Archetypes: The Political Trickster

We may conceive of archetypes as gods and goddesses, encoded in the collective unconscious, [which] we scorn at our own risk. They are inherited and not acquired, and they belong to each human being by virtue of being born human...{Carole Pearson - Awakening the Heroes Within}

Our sub-personalities or archetypal characteristics are innate predispositions to react, behave and interact in certain typical and predictable ways. Archetypes are forces of motivational energy symbolic of the two most powerful emotions in the world: Love (light or truth) and Fear (shadow or false). These impersonal forces are humanized by individuals in every culture across the global family.

A set of characteristics unique to each of us, including 4 which we have in common with everyone else on the planet - the child, victim, saboteur and prostitute - our habitual  patterns of behaviour are personified in myth and legend (gods and goddesses, knights and damsels); in fairytales (princes and princesses) and in movies (heroes and heroines). The Bible is filled with archetypal characters from prostitutes and virgins to beggars and kings.

They appear in the symbolic language of dreams; they speak often in the ‘Freudian slip’. They are observable in the forces of nature, and reflected in recurring images, in art, literature, and religion.

These universal patterns of behaviour are ingrained aspects of our psychological make-up. As blueprints of personality formation, they influence the choices we make and are sometimes immediately discernable to others.
We can easily identify and name bullies, victims, drama queens, etc. Michael Jackson lived out his Peter Pan persona – the Eternal Child archetype. Like Peter Pan, MJ even lived in his own Never Land. 

Politicians are particularly good at displaying archetypal behaviour patterns. A British Prime Minister commiserated with the ‘miser’. One American President cavorted with the 'clown’; another hung out with the Don Juan; a third, poor lamb, was hailed as the new 'messiah'. However, there aint no more messiahs to come. We are our own saviours.

There are probably as many archetypal patterns as there are stars in the sky. Patterns will change or recede, and new ones will emerge according to the growth of human consciousness. The Astronaut was once new, the Geek and Hacker are relatively new. 

Carl Jung and Roberto Assagioli (both medical doctors and psychiatrists) emphasised the importance of integregating these aspects of self, where the whole is greater that the sum of the parts. Caroline Myss’ Sacred Contracts is a comprehensive and accessible text, offering an in-depth understanding of archetypal patterns. The Fool is my favourite archetype; it turns up in my life as good friends and a daughter!

I also love the Trickster because of its fondness for generating absurdity and chaos. But the shadow trickster behavioural pattern is manipulative and duplicitous. It can be the friend who subtly controls any situation for personal advantage. In the shadow Tricksters engage in ‘sleight of hand’ manoeuvres, and like the Shape-shifter can assume any guise to deceive. In the movie The Usual Suspects, the character called Verbal Kinte (played by Kevin Spacey) convinces the gullible detective that he is a hapless, somewhat dishevelled and victimised cripple. He is really a highly sophisticated criminal mastermind, and the archetypical trickster.

Politicians are Tricksters par excellence. One might say that in typically manipulative manner, a number of political tricksters collaborated in generating fear - making False Evidence Appear Real - by creating the infamous ‘dodgy dossier’ in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Last week the British Foreign Secretary said he had seen evidence of Syrian chemical weapons (presumably of mass destruction). Hopefully his evidence consists of more than a dodgy dossier'......... ....................


  1. The other thing to note is that the Fool is the Clowns favourite companion!!... I'm sure Amari would agree...MosDef!!

    The Fool takes pleasure in observing.

    In the days of old the Fool would be have been more commonly known as the Court Jester...Going around the country listening intently to the talk of the realm, watching the chaos and absurdity within.
    On returning to Court, the Jester would entertain most often at the banquet to literally PLAY THE FOOL!!! Whilst doing so he was actually reporting to the King, informing him of what 'really' is going on within the realm. Ultimately the Fool sees the wisdom in everything and is always making a joke of the truth... so its more digestible!!!
    Sadly the American 'Clown' President did not have a Fool as a favourite companion.... and we all know what happened don't we??


  2. thank you AmandaMya, greatly appreciated.


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