Healing your Archetypal Wounds with shadow work

We All Carry Emotional Wounds In Our Archetypes

And these woundings, whether accidental or the result of childhood trauma, abuse or neglect, cause the natural development of our archetypal energy to be arrested or disrupted. This is because when all or part of an archetype has been repressed, diminished, or hidden, for whatever reason, a man or woman may be low in energy in that area. Equally, we may over-compensate and show high levels of energy which come across as forced, false or unnatural.

Here’s a list of the main qualities of each archetype, so you can see how things  go wrong.

1 The Sovereign – The King or Queen Archetype (The Heart Centred Leader In You)

The balanced qualities of this archetype are: leadership, vision, a sense of purpose, a sense of mission. The Sovereign is also associated with joy, generosity, wisdom, blessing, happiness, and understanding. This is why we can also call this archetype the Heart Centred Leader.

The Sovereign should also have control over the Warrior, or Action Taker, archetype, which goes out into the world and carries out the King or Queen’s orders.

And the Sovereign needs to have clear and straightforward communication with the Magician or Transformer archetype. This is the part of you which provides solutions to problem and advises your Sovereign on the options in any set of circumstances.

The Sovereign is charged with holding the problems, the issues, the weaknesses and wounds of the kingdom. He or she needs to be strong enough to protect the people in the kingdom – including himself or herself.

The King or Queen in his or her fullness and maturity safeguards the realm and ensures that it runs smoothly. When the Sovereign is weak or abdicates his or her responsibility, things can quickly fall apart.

If there is a lack of leadership, purpose, mission or vision in your life, it’s highly likely that your Sovereign energies – your own Heart Centred Leader energies – were inhibited, repressed, disallowed or not respected when you were a child.

Low Sovereign energy also shows up in a lack a sense of purpose and direction in your life. And in a lack of self-belief, self-confidence or low self-worth.

Also, if you’re playing a game of grandiosity, trying to save the world, or prove you’re better than everyone else, you may be trying to make up for the Sovereign qualities you naturally lack, such as leadership, balance and self-confidence.

Read more about the principles of archetypes and their characteristics in my book, Warrior Magician, Lover, King. (Click here to see it.)

2 The Warrior Archetype (The Action Taker, or Guardian Of The Boundaries)

The qualities needed for the full expression of this archetype are a sense of a clear and strong personal identity, clear and firm boundaries, and the willingness to go out into the world to get things done, maybe to take on a competitor or an “enemy”.

Your Warrior also defends the boundaries of your kingdom. That may be your business, your family, or your emotional, physical and psychological being.

Warrior work includes the ability to say “No!” when required in a clean and clear way – as well as the ability to say “Yes!”

Your Warrior is able to formulate strategy and use clever tactics to get what you want in the world. And when necessary, he or she knows how to defend against, or defeat, anyone who doesn’t have your best interests, or the kingdom’s best interests, at heart.

The Warrior archetype is also associated with action in the world, and embodies an appropriate kind of energy for the situation you’re in. Sometimes this is anger. Sometimes it is an energy derived from anger, such as “assertiveness” or the “energy of action in the world”. This sense of taking action in, and making an impact on, the world, is the reason why we often call this archetype the Action Taker.

Your Warrior can take an assertive, outward-looking position (which is often the case for men) or an inward looking, more defensive, position (which is often the case for women).

In the Warrior quarter, a poor sense of identity, low assertiveness, weak personal boundaries, and an inability to take action, are all associated with an emotional wound of some kind.

Equally, inappropriate, uncontrolled anger or rage, truculence, argumentativeness, and bullying can all come from the enforced repression or suppression of your Warrior as a child. That might have been in response to parental pressure, or some need to suppress this archetype in order to stay safe, as a child.

3 The Magician (The Transformer, Thinker, Problem Solver, Creative Part Of You)

This archetype is all about clear thinking. It’s about coming up with solutions and taking them to the King or Queen for  consideration. It’s about finding options, wise counsel and problem solving. It’s a highly creative part of you.

In many ways the Magician is the powerhouse behind the throne. It’s the part of your personality, the archetype, which is essential for clarity of thought and wisdom. The Magician is responsible for transforming one state of being, or one situation, into something different. And also for transformation. For example, transformation of the energy of fear into the reality of protection and safety. Or the transformation of difficulty into progress, the dark into the light, and stasis into movement. This ability gives rise to the new name for this archetype that we use in our version of shadow work: the Transformer.

Your Magician is responsible for knowing (or finding out) what could be done in any situation and presenting these options to the King or Queen, the Heart Centred Leader, so they can decide what should be done.

This is also the archetype responsible for coming up with strategies to keep you safe as a child. Few of us grow up in families which are ideal, and sometimes strategies for safety and survival are essential.

The Magician knows fear well, since fear is often the trigger for change, a sign that something needs to change. Wounds in the Magician archetype can lead to a lot of childhood defensive strategies. Children who learn that it isn’t safe to be in the world in some way will put their Magicians to work. They may consciously or unconsciously work out exactly what needs to happen, how they need to be, for them to stay safe.

In fact, the desire for safety is the force which moves all children away from the natural path of expressing their true magnificence and power. Children learn what’s acceptable to their parents and the wider world and begin to behave in a “suitable” way under the direction of their Magician.

One reaction is to be manipulative; another is to become confused and numb, unable to think. The most common response is to adapt, to stuff part of the personality into shadow. Then, of course, a skilful Magician facilitator is needed to help a client grow through shadow work, by facilitating the transformation of the client’s shadow back into the positive energy from which it came.

To put it another way, whatever a child learns will keep him or her safe will most likely become a default way of being for the rest of his or her life, long after it’s ceased to be helpful. That, of course, is why we need counselling, therapy and coaching….

4 The Lover (The Feeling Body, The Sensitive, Sensual Part Of You Which Desires Connection)

The Lover is associated with companionship, affection, love, sensuality, intimacy and appreciation. These are sensuous qualities of the body, which is why we can call the Lover by the more modern name of “The Feeling Body”.

Every child would ideally be born into a world in which it is loved and wanted. But sadly, that is often not so, and a child may be deeply wounded by caregivers who do not recognise its needs for love, affection, connection and respect. At some level, the child concludes that it’s not lovable or there’s something wrong with the way he or she expresses love. Instead of a life filled vibrant joy, sensuous leisure, and intimate connections, the result of this wounding can be stoic isolation or great neediness and emotionality.

The Art of Healing The Shadow

Healing The Shadow is the way we work, the essence of our therapy. It’s sometimes called shadow work, a process designed around the concept of exploring each archetype to find your emotional wounds and heal them. We also work on restoring your natural level of energy and expression to each archetype. Doing this removes emotional blocks, heals your emotional issues, and restores balance to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours in each area.

So if your leadership is weak, for example, we can build up your Sovereign or Heart Centred Leader energy so that you embody this energy more fully.

If you have poor boundaries and can’t assert yourself, we can work with the Warrior or Action Taker archetype to build those qualities up.

If you have relationship problems, we can work with the Lover or Feeling Body archetype to find out what will enable you to connect with others in a healthy way.

The wonderful flexibility of working with the shadow means almost any issue can be examined, understood, and healed. This is indeed counselling for success, happiness and love.

As a Healing The Shadow practitioner, I work both in person and by Zoom. This means I can see clients from Bradford on Avon, Westbury, Trowbridge, Frome, Bath and Bristol in person or remotely on Zoom. And clients who live further away are always welcome as we can conduct sessions by Zoom.

(Shadow work is a term which refers to my work as a Healing The Shadow therapist in which I use the archetypal model of the personality as a starting point for much of our work together. For those who wish to work with a female facilitator, my colleague Marianne Hill offers one to one and group shadow work.)