An abundance of heroes
This is a beautiful, soulful and visionary book.
Pearson looks at, and explains the major archetypes which are found in reading fairy tales and myths, and also at the inner meaning of the ‘quest journey’ which heroes in mythic tales engage in.
And so do systems like the Tarot, and also the poet W.B. Yeats drawing a whole mythology of the unconscious around a mythical idea of phases of the moon
Carol Pearson takes this material, and uses it to offer tools for self-analysis, but it is much, much more than ‘a personality test’ or even ‘self-help’
First, there is the realisation that we are all, constantly engaged on heroic quests – she untangles the stages of the heroic journey, and relates them well to everyday living. The ‘self test’ is really a tool to see where you are, at THIS point, and where you might gain understanding to help you move forwards.
I’ve had this book for some years, and re-read and re-use it from time to time.
One of the excellent approaches of this book is the ‘shadow’ work. Pearson groups the twelve archetypes into 6 pairs, which are mirror images or the other side of each other. She suggests, with each pair, that if you markedly are one aspect, the other aspect is ‘shadow’ – ideally there would be some sort of equal and opposite tension between the two.
As an example, Sage and Fool. The ‘Sage’ is clearly seen by most as positive, wise, considered, dispassionate, assimilated. But what of the fool – the fool ‘acts/speaks without thinking’ – therefore has sponteneity, intuition. In literature, the fool was often the means by which truth could be told. There is also the idea of the ‘Idiot Savant’ Our ‘fool’ also has positive qualities. We may desire to develop our sage and deny our fool – or we may be only spontaneous and anarchic, and deny the measured and dispassionate consideration that is our sage.
I particularly like the holistic view Pearson expresses – a realisation that each of us embodies all these archetypes, though at different stages of our lives, some may come to the fore, some may be more hidden. Every aspect rides the light; every aspect also has its veiled manifestation.
Unlike more clinical analysis of ‘types’ such as Myers-Briggs, this is dynamic, rather than static.
If you are someone who has a predominantly right brain way of functioning, responding perhaps more to metaphor, imagery, this will probably be a favoured book and then some. It is poetic, entrancing and deeply engaging. I’m about to saddle my horse and set out on my next heroic journey. Pearson’s book definitely one of my magical companion animals! (Read the Book!!)