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Carolynn Myss defines the victim archetype in her Sacred Contracts course as one of the essential characters we all embody at some point in our lives. There are four survival archetypes present in all of us representing life challenges and our methods of maintaining self-esteem. These four are child, victim, saboteur, and prostitute. The lesson each one offers pertains to use of power and self-image. The child is needy, showing us good reason to strive for learning and independence. The victim endures bullying of various kinds in order to learn courage. Eventually the victim teaches us how to recognize and stand up to bullies. The prostitute teaches the value of maintaining integrity. Once the prostitute recognizes the folly of selling him or herself for support of others, individual mature ethics are developed. The sabatuer archetype lets us know when we are working against our own best interests. Self sabotage can be avoided once we learn to spot it. These universal psychological traits can be traced through the stories of our lives, and interact with the other 8 archetypes in our make up.
I have gotten far enough in the course to have drawn my archetypal wheel, which is played out exactly like the wheel in an astrology chart. The number 12 was chosen because it already has meaning in astrology. In reality we all have more than 12 archetypes, an unknown number. To make a practical study and apply it in a personal way the student is asked to identify the 8 most pronounced archetypes present in our lives. Placing the archetype in a house creates a kind of map. The combination of the house and the character tell a story about an aspect of our nature as it reacts with a certain aspect of our circumstances.
I find it interesting to compare the symbolic characters in my astrology chart with those in my archetypal wheel. My victim is in the 12th house, which rules self undoing and our unconscious. In my astrology chart my 12th house is loaded. It contains Venus, North Node, Jupiter and Mars. If I believe these charts my shadow side must be a deeply intuitive victim. It is very hard for me to see myself as a victim, although I have a normal life with ups and downs. Our shadow is not our bad or undesirable part, but the part of ourselves about which we remain unaware. As I take up my course work I need to write essays about when and where I encountered these archetypes in my history. I met them in others and played them all myself. The goal of the course is to learn about the dynamics of the soul. I have my work cut out for me on this victim essay. It should prove to be very self revealing. Have you ever studied the archetypes, gentle reader? Astrology is based on archetypes assigned to each house and each planet. The symbols represent characters we can recognize as actors in our world. When you hear the word victim, who pops into your mind?
Our cyber world includes unhealthy relationships of all kinds. I am pleased to be free of bullying and the kind of scary stalking that happens on-line. I have many public profiles and none has been hacked or used to attack me. I have, however, been witness to some questionable bullying in public which I remember and avoid forever after. October is Anti Bullying Month, and as people come forward to discuss this subject more openly in public it is obvious we need more than just a month to remedy this crisis. The relative anonymity, and/or authenticity of on-line relationships is bringing out the very worst in some people’s personalities. I don’t believe many of these wimpy cyber bullies and stalkers who insult and badger others would have the nerve to be so bold in person. Still, the offensive transactions often take place in public streams. What can those of us who are observers of this behavior do to stop it in our on-line relationships?
I think it would be so fine if we had an internet Officer White, who would take the bullies to internet detention to school them. His advise is as good for the trolls and the stalkers of profiles and blogs as it is for elementary students. Officer White breaks it down so we all see that we have a responsibility:
The fact that education is so widely affected by this horrible trend is a national disgrace. The tolerance for the acts or threats that terrorize individuals and groups at school must end. Education has little chance to flourish in such a toxic environment. Adults need to set good examples in our own behavior and commitments as well as guide young people to treat each other in our institutions of learning with civil respect. Power should not be handed over to bullies in society. There can be no happy results to that strategy. The victim, however, is an archetype all of us will play at some time during our lives. All of us have the experience of abuse of power on both ends, even if it was only in childhood with siblings. We take advantage of others, and also allow others to take advantage of us. It is part of learning how to survive to adulthood. Those of us who have made it to adulthood owe it to the young people to set a safe and sane example on the internet. How do you stay safe, Gentle Reader? Have you experienced bullying as a result of your on-line presence?
Sacrifice is presented as desirable in some circles. Women in particular are lead to believe that sacrifice will be rewarded, even when the reward is not in sight. While we can’t go through life without any instances of victimhood, making a habit of it is a very bad idea. Feminism had a lot to do with rejecting victim status, and yet women today are wrapped up in a number of delusional mindsets that rob happiness. Perfection will not be attained for more than a few seconds in any arena, so expectations must be matched to that reality. Striving for more of everything without stopping to enjoy what we have will lead us in a downward cycle. There is no amount of money or status that can change the need to wallow in the role of the victim. Sore winners abound, and wining does not make them happy. Suffering is a matter of perspective and is not absolute.
I have been studying and meditating on Thomas Moore’s new book, A Religion of One’s Own, which I am enjoying. When I heard him talk about the book he said many of his patient’s in his counseling practice were treated too harshly in childhood. Since this heavy discipline was sometimes associated with religion, these adults suffer today from combinations of guilt and inappropriate self punishment. Mixed messages from our youth of spirituality and sacrifice can create havoc in the soul. Take good care of yourself, gentle reader.
All of us have the victim archetype in our personalities. We may not see it, but we all have suffered and caused others to suffer. What the victim archetype teaches us in life is how to draw boundaries. While we can’t go through life without any suffering, we can recognize the causes and address them. Yoga is a complex system that offers a path to enlightenment and soulful living. Physical practice of asanas and breathing is a powerful and effective way to begin to draw the appropriate borders and rules for yourself and others in your life who may take advantage of you. The above explanation and remedy are simple to understand and practice. Bend over backwards to find your own limits and expand on what you have now.
Jack Bailey, host of Queen for a Day, gave big prizes to the most pathetic contestant as judged by audience response. The woman deemed most victimized got a full length mink coat, long stemmed red roses, and almost always a washing machine. The prizes were given in consideration of promotional value of the show. This was the prototype for almost every game prize show that was ever produced. In the 1950’s what it took to win was the most tragic story.
The victim exists in all of us, as it is a survival archetype. We have all been on both sides of bully/victim, typically starting with siblings at a young age. The lesson the victim teaches is that pity can be a temporary reward, but a hollow one. Like the lady who takes her full length mink coat back to her shack in Appalachia, the victim never really wins. If suffering gains too much collateral reward, suffering will be used to control others. We need boundaries to be happy and well balanced. By being victims we learn how to protect ourselves. If this lesson is not learned the individual always feels that they suffer through no fault of their own and have no power to change that.