I’ve been reading about archetypes for more than a year now. Thus it didn’t surprise me when I bumped up against the topic again in Women’s Spirituality: Power and Grace, by Mary Faulkner. Not only is this a brilliant primer on issues that snuggle close to the heart of what it means to be woman and a spiritual being (feminism is not the opposite of patriarchy?!? give me a sec’ to digest that one Mary), but in the chapter on archetypes she advocates talking to yourself. You don’t know how long I’ve waited for official permission to do something I already do! Granted she calls it meditation, and something else I can’t remember without the book in front of me right now, but it’s talking to yourself. Within a circle, you map the archetypes that are present in your own life, and then look to see what each has to say to you. What do they want? What do they offer? How do they balance the other stories that run right alongside them?
This seemingly simple process quickly fascinated me. It became more and more my own as I worked on it, and then I reached a final blank space that I wanted to fill. “Wait, what goes here?” I didn’t know the answer, but I felt something more than OCD asking me to pause with the uncertainty. Around and within the circle already were child, lover, creatress, Miss Delaney, mother, philosopher, pleaser, and hermit. Some of these stories I know quite well, and some are just unfolding. But still the empty space wouldn’t be filled. I felt a familiar sense of panic in my chest as the word finally kicked its way out: wanderer.
“NO!” was my automatic and unequivocal response. “How about rebel?” I bargained. “The author uses rebel, that’s a good word.” I couldn’t commit to the anger that word implies for me. “How about daydreamer?” Well, the lover and the child in you really do most of the daydreaming. “Shit, I guess wanderer is the word.” But why the strong reaction? I couldn’t figure out if I was still worried about becoming my hippy dad, living in his car at 70 and protecting his boo boo’s like a wounded Brontosaurus. Or maybe it was my fear of flying? Doesn’t a wanderer have to get on a plane fairly frequently? Again, the answer came in simplicity.
You don’t like her because you don’t know her.
Ahhhhhh…oh man. Of course. And not only that, but she is probably going to want to be more in charge next year in the land of unteacher. So I’m asking myself to travel with a relative stranger. No wonder I didn’t like the word. You never know when traveling with strangers if they’re going to pull out pictures of their grandkids or their pets, and if their grandkids look like their pets are you going to have lie and say they’re adorable? Are they going to have foul breath? Radiate an inordinate amount of heat if you’re seatmates? Want to get up early if you’re sharing a room? It’s a definite problem.
So I took it to my therapist, as the perseveration prone do, and once again basked in the brilliance of someone who can look in my head without actually being in my head. “Could it be okay that you don’t know the wanderer yet? You should at least give her an interview. You wouldn’t turn down a candidate for a job because you didn’t know them before the interview, would you?” No, no in fact I wouldn’t, and the prospect of writing an interview between myself and this archetype seemed like a spiritlicious way to spend the evening! Funny thing is, when I got home and set to writing, the wanderer flat out wasn’t having it. She didn’t want to be interviewed, but she did want to leave me a resume of sorts. Her comments below do nothing and everything to ease the tumult around next year’s uncertainity…
The wanderer longs for a boundary crossing language. “Velvet crunch cherries in clean white bowls,” instead of, “My day was fine, thanks.” Or, “Shriek toned spotlights at the base of my skull,” instead of, “I am afraid, and no, I can’t tell you why right now.” The wanderer crosses boundaries, not to get somewhere, but to gift lovers back to one another. The wanderer wants to invent for them new ways of kissing, counting, and silence–and each time she swivels to the shelf to grab for them, she’s curiously disappointed that they aren’t there yet. Her thoughts drip like hot wax on an untended table–you’ll never again be able to scrape that rebellion off of it. The wanderer looks so long that her eyes become tongues–much longer than is proper–to lick spring dirt and ice cream and…other things. She makes men blushing, virgin kings and cracks the Crone-room door for queens. The wanderer asks us to bring another way, mixed with good earth greens, in a casserole dish to her table. Don’t expect her to tell you her stories for free. Don’t expect her to beg to be in charge, but expect her to be ready to play when you give her the keys to dreaming.