When you meet someone for the first time, how do you get to know them?
Isn’t it through shared stories, about your lives, about what matters to you, about your experiences and beliefs?
Stories connect us deeply and naturally. They are the human patterns that tell us who we are and who we might become.
The stories we’re living are key drivers of personality, choice, and expectation. Human communities create collective stories. That’s why Jung’s concept of archetypes is so useful.
Archetypes are universal stories common in every human experience, expressed diversely depending on culture and human experience. They are the threads we weave to understand our experiences and connect with the primal, powerful collective unconscious, the space where our dreams, imaginings and myths vibrate in a matrix of story that connects us all.
Our stories are influenced by this matrix and the cultural stories that manifest around us, but the exhilarating truth is that every one of us has the tools to weave our own interpretations of archetypes. If we are willing to live our stories consciously, they can strengthen our self-understanding, and ground us with authentic and satisfying relationships and achievements in the world.
In my columns for Science of Mind Magazine, I have explored the ways our spiritual leadership through new thought practices transforms the stories that shape community-building, personal development, and manifestation of healthy change. Archetypes are fundamental to these three arenas, where faith activates the powerful stories that give us resilience and influence.
One key to understanding the power of archetypes is understanding that the Mind, the Heart, and the Spirit form the interconnected loom we use to weave our lived stories into a better life.
Stories Lived in the Mind
In Western culture, the Mind is often understood as the crucible of self. In this complex cradle of neurotransmitters intimately connected to the somatic networks of the physical body, our stories are organized, categorized and reinforced. These neural pathways enable us to interact as well as express emotions, making it possible for us to learn new things as well as creating memories. They are a source of strong habits, or mindsets, shaping our negotiations with the world and our beliefs about who we are.
Archetypes in the mind are often embedded in powerful unconscious habits of thought. Whenever we confirm what we “know to be true,” the archetypal stories we’ve adopted firm up familiar neural pathways. But when we learn something new we create new neural pathways, and learn new ways of being. It is this renewal of the Mind that opens the door to wisdom, giving us discernment and resilience as we weave the stories that make us who we are.
Stories Lived in the Heart
The unique intelligence of the Heart is as important as the Mind’s discernment. The heart is a place of emotional storytelling, where we feel the stories we’re living. Here, knowing is less verbal and more intuitive. Just as the heartbeat moves blood through our whole being, the Heart’s pulsing wisdom energetically grounds us in an understanding of time, place, and flow.
The Heart’s stories deepen and slow the Mind’s rapid judgments so that we can observe the world and our own processes. From this grounded understanding of the stories/archetypes that shape us, we act with more compassion for ourselves and others. We use our stories to connect in evolving relationships. We can become more present and conscious as we live our stories, more fluid as we see they can change and grow to help us change and grow.
Stories Lived in the Spirit
The expansive place of Spirit offers a bridge not only to the divine, but the collective unconscious. Both of these resources increase our ability to understand the bigger picture, giving us access to visionary insights and creative tools. Exploring our stories through Spirit is often surprising, challenging, and transformational. A bridge to ancestral wisdom and divine possibility should do no less!
Spirit helps us heal, shifts memories into insight, and shows us the ways our active archetypes can guide us in manifesting a resilient soul-based authenticity. With the wisdom of Mind and Heart, Spirit lifts our consciousness into new awareness of our calling and purpose. Here we transcend self into Self, letting go of limiting aspects of our unconscious stories.
The Loom of Story
I am excited to be teaching an introduction to archetypes with Carol Pearson in March, because I have seen over and over again that awakening understanding of the stories we’re living awakens us to new possibilities.
Ernest Holmes wrote: “Create or perish is the eternal mandate of nature… You cannot escape the conclusion that whatever this thing is which is seeking expression through everything, it can find satisfactory outlet only through constructive and life-giving creativeness.” I believe we cannot arrive at that life-giving creativity without a clear and conscious understanding of the stories we are manifesting.
Archetypes are primal human processes, linked intimately in our Mind, Heart and Spirit. They offer tools for discovery accessible to everyone because they already vibrate at the core of our human experiences.
Carol Burbank is the founder of Storyweaving Coaching and Consulting. She is a coach, educator, and writer. She writes a monthly column on spirituality and leadership in Science of Mind Magazine, and is the author of Storyweaving Playbook One: Answer the Call to Adventure, a guide to making archetypes into allies in your hero’s journey.
Use this link to sign up for Myth, Mysticism and Story offered by Carol Burbank and Carol Pearson on March 15, 22 and 29.
Carol Pearson is a member of Columbia CSL, an educator and an author of many works, including What Stories are You Living?