An Archetypal Plan for Recovering
from the U.S. Presidential Election
The U.S. presidential election has left Americans more divided than perhaps at any time since the Civil War. This is the second in a series of three blogs in which I offer an archetypal approach to understanding the forces at work both in the U.S. and around the world that produced this outcome and that threaten catastrophe, and a possible means to achieve greater unity and renew our faith in our democratic system of government
Part Two: Acts III & IV
Act III: Awakening: The Turning Point
The Way of the Heart pushes back with a Caregiver, Seeker, Sage progression. This archetypal progression allows us, as individuals, to care for ourselves, others, and the earth, seek out ways to be helpful, and devise strategies to promote the common good based on facts interpreted with wisdom. However, when too little of this progression is present in the world, individuals and groups (often women) become overwhelmed and burned out trying to compensate by giving more than they are able to or in ways that are not congruent with their true callings. When Demeter values are lacking in a society, it becomes a hard, grasping, greedy place with everyone fighting for their own good, at whatever cost to others or the earth.
The Myth: Demeter, who finds her daughter missing, responds first with deep grief, followed by anger and outrage when she discovers that Zeus OK’d her abduction. She then leaves Olympus in indignation to search for a solution, eventually confronting and resolving her complicity in being treated disdainfully. She recognizes that by continuing to make the grain grow, she obscures the negative consequences of Zeus’s macho “conquer nature” worldview. So, she stops providing the life force energy for growth, conducting the first recorded sit-down strike.
U.S.: Many women and men with Demeter values have responded to the election results beginning with sorrow and outrage, then voting with their feet by leaving workplaces, groups, or political parties that do not share these values, and finally by exploring ways they can stop being complicit in the war on Demeter.
You and Me: When we have too much Demeter, we give and give to the point where we lose ourselves. If this is your case, you might concentrate on moving up the archetypal progression to Seeker, focusing on what is yours to give and recognizing how over-giving may make you complicit in keeping negative Zeus in place (at home, at work, or in the larger society). If your Demeter constellation of archetypes is not very present in your life, you may feel deprived because you are not caring for yourself, or your relationships may erode because you forget to care for them. In frustration, you might find yourself saying the wrong things to get your way, using your words as weapons rather than for honest communication. If that is the case, showing kindness to the more needy part of yourself and to others could fill you up and make you happier and more successful.
Act IV: The Climax: Transformation or Things Fall Apart
The Way of Transformation is revealed to move beyond reestablishing threatened values to genuine transformation. Its archetypal progression is from Innocent, to Creator, to Magician. In its most positive form, this constellation keeps us optimistic, innovative, flexible, and desirous of a transformation that leads to a world that works for all. When it is out of balance or in the service only of self or group interest, it can lead to chaotic outcomes, personal confusion and randomness, and trickster con artistry. If it is missing, we can feel stuck and imprisoned in a life not of our choosing.
The Myth: Persephone gets creative in the Underworld. She trusts that her mother eventually will rescue her, but what she really wants is to live part time in the Underworld and part time in the Upperworld. An ancient law says that anyone who eats something in the Underworld has to return there, so Persephone figures out how to turn this to her advantage, eating the number of pomegranate seeds necessary to return for half the year. She not only lives a bigger life than she had imagined, she becomes the magical initiator of the living through the Eleusinian Mysteries and of the dead in the Underworld, helping mortals be happy, prosperous, and free of fear. In this way, she not only gets what she wants, but in the process positively transforms life for gods and mortals alike.
U.S.: Trump’s behaviors have created cracks in the social fabric, which can occur when the civility, attention to truth, and traditions that support democracies break down. When told that they should support the new president, many are freed by his disregard for what he calls political correctness to be innovative and unconventional. Demands by Trump and his backers that everyone make nice and support him, because that is the custom, are motivating his detractors to get creative. When cracks appear in the sidewalk, it can be seen as a sign of breakdown, but flowers also can make their way up. Moreover, outcomes can look quite different when the shaking is from the bottom up, not just the top down. Following are some examples of energies of the youthful feminine in men and women rerouting the shakeup from its Trump-led form.
You and Me: When we feel stuck, we can emulate Persephone by softening our gaze to view the possibilities on the periphery and going inward to recognize those trickling up from the unconscious in dreams, moments of inspiration, and embodied hunches. Moreover, when we move from desiring to shake things up only in the interest of “me and mine” to feeling connected to the whole and its good, our Magician archetype can emerge, so that we can heal ourselves and the world around us. The feeling of Persephone rising in and around us is one of relief, lightness, and a renewed sense of possibility.