What is Your Creative Archetype?

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In this monthly column, Secrets of Personal Transformation, I write about the sacred process of human transformation. Transformation is a circular process that takes our psyche through three distinct stages: the breakdown, the reflection/discernment, and the rebirth. Transformation differs from mere change, or “personal growth”, in that growth is linearly focused, and as such is primarily a process of addition and constant forward movement, no matter the pull to let ourselves fall apart.

Society conditions us to believe that only some people get to express creativity. Even then, there are only some kinds of creativity that are truly recognized as art, and only a select few people that get to wear the title of artist. So, we grow up believing that there’s room for only a small number of creatives in this world. The rest of us are expected to get serious and live a more “practical” life. As a result of these lessons, many of us tamp down our creative urges, suggesting that someone else can do it better, or that there’s no need for their particular brand of creativity.

What purpose does society have in tamping down the creative fire in so many of us? Well, just imagine a world full of creatives and innovators. What a radical, awake, and disruptive force to go up against the status quo! What a powerful way to speak truth to power!

“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other’s people’s models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open.”
– Shakti Gawain

We are all here to express our own unique creativity – not just for ourselves, but for our families and communities. In fact, creativity is not something we should think of as a leisure activity, but rather as our obligation as souls briefly taking on this journey of a human being.

If you’ve ever been told, by yourself or someone else, that you’re not creative, I invite you to explore these three creator archetypes below. See which one opens up a channel for greater creative possibility in your life:

The Artist: The Beautifier

Nobody else could have ever seen it or imagined it possible with the ingredients and supplies at hand, but the Artist saw it immediately.

They see a beautiful butterfly garden where others see only soil and seeds. They see a successful dinner party and a kitchen filled with the scents and sounds of ingredients coming to life, while others merely see a bag of ingredients and envision a sink full of dishes.

The Artist archetype does not only include those who paint, draw, sing, or act. It’s anyone who seeks to make the world more beautiful or draw attention to beauty. Even if the beauty they seek to enhance is themselves. Or, perhaps, they create art to call attention to forces that are invisible and need to be made visible:

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
– George Orwell

Artists enhance our world with their creations. They are poets, writers, composers, gardeners, carpenters, chefs, designers, sculptors, weavers.

Artists synthesize and put things together in such a way they create something entirely new. It could be an interview, a blog post, a scrapbook, a living room design. From raw material that some might see as lifeless – a piece of wood, for example – the Artist sees a manifestation of beauty.

(Subtypes of the artist include Painter, Writer, Scribe, Carpenter, Smith, Chef, Gardener, Designer.)

Without Artists, our world would be drab, grey, and stale. We need Artists to call our attention to the beauty of this world and of human life itself.

The Alchemist: The Transformer

The Alchemist archetype is interested primarily in change and transformation, both for themselves and for the world. While in constant search for the Philosopher’s Stone – the mythical substance capable of providing immortality – the search is what matters.
The Alchemist archetype might not be attempting to create a magic potion that can help us literally live forever, but they create the “spells” in the world that captivate us, hold our attention, and change us forever.

The Alchemist seeks to restore death to life through the magic of transformation.

The question stoking their creativity is:
What can transform this world for the better?

They can transform nearly anything they get their hands on, from relationships and homes to workspaces and jobs. But they’re most interested in transforming minds, hearts, and humanity itself. They take what is “lead” and turn it into “gold.”

Like the Artist archetype, the Alchemist works with existing material, ideas, and forms. But whereas the Artist paints the butterfly, the Alchemist becomes the butterfly.

The Artist beautifully performs a role; an Alchemist transforms it into something no one could have imagined. To me, there is no person who better represents this archetype than Robin Williams. He transformed everything he touched into pure gold.

(Subtypes of this archetype include the Magician, the Sorcerer, the Scientist, and the Wizard.)

The Pioneer: the Originator

“The Pioneer is called to discover and explore new lands, whether that territory is internal or external…a need to step on fresh and undiscovered territory…”
– Caroline Myss, Sacred Contracts

Unlike either of the previous archetypes, the Pioneer is not interested in working with existing material. They seek out new territory, the new frontier. They call down new inventions, ideas, and ways of thinking directly from the cosmos.

Pioneers are characterized by their joy in risk-taking and adventure. They walk their own path, however lonely it might be. Public opinion does not sway them; they seek their direction and encouragement only from within.

Creative pioneers are natural status quo disrupters. They are the change-makers, game-changers, and paradigm tippers of our world.

They are the great minds, the originators of great thought. Carl Jung would be a great example of a pioneer in the field of psychology.

(Subtypes of the Pioneer archetype include the Entrepreneur, the Inventor, and the Innovator.)

All of these creative archetypes are valuable and needed in today’s world. You might discover that rather than fitting perfectly into one, you are a combination of two, or maybe you’re tri-archetypal! We’re all unique in how we create – the archetypes aren’t here to force you to fit in. Just the opposite! They are here to wake us up to the most prominent patterns in our souls and then encourage us to express them.

Today is the day to step more fully into the true creator you are in your soul. To manifest your soul’s longing for creativity and to fully feel that connection with the ultimate creator and from which we all originated: the universe itself.

If the universe doesn’t care whether its creation becomes a brief-but-bright shooting star, a life-sustaining planet, or a black hole of nothingness, why are we worrying about it?

Don’t create for results, for approval, or for recognition. These things may or may not come, and they will certainly go.

Create because it’s the best way to stay connected, healthy, and whole.

Create because it can stave off depression.

Create because it’s who we are.

Create because it’s what this world needs.

 

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