WEEK 3: My Mercurial Mind
The Storyteller Archetype
First Things First: Archetypes and the Self
A student posted this excellent question in Slack:
"This archetypal way of looking at things is new to me. I am well versed in multiplicity/parts/self states. I have also discovered a witnessing presence that observes these different characters. It is this presence that I feel is ultimately real, unchanging, neutral and the one I call on to settle and regroup. When I access this place, it feels like a coming home and I feel a deep connection with my surroundings. My question for Laurence is a) is this presence I am referring to an archetype or something else and b) in the archetype model, is there such a central self from where one can see the act or are we always looking from the perspective of the archetype?"
Here is my answer:
Ideas About the Self
The Center of the Circle
The Quintessential Self
The Storyteller Archetype
How does your mind work? This week we explore and play with your inner Storyteller Trickster. Universally reflected in the jester, the clown, the swindler and the thief, he is an orator, a tap-dancer, and he is lightning fast. We will explore your particular mind and your way of thinking. Are you more comfortable with facts or with poetry? Foggy brain? Juggling too much in your life? Find out what that is about. This archetype is never simple and always asks about the other side of things. Perspective is his thing, as is indecisiveness. We will not rest until we also explore the shadow of the Trickster: the liar, the motormouth, and the slippery slope. Don't blink or you might miss this week!
Key Words for This Week
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?
Messenger, Communication, Trickster, Traveling, Speech, Intellect, Versatility, Multiple, Busybodies, Mercurial, Thieving, Doctors, Medicine, Nervous, Critic, Mind, Thoughts, Fickle, Superficial, Neighbors, Siblings, Puzzles, Adaptability, Trivia, Sly, Sarcasm, Tongue Twisters, Androgyny, Quick, Juggling, Multiplicity, Farce, Wit, Humor
Duality and Multiplicity
The story goes like this: Two friends are watching TV. They fight over the channel changer because one of them wants to watch whatever is on, the other one wants to watch whatever else is on. The latter friend is the mercurial and restless one. She is the one curious about every possible piece of information out there. The Trickster also likes to contradict or say the opposite. Duality and all things that contain the word or number "two" -- such as two-sided, two-faced, dilemma, difference, duality, diverge, opposition and polarity. The Storyteller Trickster loves debates and perspective. The more answers to the same question that she can find, the better.
Once again here are some words that belong to the Storyteller Trickster: Two-sided, two-faced, dilemma, difference, duality, diverge, opposition and polarity. Can you list ten more? Can you recite a tongue-twister? Try this one: Denise sees the fleece, Denise sees the fleas. At least Denise could sneeze and feed and freeze the fleas.
Mercury (or Hermes)
In Greek mythology Hermes is the herald or messenger of the gods. He has two main assignments. First, he delivers messages and his herald's staff is the Caduceus, the two snakes intertwined around a central pole, that you see in the image above. Second, he guides the souls of the dead into the underworld which means he was a psychopomp, the Greek word for such guides. In Roman mythology, which largely took over the gods from it's predecessors in ancient Greece, Hermes became Mercury, a god with basically the same qualities. We get the word "mercurial" from this god. Mercury is also an element, further known as quicksilver, that not only describes the metal (think of the slippery and hard to grasp core of old mercury thermometers) but also describes a person's behavior.
Read the fabulous tale of the birth of this god. Note all the different traits that foreshadow several of the core facets of Hermes. These include stealing, trickery, swindling, cleverness, agility, and many more.
Some Trickster Music
Can you think of others from your music collection? Look up the Flight of the Bumblebee on YouTube! What distinguishes this music from others?
One of the most well known stories from German folklore is the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The town of Hamelin, Germany was infested by rats. The mayor promised to pay the Pied Piper very well if he rid the town of rats. The Pied Piper played his flute, and lured by the magical music, all of the rats left town, and followed him. He played his music all the way down to the river, he then waded into the river and all of the rats followed him and drowned. The mayor refused to pay him. So, one night when the townspeople were asleep, the Pied Piper played his music again. This time, the children of the town followed him all the way into a cave. Some versions for the legend vary here. In one version, the Pied Piper kept them there until he was paid by the town for his services. In most versions, the children were never to be seen again.
The Three Rs - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
Your Storyteller Trickster archetype shows you your smarts. The Storyteller uses the brain to communicate and figure things out. He collects information, he juggles ideas, he is sly. One great profession for the Storyteller is the investigative reporter who talks his way past the gatekeepers and gets to the story first. Or the math wiz. Or the inventor. Think of street smarts.
Can you list 10 professions that would be well suited for the Storyteller archetype? What might be a key ingredient that separates Robin Hood from the common thief? Can you list 10 Storyteller Trickster figures from literature, movies, folklore and so on that you know? Here are few to get you started: Puss in Boots, Bart Simpson, Loki, Puck (in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream). Next, write three limericks and a Haiku!
Brain - Fact Or Fiction?
What kind of a brain do you have? Does it play tricks on you? When and how? Can you trick your brain? How?
Do you prefer facts over fiction? Are you a mostly a left-brain thinker? How do you know that? Who do you know who is just like you? How about very different from you?
Or do you prefer fiction over fact? Are you a right brain thinker? How do you know that? Who do you know who thinks just like you? How about someone who thinks very differently from you?
Too Much Storyteller: The Liar
Too Little Storyteller: Feeling Stupid
How do you multitask? It takes the Storyteller Trickster archetype to be able to do that. Reflect on the way you operate.
Spend an entire day doing one thing at a time. If you realize that you are doing more than one thing at a time, begin that task again. So no driving while on the phone. No eating while having a conversation, and no reading in the bathtub.
This exercise is far more difficult than it at first seems. It allows you to notice how scattered and unfocused we usually are. It shows you how the Storyteller Trickster can "have you" even when you are not aware of it.
Do you try to focus on one thing at a time or do you like to juggle a bunch of things at the same moment?
Actual juggling, as in what this clown is doing, is very good for your brain and can help if you have dyslexia or brain issues. You cannot juggle without using both your right and your left brain hemisphere. So go ahead, watch a beginners video on YouTube and learn at least one cool move to impress your friends! It's good for you. And it gets you in touch with your inner Storyteller Trickster.
Games that the Storyteller Trickster loves include any word games such as Scrabble, and crossword puzzles. Masquerades give the Trickster an opportunity to change persona, to disobey the rules and trick others into believing that he is someone else. Charades, miming, and Telephone where you whisper a message into the next person's ear, the Trickster loves such activities. As an exercise, play a game from this list! Can you think of other Storyteller Trickster games?
In the incarnation of Hermes/Mercury the Storyteller Trickster is also the protector of travelers. This has to do with the curiosity inherent in your Trickster nature. In ancient times, when a traveler got another distance on his journey he would thank Hermes for his safe passage by placing a pebble on a pile of stones that others had already laid at regular intervals along the road. This is where we get the term "mile stone."
Take a trip. In your mind. Write everything down in story form. From packing, to coming back home and unpacking, make this as real as you can. Then tell someone the story. You can read it or tell it. You can also tell someone a story from a photo album you have, a story from a trip.
The Storyteller Trickster can also appear as the thief, swindler, fast-talking salesman, or the pickpocket. What skills particularly inherent in the Storyteller Trickster archetype are suited for this?
Have you ever stolen something? When? Why? Were you good at it? Why? When have you "sold" someone something you later felt bad about? This can relate to an item or that you convinced someone about something that you did not really believe in. What skills did you use to do this? What would have been an alternative?
Why are the following pictures in the Trickster collection? Can you name at least two words for each image that belong to the Trickster?
That's it for this week!
Don't forget to share your thoughts on Slack.