When I first heard that Caroline Myss was coming out with Archetype Cards, I was intrigued. It was her work with Archetypes and the concept of Sacred Contracts that led me to her in the first place. I went to an online bookstore to see if they had any information available, and was disappointed by the artwork on the front of the box. I'm no fan of fire engine red, either, and assumed the image and the box color would be representative of the entire deck.
I was wrong.
First off, you may be wondering what are Archetypes?. Briefly, they are univeral behavior patterns. According to Jung, Archetypes are templates that are contained within the collective unconscious. Archetypes span time, borders, and ethnicity, although each of those influences may add a different dimension to an Archetype. For example, if I say words such as Queen, Judge, Warrior, Victim, Detective, Child, Knight, or Clown, you immediately get a picture in your mind.
There are Archetypes and archetypal themes in fairy tales, folklore, history, movies, and literature. They are also energies that we tap into and "play out", and, according to Myss, aid us in fulfilling our Sacred Contracts. Some archetypal pairings seem to be entwined, such as Bully with Victim, Damsel with Knight, Student with Teacher, Child with Mother, and so on. As we become more conscious, we can better identify and understand the Archetypal energies that move us; this leads to choice and how we manage our energy, because there is no choice without awareness.
There are 74 cards in the Archetype Cards deck, measuring 5 1/2 inches long and 3 1/2 inches wide. There are 6 blank cards that are bordered with the same bright red as the box, and the octagon in the center is blank for you to make up your own Archetype cards. As with the rest of the deck, the blank cards contain the scripts "Light Attributes" and "Shadow Attributes".
Now this is tricky, because according to the Myss deck and the accompanying booklet, the "Light Attributes" are positive qualities of an Archetype, while the "Shadow Attributes" are negative qualities. However, I believe that a "Shadow" quality is anything that is not conscious , and includes projecting positive qualities on another in the form of admiration. A "Light" quality is something that is conscious, and can include what most would term "negative" attributes.
Accompanying this deck is a 105 page Guidebook that is the same size as the cards. You need not to have read Caroline's book Sacred Contracts to use this deck, because the Guidebook gives you the mini-version of her take on the 4 survival Archetypes common to all (Child, Saboteur, Prostitute, and Victim), Archetypes in general, and even questions for self-examination in determining Archetypes that play a major part in your life.
However, it must be understood that in Caroline's theory of Sacred Contracts, she believes that each person has a collection of 12 Archetypal "intimates", including the 4 survival Archetypes--which leaves only 8 personal Archetypes that are close companions in fulfilling our Sacred Contracts. Basically, Caroline teaches that we all have agreed to learn certain lessons and work with certain people before we were born--contracts, so to speak. It is these contracts that "animate" us and draw us to certain people and situations.
Personally, I have found this system too limiting. It is all too easy to dismiss an Archetype that may be at work in your life, especially after deciding on your 8 personal Archetypes. For example, you may not seriously consider the archetypal energy of Addict, Gossip, Father, or Hermit if you've concluded they are not a part of your personal 8. Yet, those Archetypes may very well be at play in your relationships and your life.
Also, there are Archetypal themes such as death and re-birth, and these kind of patterns need to be taken into consideration as well.
This deck seems heavy on the feminine, in that Archetypes traditionally thought of as male are rendered as females. Some examples include Judge, Alchemist, Messiah, Vampire, and Rebel. There are a few male renderings, including Hermit, Midas/Miser, Healer, Martyr, Mentor, and Athlete. There are also some unisex renderings such as Engineer, Avenger, and God. Interestingly, Don Juan is shown dancing with a woman, but the Femme Fatale is alone. (Maybe she had just eaten her catch!)
A deck this universal can be used for just about anything in my opinion. For example:
Divination You can ask an open-ended question of the Universe such as "What energy is at play with my relationship to..."
Meditation You can draw a card a day and be mindful of this energy as it plays out in your life, your relationships, and the world at large.
Creative Writing If you're writing fiction and feel stuck with regards to your characters, you can create a new dimension by picking a card and associate it with a character. Or, if you're creating characters, you could choose one card to represent the face your character shows to the world, and another card to represent the way the character is behind closed doors. You can even use the cards when creating fictional conflicts.
Determining Your Archetypes This deck is a great way to better understand Archetypes, especially if you're visually oriented. As such, it's a great way to understand yourself and your relationships, and to see if you may be stuck in unconscious patterns and scenarios that keep replaying in your life.
With the Archetype Wheel If you're familiar with Caroline's work and have cast your Archetype Wheel, you can use this deck for Guidance. You could shuffle the deck, ask what energy is at play and in which House, and deal 12 cards. I did this when I first got this deck, and was surprised at how many of the cards I drew were actually ones that I determined as "close intimates"! You could also pull out the 12 Cards corresponding to the Archetypes that you've picked as among your intimates, and shuffle them alone while placing them around the Wheel.
This is an outstanding deck in terms of size, construct, artwork, color, and Archetypal variety. If you're interested in the subtle nuances of Archetypes and how they play out in your life, or if you're interested in better understanding yourself and others, this deck would be a great visual aid in your quest.
Below are 10 images from this deck:
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