Send in the Archetypes

Do any of you remember that Leonard Cohen song, "Send in the Clowns"  Judy Collins sang in the mid seventies?  It began to play in my ear last week for no reason that I could think of.  I used to listen to Judy Collins as a teenager, but I thought Clowns a mournful, depressing song. What to make of this?

After several days of hearing this soundtrack in my head, I was in the shower (my modern equivalent of a cave in the Himalayas) when I remembered a SoulCollage® class I had taught the previous week on archetypes.

For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, archetype is a word that has been around for a long time, but was popularized by psychologist Carl Jung. He wrote about the muses, guides, challengers and gods who dwell in the realm of the invisible. Present across time and culture, they originate in our collective unconscious.

The best way to give form to these presences is through images-which is what I was telling the class when all of a sudden, mid-sentence, I looked up, towards the "EXIT" sign posted above the door. I could have sworn there were half a dozen invisible presences swooshing through the entrance.

Call me crazy, and I'm sure several students thought that, but I had the idea that we were about to have visitors and I confess, I was very curious to see who might turn up. Have you ever wondered who is dwelling in your inner abode?

Pat B. Allen, in her excellent book Art Is A Spiritual Path, notes that:
Guiding images are waiting for us if we choose to receive them...These images may at first feel unfamiliar and startle us. In fact they come to restore balance...Our task is to learn to dance with, to flow with, these images...The images all arise from the place of infinite possibility, and that place is the core and basic home of every person. 

I asked everyone to browse our collection of magazine images and the thick, fat magazines we'd collected and to let the images choose them rather than the other way around. By holding the simple intention of wanting to discover our internal guides, an amazing thing happened. 

Six distinct archetypes emerged on the cards over the next hour and a half. I was delighted to meet my own Alchemist Buddha (pictured above). As I looked at the others' images and listened to their descriptions, I had the feeling that the class was somewhat shocked. It was a bit like the tale of Aladdin and the Genie. They had no idea that something so powerful would emerge when they glued images to matte board.

One student, Jeanette, who had imaged the Indian goddess Durga, discovered after googling her over and over (just to make sure), that the qualities ascribed to Durga were exactly the qualities that had sent Jeanette back to graduate school and straight into her new career. As I watched Jeanette grab her hair and repeat "WEeeiiirrd..." I had the feeling I was witnessing the beginning of a great new relationship.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with archetypes.

Pictured above: 
Alchemist Buddha, ©2010, Hannah K. Hunter
Mom Goddess, ©2005, Hannah K. Hunter
Seer, ©2008, Hannah K. Hunter