Have you ever felt like your life is a movie? And as you look at all the crazy things that are happening on the world stage right now, do you ever think “ Is this real? Is this really happening?”
Well if you sat down to ask a hindu or a buddhist monk, they would say it is and it is not. But without getting too deep in what that really means, the hindus have called this waking experience we call life as Lila, meaning the great play or also the great Maya, meaning illusion.
If life is a grand play, then one could say we are the actors or players inside it. To quote one of the western world’s greatest playwrights, “ All the world is a stage, and all the men and women, merely players” -William Shakespeare.
Thankfully by this point in history, many of the characters we play in our every day lives have been written down in the stars, in the old texts, and you yourself have actually watched them play themselves out your entire life. You may have even intentionally strived to play a few of them!
Here’s where it gets really fun. When you awaken to the patterns of these characters/archetypes, and awaken to the nature of exactly how these characters show up in your everyday life, you get to step out of the pattern and begin to re write your story.
Let’s say you are in a part of the play where you keep falling in love with someone who doesn’t love you or doesn’t seem to love you as deeply as you love them. Your whole soul cries to be loved and somehow rejection between you keeps playing out. Did you know this story is over thousands of years old? And has been experienced again and again through out human history? Think about that. You are not the only one. People from all around the planet have shared this same pain. Not only have they shared it but it has been written throughout history, played out in plays, painted in temples, and to this day are carved in stone!
Ancient stories are like Maps of the human soul. They paint grand murals of human experience and connect us back to the fabric of all creation. This is especially helpful for the countless times we feel alone and the struggle appears to be solely ours. What a great illusion is that! The experience of feeling separate from the shared world around us, is the very reason human life can seem so dynamic and diverse. Yet we repeat common stories as old as time. Unknowingly playing various characters in different times of our lives much like repeating patterns in the large tapestry of cosmic existence.
How do we de-code the ancient stories and more importantly the archetypes in them so we can begin to choose a different life story? Life is a funny thing, you can actually get what you ask for. The trick is you may have to play the part of a great detective by listening to the clues that are given in seemingly insignificant moments. Things like “coincidences” or synchronicities will arise or passing thoughts you were randomly thinking about appearing in physical reality seemingly out of no where. Take note, these are clues. Clues lead to gathering puzzle pieces which eventually lead to putting these puzzle pieces together to eventually make up a map to guide you on your journey. The key to making a solid map are the patterns, these patterns will repeat again and again in your life circumstances. You know you are on the right track when clues keep appearing and patterns begin to become obvious.
Researching stories of the past, putting them together with your own repeating life patterns, and then learning the intricate layers of the many archetypes, all lead to revealing the blueprint of this human journey. Characters are my favorite place to start. They are less elusive to perceive in every day waking experience and we have a tendency to fall in love with them again and again.
We love them so much that we are actually trained (subconsciously) to pick one and adapt it as who we present ourselves to be in society. We commonly call these basic societal personality choices as stereotypes. Because these stereotypes are everywhere we look, we begin to box ourselves in by creating ourselves to be as close to these stereotypes as possible. We are rewarded by societal standards and eventually are conditioned to begin to unconsciously fear presenting ourselves to be anything outside the box. Some of us break the mold and begin to play outside the common stereotypes. Some of us begin a path called self realization in which we aim to become aware of our many masks and inquire deeper. Breaking free from the societal muppet characters to explore new characters and most excitingly all the hidden characters within our psyche.
Whether we are a man or woman the characters we play will differ at different phases of our life. We play them out for different reasons, as each of the stories and archetypes give different lessons that we want to experience and eventually learn from. The intricacies of this game can be fascinating to dive into. Society at large has been known to play the game far too well and has manipulated the classic characters for gain. We are sold two dimensional hollow archetypes in almost every advertisement. The full multi-layered universal characters in old stories are stripped down to very flat versions of themselves in the modern day world. If you look at the archetypes served up on menu by societal standards today, it seems somehow a western nation has been sold a plastic version of what used to be intricate, sophisticated, and opulent archetypes. These plastic versions are now paraded around as the highest ideals to attain and made out to be “above” all others.
When we lose diversity and begin to see the same “mask” of a particular character again and again, what happen’s to the psyche of each person and what happens to the psyche of its nation? It becomes disheartening when you see this common plastic mask being force fed to not only your own nation but to the world at large.
The masks are sold to us as images, images turn into ideals, and these ideals can quickly become crippling when society tells us that playing these particular roles are the only way we attain value to society. The lie is perpetuated by convincing us if we don’t strive for the ideal we will not get what we want in life and ultimately not be loved.
This is why understanding the power of characters aka archetypes becomes vital to us as we begin to peel back all the masks and ask ourselves “who are we?”
Are we these ideals, masks, characters, or are we something deeper than that, grander than that?
Learning the behaviors of the universal archetypes is one way to begin to decode the illusion and become sovereign from unconsciously playing out these roles unknowingly again and again. It is also liberating to break free from one predominant ideal and explore the roles of other characters that seem completely opposite to the ones we play out every day. There is great liberation in playing out these various characters consciously, to put them on to help us break free, and to empower ourselves inside them when we come to experience them as divine expressions and not who we really are underneath them.
Step one: begin to look at the world around us as one big story.
Look throughout history to see its repeating patterns and look to where stories and specifically where characters repeat themselves in every culture all over the globe. These are the golden threads. What we call the universal archetypes that transcend culture and time.
Step two: begin to watch your story as neutrally as possible.
Begin to watch ourselves in the different roles we play that have certain characteristics. Can you see the characters you play out with different people? Or the different roles you play in different arenas in your life? Who are the different characters we see in others? Dare we look at the world stage and name the wild characters we see there? You have to admit some are so cartoonish its becoming increasingly easy to see the absurdity of their plastic mask. Isn’t it?
Step three: Learn to watch it all with no judgment.
Explore if you are able, to just observe the whole show as grandeur, exactly like someone in the audience who has come to see a great play. Observe the repeating patterns, the fabulous colors, the spectacle of it all.
Then, when you’re ready, begin to ask this question by staring into your own eyes in the mirror: “ who am I ? “
“It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear
though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.
… beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”
– Khalil Gibran
article written by: Eve Olution of Evokation Sacred Art