The Summer Solstice, June21st, marks the longest day in the year in the Northern Hemisphere and is traditionally celebrated to honor warmth, family, and pleasure. In 2023, for me, this is a time to celebrate how very fortunate I am. David and I live close to all our children and most of our grandchildren (all of whom are thriving) in a diverse and largely progressive community in the DC area. If that were not great enough, after three surgeries in three years, David, my beloved husband (and editor) is better and, thankfully, no longer fighting serious pain. To me, this is a great time to be writing about the Declaration of Independence affirmation of the inalienable right to pursue happiness.
I’m happy with my personal life, and my work as an author, but saddened by how I believe my country’s culture war is promoting unhappiness and an inability to solve the major issues before us, some of which are urgent. However, I was inspired by President Biden who, after sharing how enough members of both parties came together to avert a debt ceiling default, thus averting a crisis, issued a challenge to Americans: “No matter how tough our politics gets, we need to see each other not as adversaries, but as fellow Americans. Treat each other with dignity and respect. To join forces as Americans to stop shouting, lower the temperature, and work together to pursue progress, secure prosperity, and keep the promise of America for everybody.”
This summer I am taking time out to conclude my exploration of the power of story in the U.S., and what that means for you and me. My goal is to promote greater civic cooperation in a short, accessible book, designed to help Americans utilize the power of story to encourage mutual understanding in service of greater success and quality of life. Others may not know my thinking until the book is published, but my blogs are available on my blogsite. And three or four new ones hot off the presses will be posted this summer. They will discuss the ability of the Jester archetype to help us actually be happy or, sadly, just leave us throwing verbal spitballs at each other.
My larger passion right now is the influence of archetypal stories on culture and on what people believe and do. The blogs I’ve written in the past year for Psychology Today explore contemporary fiction and films that illustrate patterns for living that further this goal. This interest has also motivated my invitation to others to join me in offering 12-archetype story pattern blog series.
I'm thus very excited about two new series on my blogsite by guest authors. The first is already in progress. Dr. Priscilla Hobbs, Associate Dean of General Education and Interdisciplinary Studies at Southern New Hampshire University, is the author of Harry Potter and the Myth of Millennials: Identity, Reception, and Politics. In her series, she is taking her work to another level by revealing the archetypes expressed in Harry Potter characters and situations in 12 blogs that track my archetypal system.
By coincidence or synchronicity, my daughter and I took two of my granddaughters (10 and 13) to the Universal Studios Harry Potter World earlier this year. the place was packed, demonstrating that Harry Potter is a continued draw only for Millennials but also for older adults and younger children as well. Experiencing this amusement park also expanded my interest in embodying myth in dance and music to include rides and environments.
Very soon this summer, my colleague Dr. Dori Koehler will be launching a blog series on the 12 archetypes in Disney movies and theme parks. Starting with Mickey Mouse, these movies and parks embody stories and experiences that have had a long, continuing, and evolving impact on American culture and Americans. Dori is the author of The Mouse and the Myth: Sacred Art and Secular Ritual at Disneyland and teaches humanities courses at Southern New Hampshire University. Her research on Disney focuses on two segments of Disney’s mythmaking: the way so many regard the theme park experience as sacred and the Disney Princess phenomenon. I’m intrigued by these ideas, as I respect Disney’s genius at archetypal embodiment, which mirrors longstanding and emerging archetypal patterns in American life. (See the Blogosphere section below for more information on present and forthcoming blogs, including one by Dori, coming soon.)
It is encouraging to me to remember that art can both mirror positive and negative energies in a society and, even better, energize patterns that prefigure future potential. For example, the Disney animated movie Encanto shows us a society carefully constructed to be perfect, but which is about to crumble because the old roles are stressing everyone out. They have been taught not to talk about Bruno, for he is the one who sees the destruction in progress. This mirrors how our country, and the world, are in such a time of transformation that most people’s inclination is to hold tight to what has been and blame others for changes that seem out of control. It is now time to turn to writers, artists, musicians, and other creatives who are expressing the images, stories, sounds, and embodied experiences that might well organize the prevailing chaos into hopeful archetypal patterns. These may well assist us, collectively and individually, in not just pursuing happiness, but actually being happier.
My article “Authenticity and Archetypes,” co-authored with Carol Burbank, was included in the June 2023 Science Of Mind Guide For Spiritual Living. The theme of the month is “Embracing Self. You Are a Priority,” and the article applies the 12 archetypes to acquiring spiritual virtues. I continue my interest in panentheistic belief systems. These hold that there is a Divine creator who is also alive in all of creation, including you, me, and our planet, our home.
This quarterly article is written by Kesstan Blandin, the Vice President of the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), the publisher of the PMAI® instrument. In that role, Kesstan is the editor of Storywell.com, the official website of the PMAI®. She also teaches at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
We started the year by getting back to basics, highlighting an article answering the question, What makes a story archetypal? Following up on this was an article on the fluid and dynamic nature of archetypes, which is distinct from the fixed nature of other personality systems, especially psychological types.
This spring, Storywell published a series of articles offering an archetypal analysis of the popular online game World of Warcraft. These articles were authored by our librarian and avid gamer Logan Abbitt, and build on a previous article published by another staff member, Yvonne Nelson-Reid. Yvonne’s article unpacked the correlations between the chosen avatars in World of Warcraft and the PMAI® Archetype Profiles of her family members who play the game together.
Storywell has an active social media presence where we are spreading the word about the Pearson-Marr archetype system on LinkedIn(StoryWell PMAI®), Instagram (@storywell_pmai), and Facebook (StoryWell). Follow us!
Links to articles:
My colleague and friend Margaret Wheatley, author of the groundbreaking book Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, now has a revision of a recent book with 80 percent new material. Meg brings the perspective of an expert on leadership, the new science, and organizational development, as well as a practicing Buddhist. The book is:
Here is what she says about it: “My intention is to bring current reality into sharp focus so that we may find our path of contribution for this time. As people who have made a difference, as people who want to use our power and influence for good, we must understand that this world requires a different difference. What formerly was meaningful work may no longer serve current and future challenges as conditions continue to deteriorate and the Spirit of Life in both people and planet is under increasing assault.”
Do these questions intrigue you: “In a world we cannot recognize, how do we find a way forward? In this world we do not understand, how do we know what to do? When so little is comprehensible, what is meaningful work, what is genuine contribution?” If so, check out this book.
In the Blogosphere
In the last newsletter, I announced the beginning of my collaboration with Dr. Priscilla Hobbs on a series of blogs that illuminate different archetypal images in the Harry Potter novels. I’m pleased to announce that this series has yielded magical results. We hope you have a chance to take a look.
Here’s a short retrospective of the blogs that Priscilla has written since my last newsletter:
The Lover – This blog considers the presence of love as an overarching theme of the novels, from the magical protection Harry Potter’s mother places on his head to how its presence is withheld from characters. Priscilla notes that “Because love is such a central archetype, those who can love are the most rewarded in the books. Indeed, no single Lover character exists in the entire series, because all the central characters embrace and radiate some aspect of the archetype.” Priscilla makes this point as she offers excellent examples of the PMAI® types and subtypes.
The Realist – Harry’s birthday twin, Neville Longbottom, is the subject of this blog. Priscilla points out the way Neville’s mundane upbringing with his grandparents is juxtaposed with Harry’s heroic journey. She highlights the important detail of the series that as Harry’s birthday twin, Neville could just as easily be the subject of Voldemort’s wrath. She states that “While he isn’t the strongest wizard, he firmly believes in the power of a group when they all work together. Although he struggles with self-confidence, Neville is a problem-solver and a collaborator, committed to a greater good that he’s barely able to articulate.” Through this analysis of a fan favorite, she suggests that it’s Neville’s unassuming Realist willingness to step in, be honest about what is happening, and take action that helps defeat Voldemort.
The Revolutionary – Anyone familiar with the Harry Potter series knows that revolution is at the heart of it. This blog explores Potter’s Revolutionary spirit. It argues that one of the most powerful lessons of the series for the Millennial generation has been to overturn the current cultural norms when they no longer serve us. Priscilla states, “While it is easy to read generational divide into these situations, what sets the Harry Potter series apart from coming-of-age stories is that the Wizarding World is in fact facing an existential change, a paradigm shift in which the status quo can no longer function.” This healing message across generations can be read as a unifying call to the Revolutionary in all of us. We all have the chance to change the world in ways big or small.
America Blog Series: The Jester
In this most recent blog, I consider how the ideal of the pursuit of happiness is baked into American mythic identity. Happiness is something we continue to pursue,though in practice it seems to elude us. Because our current times are complex and turbulent, we need one another more than ever. But the complexities of social life leave us feeling isolated. I suggest that we activate the Jester, which calls upon us to regard one another as potential buddies, some of whom see things differently than others, but which does not have to make us enemies. This is the first in a series of three blogs on this archetype and happiness; the others are coming soon.
Disney Blog Series: The Magician, coming soon
Dori Koehler’s first blog will call on the Magician archetype, as she considers the concept of Disney magic – how it is presented to the audience as a means for personal transformation, and the ways in which Disney fans continue to engage it, particularly in this year of the Disney100 celebration, the Walt Disney Company’s one-hundredth birthday.
I welcome and encourage your comments on any of the blogs posted on my blogsite, several of which have inspired a rich exchange of ideas. Also, if you have an idea for a blog that you might like to submit, please send me an email with a brief summary and I will let you know whether it is suitable for my blogsite and, if so, what guidelines you should follow in preparing it. Because my current blogs highlight ideas about bringing Americans together, I would appreciate your passing them on to others who also want an end to the culture wars.
In addition to my blogsite, you can find many of my blogs on Psychology Today and the Depth Psychology Alliance, and you are invited to make comments on the former and on the latter if you are a member. The easiest way to learn when a new blog goes up on my blogsite or any of the others on which I post is to visit my website or follow me on Facebook at Carol S.Pearson, Ph.D. Posts will inform you of the topic and how to access it. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram @carolspearsonphd and let me know what is going on with you.
As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who might be interested.
Carol S. Pearson
The presence of magic is integral to things Disney. It’s everywhere in the Disney brand
The next 12 blogs reflect my newest thoughts about how we might consider each of these archetypes in play (pun intended) at the park.
For Americans, happiness is assumed to include freedom, and when we feel trapped or too settled, we naturally become blue.