The Spirituality Family of Archetypes

This month we will continue our exploration of archetypes – the language of the Unconscious mind – by looking at the Spirituality Family including the Alchemist, the Priest/Priestess, the Monk/Nun, the Healer and the Shape-Shifter.

The Alchemist converts lead into gold. This can be a cure for cancer, for example, or something that will effect spiritual transformation. In its shadow aspect, this archetype can misuse power and knowledge for personal gain. Nostradamus and Isaac Newton were both alchemists. Other examples are Greer Garson in Madame Curie, Robin Williams in The Absent Minded Professor and Jane Powell in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Examples of the shadow aspect are Jeff Goldblum in The Fly and Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in X-Men.

The Priest/Priestess archetype is committed to divine authority and serves as a spiritual channel of energy for others, performing rituals such as weddings and funerals. In the shadow aspect, there is an inability to live according to those teachings, along with lapses of personal morality and the breaking of vows. Examples of the Priest/Priestess archetype are Montgomery Clift in I confess, Richard Todd in A Man called Pater and Richard Burton in Becket.

 The Monk/Nun archetype is different in important ways. There is no ritual giving here. Rather there is spiritual intensity, devotion, dedication, persistence and wisdom. This archetype is not concerned with earning a living. Instead, there is a single-minded devotion to a spiritual path or to any great achievement that requires intense focus. The shadow aspect can result in the person becoming a recluse who removes him/herself from the real world and is overly pious.

The Healer archetype is different again. In its light aspect, the Healer serves others by repairing body, mind, and spirit, assisting people by helping them to transform their pain into a healing process. In its shadow aspect, this archetype takes advantage of those who need help, including over-powerful claims that they can heal any and every illness. There are different types of Healer archetype such as the Wounded Healer. Examples of this are Ellen Burstyn in Resurrection, Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Barbara Stanwyck in Miracle Woman.

Finally, let’s look at the Shape-Shifter archetype. The Shape-Shifter has the uncanny ability to change appearances. This is often exemplified by politicians who change their guise depending on the situation. However, the Shape-Shifter may choose to use his/her skill in a more spiritual way by navigating through different levels of consciousness. In its shadow aspect, the Shape-Shifter may become unstable, fickle and display a lack of conviction. Examples of the Shape-Shifter archetype are Lon Chaney Junior in The Wolf Man and Aaron Eckhart in In the Company of Men.

 There are many archetypes within the Spirituality Family. However, if you want a deeper understanding that these newsletters can give you, then I run workshops on archetypes as well as private sessions in person or on Skype and would be delighted to work with you personally. Meanwhile, keep observing the behaviour of yourself and those around you, maybe adding to your list of possible eight archetypes to add to the shared four. Next month will be our final visit to the world of archetypes with a look at the Wisdom Family.

In the meantime, have a wonderful August.

Love Laurelle