Behavior is not determined by hormones alone, but through the interaction of hormones and goddess archetypes. Jean Sinoda Bolen.
The dance of hormones, the cycles of the moon, and major changes in life like childbirth or death might go hand in hand with archetypal self-expression of the inner goddess, according to a Jungian Analyst and an Author – Jean Shinoda Bolen. In her book Goddess in Every Woman, she provides phenomenal insight into the feminine psyche and the nature of womanhood, based upon prototypes of 7 powerful goddesses and their role in the society.
This beautiful psychological approach was a true novelty to me! Could it be that our behavior controls our hormones? And could it be that our archetype which controls our actions and interactions could also affect the way we simply feel and behave?
I soon found out that in the process of integrating some broken pieces of myself, those Jungian shadows, is a personal hero’s journey influenced by the archetype of my inner goddess. I learned that since our hormones control the nervous system and regulate behaviors such as aggression, passion, fear, and love, the web of emotions and a mythical journey are interwoven and connected.
“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”
— Carl Jung, Aion (1951)
Mind you, I’m a spiritual dabbler not a licensed psychologist. This is how I see it and feel it intuitively. This is not a scientific paper but my personal story of healing and understanding human psyche. With that said let’s dive in a little deeper.
WHAT ARCHETYPE DO YOU EMBODY?
You might be living a myth of Persephone whose curiosity leads her to the Underworld – a dark night of the soul. Perhaps you’re Aphrodite – living from moment to moment, joyously but sometimes unable to settle. Maybe you are experiencing the myth of Artemis, who is free-spirited and but sometimes lonely, or Athena, a CEO of a great company, a fighter with a cause, that might also be overworked and impassionate? Maybe you are all-encompassing Mother Demeter lost without her daughter or Hestia whose warmth and fire are ever-burning if she remembers to care for her spirit. Are you Hera? A great woman behind a great man, at times fearful the empire you built together will be destroyed by someone else?
Let’s take a look at the beauty and the shadows of each of those intriguing archetypes.
Artemis is a wild and untamed, independent and in touch with her intuition, the magic of the moon, always with an eye on a prize. She can get lost without a tangible aim in life, especially if she is disconnected from her nature – inner and outer. She has an egalitarian take on the role of a man and a woman in society and is not easily convinced a woman’s place is in the kitchen. When I think of Artemis, I think of George Sand or Amelia Earhart.
If she is overwhelmed by the burdens of social constructs as a child and not allowed to fully express herself, she might fail to mature and realize her passions and dreams. Artemis is focused, detail-oriented, visionary, and self-sustainable. She swiftly and naturally achieves her objectives. Her partnerships are solid and possibly passionate. Artemis is not sexually forward, but she can be creative in bed. She is good at taking care of others and attending to emergencies. She is a Moon goddess which makes her quite intuitive and instinctual. She might be able to access alternate states of consciousness, wandering into the shamanic realms, and gaining knowledge about healing, herbs, and childbirth. She can be athletic, boyish-looking in her youth, feminine and attractive later in age. She loves horses, archery and sports in general. She feels at home in nature and she needs time for herself to rejuvenate and regenerate especially after sickness or a loss. She is a winner. Always. Unless it’s in her interest to let you win.
Psychological difficulties that characteristically are associated with Artemis women usually cause others to suffer, rather than bringing pain on themselves.
To grow beyond Artemis, a woman must develop her less conscious, receptive, relationship-oriented potential. She needs to become vulnerable, to learn to love and care deeply about another person. If this happens, it may do so within a relationship—usually with a man who loves her, sometimes with another woman, or by having a child.
Often this advance can occur only after an Artemis woman has “run down,” after she has aimed for a series of targets and achieved them or failed, after the thrill of the hunt, the race, or the pursuit has grown stale. A man who loves her may need to wait until then, and until he can get some aid from Aphrodite.
You will easily identify with the archetype of Goddess Demeter if you are a Mother, or someone with a natural mothering instinct toward children, and humanity. This might be someone involved in humanitarian projects, philanthropic activities, someone with a passion for feeding hungry, providing physical, psychological and spiritual sustenance and support. Demeter in her positive aspects is nurturing and life-giving. She is close to her own mother and can hardly wait to become one. Most mothers possess this loving and nurturing instinct, but that fire is not always burning evenly. Sometimes a woman can feel some other calling and leave her family or she just might be not interested in their children’s well being. Demeter’s instincts simply didn’t kick in.
When I think of a famous Goddess Demeter – the all-encompassing Good mother, the images of Holly Mary come to my mind.
‘Good Demeter mothering keeps a child in the heat and passion of life which immortalize and establish soulfulness. Mothering involves not only physical survival and achievement—Demeter’s grain and fruit—it is also concerned with guiding a child to his or her unknown depths and the mystery of fate”. Thomas Moore.
An unconscious Demeter, which is what codependency amounts to on the human plane, can be controlling, smothering, and self-denying to the point of self-destruction. She might be needy of constant attention, manipulative and clingy – I call such mothers the Dark Mothers. They are preoccupied with their own suffering, often making their children dependent on their mood swings and expecting that the son or a daughter will always be there for them, and give up on their own relationships, plans, and ambitions, to fulfill that role.
For those with a strong Demeter/Mother archetype in their psyche, infertility or empty nest syndrome (when adult children move out of the house) can be especially difficult, often producing depression.
The Mother Archetype has many faces: nurturing, compassionate, sacrificing, protecting, defending, providing, generous, persistent, abandoning, devouring, grieving, destructive, indifferent, smothering and abusive. Those who manifest an empowered Mother archetype enrich the lives of those they touch, imparting life. For those who maim, ignore, or abuse their children–real or symbolic–destruction and chaos results. Perhaps one way for this pattern to become an empowered one is for the individual to become their own Mother–nurturing and forgiving the Self with gentleness and understanding. Other ways to reverse this pattern are through therapy and/or soul retrieval. Janet Boyer.
Have you embraced the Hestia archetype – the fire keeper of the household? She is the provider of warmth, security, she makes her place of living a true sanctuary. She has no need for extraverted adventures or passionate lovemaking. She is dependent, autonomous and focused on her inner spiritual world, which might make her a little detached and impersonal. When not balanced, she might be missing her centeredness, lack assertiveness, be overly introverted and shy about living her true potential. In some ways, she might be very old fashioned and misunderstood in the world of big expectations and constant high performances.
When I think of Hestia, I see a woman involved in her craft, magical, spiritual, and/or creative. She is working behind the curtains, nameless, but wonderful to be around. She is sowing, reading oracle cards, or doing some sort of healing work, and other reflective spiritual practices
In her unconscious expression Hestia might be lost in the rational, logical thinking, and might dismiss her keen intuition because she is unable to logically explain it. Also, she runs the risk of becoming overwhelmed with psychic influences and/or emotional situations that keep her off balance. Generally if Hestia remains calm, grounded, centered, and maintains focus on her own personal meaning, she will most likely embody the very best of her archetype.
Hera is growing up dreaming about the perfect wedding day, the fabulous altar, gorgeous bridesmaids, stunning dress and of course the man who will complete her in every way. She fantasized and imagines every little detail of her life as a married woman – this is her life’s calling. If it does not happen, she suffers but continues patiently to wait. Often, Hera woman stays satisfied just being a wife. She tends to her husband’s needs lovingly and is devoted to him unquestionably. She sees all other projects as secondary, her status, power as well as much of her identity can only be achieved if it is connected to a man.
You know what they say: “Behind every great man is a great woman”. In a myth, Hera is a wife of Zeus – the boss of all the gods – she occupies therefore the outmost respected position in the pantheon. But as we well know, Zeus was a womanizer and had many affairs, which drove Hera crazy. Hera woman might indeed become extensively jealous! If her suspicions turn real and she finds out her man has an affair, she becomes vengeful and obsessed with destroying the “other woman”, not realizing that the matter should be taken up with her partner. The healing for Hera’s jealousy, a common trait in many women, is to let go of the need to control, external expectations, and fall in love with self. Only when Hera’s own unique qualities and wisdom come to the light in her own eyes, she can move forward to build a loving and lasting relationship.
Athena’s archetype is driven by logic, strategy and achieving success. She prefers the companion of men, where she can prove to be equal (if not superior). She might lack compassion and be condescending toward anyone refusing to participate in this competition toward power and greatness. Her loyalty to men is famous, she can protect her boss or father whom she feels strong alliance with, even if the men are cheating, lying scumbags. Overall, Athena has an amazing focus, wisdom, drive force, and she can accomplish great things for herself and for humanity.
The challenge for Athena is an ability to relax, and evolve spiritually. All that New Age mambo jumbo, like mindfulness, meditation or spirituality is just not useful to her. She pays no attention to her moon cycles, to the calling of her inner goddess, to a plea for a break from her body, until a crisis strikes. An even then, she pushes through, because her calendar is full of deadlines, appointments and things that can’t be postponed. She needs to learn how to be kind to herself, and take care of her body an spirit.
She can easily become a scientist, a politician, a project manager, or a founder of her own business.
The Athenas like IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Oracle’s CEO Safra Catz, are just a couple names amongst many powerful influential women in history. Perhaps names like Oprah, Cleopatra, or Margaret Thatcher bring a better picture.
I only drink champagne on two occasions. When I am in love and when I am not. Coco Chanel.
Aphrodite is a sensual, sexual, amorous type, living in the moment with little care about the future. She is very youthful, and therefore she has amazing regenerative abilities, lot’s of creativity and might become somewhat restless if “stuck” in one relationship for too long. Often awaken to her sexuality at a very early age, she might be condemned by modern society. She often changes partners, has many affairs, and is using their innate beauty to control and play around.
Of course, Aphrodite needs to learn to respect her body, honor the relationships and understand that every action has its consequences. When ready for a lasting commitment, she can build a beautiful relationship and use creativity to be a fantastic role model for young girls, who are confused about their own sexuality.
Aphrodite might suffer from being unable to create long-lasting relationships, start a family or be under the impression her life is running out too fast for her to slow down. If she is suffering, instead of constantly flirting, she needs to stop, take a breath and reevaluate her actions, get in touch with her visions, plans and dreams she wants to see come true.
Last but not least.
Persephone is one of those Goddesses that we need to look at a little closer. Persephone’s story of descending into the Underworld carries similarity to the epic tale of Queen Innana’s journey to meet her sister Ereshkigal, and Psyche’s impossible task given by a jealous goddess Aphrodite. The symbology is very shamanic and it serves as a guiding myth for all of us who face a dark night of the soul, who are challenged to brake chains of imprisonment, escape entrapment, war, abuse, addictions, and depression.
The Story of Persephone is a story of working with a shadow and a calling for a Hero’s journey. It is also a story of maturation, sexual initiation and becoming free of mother’s influence.
Most of us can identify with the maiden Persephone. We all have a mother. We all have experienced innocence and dependency, and eventually we will all experience archetypal betrayal, held emotionally hostage by family, lover, illness, or community expectations. Persephone’s underworld journey acquaints her with death and suffering, and this, in turn, cultivates empathy and the gift of compassion.
Persephone’s Journey is An Archetypal Surrender.
I will be writing more about the vulnerable Goddess Persphone as she appears to be my prevailing archtype.
For the time being, I’m living you with the image representing my own Descent into the Underworld I took a while ago, where I meet the Dark Goddess in what appeared to be the ancient Egyptian temple.
You are welcome to read about it here.