Cosmology and the Nomenclature of the Archetypes - 2015
Did you know that the most common form of myth is a creation story? Each one is a unique spiritual blueprint of the culture that generated it and populated it with archetypal characters. Everywhere you look you will find a cosmology in the form of a legend, a myth or a philosophical treatise written to explain the order and dis-order of the universe and the origin of the world.
In other times these stories have been, and sometimes still are considered true. Their truth is spiritual and poetical, as no claim can be made for their historical or scientific accuracy. With no claim to anything but a desire to put some order in my thoughts, I am sharing with you the Cosmology and the Nomenclature of the Archetypes that has unfolded in my work since I started writing on the Orixas (which I call Intelligences) in 2010. You will recognize echoes of other cosmologies percolating from the readings I have done on this topic since my teens, and because Cosmology is an archetype itself that finds variable cultural expressions within a handful of patterns (the most widespread being those of “origin from chaos”, “from nothingness” and the stories of “emergence”).
Until I started teaching the Archetypes in a more systematic way it never occurred to me to organize my views along cosmological lines but I have learned a lot from this process. The fondness cultivated in years of studying them, striving to recognize their footprints in my life and in the life of others, dreaming, and sharing my knowledge about archetypes has only grown.
Those who attended my workshops have heard some of this information already, and have seen me draw maps of their classification. Many have also asked questions that prompted more coherence and a wider breadth to my descriptions. In this blog I offer a brief preview. I cannot guarantee that the names will stay the same as I continue to develop the Nomenclature, but I suspect the basic concepts will endure.
Classically, the story begins with the Source, the One and indivisible mystery, and ends with the kaleidoscopic manifestation of the Many, the multiplicity of creation. But between the One and the tangible Many there are numerous subtle layers of reality, the realms of the Archetypes. Not all archetypes are the same, nor do they ask of us the same response. Our interactions depend on the level of experience in which they occur, which is correlated to the Archetype’s proximity to Source. This will become clearer as you read along.
My creation story
The One was resting silently in the magnificence of its mystery when a baffling, marvelous and inexplicable event occurred: the One took a breath.
The exhalation turning into inhalation let Two emerge from the Transpersonal One.
Without diminishing the One in any way while partaking of its essence, the Two assume a separate identity. Duality, Mother and Father of all, is born. The journey of creation may begin.
The Two faces of Duality, each full of seeds beyond imagination, attract and repel each other with equal intensity without merging again until the end of days. They are the prototypes of all opposites, the Primal Archetypes.
The Two, prompted by the longing for their lost Oneness, reach for each other and fragment generating Four. The Elements appear: Fire, Earth, Water, and Air pregnant with the script of life.
At this stage of creation the Four are an idea more than an action, a silhouette more than a shape. They are the gravid Antenatal Archetypes, the weft in the web of creation.
Alternatively challenging and supporting, the relationships among the Four generate tremendous creative energy clamoring for more tangible manifestation.
Under great internal pressure towards proliferation, the Four open their crown like flowers to reveal their intrinsic inner qualities.
Each Element divides into four, and the 16 Intelligences blossom into the Wheel of Life.
At this stage the Intelligences are pure vibrational qualities, like 16 notes of celestial music, ready to play the symphony of the spheres and the songs of creation. They are the Matrix Archetypes, each a fractal capable of reproducing itself at infinity, the warp incessantly weaving all the invisible Archetypes and all the visible creation.
The constant interactions between the 16 Intelligences breed the next layer of Archetypes followed by four more until the concrete manifestation of nature is reached.
Spontaneous creation ends with these Matrix Archetypes. From now on what we call ‘creation’, ‘life’, ‘manifestation’, ‘reality’ is born out of the infinite possible amalgamations of these 16 properties. From now on life is “generated” not created.
As they reach our senses, the results of this process become quantifiable, and at least partially reproducible, subject to the cycle of life-death-and-rebirth, bound by time and space and by the laws of physics.
The order of the subsequent Archetypes is composed of five more layers: Foundation, Attribute, Ancestral, Pivotal and Story. From closer to Source to closer to human experience, the Archetypes span from insubstantial universality to the specificities of a creature’s life.
The Nomenclature of the Archetypes
- PRIMAL Archetypes – This original pair of opposites is the context within which everything comes into manifestation, an expression of the inescapable paradox of being created and alive. I believe this is the layer of archetypal reality from where monotheistic religions draw their One personified God or Goddess. Our ancestors perceived the presence of the Mother and the Father and often identified them as the Earth and the Sky mating for eternity in order to give continuity to life.
- ANTENATAL Archetypes – The Four Elements, the weft of creation, are generated by parthenogenesis. They are universal immaterial qualities recognizable as separate (although they are not) in our concrete everyday reality. They are the impersonal and omnipresent vessels of all possible manifestations.
- MATRIX Archetypes – The 16 Intelligences are the archetypal qualities that sustain and regenerate the fabric of life in all its forms, organic and inorganic, elemental and highly complex. They are the warps of creation, its alphabet. Together they form the Wheel of Life, a fractal reproduced in the entire universe without limit. They are the forces of nature anthropomorphized in many cultures.
- FOUNDATION Archetypes – These archetypes are the highly spiritual frameworks that welcome life and characterize its unfolding. Well known examples are: Ourobouro, Observer, Higher Self, Cosmic Egg, Chi, Prana, Kundalini, Amakhua, Sacred Geometry, Chakras, Shadow, Tree of Life, Incarnation, Consciousness, the Mind, the Five Senses. We are not choosing them nor do they choose us. They are givens, whether we are aware of their operating in our lives or not. We are free to develop a conscious relationship with them and be aware of the meaning they have in our lives.
- ATTRIBUTE Archetypes – They represent the numerous although not infinite possibilities of coloring the soul with qualities like compassion, love, curiosity, fear, and all the basic emotions and their refinements. Most goddesses and gods are representations of one or more Attribute Archetypes, which are also illustrated in epic literature and mythology. They grab us and we can choose to cultivate, understand or ignore them – at our own risk. Their presence qualifies our actions.
- ANCESTRALS Archetypes – These are actual ancestors, spirit guides, nature spirits, fairies, and angels that visit us in archetypal form to offer encouragement, guidance, comfort and teachings. They are personally interested in our lives. They have experienced some form of incarnation and are eager to help. They choose us and we can ask for, accept or reject their support.
- PIVOTAL Archetypes – We live within their cycles and rhythms, some we suffer and some we develop. They are crucial moments and turning points in the flow of one’s life. They call to us and sometimes impose their presence with a gift or a challenge, it is up to us to turn them into learning experiences. They include the stages of the individuation process, initiations, phases of life, discipline and spiritual practices, traumatic experiences, and other external experiences. The Phoenix is an example of Pivotal Archetype; Angeles Arrien’s Eight Gates of Initiation is another.
- STORY Archetypes – They are the plentiful characters seeking manifestation through humans and animals: witch, warrior, sage, priest, shaman, teacher, artist, etc…. They are very close to day-to-day experiences and are most commonly found in literature and mythology where their representations vary from culture to culture, and of course in our own lives, the roles we play, our passions and our idiosyncrasies.
I look forward to hear your comments and questions.
Please do give attribution if you mention the Nomenclature of Archetypes. Thank you.