Most of us have a deep-seated desire to understand ourselves better. We want to know what makes us uniquely us, why we do stupid things, or why we can’t get ourselves to do the things we know we should. We love to learn our strengths, take personality assessments, discover how the stars are influencing us, and some love to probe esoteric tools like the enneagram.
The archetypes are one such prism for unveiling the mysteries of our personality. Caroline Myss refers to them as “universal forms of cosmic intelligence that are directly involved in the day-to-day organizing of our lives.” I like to think of them as patterns of energy whose effects play out in our lives. For the Greeks, the archetypes took shape as their gods and goddesses. They believed that people were possessed by these deities. If you drank too much, for example, they would say you were under the influence of Dionysus.
You will recognize the archetypes by their modern names: Warrior, Magician, Healer, Princess… there are thousands. In her book, Sacred Contracts, Myss identifies about eighty common types that manifest in our lives and advances the theory that for each of us, a constellation of twelve will be most active, accompanying us on our life’s journey. Our personalities are shaped by these forces, with our characteristic behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs taking on the hues of the archetypes that influence us most.
The theme of the book relates to identifying your archetypes so that you can know your life’s mission and thereby “live your life in a way that makes the best use of your energy. When you are working well with your energy, you are also making the best expression of your personal power.”
If you’re still reading, it might be because you, in particular, are called to understand yourself at a deep level. Chances are you’ve got a Seeker archetype in your constellation. Seekers are drawn to topics that dive deep into personal development because they are on a quest for answers.
In general, they are seeking some ultimate Truth and delight in finding all the little truths along the way. In fact, that ultimate Truth tends to be so slippery that Seekers get a bit lost in the journey, enjoying the trip as much that elusive destination. It’s the questing that stirs their soul.
Each archetype has gifts that come with it, along with what Myss (and Jung before her) terms the Shadow side. The Shadow manifests when the archetype isn’t sufficiently integrated into the psyche or when a dysfunctional form emerges.
Light Attributes of the Seeker
The gifts of the Seeker include an insatiable love for learning, curiosity, and great stamina in the search for answers. They have a delight for the novel and are always on-boarding new pursuits and taking on new interests.
On the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Seekers show up as “Ps” or Perceivers. Perceivers like to keep things open-ended and bristle at the idea of coming to closure because they see it as a kind of premature death, a closing off of possibilities. While this behavior may be frustrating to the opposite type, the “Js,” or Judging types, the “P’s” quest for expansiveness can lead to serendipitous discoveries. Famous Ps include Einstein, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Vincent van Gogh, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Seekers are brimming with energy and enthusiasm, especially when it comes to ideas. Their constant quest to know more is fueled by a strong inner drive. But when finally presented with The Answer, Seekers are skeptical, reluctant to give up the search. They are very comfortable out on the road, so much so that the road becomes a home. Head to an RV park and it will be full of Seekers.
The Shadow Seeker
The constant questing comes at a price. Seekers can be plagued by an unquenchable restlessness and may have difficulty committing to anything that feels constraining. This can make the Seeker a challenging partner in life and business. They have lots of unfinished projects lying about because it is more fun to start down the path than to arrive somewhere.
For me, this manifests as a manic consumption of training programs and books. The book situation, for example, is out of hand. I sold carloads of books before my move to Portland and my Kindle is about to explode as my library approaches the 1,000 mark. I read a crazy number of books simultaneously – we’re talking six at a time. Keeping things straight, and actually making my way to the end, become problematic.
Seekers may get caught up in analysis paralysis, failing to take action because they always feel there is more to know. They never feel ready. Sometimes a dedicated Seeker might even sabotage their own progress as they near their destination, such as the gifted doctoral student who can’t finish her dissertation.
The Seeker’s restlessness is usually driven by the belief that the answer exists somewhere outside of them. Thus, they don’t take time to integrate their experiences and learning. All of this relentless searching can lead to a feeling of emptiness, as they never feel that they have arrived. It evokes the image of the Hungry Ghosts from Eastern traditions. These unsettled spirits are unable to complete the journey from life to death and remain trapped in a netherworld with their emotional needs unfulfilled.
Prescriptions for Integration
Coming into a healthy relationship with our archetypes is always about integration. The archetypes represent powerful energies that are seeking expression. When that instinct is repressed, the dysfunctional aspects tend to emerge.
Here are some questions and techniques for integrating the Seeker:
- Seek out healthy ways to feed your instinct to go quest, but rein it in with some boundaries, such as decision-making deadlines.
- Challenge yourself with the idea that you already have the answer. What does your own wisdom say? Instead of reading a book on some topic that fascinates you, what if you brain dumped all your current knowledge on the topic first?
- Ask yourself how you will know when you have arrived.
- Acknowledging that you will never feel ready, what action can you take now?
- Practice meditation in order to calm that constantly questing mind.
After two years of intensive study and a rigorous evaluation process, I’m thrilled to announce that I have been certified as an Archetypal Consultant by Caroline Myss’ organization. To celebrate, I’m launching an on-going blog series profiling some of the most fascinating archetypes. For a limited time, I am offering an Archetypal Reading for the special price of $99. To schedule your reading, click here.