I am appreciating the author’s take on archetypes. I think they get a bad rap generally in paganism- eclectic types tend to over-apply them in a universalist format, and reconstructionist types tend to rebel and reject them based on actually rejecting the univeralist assumption. I think Penny Billington takes a more sensible approach.
Archetypes are first and foremost psychological, which means they mainly pertain to us, to humanity. We can use them as a certain lens through which to view deity, or nature, or mythic characters, but ultimately it is so we might better relate with them emotionally and spiritually, to learn and grow from them, understand their social and cultural roles, and develop meaningful relationship with them. I appreciate how Penny cautions against literalism, and doesn’t feel the need to delve into Jungian-speak or eclectic universalism- not all archetypes are relevant to Jung’s interpretation of them, and viewing the deities as fulfilling archetypes, like roles, does not diminish them in any way, nor take away from their distinctness as disparate divinities.
Archetypes can point towards certain qualities with which we may resonate, whether relating strongly with them, or not much at all, and so perhaps interested in gaining more of a given quality. Or perhaps one uses personification and anthropomorphism to ‘enspirit’ a landscape of natural feature, to better get a feel for what it could represent, and so forge a deeper relationship with it. Happily, the author also does not shy away from such ideas the way reconstructionists tend to, feeling that these ideas or techniques demean the spirits- they don’t. They were invented by humanity to help us better relate with the land, beings, and energies around us, and can be honored as such.
I explored the archetypal figures of the farmer, musician, druid, warrior, tribal king and sovereignty goddess through a blog journey (in another blog) on the 5 directions as noted in the Irish myth, The Settling of the Manor of Tara. The mythic elements of each direction suggest each archetype in turn, and from each we can gain insight about right action, right relationship, and ancestral mind, which teach us how to live in harmony through Truth. One could further assign deities to each of these archetypes, to an extent, to further flesh out the ideas presented, but doing so would not pen up the gods in those little boxes, or demean their powers in any way. It would instead provide a new lens through which to potentially gain new insight about them, but by no means would it exist as the only lens, or even the best lens. Just one tool among many which might be useful.
Thanks Penny, for your measured approach to archetypes.