Tag Archives: Deepak Chopra

From the Psyche: How Archetypal Roles Shape Both Us and Our Characters

Something I find interesting (other than writing of course) is the notion of self-discovery.  Anyone who follows my blog knows that I analyze dreams in great detail. My iPhone is littered with apps for personality tests, color quizzes, handwriting analysis, and mood trackers (my husband once lovingly described my phone as a ‘cry for help’).  But the way I see it, if I want to make the most of my life then I need to know who I am, what I want, and what I was born to do (OK, maybe I have been reading too many Oprah.com articles).

I’m also very interested in the inner-worlds of my characters. Even those without their own narrative voices are important. I want to get to know them as much as I know myself—their creator.

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s I read a book—recommended by Oprah—entitled Archetypes. It was written by Caroline Myss, and let me say, this book greatly enhanced my perspective on inner-exploration. It also opened my eyes to new and exciting ways to better characterization in my fiction projects.

Great Question!

Great Question!

According to Dictionary.com an archetype is as follows:

*2. (in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of though, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.

*I used this definition (there was another) because it strongly relates to Myss’s theory on archetypes.

In one of my dream anthologies, there is a section on archetypes (i.e. The Hero, The Evil Mother, The Loving Mother, The Warrior, etc.) appearing in an individual’s dream; analysis can then be based on the qualities each archetype displays.

In her book, Myss surveys ten different archetypal roles that she believes (and I agree) all human beings (and fictional characters) portray. Of course we’re  all mixtures of particular types, but clearly some take precedence over others.

I will list Myss’s archetypes and paraphrase an explanation of each. To get the full effect, you have to read the book!

There it is amidst all my other "self-searching" titles!

There it is amidst all my other “self-searching” titles!

The Advocate: Those who devote their lives to fighting a cause; Myss gives many examples such as human rights activists, animal rights activists, environmentalists, etc. And you don’t have to be Cesar Chavez to fit into this role. You can simply be the neighborhood watch looking to improve safety after a home on your block was robbed.

Myss’s Examples: Rosa Parks, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Mothers Against Drunk Driving

My Examples:Blogger & Writing Group Companion, Sylver Blaque

The Artist/Creative: Anyone who is compelled to create art falls into this archetypal role. It may be in the form of visual art, written art, or performance art. But Myss says we aren’t complete unless we can create.

Myss’s Examples: Vincent Van Gogh, Mozart, Edgar Allan Poe

My Examples: Thomas Kinkade, The Intrinsic Writer, aka me; all of you reading this!

The Athlete: This could be the marathon runner or the avid sports fan. It’s those who need to be in constant motion. The fitness hounds, the yogis, the skydiver, and the water-skier; the athlete’s focus is on health and nutrition. He or she uses the body as a form of expression.

Myss’s Examples: Michael Jordan, Maria Sharpanova, The Ancient Greeks

My Examples: My Aunt Eileen, star of the YMCA.

The Caregiver: Those who give their lives to serving and protecting others. Myss mentions that often these are the types that need to be told to stop and relax! Do something for yourself! Parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, healers, coaches, and more—these are the ones, according to Myss, who can tolerate to see pain in another human being. They are self-sacrificing, and at time, martyrs.

Myss’s Examples: The Mother, The Teacher, The Sister

My Examples: My mother, father, & grandparents; my Uncle Bob, who cares for my elderly grandfather; myself, as a teacher; many, many of my friends, colleagues, etc.

The Fashionista: If the athlete expresses herself through movement, then the fashionista expresses herself through…you got it…fashion! But this is more than just a professional shopper. This is someone who exudes confidence, prioritizes looking good, and perhaps most importantly, is exploring a sense of identity.

Myss’s Examples: Carrie Bradshaw, Coco Chanel

My Examples: My sister, Victoria.

The Intellectual: These folks tend to go by that old notion of using their heads over their hearts. Intellectuals love learning. They are well-read, researching types. As Myss explains it, the requirement of knowledge is their main life purpose. I imagine they can be rather argumentative as well. Intellectuals take a deep interest in unlocking all the mysteries of the world.

Myss’s Examples: The Sage, The Wise Elders, The Buddha

My Example: Just about every professor I had in college

The Queen/Executive: For all you Oprah fans out there, this one’s for you! The Queen is on top of her game (by the way, for each archetype, Myss has a whole section on the “male counterpart”), and doesn’t take any you-know-what from anyone. She is often in a high-powered position, but a Queen could also simply rule her own household—it has more to do with identity personal ruling style. I think you know the type—Myss says Queens create their own “empires,” and that often comes with a band of followers.

Myss’s Examples: Oprah Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth I, Barbara Walters, and Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.

My Examples: Laura, a former employer

The Rebel: I can’t help but think of a Punk Rocker (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols), but anyway, the Rebel is a reactor, a revolutionary—different from the advocate in the sense that he or she responds (often drastically) to all that is wrong with the world. The truth is, the rebel doesn’t have to be someone who elicits political upsurge—it could just be that kid in high school that skipped the last-day-before-vacation holiday concert—brought to you by the school’s jazz band and choral choir—to go smoke pot. OK, maybe I just went to Starbucks. But it was badass.

Myss’s Examples: Henry David Thoreau, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., The Feminist

My Examples: Elvis Presley. My friend Sara, who back in high school, managed to cut study for entire three-quarters of a year before getting caught.

The Spiritual Seeker: Oh, I love this one. Here we have people who want to know things by the end of their lives. They strive to find that sense of Nirvana inside and out. Myss explains that the true spiritual seeker isn’t someone who vows to buy a ten million dollar home; instead, he or she looks inward to find that true sense of knowing. He is a master of forgiveness, and is willing to turn his life into an odyssey of gratitude in the pursuit of helping others.

Myss’s Examples: The Mystic, The Buddha

My Examples: Deepak Chopra

The Visionary:  Myss says the visionary is the person who can stand back, look at the world, and see clearly, what it needs. Then, he or she sets about putting those changes in motion. Visionaries are idea-makers. They are creators. They have a deep understanding of the human race.

Myss’s Examples: Rachel Carson, Gloria Steinem, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs

My Examples: John Lennon

By the way, you can find out your archetype by taking the quiz @ www.ArchetypeMe.com

Such a great book!

Such a great book!

My results were a mixed percentage of the following four archetypes: 1) Artist/Creative 2) Caregiver 3) Intellectual 4) Spiritual Seeker.

Also, while Myss goes into A LOT of detail about the types mentioned above, she also includes a glossary with other common archetypes such as: The Victim, The Warrior, The Storyteller, The Slave, and more.

By reading this book, I have a better sense of my life’s purpose; furthermore, through the process, I was able to discover my characters’ archetypes as well. It has turned into a great characterization tool. I even went in and took the above mentioned quiz as some of characters. Trust me, it will give both you and the tiny people who live inside your head much needed clarity.

What Archetype are you? What Archetypes are your characters?

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Filed under Books and Literature, Characters, Inspiration, Self Discovery, The Writing Life

They Call Me The Wanderer: A Letter to My Readers

To My Readers:

There’s been a common theme running through my dreams the past several nights: Losing My Way.

In one dream, I was going the wrong direction on a busy highway. People blasted their horns, yelled curses. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to turn around. Readjust myself. Find my way.

Last night I dreamt of being at a cousin’s house down the shore. I went for a walk and couldn’t find my way back. I stood on a hill and could see the house. I saw where I wanted to go, but I just couldn’t get there. I walked in circles, losing my breath, my feet aching, only to find myself back in the same place that I started.

Finally I came across a stranger—a short woman with a cropped hair cut—and asked her for directions. I followed her instructions and it led me to a shallow swimming pool with clear blue water. Apparently, it seemed, it was necessary that I walk through this water in order to arrive home. I dreaded getting my shoes wet, but saw no other alternative. When I eventually made it, a black dog the size of a pony was there to greet me. He leapt onto his hind legs and hugged me the way a human would. I laughed and laughed.

"Beyond the horizon"Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, July 2010

“Beyond the horizon”
Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, July 2010

So what does it all mean?

Well, for one thing I am directionally impaired. My inner-navigation system is shot. In fact, I’ve been known to get lost even with the GPS. My husband likes to joke that the Dion song “The Wanderer” was written about me: They call me the wanderer, yeah the wanderer, I roam around and round and round and round…

But dreams often carry more metaphorical interpretations. Perhaps I’m mentally lost? Emotionally lost? Spiritually lost? Psychologically lost? Answer? All of the above.

It’s a rare person who knows exactly what she was born to do. I was born to write. Does that mean I’m destined to be the next Danielle Steel? Of course not. But during these past two months I’ve done a lot of self-reflection, and realized, with more certainty than I’ve ever had in my whole life, that if I don’t write in some shape or form during my time here on earth, I may never feel complete.

You may have noticed that I’ve all but disappeared since the holidays. I truly have lost my way. Things happened. Life got busy. I went through a very weepy, “blue” period. I lost track of my writing life. Maybe it was burnout. Lack of confidence. Mixed up priorities. There’s no real good explanation for it—though I imagine any writer out there reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a compulsion that has the ability to make us miserable, yet we can’t resist. We aren’t physically able to.

We lose our way sometimes. We ride the wrong direction. We know exactly where we want to be, but can’t seem to get there (Hmm…sounds just like my dream).

That being said…I’m back! And I’d like to share with you my plans for The Intrinsic Writer 2013:

Saturdays: I will be beginning a new feature called “Serene Saturdays” where I’ll share new and different ways to “relax.” A life goal of mine is to achieve that oh-so-elusive peace of mind. I’m no Deepak Chopra—which is partly why I’m doing this, to teach myself to relax—but I’d love to reveal the small, everyday things that help me cope with stress.

Sundays: Old School Sundays will continue!

Tuesdays: My featured posts on the life and craft of writing fiction and more!

It’s a new year for all of us. What I’ve learned during my brief reflection period is that it’s OK to hide out for a while, to lose your way, so to speak; so long as you come back regenerated and stronger than before. I’m grateful for my life, this blog, all of you followers, and of course, that special knowledge that tells me to do what I absolutely need to do to survive.

-Katie

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Filed under Breaking Through, Inspiration, The Writing Life, Why We Write