Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Int. Small theater. Day.
Audience seats are empty. Twelve people are on the stage, sitting in the circle. Lights are on them. The class is about to begin. PROFESSOR comes in and says they are going to play an interesting game today. “Open your notebooks please, I am going to ask you ten questions and you can write your answers down,” he says. So, the first question is: “Who am I?” Ask yourself who are you and write it down.
(I strongly encourage you to play this game now as well!)
I write down without thinking: I am a storyteller.
Students wait for the second question. Professor asks:
Who am I?
I smile, maybe he made a mistake. But the others are already writing…
I write as well: A woman. I think… And actually, I really love that I am a woman, I like when I discover myself as a woman, which at the very same time means I also love when I discover and learn about men.
Next question: Who am I?
I am a human being.
Interesting game. Some people now think before writing.
Who am I? When I am really alive?? When everything makes sense. When I am in love.
A lover. I am a lover.
Fourth question, the professor asks:
Who am I?
Who am I really?
Well, I suffered a lot as a kid; my parents fought a lot… they divorced later on. Till this day I often fight with my mom. My brother was and still is my best friend.
Fifth question: Who am I?
“Is it boring yet?” the professor asks… “NO,” we say… actually now it’s becoming interesting.
What really defines me on a deeper level?
Fifth answer: A daughter who was fighting or a granddaughter who was playing. My grandparents were so exceptional, my grandma was a person I could tell everything to, and she really, really thought I was special.
Now some students are smiling. They already know what the next question is.
I answer: Animal lover. Connecting with animals on a deeper level. Just enjoying life.
I answer: Traveler. Getting to know people and cultures on a deeper level.
I answer… Wounded Healer.
I answer: A Teacher…
I answer: I believe that the Universe is wise and loving. I am a truth-seeker.
I answer: I think stupid people are annoying. (And I am afraid that if I say this out loud, people are going to judge me and not love me. I like when people love me… Am I proud of that???
Who I am, what am I really proud of? I am a friend. I am a good friend I think.
Who am I not and would like to be? I am not a mother…
This game could now go on and on, but you get the point.
We are what we love, what we do, what we think, what we are searching for, what we are afraid of, which means we are relational beings. We play roles in other people’s lives. They play roles in ours. And the annoying or the interesting part of this is that the roles we are playing for them, maybe they play for someone else.
Some people are our friends and they help us, others directly oppose us, some we love… and some cheat on us, but some also give us guidance.
So, you see, when you answer the question of who you are, you will also have a list of the most important people in your life. We can’t be alone in this world. We can find who we are only in the mirror of others.
Apply that same game for your PROTAGONIST, and you will get a list of other character archetypes or basic archetype functions of your story.
And I remind you to look at all the archetypes both as symbols of identity, and a process of becoming the one, always think of them in relation to each other– simply put you cannot have a teacher without a student.
Relationships are opposites and opposites are relational.
On this point, you can also draw a psychological map of a story.
In theory, we say that there are five primary character archetypes that appear in most movies.
Last time we spoke about the Protagonist and Antagonist (Shadow or Nemesis).
This week think about:
Attractor. Who does he/she love? A person who is going to help your protagonist to grow emotionally. (Romance)
Mentor. Who can your protagonist learn from?
A person who knows more than your protagonist and who can provide essential wisdom to your protagonist, because they were once in the protagonist's shoes. They help the protagonist with intellectual growth.
Trickster or a Fool – Who can test your protagonist?
The trickster exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge and uses it to play tricks on others. The trickster is a person who disobeys rules. They usually seek change by definition, and just by being there; they can test the protagonist’s will power. When the protagonist feels too serious, they will play a fool, when the protagonist is not serious enough, they will show their wisdom. They can be either an ally or an enemy.
At this point, I would start to draw a psychological map of your story. Play with it. Make a list or cards, draw your characters and connect the dots.
Also note that throughout our journey in order to experience something fully, we are often put in a position of the protagonist first, then we see the same situation from the antagonist’s point of view and the third time we see it as a spectator. I believe you have all experienced that in your own lives. Use this “three points of view” structure to build your characters.
My/the protagonist’s inner world (Same, same but different)
12 archetypes or 12 states of awareness. If you want to dive even deeper, you can imagine you are the protagonist you are writing about and answer the following questions:
I do – What do I want to ACHIEVE? Do I have willpower?
I have – I BUILD, I earn. When am I stubborn and when am I patient?
I think – I communicate – how I associate IDEAS?
I feel - HOW MY MEMORIES DEFINE ME, how I nurture?
I love, I create, I play - WHO I AM IN THIS MOMENT? (CREATION IN TIME)
I know the truth – what is INTEGRITY for me?
I relate – I attract, what is BEAUTY for me?
I destroy and overcome, my boundaries – my OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE behaviors (if I am going to die, how is it going to be? That can be an interesting thing that can define your character)
I seek, I BELIEVE. Do I consider myself lucky? When?
I rule and decide – politics and STRUCTURES of my world, what is the top of my mountain?
I belong (being free) – groups and FRIENDS I associate myself with – and how I can be free from them?
I imagine, I connect – all possibilities – my sense of MAGIC in this world, but also where I can be lost, my blind spot.
We have all of these states of awareness inside of us. All of them can also become both character traits or you can use one or two or three and combine them to build your character. You can also think of them as developmental stages of the psyche; what a hero’s journey really is. We’ll talk about this in one of the next posts.
In the book Awakening the heroes within, Carol S. Pearson describes the 12 Jungian, or zodiacal, archetypes in depth, defining their goals, fears, dragons – problems, responses to tasks, gifts – virtues, pitfalls, addictive qualities, addictions, and shadow sides. Find this book for more.
THE INNOCENT is the trusting child within us, who seeks to remain in safety. They believe all is good and will be good. At the same time, they may be hurting themselves and others, they can be hurt by others, but they will not acknowledge it. They are the optimists but their fear is abandonment while their addiction is denial.
THE ORPHAN understands that everyone matters; it is a structure of the abandoned child in all of us. Among other things, it teaches us empathy. They can easily fall into the victim mentality and never achieve a heroic position. Their fear is exploitation. Their response to tasks is to feel the pain. They can be independent, but their addiction is powerlessness. Shadow side is the victim who blames his or her incompetence, irresponsibility or even predatory behavior on others.
THE WARRIOR wants to win, he is the courageous one. He persists through difficult times. But he also sees others as enemies even when it’s not necessary. His fear is weakness, and his response is to fight. He can be ruthless and arrogant. His/her addiction is achievement/success. And the shadow side is a villain, someone without morality, ethics, or thinking for the good of the whole group.
THE CAREGIVER is the selfless mother within us. “Although prone to martyrdom and enabling behaviors, the inner caregiver helps us raise our children, aid those in need, and build structures to sustain life and health.” But they can also give too much to others and put themselves last. They are compassionate and generous, but they are the ones prone to martyrdom, creating codependence. Their shadow side is controlling others by making them feel guilty. They can become ill if they repress emotions.
THE SEEKER “leaves the known to discover and explore the unknown.” They are the ones who can go on a quest for the sake of it, defining their goal while they are moving. Strangers can often be their family and they can find treasure everywhere. But, usually, they are not aware that treasure is inside of them as well. Once they do, they can share something important with people close to them, at home. Their addiction is self-centeredness and the shadow side is “always striving to measure up to an impossible goal or to find the “right” solution,” improving themselves constantly while they never feel ready to commit.
THE LOVER seeks true love. It is an “archetype that governs all kinds of love—from parental love to friendship, to spiritual love—but we know it best in romance. Although it can bring all sorts of heartache and drama, it helps us to experience pleasure, achieve intimacy, make commitments, and follow our bliss.” Their fear is of being alone and losing love. Their shadow side is objectifying others, romance/sex addictions, out of control sexuality, seducing and using love to manipulate. They are the ones who are unable to say ‘no’ when passion hits, or they are totally destroyed when a lover leaves.
THE DESTROYER embodies “repressed rage about structures that no longer serve life even when these structures still are supported by society or by our conscious choices. Although this archetype can be ruthless, it weeds the garden in ways that allow for new growth.” Their quest is to change and their shadow side includes all self-destructive behaviors—addictions, compulsions, and also murder.
THE CREATOR is the imaginative one. They are the one who seeks beauty in art, but also in everyday life. What they actually seek is their heart, their unique expression, and their true identity. But they can also obsessively overload themselves with projects seeking the opportunity to perform wherever they go. They need applause while standing on stage in order to feel good about themselves. Their shadow side is also workaholism.
THE RULER rules reality, he is aware of time and other limitations in our lives. So, as a result, he can feel insecure in the outside world. To resolve this insecurity, he takes responsibility for his life, he figures out the structures and overcomes them. He either finds his place in society or he builds his own empire. From there he can be an example, serving for the good of everyone, or he can become his shadow side and start dominating others. We see this over and over again how people misuse their position of authority. They become tyrants who lose their sense for the rest of the world and are actually not responsible. Their addiction is control.
THE MAGICIAN “searches out the fundamental laws of science and/or metaphysics to understand how to transform situations, influence people, and make visions into realities.” He can reach other plains of existence, as he understands that the cosmos is big and he is ready to explore it. He can bring instantaneous resolutions of irresolvable opposites. That we call magic. His goal is to transform. His fear is evil sorcery. His addiction is a disconnection from reality, using drugs. He can be an embodiment of a guru-like syndrome.
THE SAGE analyzes so he can separate truth from falsity. He wants to know the truth, he wants to see the world objectively, so that he can be free. And sometimes the truth can be as simple as that our bodies are actually so intelligent that we can learn from them. The sage is in the here and now, with both feet on the ground, so he can see through deception. His fear is that he is not be able to see through deception, that he can be fooled. His shadow side is being judgmental and being self-righteous while others are not good enough.
THE FOOL/JESTER wants to enjoy, play, interact with others, learn, and communicate – always curious to find something new. He stays young and appreciates life as it is. The jester is aware of all the problems of the world; he is not stupid at all. He is actually wise enough to know that life is duality and if not enjoyed, can never be understood. His fear is losing interest, being bored. His shadow side is being irresponsible; making cruel jokes, pretending that nothing really matters, because it’s all just a game, while he knows better.
"The archetype is not linear or circular but spiral."
"They are guides on our journey. They live in us but we also live in them."
"Whether an archetype is active or in the process of being awakened, it is important to recognize the unique form of its expression in your life. Not all Warriors, for example, are alike. Some are primitive and ruthless, driven by a desire for conquest. Some are competitive game players. Some engage in crusades for the good of humanity. And so on. One purpose of shining the light of consciousness on the archetype is to see the specific form it takes in your life."
“You can literally ask the archetype to come into your life. Or, you may prefer to act out its rites and rituals. For example, to invoke the Warrior, you can engage in confrontation, competition, or struggle. To awaken the Caregiver, give to others without thought of return. To activate the Sage, study, work to improve your thinking skills, and become aware of our own subjective biases...”
Pearson, Carol S.. Awakening the Heroes Within
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