How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Pearson's heroic archetypes
Carol Pearson, in Awakening The Heroes Within, describes twelve archetypes, each of which can go on a heroic quest. It is notable that some of these are not 'traditional' heroes in the sense of having archetypal strength of body or mind.
Here are a few notes and interpretations on each of Pearson's archetypes.
The Innocent, fearing abandonment, seeks safety.
Their greatest strength is the trust and optimism that endears them to others and so gain help and support on their quest.
Their main danger is that they may be blind to their obvious weaknesses or perhaps deny them. They can also become dependent on others to fulfil their heroic tasks.
The Orphan, fearing exploitation, seeks to regain the comfort of the womb and neonatal safety in the arms of loving parents. To fulfil their quest they must go through the agonies of the developmental stages they have missed.
Their strength is the interdependence and pragmatic realism that they had to learn at an early age. A hazard is that they will fall into the victim mentality and so never achieve a heroic position.
The Warrior is relatively simple in their thought patterns, seeking simply to win whatever confronts them, including the dragons that live inside the mind and their underlying fear of weakness.
Their challenge is to bring meaning to what they do, perhaps choosing their battles wisely, which they do using courage and the warrior's discipline.
Caregivers first seek to help others, which they do with compassion and generosity. A risk they take is that in their pursuit to help others they may end up being harmed themselves.
They dislike selfishness, especially in themselves, and fear what it might make them.
Seekers are looking for something that will improve their life in some way, but in doing so may not realize that they have much already inside themselves.
They embrace learning and are ambitious in their quest and often avoid the encumbrance of support from others. Needing to 'do it themselves', they keep moving until they find their goal (and usually their true self too).
The Lover seeks the bliss of true love and the syzygy of the divine couple.
They often show the passion that they seek in a relationship in their energy and commitment to gaining the reciprocal love of another.
They fear both being alone and losing the love that they have gained, driving them to constantly sustain their love relationships.
The Destroyer is a paradoxical character whose destructiveness reflects the death drive and an inner fear of annihilation. As a fighter, they are thus careless of their own safety and may put others in danger too.
Their quest is to change, to let go of their anger or whatever force drives them and return to balance, finding the life drive that will sustain them. Living on the cusp of life and death, they are often surprisingly humble.
Creators, fearing that all is an illusion, seek to prove reality outside of their minds.
A critical part of their quest is in finding and accepting themselves, discovering their true identity in relation to the external world.
The Ruler's quest is to create order and structure and hence an effective society in which the subjects of the Ruler can live productive and relatively happy lives.
This is not necessarily an easy task, as order and chaos are not far apart, and the Ruler has to commit themself fully to the task. The buck stops with them and they must thus be wholly responsible -- for which they need ultimate authority.
The Magician's quest is not to 'do magic' but to transform or change something or someone in some way.
The Magician has significant power and as such may be feared. They may also fear themselves and their potential to do harm.
Perhaps their ultimate goal is to transform themselves, achieving a higher plane of existence.
The Sage is a seeker after truth and enlightenment and journeys far in search of the next golden nugget of knowledge.
The danger for the sage and their deep fear is that their hard-won wisdom is built on the sand of falsehood. Their best hope is that they play from a position of objective honesty and learn to see with a clarity that knows truth and untruth.
The goal of the Fool is perhaps the wisest goal of all, which is just to enjoy life as it is, with all its paradoxes and dilemmas.
What causes most dread in the Fool is a lack of stimulation and being 'not alive'. They must seek to 'be', perhaps as the Sage, but may not understand this.
Pearson, C.S. (1991). Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World, CA: HarperSanFrancisco
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