Archive for November, 2009
let’s look at the first beat a bit more closely
The Virgin may be dependent on her world for lots of reasons. The key is, the protagonist begins the journey living under the values or prtoection of others. The most common are:
1. dependent on others for material survival (ie. young, orphaned, handicapped, living in harsh circumstances, spoiled and pampered);
Once I learned of how Joseph Campbell and Chris Vogler had outlined twelve consistent beats that occur in Hero stories, I decided to find the persistant beats in Virgin films. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Dependent World
2. Price of Conformity
3. Opportunity to Shine
4. Dresses the Part
5. Secret World
6. No Longer Fits Her World
7. Caught Shining
8. Gives Up What Kept Her Stuck
9. Kingdom in Chaos
10. Wanders in the Wilderness
11. Chooses Her Light
12. The Rescue
13. The Kingdom Is Brighter
The Virgin begins her story in a Dependent World. She carries her kingdom’s hopes for their continuation, which are contrary to her dream for herself. At first she is afraid to go against her community and realize her own dream. But then she has a small Opportunity to follow her dream in secret. She acknowledges her dream by Dressing the Part, if only temporarily. Enlivened by this first experience, the Virgin goes back and forth, juggling the two worlds, enhancing her dream in the Secret World, while appeasing her Dependent World. Eventually she No Longer Fits Her World and she gets Caught Shining. In this crisis the Virgin has a moment of clarity and Gives Up What Has Been Keeping Her Stuck. The Kingdom Goes into Chaos. Now, she Wanders in the Wilderness trying to decide whether she will make herself small again to make people happy or choose to live her dream. She Chooses Her Light! She loses her protection and it is grim, but the kingdom Re-orders itself to accommodate the blossoming Virgin, and changes for the better. The Kingdom is Brighter.
To me this was a movie about a Virgin journey almost foiled by a Hag, (in this case an older man). A Hag is in the last stage of their individuation where she is meant to learn to release her power to others (ie. let the young man have the girl) and see the beauty of the insignificance of their ego in the larger picture. The Hag refuses to grow and instead entangles herself (in this case himself) in the lives of others to avoid having to feel old. Other great Hag movies include The Graduate and Notes on a Scandal.
Jenny plays the quintessential Virgin pursuing her dream of going to Oxford and immersing herself in the world of great writers with the hope that she will become one of them. Her parents want her to go to Oxford so she will cross the path of rich bachelors and secure a financial future. When a suave older man comes around offering her an exciting material world she becomes a tragedy. An anti-Virgin, where she works towards what is bad for her while her teacher tries to steer her back on her journey.
The Birth of Venus contains powerful symbolic representations of the Virgin archetype. On the left we see Zephyr, the god of wind, carrying his sister, Chloris, who he abducted and married. This incest may be a metaphor for making love with yourself or knowing yourself (I don’t think it is meant to be read literally). These gods are blowing life into Venus and surrounding her with the beauty of nature in the form of flowers (Chloris has dominion over flowers) as if compelling her to allow her inner nature to flower.
On the right we see a woman dressed in the clothes of her culture. The wind is blowing her, too, but she is fighting against it. She is trying to cover up Venus’ nakedness and make her acceptable to society. Her side of the painting is darker.
Venus is in the middle of these forces, standing on a shell which speaks to the ocean, a feminine symbol, and the emergence from a protected world. Her face shows a pensiveness that indicates she is considering these influences on her and looking inside herself for the answers. Her indecision is presented by her half effort to cover herself, the lack of concern on her face and the use of her own natural hair, rather than the cloth, to protect her modesty. Her nakedness is a symbol of her true essence, stripped of traditional, social, or moral influences. It is her Virgin state, untested and unproven and full of possibilities.
Here’s the basic premise:
As a human, you will be faced with the challenge of knowing yourself as an individual, both physically in the big world (Hero)and emotionally in a group of people you love and depend on (Virgin). In this challenge you develop a relationship with yourself and take up your power as an individual .
You will then be called upon to learn to use your power well in relationship to others, both as an offerer (Lover/King) and a receiver (Mother/Goddess) with love as a driving force.
And finally, you will be faced with the task of knowing the beauty of your insignificance as you release your power and join the cosmos as a Mentor and a Crone.
These three major transformations represent the beginning, middle and end of the story of a life. You can avoid these challenges and retreat into your shadow-side or you can meet them head on and have a sense of meaning in your life.
According to Jung, nature doesn’t just kick us out of the nest without any tools to survive these challenges. We have a mechanism to guide us forward through these challenges. They are the archetypes that exist in our collective unconscious. We are all born with them and they don’t change through our lifetime.
We have two mechanisms, actually. Archetypes pull us forward and Complexes hold us back. Every time you have a bad experience there is a message placed in your personal unconscious that says “let’s not do that again!!” and it creates a belief that will cause you to protect yourself. Unconsciously it kicks in every time you encounter a similar situation. This is different for every person because it depends on your life experience. The Joker in Dark Knight is a strong example of a character driven by an unconscious complex created by an earlier life experience. The Joker is constantly asserting that all humans are self-focused and self-preserving to the detriment of others. He unconsciously developed this belief, possibly to explain the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. Rather than believe his father did not love him, he sets out to prove all humans are predisposed to sadistic behavior.
The problem is, what seems like a similar situation may become more and more all-encompassing over time. And, as you grow up and have more power and resources to deal with issues, the protective Complex might be keeping you from that sense of meaning in life that archetypes promise. If you want to feel fully alive and be successful in relationships you have to question the Complex and follow the Archetype.
The 3 major transformations of life, each with a masculine and a feminine side and a shadow aspect are known by several names. I’ve put together a chart of the names I can recognize in the hopes that one will speak to you. Seen as a group I think they create an overall image of the core archetypes.
Table 1. Various Names Associated with the Twelve Core Archetypes
|Masculine Archetypes||Feminine Archetypes|
|beginning (youth)||hero, heroine, adventurer, liberator, rescuer, avenger, savior, cowboy||coward, bully, eternal child||princess, prince, virgin, maiden, artist, rebel, little-train-that-could, magical child||whore, victim, slave, prostitute, sad clown|
|middle (adult)||lover, king, queen, warrior, mediator, judge, angel, advocate||tyrant, evil queen, dictator, destroyer||mother, father, goddess, god, healer, storyteller, priestess, Samaritan||femme fatale, vampire, wicked stepmother, bitch/manipulator,|
|end (elder)||wise man, wise woman, philanthropist, benefactor||miser, spinster, hermit||crone, fairy godmother, trickster, fool, jester, shape-shifter, mystic alchemist||hag, lecher, thief, saboteur, cougar, gossip, Don Juan|
Did you know every culture on the planet, now and in the past, has stories (ok, I have heard rumour of one that didn’t but still, this is s pretty powerful trend). Why do you think that is? I think it is because stories are the way we bring the archetypes to life in our cultures. The creative process makes them available to all. We watch movies, tv and read stories and they inspire us to know the archetypal pathways. They show us how to be the leading characters in our lives each time we face one of these challenges.
If you want to read more on this topic try James Hollis.