The “Holographic Archetype” – Why You Seem to Be Experiencing Everything All at Once
“Life,” we sometimes think to ourselves, “is supposed to be simple.” And all too often, it isn’t. Especially for those of us who are trying to do some “personal growth work” while still carrying on some semblance of normalcy; jobs, family, school, community involvement and friends. In the midst of all of this (sometimes), we’re carrying on with the rather difficult business of discovering and accessing/integrating our various “core power archetypes.”
Our inner work is powerful. And as we dive into it, we can go through some very unsettling times. By analogy, let’s imagine what would happen if we had a company that had a succesion of CEO’s, each having a different dominant archetype.
As we know from any shakeup at the executive level in a company, when we start moving key figures around, things are (temporarily) unstable. If our company has formerly been headed by an entrepreneur/inventor (Magician archetype), and the Board of Directors decides that the time has come to put someone in whose background is in running a “tight ship,” or who is formerly a CFO, we know that everything changes. (Switching from a Magician in charge to an Emperor in charge.) And there would be even bigger shake-ups if the Board put in charge someone who is focused on mentoring and developing “leaders from within.” (Hierophants love to mentor!)
Imagine, further, the absolute chaos that would erupt if any of the other “core archetypes” were to be calling the shots for a while. If it were an Empress persona, the company would be all about “relating.” We’d be hugging our clients a lot; but the eye would not quite be on profits and deliverables. (However, our clients might start placing bigger orders and referring their friends to us. Who knows?)
And if a Hathor-type were running the show, it would be all about parties and having a good time! (The High Priestess, wisely, would recluse herself from all considerations of corporate leadership. If she had to take this role, though, the first thing she’d do would be to declare a nine-day corporate retreat in the Catskills. Lots of walking the footpaths in silent meditation. Then she’d happily foist this job off on the first qualified Emperor.)
Now that’s the simple version.
In real life, for most of us doing this kind of archetypal integration, our inner landscape is about as comfortable as frequent shifts in corporate leadership. That is to say, highly uncomfortable – especially when the various archetypes that we’ve finally accessed begin to assert themselves. Each one wants to “run the ship” – at least for a while!
And as I said, that’s the simple version. This version presumes that we’re doing our archetypal access and integration in a calm, linear, and “safe” manner. This was, in fact, the “curriculum” a few thousand years ago, when the Kabbalah was first discovered or understood. Back then, a certain sense of orderliness was assumed.
Now, however, all bets are off. Our world is highly chaotic and nonlinear. Our lives often are, as well. Instead of picking up our archetypes one at at time, and then doing our archetypal integration under the careful watch of a renowned integration master, we are often attempting this on our own. What advice and mentoring we get often comes from books, weekend workshops, and “life coaches.” (These latter may or may not have done their own integration work. They may or may not even know what you’d be talking about – that is, in a real, substantive, and useful sense.)
So here we are, many of us, attempting to do the very rough-and-tumble work of archetype access and integration, all too often on our own. And to make it much more challenging, in the REAL “real world,” we’re often dealing with several emerging archetypes all at once.
Imagine a boardroom war in which various key players are vying for control. In the morning, the Emperor takes control, sets up the goals, objectives, deliverables, and timelines. All seems straightforward and doable. The goals may be stringent, but you know how to pour on the overtime. You can work evenings and weekends; you’ve done it before. (Many times, no doubt.) So you gear up, and mentally factor in the vacation that you’ll take when bonuses are announced.
Then, around noon, Hathor seizes control. She wants that vacation now! You count up accrued vacation days, visit your favorite travel site, and figure out which weekend you can afford to extend to a three-dayer. No sooner have you made your plans and submitted a vacation request when whammo! The High Priestess emerges. And what she really wants is quiet time, because, lo and behold! She’s paving the way for the Magician to emerge with his next great invention!
This is what the archetypal integration journey is all about. It’s not all that poetic. In fact, it’s downright messy.
And now – adding in more “real world” factors – there are at least two major integration processes. The first is when you’ve accessed all your core power archetypes. Everyone is “present and/or accounted for, Sir!” You (the cognitive, dominant “you-in-charge”) can access each one as appropriate and at will. You know when to charm, and when to command. You know when to take some time off to connect with nature and your “quiet mind,” and you know when to party. And you also know when to get the “deliverables” delivered. On budget, and on time.
You’ve mastered your game.
Or so you think.
It’s the second integration process that comes up as a surprise, and is much more disorienting. It’s more than the various key executives in a company taking on leadership roles. It’s a lot more like when the Board decides that the company is going to go in a whole different direction. Instead of being a “service company,” focusing on government (or commercial) contracts, you’re going to be “product company.” And the word comes down – new divisions are created, people are laid off while the company retools and regroups, new people come into newly created power positions. This is hugely destabilizing.
Just as companies must reform – sometimes very radically – we also need to rework ourselves from the inside out. Sometimes very radically.
You’ve heard about this. Someone who has made a living in the banking world leaves their job – their whole career – to become a baker. A successful business leader leaves his or her company to teach in an inner city school. Huge life-changes like this do happen; they happen all the time. But they don’t just come up out of the blue; there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes before such an overt change happens.
Not all of us will switch careers, of course. But as we go through this second integration, we learn to pay much more attention to the needs, wants, and desires of core archetypes whom we may have repressed for many years. It’s similar, in a sense, to the case in which a wife finally does leave a husband who’s never really had time for her. After all the years that she’s accomodated, she’s finally decided that she can’t deny her own self anymore. What a shock that is for everyone!
Then, of course, the husband has to woo and win her back. And finally, for perhaps the first time, he starts listening, paying attention, and allocating some real time to her; to her wants, needs, and desires. And for a good long while, he won’t be putting in any overtime. In fact, what he might do is put in for a leave-of-absence or a sabbatical, in order to discover just who his wife really is. It’s that, or the divorce court.
If we’ve similarly been Emperor-dominant all of our lives, there comes a time when we need to give some “quality time” to the other core power archetyps. Otherwise, they’ll simply desert us. (Usually, this comes at a huge cost. Pay now, or pay later.)
Now, there’s a reason that all these archetypal integration processes are coming up at once for many of us. It’s not just that we’re going through “changing times.” We are, of course, but that’s not the whole story.
It’s not just that we’re in a massively accelerated world. Yes, that’s also true. And again, it’s not the whole story.
It’s much more that we – as a species – as a whole planetary species (and perhaps even as a planet) – are undergoing this kind of archetypal journey at a mega-level. We’re not just doing archetypal integration individually; we’re doing this as a society.
Moreover, steps like these are broad-ranging; they pull in all other aspects of our archetypal journeys. It’s like living inside a kaliedoscope. Or, more appropriately, experiencing our lives as a hologram.
More on this in the next blog posting.