I began writing this message to you just after the 2022 September equinox. In ancient Greece, this is when the Eleusinian Mystery initiation occurred, where people were taught to be happy, prosperous, and courageous through the agency of a goddess (Demeter) and her daughter (Persephone). Demeter was the goddess of agriculture who helped the Greeks live in conscious partnership with the earth, as we need to do now. Persephone, who descended into Hades and returned, was a goddess of resurrection who transformed the relationship of humans to the gods. Previously, the gods saw much of human behavior as immoral, so they punished them harshly. After Persephone and Demeter created the mysteries, the gods came to understand that people were not bad, they were just ignorant and in need of being taught. (See my book Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within.)
Human culture lagged behind for a very long time, viewing issues in terms of good and bad and seeking harsh punishments for wrong doing or wrong thinking. The rise of Persephone energy today can help more and more of us focus on solving problems in compassionate ways. Many of us already raise children by educating them and explaining logical consequences they face rather than imposing harsh punishments. I also find that when I’m angry with a friend or family member, I don’t need to make them wrong. Rather, I can let them know what I’m seeing, not as an argument but to promote mutual understanding. Now I’m wondering whether this same sort of understanding can help me feel kindly toward those on the other side of my country’s political divide.
The following observations concern my country, but the underlying archetypal shift is happening all around the world. We now have weapons that if used as punishments will end human life as we know it. So, how can we practice recognizing that people who are doing harmful things may need consequences, but we do not need to despise or demonize them? Instead, we can educate them by being good role models. The United States is not the only nation experiencing this quandary right now, but the examples below particularly concern the problems we are faced with.
Reliable news sources tell me that the QAnon folks still think that Trump is their savior and believe that liberals are running child trafficking operations; some even think that people like me are drinking the children’s blood. As a consequence, QAnon believers then conclude that Democrat leaders need to be rounded up and executed. Many other Americans join them in being threatened by inconvenient truths, like climate change, that they do not feel ready to address, and so retreat into denial. My first impulse is to judge them all harshly.
Yet, Persephone has me wondering whether these folks do not just empathize with the imagined abused children, but also feel like children themselves. Do they think “sex, yuck” like little children often do? Are they framing other events with an archetypal plotline where they are like innocent children mistreated by absolutely evil-like figures, as in faery tales? And, like children, do they relish keeping secrets from the grownups and sharing fantasies of being rescued by saviors? And, is all this a result of the magical thinking characteristic of small children?
We do not need to see these people as villainous or even childlike in all parts of their lives. Many of them can think and act as grownups in the work they do, for instance, but they have not matured as citizens. Rather than demonize them, we can realize that if we do that, we are also falling into a narrative where we are the good guys, and they the dangerous enemies to be vanquished.
Meanwhile, our former president, who many psychologists believe has a narcissistic personality disorder, keeps dropping QAnon bread crumbs. If these psychologists are right that Trump is a narcissist, then they would explain that his inner life likely is desperate. Lacking a sense of authentic self, he craves attention and validation, and explodes with anger when challenged. Right now, he continues to decompensate, letting his condition even more totally undercut him, as legal consequences for any laws he may have broken become more likely. If we recognize this, we can protect our country’s democracy without despising him by supporting those who represent our values and views.
Being a healthy enough adult carries with it responsibilities. Right now in the United States and in many other places in the world, we are in a time of massive transformation, and those most attached to the past and/or to their advantages will have the most difficulty adjusting. But change will happen, whether it is organic and positive or violent and destructive. This makes it incumbent on all of us—conservatives, liberals, or progressives—who can be the healthy enough grownups in the civic room to vote our conscience, and to take whatever other actions we can to stabilize our country’s and the world’s situation.
Further details on upcoming events, including how to register, can be found on the Events page of my website.
My Living Fully in Our 3rd 30+ Years workshop went well, with participants walking away with an understanding of the capabilities they had gained by living their stories in the past and which of these or new ones would help them live fully as they get older.
I’m looking forward to my upcoming Houston Jung Center class on the 12 archetypes, Discover the Archetypal Stories Living You. The class will be held on Zoom on Thursdays, November 3,and 17, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Central Time (7:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00-6:00 p.m. Pacific.)
This three-week class is ideal for individuals who want to understand their lives better from an archetypal perspective and professionals who are using the 12 archetype system with others or wish to do so. Most Jungian work with archetypes references their expression in myth, but I focus more on how they are expressed in novels, plays, and film to update them. Why? The great mythologies of the world typically were created during patriarchal times that highlighted the transformation accomplished by lone characters or small heroic groups in cultures that also were often disdainful of other groups who they mistreated, with huge disparities between royalty and everyone else. Yes, I’ve written about myths, such as that of Demeter and Persephone, but I find that I have to translate their narratives into contemporary or sometimes also classic terms. My goal with the 12 archetype system is to help people today live more successful and fulfilling lives through awareness of evolved versions of the stories living them.
In December, I’m also offering another class for those spiritually inclined: Holmes, Jesus, and the Power of Stories We Believe and Live, December1, 8, and 15, 2022, from 7:00-9:00 p.m.Eastern Time. The sponsor is the Center for Spiritual Living, a New Thought denomination based on the work of Ernest Holmes. I’ll be exploring his writings along with new theological research on what Jesus actually said and did,referencing Matthew Fox’s interfaith Creation Spirituality, the findings of the Jesus Seminars, and the research of other progressive historians and theologians.
I recommend this class for individuals who may have grown up in conservative Christian churches but no longer believe many of their teachings, yet who miss having a spiritual grounding for their faith. I also recommend the class for those who are simply hungry for a faith they can believe in, for anyone who values the teachings of Jesus and the archetypal stories he advocated, or who just want to get the facts right about what he did and did not teach, which was added later.
You are invited to join me in the Science of Mind Magazine Group, which meets the second Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. on Zoom, which began in January 10, 2022. This group, which I will be leading, is offered by the Columbia Center for Spiritual Living. Although it is a drop-in group, you will get the most out of it if you attend as many sessions as you find useful. (As some of you may know, in addition to my Ph.D., in 2012 I completed an interfaith Doctor of Ministry degree in Creation Spirituality, which is a panentheistic faith, as is SOM. That is my background for running this group.) Email info@ColumbiaCSL.com to register. No charge.
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.
This summer and fall at Storywell, we completed the Growing Through Your Archetypes series, which discussed each category of archetypes as detailed in Carol Pearson’s book What Stories Are You Living? Discover Your Archetypes – Transform Your Life! and in the PMAI® reports. The categories are Allies (high scoring archetypes), Treasure Chest(mid-range), and Blind Spots (low archetypes).
Yvonne Nelson-Reid discussed how the PMAI® archetypes show up in family dynamics with a fascinating analysis of her husband and two sons as they play World of Warcraft together. Yvonne’s family took the PMAI® assessment and they shared and discussed their results together. When Yvonne then observed the three men in the family playing World of Warcraft together, she suddenly saw archetypal dynamics in the aliases they each used, in the gifts and weaknesses of the roles they chose to play, and even in the typical arguments they have with each other as they play!
In October, we are pleased to highlight the work of Dr. Mona AlQadi as she reports on her dissertation research with the PMAI® assessment and successful academic achievement in college students. Dr. AlQadi gave underachieving students the PMAI® instrument and a self-efficacy assessment.The results revealed that Idealist, Warrior, and Ruler had the lowest scores for the entire sample of students, which had a significant correlation with lower self-efficacy as well. In other words, when a student had Idealist, Warrior, and/or Ruler low in their Archetype Profile, they also reported low self-efficacy academically. Dr. AlQadi followed up on these results through interviews with students about their experiences of these three archetypes and offers readers an exceptional analysis of how the PMAI® archetypes are embodied and lived out by college students.
Storywell has an active social media presence where we are spreading the word about the Pearson-Marr archetype system on LinkedIn (StorywellPMAI®), Instagram (@storywell_pmai), and Facebook (Storywell). Follow us!
Links to articles:
I’ve become a huge follower of the works of Fredrik Backman, a Swedish novelist who writes in English and is a best-selling author in the U.S. I started with A Man Called Ove and then Anxious People, eventually also watching the TV series based on them. Then I turned to My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You I’m Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, and I’ve just finished the third book in his Bear Town trilogy.
I believe that his storylines are examples of the heroism needed in our time. His books often feature at least one character who is desperately lonely. From the outside, others see that person one way, until someone recognizes his/her different and deeper truth, thus changing everything. Transformative heroism by minor characters is largely invisible, yet these every person characters initiate actions that also create community that did not exist before. This everyday heroism is contagious, as others also begin helping one another, with the result that everyone is better off without necessarily making any kind of fuss about it. No one gets lionized as the great hero who transformed their world, yet everything is changed. If that were not enough, many of the books are quite funny, and some moved me to tears.
Bear Town, Us Against You, and The Winners, the books in the trilogy, focus on Bear Town’s competition with its neighboring town, both of which are experiencing the loss of resources and jobs, as they also resist changing values. Gays are closeted, and girls who have been raped are fearful of reporting it, lest they be seen as either lying or being sluts who “asked for it.” These books have complicated plotlines, highlighting cowardice and bravery, with the latter beginning to change both cultures. The competition centers on their hockey teams and how simple rivalry builds to hatred and violence. Reading these novels, I’m learning a lot about the inner, emotional side of America’s culture war, even though these fictional towns are set in Sweden and are both very Scandinavian and very universal. The end of the series reveals a shift from Warrior to Jester competition, which is my hope for my country.
In the Blogosphere
My newest blog, Why Has the U.S. Not Fulfilled Its Purpose? The Shadow Knows, is the fourth in my America series. This article length blog, in three parts, applies psychological concepts of the unconscious and the shadow to American history and culture to reveal the hidden undertows in American politics and practices that currently are threatening to sink our ship of state. The introduction to this blog draws on Jungian views of the shadow and the unconscious mind to further understanding of our cultural shadow qualities. It then turns to exploring the gap between our founding dream and the reality of people’s lives and beliefs at that time, and how this has led to a tendency to say that our country is one way while it acts in another. Post-World War II, the American identity as the leader of the free world raised the stakes for the impact of what we do. Since then, events and political forces have weakened the expression of key archetypes active in the culture, leading to an unhappy citizenry and turning us against one another.
It would be best to read this blog in the context of the series, which began in Blog One with a discussion of how an archetypal analysis can help us understand individual and group motivation. Blog Two posited the ideal branding archetype of America, and Blog Three identified its complementary archetype. Blog Five, coming soon, will explore how Americans can find the gold in our shadow as part of the effort to dig us out of the current crisis, and will be followed by Blog Six, which will outline four plotlines Americans currently tell to differentiate themselves, and how these plotlines can evolve to help us understand one another so that we can cooperate to achieve the greater good.
I welcome and encourage your comments on any of the blogs posted on myblogsite, 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 war.
In addition to my blogsite, you can find many of my blogs on those of 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 follow me on Facebook at Carol S. Pearson, PhD. Posts will inform you of the topic and how to access it. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram at 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.