Introduction to the Archetypes & Shadow
The concept of Shadow, which is not described fully in this document, is explained by a metaphor created by Robert Bly: a child born with a natural “360 degree personality” will gradually hide, repress and deny the bits of himself that his world does not want into his unconscious, to gain acceptance or approval.
This is what Robert Bly called stuffing parts of himself into his Shadow Bag.
This bag grows heavier and longer over the years until it’s a great weight to carry around. Tucked away, out of sight, into the Shadow Bag, this archetypal energy does not lose its power. Instead, it grows and may emerge years or even decades later in a distorted form – inflated or deflated as described below.
Another point: Robert Moore is reported to have said that he believed 90% of our shadow is made up of golden energy. This is helpful to remember if you believe that what’s tucked into your Shadow Bag has gone in there because it is somehow “dark energy” that is unwanted. Much of your power, magnificence and wonderful vitality may be in shadow too.
Written by and copyright © Rod Boothroyd, June 2018. No reproduction without permission.
An Image of the Lover Archetype
The Lover in his fullness, the mature Lover, allows you to connect in a healthy way with other people, the planet, and yourself.
Some qualities of the Lover archetype in men:
He lets us enter in to the flow of life, feel our connection with our vitality, and holds an awareness of life and death.
- He acknowledges and celebrates connection with others and allows us to feel grief when we lose something we valued, or when we become aware of something we should have had, but which we never felt (e.g. unconditional love from mother or father).
- He feels compassion, love and empathy. He softens the energy of the King archetype.
- The Lover is our primal archetype, the first one to grow after birth, when we seek connection with mother. That connection is about acceptance and love, and represents the natural way for each one of us to be met in the world as a baby – feeling that we are the centre of the world, and mother revolves around us, meeting our every need, and accepting our needs as they are presented.
- This is the area of sensual pleasure: of bodily feeling, of the pleasure of food, touch, holding, love.
- The primal satisfaction of the mother-baby connection is mirrored in the later pleasure we feel in such sensual pleasures as massage, holding and being held by a lover, sensual pleasures of food and drink, and so on.
- This is the archetype that drives our search for love and relationship, i.e. connection, throughout our lives.
- If we do not have good connections, or we have experienced major loss, we can carry immense grief.
- This archetype seeks pleasure, satisfaction and self-indulgence. At his core, the Lover is not interested in boundaries. One of his drives is to merge with others, to feel at one with them, as for example in the loss of self some people feel at the moment of orgasm.
The emotional wound here is “I am not lovable” or “There’s something wrong with the way I love” or “I can’t love others” or “I’m not worthy of love.”
Children who experience a lack of connection as a baby or during childhood will always assume that this is their fault, and come to the conclusion “I am not lovable” or “There’s something wrong with the way I love.” Children seem to reason that if something bad is happening to them, it is because there is something wrong with them. They appear to be incapable of seeing that what is wrong is actually all the fault of the parents. And perhaps this makes sense, because no matter how dysfunctional the parents, the child may still literally be dependent on them for survival. Better, perhaps, to find strategies which deal with the situation as it is, than to blame the parents for what is wrong.
However, the deeper the wound (roughly equivalent to how severe the deprivation of healthy relationship is after birth) the more the wound affects a man’s later behaviour.
The pain of the Lover’s unmet needs for connection seem to be so great that as an adult we will do anything to soothe it or avoid feeling it, no matter how self-destructive: addictions to drink, drugs, sex, and love are the obvious coping strategies, but more subtle ways of being in the world like putting the needs of others first can also be seen as a way to avoid the pain of the loss of connection or as an attempt to get connection.
This is especially true for men who cannot relate to a woman as a mature man, or who lose their sense of their own boundaries around women, or who regress to a child-like state in relationship with a woman.
Since no child’s needs can be met 100% of the time, no matter how good the parenting we had, we are all inevitably wounded in this archetype to a greater or lesser degree.
In response to any emotional wound, a man may show “inflated” or “deflated” behaviours, often switching between the two.
The Inflated Shadow Lover’s qualities include:
Guiding principle of the Shadow Lover: “Leisure & self-indulgence today; anything productive tomorrow.”
- The feeling of the shadow Lover is often unremitting sadness. The behaviour is that of neediness and always being a victim.
- The shadow Lover seeks relief in pleasure to the point of addiction with food, drugs, alcohol, co-dependency, sex & love, and so on.
- The shadow Lover may move in relationship from idolization, through some kind of love, eventually to demonization, blame and hate.
- The shadow Lover never finds enough connection. His unmet need for connection may never be satisfied, not matter how much he receives.
- The shadow Lover may firmly and unconsciously have a true scarcity mentality.
- The shadow Lover avoids any pain; pain is bad.
- The shadow Lover is the original victim and seeks to keep that story alive by the situations he creates in your life.
- The shadow Lover avoids working on his wounds because he believes this will be too painful. Or he approaches them, cries, feels the pain, and then refuses to enter into the centre of the emotional wound and do the work of mourning the loss which would heal the wound.
The Deflated Shadow Lover’s qualities include:
He may become cold and stoic, and deny his need for connection.
The Shadow Lover (or wounded Lover) sabotages me and the world.
- If we do not grow and separate from our connection with Mother and move to identify with the healthy masculine, our shadow Lover archetype will keep us locked into a dynamic with women which reflects our relationship with Mother, the all-powerful one who literally had the power of life and death over us.
- The shadow Lover may be more powerful than any other archetype in a man’s psyche and may run his life.
- Additional descriptive words for the shadow Lover include: abandoner, dependent, loathing, manipulative, martyr, rescuing, seducer, selfish, shameful, smothering, needy, narcissistic, co-dependent.
Gold or Shadow?
I know my mature, “golden” Lover, my Lover in his fullness, is supporting me when I’m connected with abundance and love. This looks like taking care of me first, and then loving the world. I know my shadow Lover is sabotaging me when all I see is scarcity: scarce love, scarce hope, thinking “I’m the victim.” I also know my shadow Lover is sabotaging me when I’m under the control of a sensual addiction like drugs, food, sex, alcohol or love, or when I am stoic and unfeeling.