WEEK 7: My Careful Craftsman

The Strategist Archetype

Astrological Saturn

 

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“Why not come out and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?” “I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you do the same.”
— Aesop's Fables

Live Class on Saturn


The Importance of Seven

Consider the relevance of the number seven. Why is it one of those consistent numbers we see again and again, like twelve, ten, and three? Can you name ten instances where the number seven shows up? I'll begin: seven days of the week and seven dwarfs with Snow White. Post your answers in SLACK!


Death: Transformation vs. Finality


The Strategist Archetype

What are you building? This week we immerse ourselves in the archetype of the Strategist. Your inner architect designs and completes your projects. Without access to this part of you, dreams cannot become reality. Are you able to focus? Finish things? What have you built? Where is your mastery? Your follow-through? What have you spent ten thousand hours perfecting? It takes patience and pragmatism to build something. Like the Ant in the fable above, are you responsible? Can you plan and think ahead? Your internal Strategist speaks to this. Do you have stick-to-itive-ness? The Strategist also knows about limits and can say 'no' which sometimes gives him the reputation of a killjoy. When exploring his shadow we will include negativity, depression, and pessimism. At his best the Strategist is wise, mature, and approves of the wrinkles in his face. His melancholy gives him that depth. 


Key Words for the Strategist

Read the following key words with your journal nearby. Then, note and reflect on your instant reaction to these words. Imagine they describe a person. Would this person feel like a friend, an enemy, or a stranger?

Mastery, Building, Tradition, Melancholy, Discipline, Darkness, Hardness, Construction, Skeleton, Establishment, Hardness, Order, Architecture, Cold, Focus, Maturity, Business, Wisdom, Limits, Borders, Rules, Hierarchy, Structure, Time, Endings, Walls, Destinations, Going Solo, Frost, Lairs, Functioning, Precision, "No," Peaks, Depression, Hyper Focus, Grown-up.


Strategist Music

Here is a sample of music for the Strategist. It is somber, melancholic, and rhythmic.


Exercises

With your journal, spend some time with your inner Strategist. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you relate to this archetype when you read the key words and hear the music?
  • What are your thoughts on melancholy? 
  • What have you mastered in your life? What are you in the process of mastering?
  • Where are you disciplined in your life? Where would you like to be more disciplined?
  • Where are you responsible and where would you like to be more responsible?

Discipline

We can discipline others or, ...

...we can be disciplined ourselves and practice focusing rituals, such as meditation or yoga.

Either of the two belong to the Strategist. The latter is certainly more evolved and takes far more work. The more conscious we become of any of the archetypes within us, the more evolved their expressions through us can be.

 

Exercises

  • Sit quietly, unplug the phone and disconnect the internet. See if you can just sit still and comfortably while emptying your mind. You may want to close your eyes. Do nothing for half an hour. Set a timer.
  • Meditate in the dark several times this week.
  • Focus on a lit candle flame for 15 minutes each day this week. If your mind wanders, just wait for your awareness to return to the flame.

Too Much Strategist: Depression

Too Little Strategist: Disorganized

Exercises

Use your journal to explore these questions:

  • Have you ever been overwhelmed by depression?
  • What did you do, what could you not do?
  • Where did your energy go?
  • Do you know a control freak? What is the worst thing about this person? Do you have any of those qualities?
  • Do you know the difference between really focusing on something and loosing your objectivity with it?
  • Know any neat freaks? Are you one? How does it make you feel to be (around) a neat freak.
  • Are your spices in your cabinet organized alphabetically?

Exercises

Here, also use your journal to answer the following questions:

  • Are you messy?
  • Do you measure twice and cut once or do you measure once and then have to cut twice?
  • Do you know someone who is very organized whom you envy? Can you learn from them?
  • Have you ever calculated ho much time you will spend in your life looking for lost keys or wallets?
  • Are you very disorganized about some things but quite organized about others?
  • Do you start and stop commitments all th

Movies

See if you can catch one of these movies this week! Why are they in this part of this course? Why do they belong to the Strategist archetype?Birdman of Alcatraz, Citizen Kane, Empire of the Sun, Harold and Maude, Nixon, The Lord of the Rings (All of them), The Last Castle, The Machinist, The Postman, The World's Fastest Indian, Venus (with Peter O'Toole)


Old Age

Here is a passage from my book Planets in Play. In astrology the planet Saturn is akin to the Strategist. You can simply swap one word for the other here.

"In our everyday lives, archetypal Saturn often appears personified in characters that are overruling, brutally decisive, and lacking compassion. Think of a group of generals, the old guard, who take over their country to avoid mayhem (or so they say). Bitter, old, and heavy-handed, that can be Saturn at his worst—simplified, shrunk, and calcified.

The idea of the crone is the female equivalent of this. The notion of the old woman as an archetype is a negative one throughout most of Western history. Her caricatures include the wicked witch, the stepmother, the hag, and the mad-as-a-bat lunatic. In contrast to these images,we get the benevolent grandmother, who bakes, knits, and takes you in her lap. There is little in between, and only now and then do we find a gem such as this, from the actress Anna Magnani: “Please don’t retouch my wrinkles. It took me so long to earn them.”

Over time and thanks to the women’s liberation movement, we are rediscovering other expressions of what older women can be: mentors, medicine women, midwives, politicians, Supreme Court justices, country leaders, professors, and artists, to name just a few. While women have stepped into some of these roles in the past, they often had to assume a male pseudonym if they wanted to be recognized. As time goes on, as women break some of the patriarchal saturnine rules, the feminine expression of archetypal Saturn is reemerging.

We live in a youth-obsessed world, where the naïve message is that young is better than old. This separates us from the Saturn archetype. In a world where sadness and the archetype of the old are bad, the aging generation in a society becomes sick and weak. Whereas they used to be the elders, healing and carrying wisdom, they are now pushed aside. Where they used to bring new children into life and counsel on matters of grave concern, they are now at best ignored. Today we put old people away into homes and marvel when a person is “still active” at an old age. The combined idea of old age and sex is practically unimaginable to many.

When we look away from the elderly and ignore their advice and wisdom, we lose a sense of our history and are perhaps just avoiding our own inevitable demise. What the older generation knows that the younger will never understand is that life teaches us lessons through the unfolding of time. While Saturn, incarnated as Father Time, might take away our hearing, our sight, and our memory, he brings us vision and focus, or at least the potential to have it. It is much later in life that the mature mind discovers that freedom comes from accepting the rules and limitations that life invariably brings. In old age, Saturn shrivels us up, just like a prune that we then in fact resemble. But as in dried fruit, Saturn also concentrates our juices." (pp 214-215)

 

Exercises

Please use your journal to reflect on these questions:

  • How old are you? How old do you feel? What gives us age?
  • If you could be older or younger, would you want to be? Why?
  • If you have wrinkles, how do you feel about them? 
  • Have you ever pretended that you were a different age? When? Why?
  • Spend a day as though you were at least twenty years different from where you are, older or younger does not matter. What happened? What do you gain from such an exercise?

 


With age comes the inner, the higher life. Who would be forever
young to dwell always in externals?
— Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Time & Timing

The Strategist is keenly aware of time, timing, and schedules. He is never late. Cost overruns, getting struck in traffic, missing a deadline: such things knock him off his game. He likes to be focused, keep his goal in his vision and when anything slows him down he gets upset, cranky, and even mean. 

When he is at his best he understands natural timing and how the universal clock works. This means that he can precisely align himself to what every moment of the day needs from him. Here, again, he can show mastery. He understands the phrase, "now is not the right time," the notion that time has different qualities

Exercises

Using your journal, write about the following:

  • Are you punctual or notoriously late?
  • How do you feel about others being late or on time?
  • Do you consider being twenty minutes late for a dinner date fashionable and OK?
  • How well do you manage your time?
Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.
— Evelyn Waugh

Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you.
— Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club

Father Time

We use the word "time" in many contexts. Here are a few to consider: make time, cut time, over time, through time, beyond time, hard time, every time, do time, half-time, and father time. Can you name ten more? Post them to SLACK!

In the end, as the ultimate end, the final moment, the non-plus-ultra culmination, the Strategist also represents the end of the life that we built. Here, we know him as father time, the grim reaper with a scythe and in the seven ages of man, 

 Pieter Cornelis Wonder: Father Time, 1810; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Pieter Cornelis Wonder: Father Time, 1810; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


Wisdom, Mastery, and the Sage

The Strategist works slowly and methodically. There are no shortcuts. Imagine that your knowledge, experience and accumulated wisdom is a pyramid. Each piece you collect along the way is another stone in the massive structure you are building. The older you get, the more wisdom you collect. No matter what it is, you gain something with age. You may learn when to keep your mouth shut. You may become more (or less ) tolerant because you have seen so many variations of the same thing, whatever it may be. Over time you gain more pieces that eventfully make more sense and the structure begins to take form. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell famously suggests that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to attain mastery in a field. That is the Strategist at work. Crafting, learning, experiencing, perfecting, and remembering.

Here is a lovely Sufi story called "Fatima the Spinner and the Tent, by Idries Shah. You can get the full story here.

Ultimately, the very wise can keep building their knowledge and become sages, those who attain philosophical wisdom that endures through the ages and that they often pass on and teach.

 The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David, 1787

The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David, 1787

Exercise

  • What have you been learning for ten thousand hours?
  • What would you like to have been learning for ten thousand hours?
  • In what area of your life do you consider yourself wise or even a sage?

Structure

Your inner Strategist represents all structures, inner and outer. When you are building something, for instance a business, a career, or trust in a relationship, your Strategist is always present. 

Besides describing your moral structure and fiber, within your body the Strategist also represents what holds you erect: your skeletal system. Since that is only half of what is needed to physically contain you and hold you erect, the Strategist also represents your skin, the facade, the hull, the container of your body.

Exercise

  • Build something! You can build a structure with glue and matchsticks or you can build a barbecue pit in your back yard. When you design, plan, and build anything you are honoring your inner Strategist.

The Container and the Power of Limits

The Strategist understands the power of drawing a line. There are then two sides, a demarcation, a line in the sand, a border, a fence, or a wall. A wall can protect us or imprison us. Itself it has no preference. Imagine yourself in this castle. Do you think of yourself as protected or caught? Neither? Why?


Then, look at this girl. Is she looking in or is she looking out? The Strategist erects the walls and the fences, and he draws the lines in the sand. Your inner Strategist tells you how you feel about your own walls and fences and what kind of barriers you put up around you.

When we get to know our inner Strategist we get to know how we feel within the spaces that we create? Are they spaces of isolation? Privacy? Mediation? What do they contain? Our secrets? Or, perhaps a ballroom where we dance with many others? 

Here are some thoughts about how containment and limitations work in the artist's world. This is a section from Planets in Play. The Strategist corresponds with the planet Saturn in Archetypal Astrology. You can swap the two words in what follows.

"The outward expression of this inner truth often takes an artistic form. It has always been observed that artists seem more prone to melancholy than the rest of us. Particularly, many modern artists speak a certain black truth and face us with our deepest fears. Their work is not about beautifying the world; instead it reminds us of the underlying structures, the saturnine and sometimes deadly truths that live within our happy existences. Of course, nobody likes to be confronted with such realities, but understanding our limitations, grim or not, is essential to understanding the human condition.

It may sound paradoxical, but precisely the rules imposed by Saturn can be freeing. Structures can be freeing. The author Ian McEwan, interviewed by Diane Rehm on National Public Radio, was asked whether it was difficult to compress all that he wanted to say in his novel Saturday into one twenty-fourhour period. He said that he found he was “liberated rather than confined” by the strict parameters he set for himself. He went on to say that “those strict rules paradoxically set you free.”

There is a liberating sense for the painter of having a limited canvas, for the writer of having an 81/2-by-11-inch page (even if it is on a computer screen), for the sculptor of having a set piece of stone. Saturn brings grace to parameters. Within these limits, artistic beauty can burst forth like the child through the tightness of the birth canal.When throwing a vessel, the potter first centers the exterior or the whole, then he opens the interior, which needs to be centered as well. Now he starts to pull the clay, applying equal pressure to the outside and inside and enabling the lift and letting the vase grow. Focusing, concentrating, and applying precise pressure allows the potter to form the vase. There are very specific rules of engagement with clay that specify exactly how thin, how large, and how high you can throw a vessel before it collapses under its own weight.

A client once told me the story of his experiences when going to art school. He remembered how frustrated he was when, early on in his education, he had to fulfill silly assignments in which he had to follow “all these silly rules.” Later, when he was given a loose assignment to “make something three-dimensional,” he was at first overwhelmed. He began to see that he could not make anything before he set himself parameters, made his own rules, for instance choosing the materials and thus eliminating all others. He said, “I remember the terror of narrowing down my selections.” That is when he remembered the value of those earlier exercises. He essentially had learned how saturnine restrictions are crucial to the creative process. When I attended architecture school, I experienced this as well. With each line that the architect puts down on paper, a decision has been made, a space is defined, and two areas are separated.

Let us apply another image here. Think of a large loom. There are tight, inflexible, one-colored threads that run from the front to the back of the loom. These are called the warp, and they are saturnine in nature. They are evenly spaced and, in a sense, boring and rigid. Through them the weaver weaves the often-colorful thread, wool, or fabric remnants that make up the visible part of the weave. This is called the weft and is the part we admire and observe. The warp stays in the background, invisibly holding the rug or the weave together. We need this saturnine structure to have a fabric. Like Hobson the dutiful servant, the warp stays in the background and holds our colorful life together." (pp 209-210)


Exercise

 

A client told me a story a few years ago. Anne was having problems with her daughter, Natalie, who was eight years old and sassy. They were having another one of their typical fights over bedtime. Natalie was arguing that the rules about her bedtime were ridiculous. She should be allowed more time to play and so on. Suddenly, Anne threw her hands up and said, “You know what? You can go to bed whenever you want. I’m done fighting with you.” With that, Anne walked into her own room and left the door slightly ajar. “What do you mean!?” Natalie called across the hallway. “Just what I said,” Anne answered. “You can go to bed whenever you want. No rules. Good night.” After only a few minutes, Natalie came bursting into Anne’s room crying. When she had calmed down a bit, she looked at her mother with fear in her eyes and said, “Don’t you love me anymore, Mom?" (from Planets in Play p. 204)

  • Can you think of a similar story in your life? Write about it in your journal! Or, write about it in SLACK!
  • What does this story mean to you? What does it remind you of or trigger? Would you have handled the situation differently?
  • Do you identify more with the child or with the parent in the story? Neither? Why?

I am sure that there is no such thing as free thinking in as much as all thinking must be bound by its own laws.
— James Joyce

More Strategist Music

What music do you have in your collection that would serve the Strategistand fit this archetype? What makes music belong in this week's class?


Strategist Images

You can let these play automatically, or you can click through them at your own pace by using the left and right arrows.

Think of the key-words for the Strategist when you look at these. Why is each of them here?

 
 

Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man (by William Shakespeare)

We are coming to the end of the seventh week. Perhaps unbeknownst to you, we have now also covered the Seven Ages of Man, Shakespeare's famous metaphor. There are many interpretations of how the Ages of Man relate to the planets and the archetypes we are studying. The one I use has the King as the observer and the Ages are the stages that the King, the ego, goes through. See if you can figure out what is what! Then post your answers in SLACK!

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with a good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

-Act II, Scene VII, Shakespeare's As You Like It


That's it for the Strategist.

See you next week!