Book Review: Archetypes: Who Are You? By Caroline Myss (2013)
When I happened upon this book on a recent library visit, I snatched it up for two reasons.
First, I hadn’t visited the topic of archetype since the mid-nineties when I studied Jung during my master’s program. Marriage, three children, and 20+ years later, I can’t say I remembered too much.
Secondly, I fondly remember Caroline as a woman who saved me during one of the most difficult points in my career as a Catholic high school president. I didn’t know her well, we’d met only once or twice, but when I sent a bulk email to inform folks in the community that I’d resigned – quite unexpectedly, she responded with an invitation to meet her THAT evening for dinner. I’ve not seen nor really spoken to her since, but in ways she will never know, she saved my life that night.
Caroline Myss is an internationally renowned speaker and author in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness. “She specializes in assisting people in understanding the emotional, psychological, and physical reasons why their bodies have developed an illness” (Back jacket).
In Archetypes, Caroline presents a clear explanation of the concept of archetypes, how they impact our lives, and why it is important to recognize and embrace your archetype. Given the infinite possibilities for archetypes, and that they can change with time, Caroline chooses to cover ten archetypes that she believes, “embody the primary power issues that define women today, including their underlying struggles with personal empowerment” (p. 9).
Once I read the two opening chapters explaining archetypes, I dug right into the list of ten:
- The Advocate
- The Artist/Creative
- The Athlete
- The Caregiver
- The Fashionista
- The Intellectual
- The Queen/Executive
- The Rebel
- The Spiritual Seeker
- The Visionary
I could immediately identify those that didn’t fit: athlete, fashionista, queen/executive.
Eager to identify my archetype, I did a quick check of the overview elements of each archetype as she outlines:
- Life Journey
- Unique Challenge
- Universal Lesson
- Defining Grace
- Inner Shadow
- Male Counterpart
- Recognizing Your Archetype (Specific examples of behaviors and characteristics)
- Lifestyle Challenge
- Step Into Your Archetype (Practical steps, Where You Gain Your Power, Where You Lose Your Power, and a Checklist)
I decided I was not likely an advocate, artist/creative, or intellectual.
That left me with Caregiver, Rebel, Spiritual Seeker, and Visionary.
Reading each of these archetypes carefully, I can pretty firmly identify as the Caregiver being my primary archetype. But I have very strong elements of the rebel, spiritual seeker [note – not spiritual finder], and visionary that I am certain influence my personality, my interactions with others, and my understanding of our world.
To ensure that I didn’t make assumptions, I then returned to each archetype I’d skipped. As Caroline points out, we may have elements of many archetypes impacting us – as I could find a characteristic or example of ‘me’ in the advocate, artist/creative, and intellectual, but not nearly as many points as in the Caregiver. And, once again, my rereading confirmed that I am no athlete, fashionista, or queen/executive.
I found that peeking into the ‘not me’ archetypes gave me a glimpse into the possible thoughts, patterns, and feelings of family and friends – which will hopefully make me a better caregiver. 😊
The last section of the book, “Archetype Gallery” offers a list of 22 archetypes, and sub-archetypes, not covered in the main chapter to provide further points of insight and reflection.
If you are looking for a quick, easy-read approach to discovering your archetype – or what makes you tick – pick up a copy of Caroline Myss’ archetypes and dive in.
Are you familiar with archetypes? Do you know yours?