I’ve been keeping unusual company – unusual but somehow strangely familiar. It all started with a trip to London last week, meeting up with my colleagues from my diploma course in Coaching Supervision. This was our final training workshop, so goodbyes were said, with good wishes and cards exchanged. I was really touched to be given a wonderful book as a farewell gift - “Who Am I?” by Katie Altham.
That evening, whilst the underground rumbled beneath my hotel and crowds drank and chatted outside the pubs in the summer sun, twelve characters entered my hotel bedroom. The Sage, the Mentor, Artemis, Persephone, the Wanderer, the Storyteller and more – my archetypes.
Katie Altham says that our archetypes define and express our story of who we are, in Light (fully expressed) and Shadow (self-rejecting). “Ultimately, we choose the story (interpretation) we tell about our lives.”
Caroline Myss (www.myss.com) says we are “encoded” with our archetypes, some for survival and some drawing on a historical storehouse of personas and stories, buried in the collective unconscious. “They play valuable roles that relate to our work, our relationships with individuals and society, as well as to our spirituality, finances, values, and our highest potential.”
A story can “heal your shadow” by bringing it into the light through a powerful persona like Persephone. Classical myths like those of Greek gods or hero’s journey tales such as Jason and the Argonauts, or modern sagas like Star Wars, even Dr Who – all stir up our archetypes. We encounter and acknowledge them, and gain valuable insights into fulfilling our own nature, dreams and challenges. As G K Chesterton said “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Stories are the original personal development tool. They can transform your thinking in a powerful way. In some cultures, traditional tales are still told, not just to children but to adults. Tales of the Mulla Nasrudin are shared by contemporary sufi storytellers and Jewish teaching tales are kept alive and well by rabbis.
When did you last listen to a story?
Meet me and other story tellers and story listeners at http://tinyurl.com/TheStoryCafe