A USA based Czech-born psychiatrist Stanislav Grof has extensively explored the effects of perinatal (occurring in the period around the time of birth) experiences and birth trauma on his clients and as a result of his research constructed a theoretical framework for prenatal and perinatal psychology and transpersonal psychology.
Grof argues that in the light of findings from psychedelic therapy and the work with holotropic breathwork (a technique that he developed after the ban of psychedelic substances in the 70s), the traditional cartography of the psyche used by academic psychiatry and psychology, which is limited to post-natal biography and Freudian individual unconscious, has to be vastly expanded and include both perinatal and transpersonal domains.
According to Grof, the human psyche is to a vast extent shaped by four basic perinatal matrices (BPMs), each of which is associated with a specific stage of the birth process and a specific emotional and psychological experience. He also suggests that archetypes play an important role in the genesis of emotional and psychosomatic symptoms as well as healing and transformation, and their emergence in the psyche can be associated with different BPMs.
MEET YOUR ARCHETYPES: THE MYSTIC & THE MAGICIAN
Based on their qualities and manifestations, the Mystic and the Magician archetypes can be linked to the first stage - life in the womb, which Grof calls BPM I: the Amniotic Universe, experience of cosmic unity. In this stage, the fetus experiences a sense of unity with the mother and the world, and the psyche is seen as being in a state of undifferentiated consciousness.
In Grof's transpersonal psychology, the Magician archetype is associated with the individual's drive for mastery and control, while the Mystic archetype represents a state of unity with the divine. Both of these archetypes can be seen as related to the experiences of BPM I, as the undifferentiated consciousness of the fetus can be seen as a state of cosmic unity, while the struggle for mastery and control over physical and spiritual realms can be seen as representing the emergence of a separate sense of self.
The Mystic archetype can manifest as a deep sense of interconnectedness with the world and a feeling of oneness with others. In everyday life this may actualize as a sense of compassion, empathy, and a desire to help others. People who are strongly influenced by the Mystic archetype may also have a strong sense of purpose and a connection to a higher power, which can guide their actions and decisions, giving them a sense of direction and meaning even in the face of adversity. Thus someone with a strong Mystic archetype may approach challenges with a sense of equanimity and a belief that everything happens for a reason, which can help them to remain calm and centered in difficult situations. Mystics are naturals at everything creative and prosper in industries such as film, television, art, music, writing and teaching.
The Magician archetype can manifest as a drive to achieve personal goals and aspirations. In everyday life, this may be expressed as a strong sense of determination, ambition, and a desire for personal power. People who are strongly influenced by the Magician archetype may also be highly organized and goal-oriented, and may have a strong sense of control over their lives. In his fullest, the Magician is wise, thoughtful, reflective, healing, contemplative, and transformative. Inventions, discoveries, technology, language, mathematics, engineering, astronomy, chemistry, physics, law, medicine, and other sciences, all fall within the Magician’s domain.
When we align with the potential of Mystic and Magician, society can prosper and advance in both technological, personal and spiritual development. However, when we access the shadow of the archetypes instead, we can experience shortcomings that adversely affect our individual and collective journey through life.
THE SHADOW OF MYSTIC & MAGICIAN
One of the definitions of mysticism is the belief without sound basis - believing in something that cannot be sensed, seen, heard, tasted or touched through bodily senses. At its extreme, the Mystic archetype can lead to excessive asceticism, seeking to transcend the earthly existence to the point of denial of bodily needs, leading to (and even craving) suffering or illness. The devotion of the Mystic archetype can forgo rational thinking and even border on madness. In search for unity with the divine or another human being (attempting to satiate a strong longing for being one with the mother, for the prenatal existence in the womb as a representation of paradise), one can lose the sense of self, grounding and presence of agency and will. Due to that, people who are stuck in the Mystic archetype, can experience difficulties in taking responsibility, taking initiative, accepting reality, and setting boundaries. The shadow of the Mystic archetype can also show up as righteousness, being judgemental and a false humility.
Having traits or characteristics of a particular archetype is not in any way negative in itself, it's when one is stuck in that particular archetype and its shadow that it can become problematic. For example, a person who is stuck in the Magician archetype may constantly try to control and manipulate situations and people around them, and may have difficulty delegating tasks or trusting others to take charge. Much like the Mystic, the passive side of the Magician's shadow expresses itself as a helpless and denying Innocent One, hiding its head in the sand and unwilling to admit any faulty or selfish motivations - always claiming to be "the good one". In this more passive part of the shadow we can notice envy towards others and fear that they will recognise the passivity and lack of responsibility. In order to counterbalance this fear, this archetype can fuel pride and control.
It's important to remember that while one archetype may be more dominant in a person, it's rare that someone would be stuck in only one archetype. People usually have a mix of different archetypes active in their personalities, and the balance of those archetypes can change over time.
EXPLORING ARCHETYPES FOR SELF-DISCOVERY AND SELF- EMPOWERMENT
Getting to know both the empowering and the shadowing aspects of the archetypes and their expressions in our psyche can be beneficial for understanding ourselves and our deep inner drives better and becoming mindful of the shortcomings of our impulses and behavioural patterns. Embodying and integrating different archetypal behaviours can enable us to approach the struggles of everyday life in new and creative ways.
It is worth noting that ascribing specific archetypes to a particular matrix (BPM) is a highly theoretical and interpretive aspect of Grof's work, and different interpretations and elaborations of his theory may place the archetypes in different stages of the BPMs. However, this theoretical framework provides a valuable lense to somatic explorations of our perinatal experience and tendencies, and can be highly transformative and therapeutic.
We invite you to unlock the secrets behind your behavioural patterns when facing struggles in life by joining us this March for a series of somatic workshops in Lagos, Portugal to explore how you react when facing challenges and what are the alternative approaches you could embody. Are you prone to feeling victimised and helpless, ready to fight back or rebel, or do you tend to avoid conflict altogether? Discover the origins of your impulses and empower yourself with other options and choices available to you. Join us in this somatic journey of self-discovery!
Grof, S. (2011) Archetypes, Mythic Imagination, and Modern Society: The Re-Enchantment of the World .
Grof, S. (1988) The Adventure of Self-discovery. Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. State University of New York Press, Albany.
Hartley, L (2004) Somatic Psychology, Whurr Publishers Ltd., London, Philadelphia.
Moore, R., Gillette, D. (1991) King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine. Harper One, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.