The Purpose of Archetypes
Discovering archetypes is a highly personal experience. No one can look at you, even if they know you well, and tell you, Oh, you are this archetype.
These days, we tend to seek symbolic archetypes in celebrities, but we need to nurture a full expression of the archetypes in ourselves. They are part of what creates us. This is the stuff our dreams are made of. This is the stuff of mythology, of campfires stories, of legends. This is what inspires great movies.
Mythology is the wellspring of our civilization. One of the consequences of depriving people of mythology is that they join street gangs. Why? Because gangs have a leader, they have rituals, they have initiation rites the stuff of mythology. Our children are joining gangs in search of a mythical experience.
Whenever somebody does anything remarkable when astronauts walk on the moon, when a pilot embarks on the first solo flight across the Atlantic these are mythical quests. Gangs and movies and soap operas and celebrities are seductive precisely because they strike this mythic chord. But they are second-class substitutes for mythology.
Real archetypes are enacted by people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, anyone who reaches beyond daily life into the realm of the wondrous.
They are able to achieve greatness because they tapped into the collective consciousness, which gave them the ability to see several event lines simultaneously and predict the future based on choices in the moment. These events create a shift in cognitive and perceptual mechanisms.
From time to time we can awaken dormant potentialities and the wisdom to use them. These are the powers that bloom as myth.
Adapted from The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press).