WEEK 4: My Emerging Eros
The Lover Archetype
From time to time I teach a live class. Here is the recording of the Live Class on Saturday the 25th of March, 2017. The video is just over one hour long and you can pause any time.
I have added an audio file after the video for your convenience. If you want to download that and listen to it somewhere else, in your car, for instance, that should make it easy.
The Lover Archetype
No matter where you travel in the world, couples in love look the same. Be they hormonal teens or blushing octogenarians, be they opposite, same, or trans-gendered, and no matter what race and culture they come from, love is remarkably recognizable. This is because when you recognize love in others you recognize the universal Lover archetype stirring in yourself. Maybe you experience longing in your heart, or jealousy, or a myriad of other emotions. To not react when love is the air is inhuman. Love, expressed through the archetypal Lover, is much more complex than an emotion.
What turns you on? How well do you know your inner Lover? Are you aware of your young and sexy seductress within? Has she long ago gone to sleep? Has your inner Lover left you? Or, is she running your life and others consistently objectify you? What are the patterns in your relationship? Do you keep making the same mistakes, or have you been committed to the same person for a lifetime? How do you keep love alive? We explore the importance of enchantment, beauty and the lure this week. What makes you alluring? What turns you off? This week is also about things we love and we explore the importance of chocolate and money. We will also look at the shadow of the lover and here we meet backstabbing, intrigues and jealousy. This will, for sure, be a rich week!
Lover (Venus) Meditation
Since the Lover archetype is also about gifts, here is a product from my online store for you! You can download it or listen to it here. In Archetypal Astrology Venus represents the Lover. I recorded this meditation a few years ago in a studio.
This recording is somewhat hypnotic so PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS RECORDING WHILE DRIVING (or operating any heavy equipment). It is 19 minutes long. Do this when you have time to go through the whole meditation without interruption as you will be in a deep trance.
This recording helps you have a close encounter with your inner Lover. Remember that the inner Lover can appear in female or male form. Gender fluidity is the key here. This is not about gender. See who shows up as your inner Lover? What does this figure look like? Feel like? Taste like? What shapes, colors, textures, and sounds belong to your Lover to make this archetype in you unique? Even though we often identify this imaginal figure with someone (some idealized person from the past, a movie star etc) that is far too limiting. Allow your Lover to present her or his identity to you. In effect, be seduced by your own archetype. You can learn a lot just there.
This week, spend time with your journal and describe your inner Lover. What you write early in the week may differ as the week goes on. If you would rather describe her (or him) in prose, as a poem or a Haiku, the reflections are what matter.
Key Words for the Lover Archetype
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?
Beauty, Chocolate, Relating, Love, Gossip, Intrigues, Art, Fashion, Seduction, Money, Pleasure, Harmony, Artistry, Velvet, Food Delicacies, Violins, Pink, Sex, Backstabbing, Flirting, Fickleness, Dating, Kissing, Jealousy, Erotica, Social Affairs, Decorations, Singing, Longing, Unrequited Love, Swooning, Diplomacy, Ornaments, Makeover.
As an additional challenge this week - and you can go back and do this for previous weeks and also in the future - pick your favorite five key words and then find three ways that each of these keywords expresses itself very differently in different cultures. For instance, pick the word "Violin" and then note how differently we experience Beethoven's violin concerto, a gypsy playing the violin in eastern Europe, and a fiddle in a southern US state - and so on. This sensitizes you to the endless variations through which the archetypes manifest. You are learning to find what all these manifestations have in common.
Eros and Love
What does the word erotic mean? Most likely you think of something that is sexual. Actually, the word comes from the ancient Greek god of love, Eros. He was later known to the Romans as Cupid. When he shoots his arrows into our hearts we fall in love with the object of our desire.
We must go beyond the limited notion that this is only about falling in love with people, and that Eros, and therefore erotic, is about sexual desire. Eros is that and more. Much, much more. Have you ever been so passionate about creating something that you fell in love with it? Have you ever been so blissfully engaged with something that it felt as passionate as making love? This is not about sublimation and channeling sexual energy into something more acceptable, nor is this about making sexuality appropriate for a particular situation. This is not about replacing, diverting, or distracting Eros. On the contrary. When Eros really hits his target this is cumulative to sexual energy. This is about also, and in addition to, and nuances. There are different kinds of passions that the Lover experiences. They are stirred in different ways and they all originate with Eros' arrows. The Lover is the archetype in you who responds to Eros' arrows.
Your Lover is a reflection of what (and whom) you love. The question, "What turns me on?" asks for a comprehensive answer and is a good way to better get to know your inner Lover. There is a sexual component to Eros, of course, and also more. This question asks both.
- Ask yourself the question, "What turns me on?" Write at least a page in your journal. If you can't come up with anything, this week is definitely for you! Then do all the other exercises and come back to this later in the week.
- Ask two other people what turn them on. Pay attention to how they answer. If they give you a sexual answer, you can be thrilled at that and ask them about the other aspects of Eros. If they give you the latter first and ignore the first, ask them about what turns them on sexually.
- Remind yourself of three times when Eros' arrow hit you in the center of your heart. What happened? Tell that story to someone, or journal it - or both.
The Lover is a tremendously rich archetype. In ancient Greece she was called Aphrodite, in Rome Venus, in Egypt Hathor, and in the Hindu tradition Parvati. If you study what their domain was, this varies somewhat from one culture to the next. The archetypal thinker finds out what is universal about them all, what they have in common. We also ask what in another culture is different from what we know. What changes is the manifestation of the archetype, the expression of it, not the archetype itself. What can we learn that is new? There are no fixed rules about archetypes. We are operating in the imagination. The more fluidly we can read our lives the richer we get. Rigidity is not helpful.
In my Archetypal Astrology practice I use a fair amount of mythology to help tell stories. Many different mythological figures can be wrapped up in the Lover archetype. This is not simplifying or dumbing down mythology, it is reading the archetypes within mythological stories. For instance, Persephone was the young daughter of Demeter, the Goddess of Nature. When Hades, the Lord of the Underworld abducts Persephone into his domain she embodies the Lover archetype.
As archetypal thinkers we don't judge a myth. Rather, we ask questions. Did Hades rape Persephone in his lair? Or, was she happy to finally have an adventure and be rid of her smothering mother? Or did she experience Stockholm Syndrome and fall in love with her captor? The story has great richness because it does not tell you the right answer. It does not tell you any answer. When you read the story below, ask yourself what you imagine happened to Persephone in the underworld. This says something about your inner Lover and thereby allows you to understand something deep about yourself. The Persephone myth becomes a story that can describe you and when you were taken and swept off your feet, against your will (our will has very little to say about such things) and taken to a place of complete transformation.
- Use your journal to describe the most "Persephone-like" experience you have ever had.
- Google "Persephone" and find at least 10 images in different media (paintings, pop-art, sculpture). Print some out and paste them in your journal.
Can you imagine how a queenly Lover would be different from a kingly Lover? Let's imagine the perfect date for each. The queenly lover might prefer to stay at home, cook a meal, and then luxuriate with his lover in a warm tub before falling asleep in her arms in front of the fireplace. The kingly lover on the other hand may want to be seen on the dance floor showing off her inner Lover and outer Lover/date. She may want to be the adored center of it all. As you can see, already in the fourth week you are able to make such a subtle and important differentiation!
- Write three scenarios that apply to a trickster Lover. They can be short one-liners, as above. Make them as varied as you can meaning that you involve as many key words for the lover from above. Of course, if you prefer to write a novella, by all means do!
- Write three for the queenly Lover. Can you name some public figures that embody the combinations well?
- Finally write three for the kingly Lover.
- Share some of these on Slack!
Falling (in love) and Heartbreak
Most of us remember the first time we fell in love. How many poems, ballads, songs, novels, and plays have been written about this deeply transformative experience. For most of us this is when our inner Lover is first awakened and we meet a powerful, all-consuming part of us that can bring us to our knees with one telephone that does not ring. Or, when it does ring, the overwhelming feeling of joy and good will towards mankind is remarkable, We could rotate the world on our pinkie.
- Remember the time you first fell in love and re-live those moments. Either tell someone the story, write it in your journal, or go someplace quiet and reminisce in a meditation. Feel everything.
- Find a person who is newly in love. Offer them one piece of advice based on your experience. If you can't find someone, offer it to an imaginal person.
- Read about a dozen love poems. Read them out loud. Read them to your lover.
- Write a love poem to someone. If you are single, write one to yourself.
- Paste a sticky-note, filled with sweet nothings, on someone's computer monitor.
- Show up unannounced and pick someone you love up from work and whisk them off to dinner - or Timbuktu.
- Learn the Tango with your sweetie.
Love(r) Music and Poetry
Surely you will have a large collection of music and poetry in this category? Share some ideas with your fellow students in Slack! Tango or Waltz? What does that say about you? Who's crooning gets to you? That Italian heart-throb or that country singer? All of it?
- Find a few of your favorite love poems. Read them out loud, to yourself or to your lover.
- Sit through several of your favorite love songs. Really listen to the music. Hear and feel everything, every word and every note. If you cry, wonderful!
The world's oldest profession belongs to the Lover. The Lover sells. S(he) sells herself first. You cannot find a mate, get a job, or talk your way out of a ticket without selling yourself. Just like there are many different kinds of Lovers there are numerous ways of selling yourself. Some use sex, some intellect, some money, and so on. Our world is flooded with ways that the Lover is engaged in luring you into buying things.
List five ways/moments when you sold yourself to get something. How did you advertise yourself?
- What is your most comfortable way to sell yourself? What is your sales pitch?
- What is your least natural way to sell yourself? Why?
- How do you seduce someone? What about yourself do you find alluring?
- How many Lover archetypes can you spot in this (rather stereotypical...) commercial? Post your answers in Slack!
Too Much Lover: Slick Sales
To Little Lover: Frigid Unloving
Use your journal to reflect on the the following:
- When did you successfully sell someone something (or yourself) that you were/are ashamed of? Why did you do it? Why were/are you ashamed?
- Using keywords for the Lover above (you can add as many more similar words as you want) use your journal and write down some traits that belong to the exaggerated Lover. An example would be saccharine (overly sweet and ingratiating) Chose some that you detest the most. Do you have any of these traits?
- How does your over-the-top Lover behave? Shopaholic? Sex addict? Obsessive in relationships? Possessive? What unmet cravings are you meeting and how? Gallon of Ben & Jerry's at 3:00 AM?
Use your journal to reflect on times when you:
- Were jealous
- Found yourself starved for sex
- Were hungry for love
- Stared at newlyweds with envy
- Looked around your drab apartment and didn't know what to do
- Felt under-dressed at an event
- Felt fat
- Hated your clothes
- Rejected someone with a cold shoulder
Here is an excerpt from my book Planets in Play. First read the below and then answer the question that follows. Then click the button to find out my answer.
"Longing is the energy that fuels love. Natasha came to see me in my practice a few years ago. In college she had fallen madly in love with Alex, a “brilliant, creative and dangerously passionate” painter. He stimulated her creativity, he became her Muse, and he encouraged her to paint. She did, and their love was deep, their sex steamy, and their dreams for the future vast. After things between them settled down a bit Natasha married “the safe other guy” and it was twenty-three years into this marriage that she came to see me. With her husband she had created “a stable life,” they were “good friends” but after an initial period of intimacy their sex life was routine and “boring.” Over the years she found herself thinking of her sexy Alex almost daily. She would sit down at her easel and hear his voice and wonder what he would think of her paintings. Her question to me was: should she leave her husband and their “safe” life to look up Alex? She had been actively following his brilliant career, knew where he was, and knew that he had recently divorced."
Now, put yourself in my place and before you read my answer, ask yourself, what would you have advised Natasha? There is no right answer here. My answer is based upon my understanding of my Lover and of longing. However, how you answer here says a huge amount about your inner Lover. That is the value of this exercise. Ask yourself how you would answer and advise Natasha if you were her. Then read my answer.
WARNING: The value of this exercise is lost if you read this before you do the exercise!
Now please use your journal to reflect about longing. If you feel like sharing your thoughts, please use Slack!
Your inner Lover describes the beauty that is in the eye of the beholder. The more you know about your inner Lover the more likely it is that you attract the love of your life. This is called the law of attraction. If you are not well related to your inner Lover, or if you dismiss him/her altogether, surely s(he) will show up in the most destructive ways. Archetypes demand your attention. This what I mean with You do the Gods or the Gods do You (see introductory video for this week).
Feed the Lover
We already know that we look to the Queen to nourish and nurture us. However, the Lover feeds us as well. And mind you, this is not about nourishment, this is about seduction, foreplay, and beauty. The French have a wonderful expression: amuse-bouche (a-MYOOZ-boosh) which translates into "mouth amuser," a term for a delicate bite-sized appetizer. This is food that is fit for the Lover. Chocolate mousse belongs to the Lover and Chocolate chip cookies to the Queen. Champagne to the lover and Iced Tea to the Queen. You get the picture. Oysters anybody? What is typically called "gourmet food" in the US as opposed to "family cooking" or "family style" reflects this difference as well.
- Cook a gourmet meal for someone you love. If you don't know how to cook, you can "hunt and gather" the meal from quality sources. Light candles, have music. If you are single, invite a friend. This is a dinner for two.
- Go on a date with yourself and eat a delectable while you enjoy your own company.
- Eat desert.
Here is a list of some Lover movies. Bilitis, Billy Elliot, Camille Claudel, Chocolat, Death in Venice, Doctor Zhivago, Don Juan De Marco, Emmanuelle, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Lolita, Mad Hot Ballroom, Marie Antoinette, Mighty Aphrodite, Moulin Rouge, Pretty Woman, Romeo and Juliette, Shampoo, The Black Stallion, The English Patient.
Can you name some more? Can you watch one this week? In each movie, what makes it belong here?
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 Lover when you look at these. Why is each of them here?
"My Swedish grandmother, who lived through most of the twentieth century, was fond of flirting and suggested it as a matter of course. She was well versed in formal parties and etiquette. For instance, in Sweden you never sit with your spouse at a dinner party. When my wife and I followed this custom at our wedding, other couples were at first shocked and soon we got an earful of the expected jokes. In the end, we got more compliments about this arrangement than for anything else at the event. After all, who wants to sit next to a spouse and hear the same old jokes for the five-hundredth time? Nobody wants to be elbowed, or kicked under the table and reminded: 'Honey, no one is interested in that golfing story of yours.'
My grandmother also said that when you have 'flirted heavily' at a party you are supposed to go home with that excitement and explore those feelings with your significant other. I think her notion of Venus [the Lover] was grand."
-- From Planets in Play, Laurence Hillman, pp 140-141
- Do you know how to flirt? Do you know how to flirt without going to bed with the person you are flirting with? Is it important to you to make a distinction? Do you know the difference between flirting and sexual harassment?
- Journal about these things.
Sex and Seduction
Seduction is the Lover's main assignment in this area. Sex drive and raw passion belong to the Warrior whom we will study next week. The Lover's job is to get people together, to seduce and so her/his favorite part of sex is foreplay. Sure, the Lover loves to make love too, but without some pre-story according to your Lover's style, it will never be as fulfilling as it could be. And with so many different kinds of Lovers out there, the variety is endless. Does your Lover seduce with prowess? Sex appeal? Is she a damsel in distress? Or a femme fatale? Or a Mata Hari? Is he a Casa Nova? We have many famous figures in history, women and men, who have become mythic in their role as Lovers. For some the only way is a one-night stand, for others it is all about "putting a ring on it."
What kind of a seducer - or not - you are and what sort of a lover, these are both shown by your inner Lover.
- Write a few paragraphs in your journal about your sex life. Is it the way you want it to be? If not, what is missing? Why?
- When is the last time you seduced someone? The last time you were seduced? What happened? What did your Lover do?
End of Lover Week
See you next week!