Many moons ago, (or Fifteen years ago, )as a Maiden, wild and lost, I went on a first date with someone with a real gem, this date opened the door to heartaches too deep for me to reminisce at this juncture, however, I did take one thing from this first date that stuck with me for the rest of my life. . My painful memories are tempered by the fact that along with a broken heart, this manboy gave me a beautiful gift. He ignited the interest in what was to become one of my greatest loves, Astrology.
When we first met, he asked me what my sign was, and informed me that we were perfectly compatible. Bemused, I told him that I had no idea what any of this meant. He was astonished, since apparently "all Scorpios are into astrology." Really? I hadn't known. Later that week I picked up an astrology book, to see what it was that I was 'supposed' to be drawn to, and there it was, love at first read.
I began to devour astrology. In my first few years of solo study I read, ate and slept astrology. Walking down the street I would long for the ability to instantly know each person's sign. It was unfortunate to me that "what's your sign?" had become associated with pick up lines, for I genuinely wanted, (and still do), to know "what is your sign?!"
Eventually my pursuit of astrology grew a bit stale. I had learned as much as I could about the houses, rising signs, moon signs, Saturn returning and many other delicate intricacies in astrology and I feared that there was little else for me to learn. At this time I had begun my Priestess immersion. I was a part of a small group of women who were all studying under the High Priestess Anyaa McAndrew. Anyaa guided us through a year long initiation called the Priestess Process, and it was here that I was introduced to "Shamanic Astrology."
Shamanic Astrology represented a whole other depth of astrology. It was deep, mysterious, meaningful and it lit me up inside. The Shamanic Astrology that Anyaa teaches is created by a man named Daniel Giamario. He links up the astrological signs with archetypes and gives the planets deeper meaning when reading a chart.
Anyaa took each of us through our own individual shamanic astrological chart and spent a weekend teaching us the basics as a group. The group work was fun, and listening to what my sister Priestesses were learning about their charts was captivating. As I sat in a room full of people who were revealing the entirety of their astrological chart to me, I now knew the answer to the question "what's your sign?" for all of my sister Priestesses. In fact I also knew what their Venus, Mars, Rising, and Moon sign was, it was bliss for this astrology obsessive! The true life changer for me though, was my personal chart.
When it came time for my chart, I was filled with anticipation. Anyaa, my High Priestess, is a powerful presence. I was looking forward to moving from sitting in circle with her amongst my peers, to her and I occupying one tiny room together so she could offer me her wisdom.I knew it would be fulfilling to have new food to digest on this enchanting subject, but I could never have anticipated all the ways this session would impact my life.
What was revealed to me transitioned me out of one relationship and opened me up to travelling across country and borders to meet my husband. It also liberated me of the bondage of false beliefs that had relentlessly pursued me. I finally had the answers to resolve lifelong struggles. The biggest relief was letting go of the false belief I had long carried that I had to choose between dedicating my life to Goddess or to a man, that I couldn't both be a woman of Spirit and the flesh. In my chart it became clear that my life purpose and my being in love went hand in hand, to be exact Anyaa read in my chart that I would be of best service after I had fallen in love, that my love would be a foundation for my calling.
This revelation illuminated everything inside of me. I had spent years criticizing myself for yearning to be in love as I did. Years trying to force myself to be more independent then I already was, to lose all desire, to be satisfied with Goddess only. For the first time I saw how easily my mind could crucify my inner knowing. I had longed for that 'true' Beloved relationship for a reason. My path with Goddess intensified the longing, not because it was something I was meant to sacrifice in some patriarchal attempt to appease a God in the sky. Rather it was my Mother reminding me that in this lifetime love would play a very important role in my life.
I will not attempt to explain the entirety of Shamanic Astrology in this post, I will however, share some key points with you, points that might help to open some doors within your consciousness as well.
In Shamanic Astrology the Rising sign represents the tribe that we are called to in the lifetime. I am called to the Libran tribe, the tribe that is all about perfect and equal partnership. The Moon sign represents the tribe that we have come from. I have a Taurus Moon, this is the tribe of the aristocrat, the courtesan. I had spent lifetimes playing the courtesan and enjoying the pleasures of decadent human living, it made sense that I feared a 'love relationship' would take me away from my spiritual quest, for these were very Earthy experiences that I had lived in my previous experiences with love and it would have been easy to get lost in once again. However I was moving away from a courtesan experience of lovemaking and into an equally partnered one, one that would serve my life purpose.
The Sun sign in Shamanic Astrology is the sign that fuels you, it is the energy that makes you go, however the Venus and Mars are equally as important in helping us to define who we are as astrological beings. I had always associated myself as a Scorpio (my Sun), now I was learning that who I was in my Venus and Mars was just as important. Our Venus sign represents our feminine energy and the Mars sign represents our masculine energy. The majority of women are most fulfilled living from their feminine self while their masculine energy supports them from within, whereas the majority of men are most fulfilled living out from their masculine with inner support from their feminine. Knowing what your Venus and Mars are will help you to tap into these energies.
I discovered that I have a Capricorn nature when I am in my feminine and that my inner masculine is in Virgo (not surprising as I have been most attracted to Virgo men throughout my life, in fact my husband is a beautiful Virgo).
In Shamanic Astrology, some of the basic elements of your chart are the Rising Sign, Moon Sign, Sun Sign, Venus and Mars.
I am a Capricorn Goddess supported by my inner Virgo God. I am fueled by the Scorpio essence and I have spent lifetimes as a part of the Taurus tribe and am called in this lifetime to the Libra tribe. This knowledge expands even greater with an understanding of the archetypes associated with each sign. The following is a shortened version of the list of archetypes and is quoted from Daniel Giamario:
ARIES: The Virgin Amazon
TAURUS: The Lover
GEMINI: The Divine Comedienne
CANCER: The Great Mother
LEO: The Queen
VIRGO: The Priestess
LIBRA: The Beloved
SCORPIO: The Sorceress
SAGITTARIUS: The Adventurer
CAPRICORN: The Matriarch
AQUARIUS: The Visionary
PISCES: The Selfless Servant
With this knowledge I can piece together what I know and I see that I am a Matriarch who is best supported by her inner Priest, that I am fueled by the essence of the Sorceress and that I am called to be in the tribe of the Beloved after having spent many lifetimes in the tribe of the Lover. In a sense it is as if I am transcending through the tribes, learning in this lifetime how to go from enjoying the earthy and sensual pleasures of being a lover into the conscious and connected practice of equal partnership. I have learned about creating balance in relationship through my Priestessing and through the love that I share with my Beloved husband.
The way that I have served this purpose has been through my Priestessing. My Matriarchal side is fulfilled in the leading of circle and offering of workshops. The writing that I do and my work with women and men one-on-one help me to thrive in my Feminine self. The Matriarch is like the Grandmother of a tribe, the Priestessing work that I do serves to continue to pass along ancient teachings and ways of the ancestors.
The primary role of the Priestess is to merge Heaven and Earth and teach others to do the same. This means that not only does my work in the Libra tribe have to do with a romantic partner but also with the Divine and the Earth and the merging of both. My Priestessing is the very act of merging seeming opposites together, a perfect 'job' for the Libran tribe. I honour my feminine self by sharing as a Matriarch of a community might. I am then supported by my inner masculine the Virgo Priest energy within. Being mindful of the colours I wear, keeping altars throughout the house, managing my praying and meditation practices, my personal devotion and my ability to stay consciously connected to the Goddess is all strengthened by my inner masculine self. The Scorpio essence that I identify with so strongly fuels it all, this energy compels me to uncover the most mysteriouis aspects of this calling. This Scorpio energy ensures that my practice is always deepening and that what I am called to share has depth and weight to it. All of these aspects combined offer me a clear picture of the map of my life and my life's purpose.
There is a truth that states that as the insides change the outsides must as well. For myself, this process of working with my Shamanic chart and the revelations that came with it shifted me out of one relationship, into being unto myself again, and then into the arms of my Beloved husband. It is true that the love that we share in our marriage is the foundation upon which I build my practice.
I extend so much as a Priestess, and while when I am perfectly aligned to the Goddess it is Her that is pulled through, I often fall short of perfect conscious alignment and can get emptied out energetically. It is the loving arms of my husband and the life that we have together that helps to fill me back up. It is the love that we share that lights me up and inspires me to continue to seek new ways to extend love, to offer compassion and to bridge the hurt and joy of human life with others.
If you are interested in learning more about your personal shamanic chart you can contact Anyaa McAndrews at www.goddessontheloose.com . Discover the details of your personal chart by googling 'free natal chart;' all you need to know is your birthdate, an your time and place of birth. Look at the archetypes above and place them with your Rising, Moon, Sun, Venus and Mars signs.
Visit my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PriestessofGrace to find more about the astrological signs and their corresponding archetypes.
As you begin to explore the wisdom of Shamanic astrology the mysteries of your life map will start to become clearer. This is a wise medicine and I pray that it touches your soul as deeply as it did mine. May the deep revelations of Shamanic astrology open your eyes and shift your world. May you find the answers you seek and discover the higher meaning of your path here on Earth.
Grace Be With You
Priestess of Grace
Candise Soaring Butterfly
There was a time long ago when Christianity was the liberation theology of our time - but today many realize the ideals of the Sacred Feminine are what we need for a sustainable future, for freedom, justice, women's rights and equality.
Here's a sneak peak about what others are saying about Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages and Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy.....Coming in April!
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"A strong, courageous book that will either set your teeth on edge or make you laugh with joy".
Jean Houston, Ph.D -
World-renowned American scholar, lecturer, author, and philosopher active in the "human potential movement". Adviser to political leaders, UNICEF, and the United Nations Development Group training leaders in the new field of Social Artistry.
Karen Tate's inspirational work celebrates Goddess spirituality and encourages all women to rediscover their sacred history, to break the shackles that patriarchal culture has imposed on them, and to take action for the preservation of our Mother Earth. Her meditations on the state of our world, past, present and future, are profoundly engaging.
Barbara G. Walker -
Beloved Foremother and Author of "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets," The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects," "The Crone,", "Feminist Fairy Tales," and "Man Made God," et al
A magnificent work, carefully researched, inspiring language, beautifully organized. To anyone who can only read one good book about the Goddess, I would recommend this work. Karen Tate is in love with life, and with the ancient wisdom. A very generous author who is a sister soul in revolution.
Zsuzsanna Budapest -
Women's activist, journalist, playwright, song-writer, visionary writer and revolutionary priestess.
Political Perspectives to challenge oppression. Ecofeminist Thealogy to empower action. Goddess Meditations to feed the Soul.
Rev. Selena Fox -
Psychotherapist, environmentalist, Pagan rights activist, High Priestess of Circle Sanctuary, and author of Goddess Communion and When Goddess is God.
Drawing on her eclectic experiences as teacher, interviewer, scholar, traveler, and liturgist, Karen Tate has created in Goddess Calling a powerful synthesis of well-chosen information, reflective observation and poetic prose. This unique volume combines astute analysis of present day social and political realities with soothing meditations, a welcomed addition to the conversation about the female divine. Throughout, goddesses from varied times and locations become accessible and embodied providing an impressive work of thealogy. Goddess Calling is an invaluable resource when crafting meaningful rituals as well as a helpful companion for individual study, inspiration and personal development.
Elizabeth Fisher -
Author, Rise Up and Call Her Name: A Woman-honoring Journey into Earth-based Spiritualities
Women all over the world are rising up to create their own circles, churches and organizations to empower themselves, to express female spirituality and to better the world. This amazing book serves us well in offering brilliant wisdom, joyful ideas and gentle structure to our gatherings. We have been waiting for such a book and I'm so glad it's now here. Rev. Karen Tate is a treasure...one of our most profound thinkers and doers for an ancient spirituality that is coming through just in time for all humanity, that of "goddess." <br>
Rev. Ava -
Founder and Presiding Priestess of the GODDESS TEMPLE of Orange County
To feel loved by the Sacred Feminine is a cure we need and Karen Tate's Goddess Calling helps bring it forth. She offers intellectual food, intuitional inspiration and experiential nourishment to seekers on the path of restoration of the feminine principle for our world. Goddess Calling can be used as a manual to create a wisdom circle or public ritual for a holy-day. She offers words to say for the important yearly cycles of renewal of the deep feminine, as well as guided visualization meditations to take us inward to meet the world goddesses.
Reverend Tate honors the archetype of Sacred Union through the story of Mary Magdalene and returns Mary to the company of her sister goddesses where she belongs. Mary Magdalene is but one facet of the world-changing strength of the feminine spirit that comes through in this book of rituals, meditations and political perceptions.
Joan Norton -
The Magdalene Within 14 Steps to Awaken the Sacred Feminine, Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene
Goddess Calling is a valuable resource for those regularly called upon to create services or ceremonies for the exploration of Goddess spirituality. Karen Tate offers a selection of "Messages" relating the values of Goddess Spirituality - as expressed through the sacred myths of ancient and living Goddess traditions - to today's society, politics, and culture. Then she provides a series of "Meditations" that can help participants awaken those Goddess values in their own lives. Karen brings her deep experience with Goddess Spirituality and the liveliness of her long-running internet radio program, Voices of the Sacred Feminine, to this inspirational book.
M. Isidora Forrest -
Author of Isis Magic: Cultivating a Relationship with the Goddess of 10,000 Names and Offering to Isis, Knowing the Goddess Through Her Sacred Symbols
....a hearty “Brava!” to Karen Tate who has created such a powerfully lovely vehicle to help us invoke Her spirit and connect with Her wisdom and guidance as we struggle to create a world of peace, understanding and sustainability in Her name.
Donna Henes -
Urban Shaman, Author of The Queen of My Self
Goddess Calling can be pre-ordered now through Amazon. The author, that's me, has a limited number of hard copies available now for purchase. Go to the Goddess Store page of www.karentate.com Books are $20 with S&H for domestic postage.
What is a symbol?
"Symbol" another problematic term in Jungian discourse because it means something different than what we commonly think of. In common parlance, "symbol" is more or less synonymous with "sign", something that signifies another thing. But Jung takes care to distinguish symbols from signs, metaphors, allegories, and other forms of representational discourse. Unlike signs, symbols are images and ideas that cannot be exhaustively interpreted or reduced to their referents.
"For a symbol," writes Jung, "is the intimation of a meaning beyond the level of our present powers of comprehension." (CW 15, P 119). Symbols are "bridges thrown out towards an unseen shore. " (CW 15, P 116). Jung writes of symbolic works of art, those that are not mere aesthetic,
"... their pregnant language cries out at us that they mean more than they say. We can put our finger on the symbol at once, even though we may not be able to unriddle its meaning to our entire satisfaction. A symbol remains a perpetual challenge to our thoughts and feelings." (CW 15, P 119).
True symbols are arise from and are manifestations of the archetypes (which will be the subject of the next post). Jung uses the term "sign" in the way that we commonly use the word "symbol". And when Jung speaks of something being "symbolic", he means it in the way that we use "archetypal", something both more general and more elusive and ineffable than a mere sign.
What does this have to do with Neo-Paganism?
In their article, "Jung and the Neo-Pagan Movement", David and Sharn Waldron write that Neo-Pagans’ insistence that they can consciously create symbols of divinity betrays a misunderstanding of the nature of symbols. While Neo-Pagans are right to acknowledge that symbols have a deep impact on the human psyche, it is another thing altogether to believe that one can consciously create symbols designed to have a psychological effect.
“According to Jung, consciously constructed images are allegories and signs that [...] do not represent the archetypes themselves and are thus not symbolic as such. Allegories and signs have a conscious and known meaning whereas a symbol must always and necessarily be an unknown quantity. If a symbol can be totally explained or rationalized within the confines of the conscious mind, then it ceases to exercise the power of a symbol and becomes an allegoric reference. From Jung’s perspective, symbols represent those unquantifiable aspects of the unconscious that have a numinous quality, creating meaning for the individual or collective. These play an illuminating role, revealing hidden aspects of the psyche. However, when a symbol becomes a consciously apprehended and constructed image, it ceases to be a symbol and, although it may masquerade as a symbol, it becomes a representation of the persona [...] and becomes a collaborator in the suppression of the shadow.”
What this means is that symbols cannot be created; they must be discovered. In his essay, "Symbols of Faith", theologian Paul Tillich identified six characteristics of symbols. The fifth is that symbols cannot be produced intentionally. "They grow out of the individual or collective unconscious and cannot function without being accepted by the unconscious dimension of our being." As a character in Anne Rice's Novel, Memnoch, the Devil, explains, "You can invent mythologies, but for them to work, they have to come from someplace deeper inside you."
Symbols can be discovered through various methods which I have written about here, including dreamwork, active imagination, and the creative arts. Other practices I will write about in the future are tarot and shadow work.
Triple goddesses spanning many cultures have three expressions: Maiden, Mother and Crone. The Maiden, or Virgin, reflects independent women who are often unmarried. The Mother is the second stage heralded by fertility and growth. The last stage, Crone, is the archetypal expression of the “wise old woman” who has come into her own. Perhaps the most popular Goddess Triad found in mythology is Persephone (Maiden), Demeter (Mother), and Hecate (Crone).
The Greek goddess Demeter (known as Ceres in Roman mythology) was the goddess of the grain, and is one of the most well known maternal goddesses. In the classic myth, Demeter was one of the 12 Olympian gods and goddesses and had a daughter, Persephone. One day, Persephone was out picking flowers when the ground split, and out rode Hades atop a chariot drawn by black horses. Hades abducted Persephone into the underworld, and when Demeter found out, she was devastated. Demeter roamed for nine days without food and water looking for her kidnapped daughter. Demeter was so consumed with her grief that nothing grew, and nothing could be born. Persephone was eventually restored to Demeter, but her daughter had to spend two-thirds of the year with Hades.
This myth explained the cycle of the seasons in the Mediterranean: Persephone went underground at the beginning of autumn and returned at the beginning of summer. The Greek summers were hot and scorching to the land, which paralleled Demeter's grief during the time Persephone is underground with Hades.
In the fascinating book Goddesses in Everywoman - Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives by Jean Shinonda Bolen, M.D., the psychology of women is outlined through the lens of various goddess archetype patterns. One of these goddess patterns is that of Demeter. Demeter women are maternal and nurturing, finding satisfaction in caretaking and providing for others. It is the Demeter woman that is moved by pictures of mothers and babies and, biologically speaking, is represented by a strong desire to become pregnant and have a child.
Not every woman who has a strong Demeter archetype is a mother; some nurture others through being a nanny, foster parent or babysitter. Still others nurture a business, co-workers, and employees. Many Demeter women love to feed others, feeling maternal satisfaction when their meals are enjoyed. Another aspect of this maternal archetype is having difficulty saying “no” for fear of hurting someone's feelings or from experiencing guilt.
Another aspect to the Demeter woman is persistence, stubbornness, and perseverance (as Zeus and the other Olympians gods and goddesses found out!). The nurturing energy of a Demeter woman makes them indispensable to children, spouses, and friends. On the flip side, the generous energy of the Mother archetype intrudes or smothers. If a child chooses to cut the proverbial apron strings (energetic umbilical cord), Demeter may feel rejected, thus experiencing incredible confusion and grief, much like Demeter felt when Persephone was abducted.
The dark side of the Mother archetype is often portrayed by Corn Mother myths, of which Demeter/Ceres is but one. According to The Element of Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, Russia has several Corn Mother mythos, including the hag Baba Yaga and Poludnica (The Noon Woman). Rye Mother (Ergot), The Iron Woman of the Ukraine, Anat (Canaanite) and Ezili Dantor (Voudon) are also fierce expressions of the Corn Mother.
Just as Corn Mothers smite the land by withholding crops (which results in death), so do some Mothers symbolically “smite” their children by withholding love, attention, and communication. The Mother who gives the “silent treatment” or isolates their children as punishment withholds nurturing, life-giving love. Symbolically, this is much like the famines in the Corn Mother mythos. This withholding stunts the emotional growth of children and—if severe enough—damages them irrevocably.
Some Corn Mothers, such as the one in Austrian mythology, have “red-hot iron fingers with which she will prick, string, and hurt children if she can…Given the opportunity, she’ll roast and eat children, too, just like ears of corn.” (The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft). In this book, author Judika Illes sums up the paradox within the Mother archetype:
“The classic attribute of the Corn Mother is that she simultaneously destroys and creates. In the act of killing, she gives life and vice versa. Even the most terrifying Corn Mother—and some are truly monsters—provides nourishment; even the most benevolent is a potentially a killer. Nourishment generously given can also be inexplicably withheld and vice versa.”
Those with a Demeter/Mother archetype are often physically demonstrative, especially with hugs, and attract men who are drawn to motherly women. However, many are indifferent towards sex—even puritanical—believing that it’s only for procreation. Interestingly, many with this archetypal pattern find more sensual satisfaction through breast-feeding than sexual relations with their husband.
It would likely be a woman with a Demeter/Mother archetype who views marriage as a means to one end: having children. For those with a strong Demeter/Mother archetype in their psyche, infertility or empty nest syndrome (when adult children move out of the house) can be especially difficult, often producing depression.
Other famous examples of the mother archetype include Mother Goose, Old Mother Hubbard, the Old Woman in the Shoe, Naomi (from the book of Ruth), Mother Theresa, both the Wicked Step-Mother and Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, and the Madonna (Mary, mother of Jesus). Kwan Yin, the Asian goddess of compassion, exemplifies nurturing feminine energy. Doreen Virtue notes that Kwan Yin has been considered the “Mother Mary of the East”. Even Gaia/Mother Nature is an expression of the Mother archetype.
Films serve as a rich source for observing archetypes in action, and the Mother Archetype is no exception. In the movie Mommie Dearest, actress Joan Crawford is portrayed as a real-life Devouring, Abusive Mother towards her daughter, Christina. Interestingly, Joan Crawford portrayed the Self-Sacrificing Mother archetype in the movie Mildred Pierce—a role that won her an Oscar. In the movie Mr. Mom, actor Michael Keaton showed us that the Mother archetype need not be relegated to females. Flowers in the Attic, the classic teen novel by V.C. Andrews, portrays the Abandoning/Neglectful Mother. Another twist on the Mother Archetype is the Queen Mother--a pattern played brilliantly by both Angela Lansbury and Meryl Streep in the The Manchurian Candidate.
In the Tarot, two cards seem to embody the energy of the mother archetype. In the Major Arcana, The Empress is traditionally portrayed as surrounded by grain, a reference to Demeter/Ceres. (Note that Ceres is the origin of our word "cereal"). Her heart-shaped shield bears the symbol of Venus, the Roman version of the Great Goddess. Abundance, fertility, nurturing, intuition, sensuality, creativity and maternal instinct are all associated with The Empress Card.
Another card from the Tarot indicative of the Mother archetype is the Queen of Pentacles. The Pentacles suit (also known as Disks or Coins) is associated with the Earth element, the realm of the material world. In Astrology, the Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Like that of the Mother Archetype, these Earth signs share her stubbornness and persistence. The Queen of Pentacles represents the protective, pragmatic, and procreative aspects of motherhood, as well as regal common sense, a trait that many Demeter women possess.
The Mother Archetype has many faces: nurturing, compassionate, sacrificing, protecting, defending, providing, generous, persistent, abandoning, devouring, grieving, destructive, indifferent, smothering and abusive. Those who manifest an empowered Mother archetype enrich the lives of those they touch, imparting life. For those who maim, ignore, or abuse their children--real or symbolic--destruction and chaos results. Perhaps one way for this pattern to become an empowered one is for the individual to become their own Mother--nurturing and forgiving the Self with gentleness and understanding. Other ways to reverse this pattern are through therapy and/or soul retrieval.
The good news is that every archetypal pattern can be transformed into its highest expression--even those we deem troublesome, negative, or painful. Likewise, the fall-out from a destructive archetypal pattern can be healed and transmuted from the lead of woundedness into the gold of healing and empowerment—including that of the Mother archetype.
Goliath, Biff Tannen from the Back to the Future films, Bluto from Popeye, Patty Farrell in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films, Mean Girls, Lotso Bear from Toy Stoy 3, Lucy Van Pelt from Peanuts…the Bully archetype is arguably one of the most recognizable in literature and film.
Fortunately, there’s now a strong anti-bullying movement, largely because modern, technological breeding grounds for this archetype—Facebook, texting, YouTube and other social media outlets—spawned a new mutation known as the Cyber-Bully.
But before I get into the hallmarks of the Bully archetype, as well as examples, it’s important to be clear on what a Bully is not.
A Bully is NOT someone who’s merely:
In the wake of the anti-bullying movement, some have taken the cause too far by calling anyone that offends them, or those they disagree with, a “Bully”. And, because the anti-bullying movement has been embraced and lauded, those deemed “a Bully” have a hard time coming out from under the label, even if it’s simply not true.
You see, many who champion the anti-bullying movement are, themselves, carriers of the Bully/Coward archetype. Let me be clear: no archetype is, in and of itself, negative—regardless of whether a society, culture or tribe deems it so. And, just because someone is a carrier of an archetype does NOT mean that they participate in the negative or shadow qualities of that archetype.
Caroline Myss goes on to say:
“Your relationship to this archetype should be evaluated within a framework far more expansive than evaluating whether you ‘bully’ people. Consider whether on your life path you confront one experience or relationship after another that appears to have more power than you and ultimately leads you to ask, ‘Will I stand up to this challenge?’ People are often called to take on bullies for the sake of others, as David did Goliath, and this is another criterion of you connection to this archetype.”
Thus, there are times that an individual calling another “Bully” the loudest are, in fact, the ones demonstrating the archetype (usually as the Coward).
Surprisingly, one of the most consistent portrayals of the Bully is in the Thomas the Tank Engine series for kids. The earlier episodes of this series are appalling for this very reason. Although Diesel and Diesel 10 are the main Bullies, constantly picking on and threatening the “Steamies”, the rest of the Cowards on the Island of Sodor—especially the “Steamies”—get in on the act by bullying their fellow engines. Of course, they apologize to one another at the end, but they, too, get caught up in the whole Bully/Coward dynamic.
For the most part, unless in its Stalker permutation, the Bully needs an audience for his tactics. It may be only one sidekick or several sycophants, but the Bully needs someone to bolster his ego because, remember, inside every Bully is a Coward. Bullies are not genuinely courageous, strong or confident. Thus, they overcompensate by belittling those who catch their focus.
And focus is yet another hallmark of the Bully. A Bully hones in on one person or group and relentlessly follows his prey. In school, he follows his target through the halls, in the gym, at the playground, on the bus or during the walk home. He demands money “or I’ll kill you”. He pushes his targets to the ground, steals their books, flicks their ears, pulls their hair or taunts them with names.
That’s yet another hallmark of the Bully: lacking inventiveness or intelligence, they rely on one-note taglines or names like “fat”, “four-eyes”, “fag”, “loser”, “retard” or other horrendous labels.
A prime example is the Westboro Baptist Church. These dumb-as-rocks Bullies protest military funerals and other sacred occasions, flinging their offensive names and rhetoric like fearful cavemen throwing stones at shadows.
With the Stalker permutation of the Bully, we have someone usually acting alone, in the shadows, anonymously. Not always, mind you. I had a pathetic Stalker who used her real name when she followed me all over Facebook, my blog, Twitter, Amazon, etc. But like most Bullies, she thought she had an “audience” to bolster her, when attacking me publicly was fashionable.
Stalkers call people on the phone to breathe heavily or unleash a diatribe of hate. Some leave 1-star reviews on Amazon, harass on Facebook or spread lies by contacting individuals with supposed “dirt” on their target. Obsessed with an individual, they just canNOT let it go.
Some call the police or other authorities—anonymously—to “report” someone they don’t like. These Cowards hope to have those stronger than them do their dirty work.
It may surprise you to know that males are not more likely to be a Bully than females, with recent studies showing equal statistics for both genders. In fact, girls as young as three years old may exhibit Bully qualities.
While males tend to be more physical--shoving, kicking or hitting--females exhibit the Bully pattern more subtly via gossiping, slandering and group exclusion. (Whoever's seen this pernicious behavior on Facebook, raise your hand).
Fueled by fear and insecurity, the Bully’s M.O. is intimidation and control. Thus, those that are deemed “weak” or “different” aren’t always their target. In fact, especially with Cyber-Bullies, they may target those who are successful, talented, creative or influential. Cyber-Bullies are miserable because they don’t have what someone has (in their eyes): power.
Yes, it’s all about power for the Bully.
For example, watch the performance below after you read this post. Why in the world would this girl be bullied? She’s beautiful and extremely talented, right? But that’s the thing: a Bully’s labels and taunts isn’t about her target at all…but about how out-of-control and powerless she feels.
Sometimes, it takes a life challenge or particular set of circumstances to activate a latent archetype, including the Bully. For example, in the classic book Lord of the Flies, a group of schoolboys from Britain are evacuated during war. Their plane crashes on a deserted island, so the boys must fend for themselves. Jack, who was actually a head choirboy at his school, hungers for power from the very beginning. When the boys decide to elect Ralph as leader, Jack is furious. From then on, he pushes boundaries and attempts to subvert Ralph’s plans for group survival and efforts at rescue.
Early in the book, Jack—the Coward—couldn’t even kill a pig for his survival. Society’s mores and promise of punishment that kept him civilized and “in line” were still operative in his psyche. But as time wears on, Jack’s hostility and bullying of Piggy increases, as does his anti-social behavior. Finally, Jack becomes a Hunter and, with a cadre of sycophants in tow, exhibits alarming bloodlust. When the survivors are finally rescued, the British officer is horrified how these schoolboys have descended into savagery.
Interestingly, Jack not only bullied his classmates via threats and actual violence, but also by creating an almost religious superstition--the vengeful Lord of the Flies, represented by the impaled pig's head. Fundamentalist religions often have superstitions and beliefs in place to instill fear in its followers. Again, a control tactic fueled by fear. One could argue that, in this light, Jehovah's constant threats to destroy "His people" or Christian ministers intimidating congregants with sermons saying "You're going to hell!" personify the Bully archetype, as well.
In terms of raising consciousness, identifying the shadow and acting in an empowering way, how does a person with a Bully archetype embrace this pattern?
Quite simply, by standing up to fear. That is, the fear within you. Instead of reacting to fear externally by trying to intimidate the "weak" or control those perceived as having "power", turn your Bully on your own fears. Do some serious psychological excavation and soul searching. Ask yourself the hard questions (with the help of a therapist or spiritual director, if need be). Be like the Cowardly Lion and seek true courage...the kind that only comes from ruthless self-examination and, then, self-acceptance.
When you are scared or feel threatened don't act out. Instead, go within and bully your fears. Tell them you won't be at their mercy. Acknowledge that others aren't your problem--it's your cowardice. Then man up (or woman up) by becoming truly powerful on your own, without the need, compulsion or obsession of trying to obtain it illegitimately by bullying others.
Turns out that Caroline Myss, a modern pioneer on Archetypes is out with a new book on the topic (that's coming under fire on Amazon from seasoned fans of her work) called Archetypes: Who Are You?. I guess it's a watered down version of Sacred Contracts that reads like a commercial tie-in.
Myss has partnered with the founder of Philosophy body products (I think it is). So I came across a potentially cool site based on her newest book: ArchetypeMe.com
I took the test and, not surprisingly, came up INTELLECTUAL - CREATIVE - SPIRITUAL for my top three archetypes. (Like I said, it appears to be VERY watered down compared to Sacred Contracts).
If you'd like to find out your Archetypes in this new system, click here for the quiz. (Make sure you come back here to tell me what you get!)
Did you find the Archetype Me quiz to be accurate? Comprehensive? Shallow?
And what do you think of ArchetypeMe.com? Personally, I think it has a lot of potential, but, as of now, it appears too much like a veiled attempt at targeted marketing based on profiles rather than a genuine attempt at fostering an understanding of Archetypes or bringing like-minded folks together.
Below is a video about the site: