from these structures. We learn to live the subtle animal within in whom we are most ourselves.

Everything We Need

Heroism can be best described as the youthful drive to move forward with maturation. Sure, we fantasize that we will arrive at a sort of bliss in the end. However, keep in mind that for there to be an end is for the hero to no longer be a hero. The work would be finished. As Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and C.G. Jung in Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious attest, myths are complete images. They do not have a beginning middle and end. We may extract places along a path that converge with our own lives. However, the completeness of the myth means all aspects can be happening simultaneously. Think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She had the shoes all along! We mature not to something else but toward the realization that we have everything we need in this present moment.

The Person in the Basket

Robert Moore, a Jungian analyst and depth writer uses the image of the hot-air balloon to describe the problem with inflation. Moore says that when we fill the head with the hot air, we find ourselves stuck up and at the mercy of the flight of ideas. Here, our pride and rightness take us beyond this human experience. Instead, says Moore, we must attend to the person in the basket. What wild ride has our heroic ventures taken us on? What addiction, relationship, or expectation has us acting uptight? This week, our theme is about where the hero in us sees the dragon in others. In that maybe we can be on equal footing. With gratitude, we continue to learn and grow in this role. We are happy to work at remembering the basket below our flights of fantasy and remember to see ourselves in every one of you.

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