Polarization vs. Polarity: The Lost Gift of Paradox.
“Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints, as heads is tails, just call me Lucifer, ’cause I’m in need of some restraint…” ~ The Rolling Stones
“If I could find a real good book, I’d never have to come out and look at what they done to my song…” ~ Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk
The wisdom of our humanity has been preserved for ages in the form of myths and stories built on archetypes — pervasive symbols universally recognized as representing facets of the human condition.
For centuries, we were allowed to believe in a Hero who could also be tragically flawed. We were given the opportunities to meet Wounded Healers who did not have to first become perfectionists in order to share their medicine with the world. We were even able to worship Goddesses who embodied both compassion and ferocity. The King as Warrior could also be a Philosopher. We learned as much from the Fool as we did from the Sage.
Archetypes were used as convenient vehicles to describe energy. It is becoming popular once again to recognize that all things, regardless of apparent physical realness, are energy. Yet at some point, someone decided it would be more convenient to describe energy in fun artsy ways rather than abstract woo-woo ways.
Kudos to that person.
As a result, we describe energy through various mystical definitions. The glyph of your astrological sun sign tattooed on your ankle is a representation of a specific manifestation of archetypal energy. Tarot cards portray 78 distinct archetypes used to define energy as part of a system of reflection and guidance.
Even the characters from myths and well-crafted modern stories embody archetypal energy first and tell a compelling story second. We grow as a result of experiencing these stories, or working with the tarot, or delving into astrology, not just because of the information gleaned, but because we come into connection with the energy of the archetypes contained in these systems.
Polarity exists naturally in these archetypal descriptions of energy. Energy was classified as projective (sent out into the world) or receptive (still, quiet, receiving, taking in). Polarity was also seen as a natural feature of each archetype. Each archetype embodies a range of experiences.
The Queen of Swords from tarot can hold both the energy of grief and loneliness, and also of leadership and being an advocate for others. The Fool can be the wisest figure in the story, and can also be a trickster. The Mother can be both wicked and unconditionally loving.
J.K. Rowling worked masterfully with archetypes in the Harry Potter series, and portrayed this concept of polarity in the relationship between the protagonist and his nemesis. Early on, Harry represents all that is good and honorable, while Voldemort is pure evil. As the story progresses, we learn about the villain’s humanity, and more importantly, if not more disturbingly, the hero’s deep connection to the villain.
This may seem like entertaining writing, but it encompasses great wisdom as it reminds us that we are not separate from the other, whoever that may be. We are reminded of our Shadow side.
The archetypes haven’t died off, yet we have become obsessed with draining them of their complexity, and in doing so, we are losing access to potent channels of wisdom.
What happens when we stop learning through archetypes, and settle instead for memes of Kermit the Frog drinking tea?
What happens when we decide that Artemis is no longer a suitable guardian for wild animals and children because she carries a bow and arrow? When we force Dionysus into rehab? When Harry is kicked out of Hogwarts because his connection to the Dark Lord is a threat to Homeland Security?
Our modern emphasis on social media, instant gratification, and click bait forces us to quickly decide whether an idea, a story, and the person or people associated with it, are friend or foe. Whether we like or dismiss them. Or block them. These impulse reactions do not allow for the existence of deeper connections, not only to other people, but also to the power of the archetypes themselves.
That is not to say that archetypes can’t be represented in electronic media, they certainly can, because after all everything is energy.
But we are not embodying them.
Rather we are stripping them bare. We are coating them with the equivalent of high fructose corn syrup and bingeing on the surface level taste without truly feeding our souls on their deeper wisdom.
In a time of greater polarization, we are forgetting the wisdom and power of polarity. We are ignoring our Shadow in an attempt to see ourselves as pure, transcended, more enlightened than others, and we are being led to carry this illusion in a semi-public format. The focus veers from deepening knowledge and delving into greater wisdom to scoring likes and follows and fueling the desire to be seen as perfect.
In fact, we are not only polarizing away from each other as community, but further polarizing from our Shadow selves and from all other sources of power that appear untidy and impure.
Perhaps once we step back far enough, we will once again be able to see more clearly, both the various aspects of ourselves as well as the elements of connection to others and to the archetypes that fuel our inner knowing.
Angela Kaufman is an Intuitive Empowerment and Relationship Coach and LCSW. Angela’s mission is inspired by a lifelong interest in spirituality, metaphysics, tarot, as well as a desire to challenge preconceived limitations. Angela is author of the upcoming book Queen Up! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down (Conari 2018), and has co-authored three books on metaphysical topics and a number of articles and short stories blending social criticism with spirituality. She is also an artist and activist. For more information, visit her website.