Archetypes are very in, very cool, very now. That's great.
There are lots of fine books, seminars, and consultants to help you understand the various and sundry archetypes. That's great, too.
But now, are you and your characters ready for the next step up? Are you ready for the ArchePaths?
You may now be saying, "Good grief! I just want to write my stories, I don't want to have to deal with all this theory and patterns and craft stuff." Ah, but that's where the Conscious in Conscious Media comes in.
As teachers often note, no one can teach you Art. You either have it or you don't. But you can teach Craft, and without craft your art may just be a one-time wonder. A number of current books on consciousness and real-world accomplishment quote studies that show it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become an expert in anything from fiction writing to basketball to piano playing. I'm not sure I totally go along with that number, but I absolutely agree it does take an awful lot of concentrated, focused work.
Because it implies an even higher level of awareness and expertise than good old everyday talent and hard work, to become a Conscious Creator you do need to learn theory and techniques to better manifest your artistic abilities in order to bring those higher ideals down for the rest of us and to make them both inspiring and practical. Fortunately these ancient tools of story-craft used by mythmakers throughout the ages are accessible to us all.
In previous articles of this series on Conscious Media we've looked at the Mythic Statements [Thematic, Mission, Lesson]; the Inner Drives 8 Centers of Motivation [chakras], and the 5 steps of the Path of Initiation [Physical, Emotional, Mental, Dark Night, Ascension]. This article is about the 5 ArchePaths and their 3 levels as guides to character creation.
The ArchePaths used to only be taught in person from teacher to student in the Mystery Schools. Like so much else these days that used to be sworn-to-secrecy, years-in-the-wilderness, kill-myself-if-I-blab, we can now openly discuss these formerly hidden aspects of consciousness and creativity. In fact, we are encouraged to do so.
Some paradigms may feel more natural to you than others and you can more quickly and easily use them. Some may be more intriguing to you than others and you should really enjoy investigating them further. Others may be more challenging and you may try them just to see if you can disprove them. Regardless, hopefully you'll find all of them of value if in no other way than expanding your awareness of available story-telling tools.
So back to this article's toolset - the 5 ArchePaths of the Warrior, Monk-Ascetic, Scientist, Magician, and Lover.
First let's define both archetypes and ArchePaths.
Archetypes are recognizable patterns of human behavior. They vary slightly from culture to culture and era to era but always have certain basic things in common. It is these commonalities that make them resonate for audiences in every time and culture. Think of an archetype as a role into which an individual falls for a certain time, taking up those characteristics and living out that story: the trickster, the virgin huntress (noble tomboy), the abundant fertile mother, the martyr, the hero, and so on. Many cultures create divine pantheons based on the archetypes, particularly those of the family unit, with mother and father gods all over the place, as well as rival siblings.
ArchePaths are more encompassing and can be much more powerful. They are also more complex so they offer great potential for growth and development.
According to the Wisdom teachings there are 5 basic Paths or approaches which any individual can follow towards enlightenment. These Paths are the Warrior, the Monk-Ascetic, the Scientist, the Magician, and the Lover. Any archetype can follow any of the above Paths and will play out their roles differently according to which Path they're on. A trickster, martyr, or mother on the Warrior Path will act quite differently from one on the Scientist, Lover or any other Path.
The ArchePaths are about how you do the things you do. It's about the style, the tone, the feel of a character.
These 5 Paths to higher consciousness are distinct in their approach. Through the Warrior Path we divine and pursue our Purpose; through the Monk Path we find the Purity of focus and dedication to that purpose; through the Scientist Path we discern the Process, the proper order and combination of things and events; through the Magician Path we are able to see Patterns invisible to us before and to create new Patterns for specific results; and through the Lover Path we find the Passion to bring our dreams to life.
Along each ArchePath are three levels - the steps from Apprentice to Journeyman to Master, to use the old craft guild terminology. You could also label the steps Aspirant, Probationer, and Initiate. They specifically relate to the three levels of evolution of human awareness and action: Tribal Consciousness, Individual Consciousness, Group Consciousness. In Centers of Motivation terms, the first level is Root and Sacral, the second level is Lower and Aspirational Solar Plexus plus Throat, the third level is Ajna. In Path of Initiation terms, the first level ArchePath is Initiations 1 and 2, second level is 3rd Initiation, and third level is 5th Initiation (with that horrid 4th to get you through the transition).
By crafting your characters onto one or another of the ArchePaths, you can better refine their characteristics, define what makes them tick, and select appropriate antagonists and challenges for them.
In this article, each ArchePath will be introduced using examples from myth and legend, history and current events, and media. My seminar on CD, ArchePaths for Art, delves more deeply into the nature of each ArchePath, its goals, desires, fears, strengths and weaknesses, styles of physical action and speech, expressions, likes and dislikes, etc.
Keep in mind that the Paths are gender-free and have no age or cultural bias, that's why they are part of the higher levels of training in the Mystery Schools - they are universal. When I was studying these, our teacher had us "walk the walk and talk the talk" of each Path during the entire month we studied it and the results were pretty amazing. Give it a try yourself by being-thinking-acting on each of the ArchePaths for an entire day. It can help you better define and draw your own characters as well as give you insights into yourself.
To explain the categories below: the Levels are those three steps along the Path, the Keyword offers a way for you to align their motivations (and create drama when they get off-track), the Mission is what their ultimate goal is regardless of where they are along the Path, and the examples (just a few of many from the seminar) are from myth, history, and media. You will no doubt have many of your own examples to add in each category. And, once you start investigating you will find lots more information out there.
Here first is a quick reference chart, followed by more details on each ArchePath.
|ARCHEPATH||LEVEL 1||LEVEL 2||LEVEL 3||KEYWORD|
LEVELS - Soldier, Warrior, Regent
KEYWORD - Purpose
MISSION - Promote and Defend the Good, the True, and the Beautiful
Protect the Weak and the Innocent
Self-sacrifice for the Greater Good
MYTH - Hindu warrior prince Arjuna, Greek Achilles, Norse Brunhilde
HISTORY - Sun Tzu, Joan of Ark, Lawrence of Arabia
MEDIA - Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Crouching Tiger-Hidden Dragon
STEPS - Novitiate, Monk/Nun, High Priest/ess
KEYWORD - Purity
MISSION - Release from the bonds of Matter
Identification with Spirit
MYTH - John the Baptist, Buddha, Tibetan Milarepa
HISTORY - Hildegard of Bingen, Zen Buddhists, Mother Theresa, Opus Dei, Ayatollahs, Dalai Lama
MEDIA - Touched by an Angel, Fox Mulder on X-Files ("I want to believe"), The Mission, Dogma, Kundun
STEPS & GOALS - Student, Scientist, Philosopher
KEY WORD - Process
MISSION - Wisdom as perfect application of Knowledge
MYTH - Greek Apollo, Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus, Mesopotamian Dagon, Mezo-American Quetzalcoatl
HISTORY - Plato, Pythagoras, Galileo, Newton, Tesla, Einstein, Stephen Hawking
STORIES - Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek(s), Battlestar Galactica, The Da Vinci Code
STEPS - Apprentice, Magician, Magus
KEYWORD - Patterns
MISSION - Total connection between Above and Below
Total control of forces in seen and unseen worlds
MYTH - Greek Hermes, Celtic Merlin, fairy godmothers
HISTORY - channelers, Aleister Crowley, Wiccans, Yaqui Don Juan of the Castenada reports
MEDIA - Obi-Wan Kenobi & Darth Vader, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gandalf and Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter
STEPS - Devotee, Lover in relationship, True Union with the divine
KEYWORD - Passion
MISSION - Total union with the One Life [god/dess]
MYTH - Dionysius, maenads (wild stalking fan girls) Krishna and the Gopis, Tristan & Isuelt
HISTORY - Rumi, Shelley, the Brownings, Byron, Anais Nin, Pablo Neruda
MEDIA - Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast, American Beauty, Moulin Rouge, Slumdog Millionaire
Using the Archepaths to Create Characters
By using this Mythic Tool of the 5 ArchePaths, you can craft unique, dynamic, multi-dimensional, unforgettable characters with internal integrity.
Using the 3 levels you can have different characters on the same Path but at different stages of development. Each can exhibit divergent qualities and come into dramatic conflict over those differences, thus making for much more interesting characters and stories. For instance, if you're doing a romantic comedy with most of the characters on the Lover ArchePath, putting them on different levels creates diversity and offers conflicting perspectives on love, like in Mamma Mia!. In your war story, every warrior on screen can be in a different place along the levels, as in The Thin Red Line or Apocalypse Now.
Films and plays are basically short stories, so staying within one ArchePath per character will typically be more effective. In TV series and novels however, you have much more leeway to develop your characters and can shift them across the Paths. In Babylon 5 for instance, G'Kar goes from level 2 on the Warrior Path to level 3 on the Monk Path and becomes a spiritual leader, a High Priest. In the same series, Ambassador Delenn starts out a High Priestess then adds the Lover Path level 2 as her romance with Captain Sheridan develops, and then Warrior Path level 3 when she steps up to command the Rangers and the Army of Light against the Shadows.
Actual humans are even more complex of course, and in my consulting with individuals, we explore the foundation ArchePath, the current ArchePath, and the future/incoming ArchePath.
So enjoy this paradigm of character creation for more Conscious Media, and use the ArchePaths to bring us lots of fascinating, dynamic, and believable characters who have intriguing relationships with your other fascinating, dynamic, and believable characters.
ArchePaths is Pamela's trademarked name for this ancient information. The information itself is available to all.