Archetypes

Archetypes

Stories, energies, patterns, themes and possibilities that help us understand ourselves.

Archetypes are core stories that we can draw on in order to explore different ways of being. They can be a character, theme or symbol which represents some kind of universal pattern or common experience of being human.  Classic archetypes would be a mother, a maiden, a queen or a crone. Or perhaps a hero and a villain, a fool and a hermit. These aren’t stereotypes so much as models of people, personalities and behaviors.  They show up in books and TV, the tarot deck, ancient myths and of course in queer culture.

This website gives a good overview of the difference between archetypes and stereotypes.

Mythology gives us a range of stories to draw from. A fragment of a statue of Silimabzuta the “person-man-woman of Ioanna” is held in the British Museum archives. Ioanna was (is?) the Goddess of sex, war and justice who could turn men into women and women into men. In our podcast, we created a character called The Rider, inspired by Silimabzuta. A warrior archetype, supremely confident and calm under pressure. What would it be like to be a warrior for a while?

If you want to find trans and non-binary representation in ancient times you could start by reading some of Cheryl Morgan’s research.

Queer culture has always played with archetypes. For example, butches and femmes, gay bears, drag kings and queens, Elliot Page with rolled up sleeves and soulful eyes giving out strong James Dean energy… Having spaces (physical or virtual) in which to inhabit archetypes can be a way to experiment and play with possibilities.

This article is about how queer culture has drawn on elements of mainstream culture and “queered” it. For example, gay men adopting the archetypes of biker gangs, the leather jackets etc. as a symbol of masculinity.

What are you like? What’s your Myer Briggs personality type? Your star sign? Which Golden Girl are you most like? There are many ways to explain who we are to ourselves. We can be a different “type” in a different situation or mix and match as we like.

Conversation

Who do you admire? What characters in books, music or tv feel like they fit with you? You might find yourself censoring your answer, thinking you will be judged or that someone will laugh at you. Put those thoughts to one side. What archetypes would YOU like to explore more?

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