The Three Archetypal Wheels In The Myss Model
The Chart Of Origin

Caroline Myss believes that we've made sacred contracts prior to incarnating to help us learn certain lessons. To help us navigate these contracts and aid in our growth, we are given 12 encoded Archetypes that never change. There are 4 survival archetypes common to all: Child, Victim, Saboteur, and Prostitute. The other 8 are selected based on how closely these archetypes are aligned with the physical dimension of our life. For example, Myss says that for someone to have a Mother in their Chart of Origin, this would indicate that she is literally a Mother. This seems to contradict her work in the book Sacred Contracts, where we are asked to stretch our understanding of Archetypes. Maybe we're not literally a Mother, but perhaps we find ourselves nurturing others that aren't our children, or even projects. However, in the new Guidebook, Myss says that someone having Mother-like nurturing qualities but is not a literal Mother would best put that Archetype in the 2nd Wheel, the Kairos Wheel.

The Chronos Wheel

The Chronos Wheel contains the same Archetypes as the Chart of Origin. What differs is that those 12 fixed Archetypes may move around the Houses depending on which contracts we find ourselves in. So while you may have Artist in your 1st Wheel in your Chart of Origin, when you cast the die or pair the Archetypes with other Houses through an intuitive process, you may find that Artist moves to the 7th House. The Chart of Origin and Chronos Wheel is past oriented, because the archetypes in this wheel are grounded in the dynamics of your physical life and your entire history.

The Kairos Wheel

This Wheel is an "alchemical laboratory", according to Myss, and is rooted in the present...the here-and-now. The Archetypes in this House are selected by looking at the cards (or considering archetypes) that are influencing your life right now. The 12 Archetypes in this wheel is entirely different than those in the Chart of Origin/Chronos Wheel, according to Myss. In fact, in this Wheel, you may select additional Child Archetypes. The Archetypes in this Wheel represent fragments of your psyche that are coming in to play at the time you are asking for guidance. Also, these are Archetypes that are often "on demand", according to Myss, and manifest when fearful, anxious, or much empowered. They haven't been with you for your entire life, although you may admire those who have that particular Archetype, are drawn to those with that Archetypal energy, or even fear that you may have a particular Archetype.

The Cosmic Wheel

This is where you blindly select 12 Archetypes at random from the deck.

You don't look at the images, they're face down, and you trust "Heaven" to pick them for you. These Archetypes are not permanent, and "engage one's fantasies and deepest intuitions of potential, and hold imagery of the possible empowered self...allows for the Divine to choose the 12 archetypes that re most suited to your life situation at the moment...When a given archetype lands in a specific house, it represents the highest guiding wisdom possible within the realm of experience regulated by that house for that particular question or issue for which guidance is sought".


I've worked with this system for over 2 years now, and I'm still not sure that I got my Chart of Origin right, according to the Myss model. I thought I had my 12 done "right", until I started to read a book called Goddesses in Everywoman - Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives by Psychiatrist and Jungian analyst, Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. I had heard critiques of the Myss model by other Jungian analysts, especially the idea that there were only 12 Archetypes in a Chart of Origin and that they remained constant throughout life. Myss admits that she got the idea of the 12 House model while teaching; it occurred to her that there were 12 numbers on a clock, 12 different spiritual paths (according to one of her professors), 12 disciples, 12 Houses in the Astrological Wheel, and so on.

However, Jung and Jungian analysts paint a much more fluid picture of Archetypes and how they influence our lives. For example, there were a few "energies" that I couldn't peg in accordance with Myss' narrow descriptions. I knew what the hallmarks of these energies were, what kinds of people were involved with these energies, and what usually played out those interactions. I ended up calling one Archetype Queen-Warrior, and also included Judge. I considered Scholar and other "intellectual" Archetypes, as well as Archetypes that dealt with power and challenge and wisdom, including Destroyer, Liberator, Wise Woman, Amazon, and of course, Queen and Warrior.

I never considered Goddess, because Myss explains the Goddess archetype largely in the context of film and theatre divas...oozing sexuality and femininity. I quickly checked that off the list. Yeah, I have Venus in Scorpio in the 8th House and I'm pretty magnetic, but I ain't Marilyn Monroe, for crying out loud! Then I began to read Goddesses in Everywoman, and wouldn't you know, 85% of the Goddess Athena Archetype fit me to a T! Here was Warrior, Judge, Intellectual, Queen and Strategizer all before me...not to mention Artist, as Athena is Goddess of Handcrafts in peace time. (My husband told me I had an Artist archetype, especially in shadow, because I always want to be around creative people, painters, and musicians as well as behold the works of creative people. I also love to "create" with words as a writer and teacher.)

I also have some Artemis energy, which explains my affinity for Wonder Woman as a girl. (I even broke my arm trying to be Lynda Carter, who was really Diana/Artemis.) Both Athena and Artemis are "virgin" goddesses. This doesn't mean that they are usually single, but rather, are 'unto her own'. Virgin Goddesses don't need relationships with others to complete them, are independent, and "unpenetrated" by the need for approval from the patriarchy...or anyone, for that matter.

Had I not read the elucidating and erudite description of the Virgin Goddesses, let alone Athena and Artemis, I would have been clueless that Goddess was a strong part of my psyche! I didn't know what to call "it". Bolen says that Jung believed that the animus (the male part of a woman's psyche) is the part that "thinks" for a woman. (In other words, the anima, or female part, couldn't possibly do that.) However, Bolen asserts that the Virgin Goddesses (Athena, Artemis, and Hestia) are not using animus to "think", but that this powerful independence comes from the feminine part of the psyche...and has been present at birth. (This would correspond to the Chronos concept according to Myss.)

And this brings me to the theory of 12 fixed Archetypes. Using Athena as an example, Bolen says that Athena is activated when a woman is "victimized". Athena helps her have courage, stand up for herself, and become liberated. This is "on demand", and is a part of the animus, or male principle, because it's not a thread that is consistent in her life. This corresponds to the Kairos concept in the Myss model.

However, while these models seem compatible, what of the strong threads of justice (Judge), Warrior, Strategist, Wise Woman, Destroyer, Medusa, Queen, Protector, and Crafstman/Artist? All of these elements are strong in Athena, whether in light or dark manifestation. Not only that, there 4 other Goddesses in every woman that Bolen discusses, including the 3 "vulnerable" Goddesses who are relationship oriented (Demeter, Hera, and Persephone). The other Goddess, Aphrodite (which Myss pretty much describes as the Goddess Archetype), is considered an "alchemical" Goddess.

This is just one example, of course. Last night, I asked my husband to go through the deck and pick out the Archetypes that he felt I had. Quite a few were ones that I had already picked, but could be under the aegis of Athena. Others, I could certainly see how they, too, threaded through my life. I even remember strong archetypal roles as far back as a child that seemed to have lost their grip in the last few years while others emerged in a strong, almost daily, way. My husband explained this whole process very simply and easily: archetypes are like a card game. You "play" with some in your hand, discard, and pick up other archetypes. These archetypes are like water colors that often bleed into one another, forming a beautiful and integrated piece of art. Some colors may be stronger, but some archetypal influences contain many aspects to it.

I couldn't agree more.

And so as a result, I've given up on the idea of a fixed Chart of Origin. While I believe you can intuit Archetypes that are active in your life at present (Kairos), and even trace strong Archetypal energies present from a young age (Chronos), there's much more to us as individuals than 12 core components, 4 of which we share with everyone. Yes, profound wisdom can be gained from examine archetypes and their energies in the context of relationships, experience, and events...and yes, profound insight can be had in the Wheel model. I just don't think that we're limited to 12 fixed Archetypes, and to believe that we are, can actually hinder our growth and journey towards a more conscious life.

Related Articles
Sacred Contracts: The Journey - An Interactive Tool
Fundmamentals of Spiritual Alchemy - Caroline Myss
Archetype Cards - Caroline Myss
Invisible Acts of Power - Caroline Myss
Hunab Ku: 77 Sacred Symbols for Balancing Body and Spirit - Karen & Joel Speerstra
Wisdom Well (Jungian Archetype Cards)
Finding Your Sacred Contract Workshop
Intuitive Power - Your Natural Resource (Myss)
Why People Don't Heal and Three Levels of Power (DVD)  - Myss

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