Shamanic circle of myths. Autumn-winter-spring-summer and autumn again. Archetype of the Teacher. The myth of Atalanta

“True mastery can only be achieved by allowing all things to follow their own path. It cannot be achieved through intervention.”
Tao Te Ching.

Training, apprenticeship, teachers are universal concepts, whether we are talking about traditional or non-traditional education systems, the transfer of mastery in one form or another, or following teachers in various spiritual traditions. Autumn is a time of active action of the Teacher archetype, which is symbolically reflected at the beginning of the school year in schools and institutes, when we hope that we ourselves or our children will meet worthy teachers, or we ourselves embark on the path of teaching, passing on what we have achieved mastery in . Learning, one way or another, permeates our entire lives. We learn from life and its circumstances, from nature with its cyclicality and unpredictability, we learn from our tradition, our ancestors, as well as from everyone who meets us in life. We look for teachers and become teachers, embodying certain internal images that are connected we have with this cultural phenomenon. The prophets of antiquity, saints, heroes of myths, ancestors, spiritual leaders of various traditions contribute to our understanding of the true teacher and, ultimately, turn our gaze inward.

American anthropologist Angeles Herrien describes the principle that guides the Teacher as openness to the result and, at the same time, non-attachment to it. “The teacher has wisdom, teaches trust and understands the need for detachment. His path is to choose trust as his instrument” (Herrien, 2003, p. 155). According to many shamanic traditions, the hardest things we experience are states of uncertainty, in which we are forced to wait, learn trust and patience. We learn to remain calm and self-controlled during life's transitions. Such moments in life in some parts of Africa are referred to as “a journey through the land of gray clouds.” Sometimes the wisest thing we can do is wait and trust, which can be a very difficult lesson for us to learn.

And a good teacher in such situations can be the Mocker archetype - a teacher who uses the unexpected to awaken a person from the usual routine and makes us notice the tendencies, habitual patterns of behavior and thinking that limit us. “In shamanic communities it is recognized that a person who has difficulty with surprises and surprises has attachments, fixed points of view and a strong need to control. Attachments are special, frozen expectations, desires imposed on people, places and situations. If we have attachments, we become rigid, strict and try to control everything. The image of the Trickster reminds us of the need to be more cheerful” (ibid., p. 158). Angeles Herrien reminds us that in many traditions the Trickster is a figure who personifies the unexpected. “The Mocker God is found everywhere. He is known to the Indians as Aiktinik, Coyote, Rabbit and others. On the islands of Polynesia he is Maui, Loki for the ancient Germanic tribes and Krishna in the sacred mythology of India. We Westerners are best familiar with the Greek god Hermes, who is the most complete and perfect personification of the Mocker. Homer called Hermes "the bringer of good fortune." To all other contradictions,... Hermes is known as the patron saint of travelers and thieves. He is a guide of souls to the lower world and a messenger of the gods. As all these roles suggest, the image of Hermes is the embodiment of a master of boundary crossing. It is this power that allows him to amaze the human world, creating miracles and surprises” (quoted in Errien, p. 157).

The Mocker archetype helps us to be open to new experiences, to respond to life situations not by rote, but directly, maintaining what in Zen practice is called “beginner consciousness.” Shunryu Suzuki, a Zen master and spiritual successor to the eminent 13th-century Zen teacher Dogen, described this state this way: “Your mind should be truly empty and ready to receive, but not closed. If your consciousness is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. The beginner's mind has many possibilities; in the consciousness of a connoisseur there are only a few.” (Suzuki, 1995, p. 26)

In other words, the Teacher archetype encourages us to remain open to new things and flexible, despite all the experience we have accumulated.

In addition, we learn non-attachment through the experience of loss. “Any loss is an experience of humility that teaches us to accept and let go. William Bridges, in his book Survival and Personal Development, writes that losses generally fall into the following categories:

  1. Loss of attachments.
  2. Loss of shelter.
  3. Loss of place in life.
  4. Loss of the future.
  5. Loss of meaning.
  6. Loss of control.

Many shamanic traditions recognize that rituals, as conscious acknowledgments of changes in life, facilitate the changes that occur and open the way for a new alignment of things.” (Herrien, 2003, p. 160).

We consider autumn as a metaphor for the function of matriarchal consciousness - sensation. Sensation and intuition constitute a pair of opposing irrational functions; “ they operate not with estimates and judgments, but with simple perceptions that are not evaluated or interpreted. Sensation perceives things as they are. In other words, sensation is a “function of the real” (Yolanda Jacobi 1996) Jung: “sensation must be conveyed to us through sight, hearing, taste, etc. information about concrete reality” (K.G. Jung 1997 par 900). We can probably say that the body is an “instrument” of sensation, the body allows us to be in reality, it reacts to the weather, requires sleep, rest, food, thereby confirming that we move in time or space. But the body is what we literally inherited from our ancestors; it is their cells, when united, that create us. Karl Kerenyi writes that a person has two sources, two foundations - the absolute, in which all the contradictions of human nature are combined, and the relative, where he is a continuation of his ancestors. (K. Jung, K. Kerenyi 2005, p. 15). The body gives our soul the opportunity to touch reality and feel emotions. Can we say that sensation is body consciousness?

“... in the male form the moon manifests itself as the center of the spiritual world of matriarchal consciousness, and also in the female form as the highest expression of the female spirit-Self, like Sophia, divine wisdom. This wisdom, however, refers to life in its inextricable and paradoxical connection between the living and the dead; nature and spirit, time and fate; growing, dying and overcoming death. For such a female figure, the wisdom of life and order are not based on unrelated, abstract laws, where dead divine bodies or atoms spin in empty space; it is a wisdom that is and remains connected to the earth, to the organic growth on the earth and to the experience of our ancestors in us. This is the wisdom of the unconscious and instincts, life and kinship" ( Neumann, 1994 ).

Autumn is a time of loss, a time of mourning the passing of summer, warmth, sun. And here our ancestors become excellent helpers in the difficult work with losses: they all went through this experience, and then came face to face with the ultimate unknown - death.

Working with family and ancestors is an unchanging feature of all traditional communities without exception. They are remembered on certain days of the year, holidays and rituals are organized for them, songs are dedicated to them and legends are formed.

“The deepest and oldest source of mystical knowledge and great stories are the ancestors. They are both the founders and internal guides of each individual people. They embody cultural patterns that serve as the basis for many traditions. Sometimes they are literally members of a particular family, but more often they are simply nameless dreamers, in whose dreams the images of the future are the potential from which everything developed.” (John Matthews, 2002, p. 323). In the Celtic world, it is customary to pay tribute to ancestors during the holiday of Samhain, October 31st, as it is believed that at this time the door between the worlds is open. At the same time, it is taken into account that we inherit both good and bad behavior patterns from our ancestors. However, in general, ancestors serve as guardians and bearers of wisdom. (Matthews, 2002, p. 324).

Moreover, not only our blood relatives can be considered ancestors. Many traditional communities have long revered certain animals as their spiritual ancestors—the founders of their tribes or communities. For example, among all the indigenous peoples of Siberia and the Far East, the bear was one of the most important characters, with which numerous rituals and beliefs are associated. “The Khanty and Mansi trace their origins to the bear and treat it with deep respect, calling it the “clawed old man.” In addition to them, the Ainu, Evenki, Sami and some peoples of North America consider the bear to be their ancestor. The bear was believed to enter into a mystical relationship with the tribe. The marriage of a woman and a bear is one of the most ancient mythological stories of the peoples of Eurasia” (materials of the exhibition “Shamanism” of the Ethnographic Museum of St. Petersburg, 2013).

We can say that in this case “the bone of an animal symbolizes the “Universal Life” in its continuous reproduction and therefore contains - at least purely theoretically - everything that relates to the past and future of this life” (M. Eliade, 2000, p. 159). Thus, using simple sticks or bones to sound can become an incredibly profound experience in understanding the origins of life and its wisdom. “We perceive sounds not only by hearing; we hear them with the entire surface of our skin, we hear them with our bones. Sounds cause the fluids in our body to vibrate (like the waves caused by a stone thrown into water). They also vibrate in the air cavities of our body” (Nauwald, Goodman, 2008, p. 77).

In order to honor the territory of the ancestors and hear their instructions, during our workshop we use the sound of deer bones that were kindly donated to us from a European deer farm. Many participants noted the extraordinary delicacy of the sound and the large number of deep feelings that arise in response to the joint sound. Bones in folk ideas have always acted as sacralized objects, as well as objects associated with the other world. (Slavic mythology, 2011, p. 253). Many traditions consider bones to be the seat of the soul. There are known cases when shamans bequeathed their bones to later make flutes that were used in healing rituals.

Shamanic myth.

Autumn – the archetype of the Teacher – the feeling – the myth of Atalanta.

It can be conditionally divided into three parts: first: Atalanta - warrior, hunter; second: she is the beloved, won in a sports competition; Atalanta - wife and lion. In the first part, Atalanta serves Artemis, in the second - Aphrodite, in the third - Cybele.

The story of Atalanta begins with the fact that her father is waiting for the birth of his son, and a daughter is born. This does not suit the father and he takes the child to the hill and leaves him there. As a result, Atalanta is raised by the Bear and the hunters, and she grows up to be a great warrior and priestess of Artemis. According to one version of the myth, she participates in the campaign of the Argonauts, according to another, Jason gives her rich gifts, but does not take her on the campaign.

Atalanta takes part in the Calydonian Hunt, which brings together all the bravest warriors of Greece (Graves, 1992, p. 203). Having received the boar skin, she comes to her father. “Rejoiced at Atalanta’s success, Ias finally recognized her as his daughter, but when she arrived at the palace, he greeted her with the words: “My child, get ready to get married!”... Atalanta replied: “Father, I agree, but on one condition.” Any suitor must either beat me in a race or let me kill him.” “So be it,” replied Ias” (Graves, 1992, p. 204). Many noble suitors died after losing in the race, but there was one who cried out to Aphrodite all night before the competition; the goddess answered and gave him three golden apples. Now Atalanta will run, the audience froze in anticipation, but Melanion threw the first apple at the feet of the fleet-footed “... Atalanta saw her distorted reflection on the round side of the apple and thought: “This is how I will look in old age”... Aphrodite’s second apple awakened in her “longing for love ...the desire for physical and emotional intimacy" ... and already at the very finish line Melanion "threw the third apple. For a split second, Atalanta hesitated: should she cross the finish line and win, or pick up the apple and lose the competition? She chose to pick up the apple” (D.S. Bolen, 2006, pp. 70-71). Jean Shinoda Bohlen sees in Aphrodite's apples the awareness that time is passing, the awareness of the importance of love, the instinct for procreation and creativity.

“One day, passing by the sanctuary of Zeus, Melanion persuaded Atalanta to go inside and indulge in love there. Offended that the sanctuary was desecrated, Zeus turned them into lions - after all, lions never mate with lions, but only with leopards, and therefore they were deprived of the joy of enjoying each other. So Aphrodite punished Atalanta because she first persisted in her desire to remain a virgin, and then did not thank her for the golden apples... Others say... that they both desecrated the sanctuary, but not of Zeus, but of Cybele, who turned them into lions and harnessed them to his chariot” (Graves, 1992, p. 204).

The father acts as a trickster figure for Atalanta, a guide first to the goddess of the Moon and hunting Artemis. Serving her, Atalanta masters the art of competition to perfection. Faced with the fury of Artemis, a boar sent to destroy Caledon, Atalanta withstands the confrontation and finds ways to reconcile with her father, who immediately sends her to another goddess, the goddess of love Aphrodite. From Aphrodite, Atalanta receives golden apples and a husband, learns to seduce and be seduced, but she does not know how to thank. And for the third time, the Trickster, already in the form of a husband, leads Atalanta to the goddess Cybele, and this is the Great Mother of the gods herself, who turns the married couple into lions and harnesses them to a chariot, where they learn humility and partnership.

There is an interesting theory that is circulating on the Internet; unfortunately, we were unable to determine the author. This is a theory of seven stages in the development of family relationships.

  1. Marshmallow-chocolate phase or “chemistry of love”. A man and a woman meet and fall in love with each other, their bodies produce hormones that paint the world in bright colors. The voice seems incomparable, any stupidity seems amazing. The person is in a state of drug intoxication.
    2. The satiety phase, which necessarily occurs after the first.
    3. Third - disgust.
    It is a must for any long-term relationship. During the disgust phase, quarrels begin, as if a person took a magnifying glass and peered closely at the shortcomings that his partner has. The easiest and simplest way out is divorce. What does it mean? Return to the marshmallow-chocolate phase with a different partner.
    There are people who only revolve in these three phases.
    4. The next phase is patience.
    Quarrels between partners continue, but they are not as fatal as in the previous period, since both know that when the quarrel is over, the relationship will be restored again.
    5. The fifth phase - the phase of duty, or respect - is the first stage of love.
    Before this there was no love yet. Partners begin to think not that “he owes me,” but that “I owe him.”
    6. The sixth phase is friendship. Friendship is a serious preparation for love.
    7. The seventh phase is love.
    Love is like six tastes, in which there is sweet, salty, tart, astringent, pungent and even bitter. ( )

Atalanta comprehends family relationships with the one whom the gods sent her, pulls the chariot of the Great Mother, while being in a sexless partnership, when both spouses are partners and their relationship is built on mutual respect, they look in the same direction, see one goal, otherwise the chariot is simply don't budge.

To fill the Teacher archetype with sensations, we work with two trance poses: “Bear Spirit” and “Old Woman from White Malta.”

"Bear Spirit" Felicitas Goodman, who considered bodily poses to be “ritual instructions” that give us the opportunity to travel deep into ourselves, called this pose “Bear Spirit”, starting from a carved wooden figurine made by the Kwakiutl tribe on the silver-west coast of Canada (Nauwald, Goodman, 2008, p. 156). This carved figurine depicts a small man with a huge bear squatting behind him. He holds a person between his front and hind legs, as if protecting him. “The bear is one of those representatives of the animal world that has developed a special relationship with humans. Images of bears dating back 10,000 years have been found in Anatolia. In the Neolithic era in southeastern Europe, as part of the cult of the “Great Goddess,” Artemis was depicted as a nursing mother bear. At the dawn of history, people considered the bear to be the companion of the Great Mother. It’s not for nothing that she so readily accepts him into her bosom! As her companion, the bear was a mediator between the worlds, since he moved through the lower world with the same ease as through the middle one, and could even ascend to the sky, where he hunted in the form of a constellation! (Nauwald, Goodman, 2008, pp. 156-157).

Key points of experience when working with this pose: a powerful surge of energy, strong activation of healing processes, renewal, initiation, protection, as well as security, safety and trust in life.

From the participants' reviews. Many bodily sensations, feeling of heat in the body. The feeling of the sound of a tambourine inside your own body, bodily pleasure from your own heartbeat. The realization that “the body enjoys the heartbeat!” Images of earth, grass, rivers. The image of a mother bear who gives support and seems to point to the “throne that needs to be occupied in life.” A bear standing behind you during a journey is like a Shadow, in which there is so much energy that it is perceived as heat.

"The Old Woman from Malta-White." A figurine of a standing woman with her hands folded at the bottom of her stomach was found during excavations near the village of Malta, Irkutsk region, on the banks of the Belaya River. This makes our work with this bodily pose special, since the sensations create a strong connection with the territory of our land, with our ancestors, and their traditional way of life. The 2013 expedition to the Irkutsk region revealed new important key points of working with this pose, such as “sprouting into one’s own land”, “the feeling of flight”, “the world of smells” and “connecting with nature, a special heightened sense of feeling” and “the ability to live in those natural conditions where I was born.”

Seminar participants noted the lack of trance states in everyday life and how the body keenly enjoyed working with noisemakers. Awareness of your body as a “body of power” - it contains the accumulated experience, the memory of our ancestors lives in it. Understanding that we can learn from ourselves through our sensations. Heightened sense of surrounding odors, attention to the smell of sage, sedge in a circle. And the inner discovery that the human body also has a smell, and that this is not “shameful”, but normal. Memories of how my mother smelled as a child, and it was very important and pleasant. The bodily experience of sounds is emphasized, as if the sounds touched the body and penetrated deep. For example, the sound of rustling sedge seemed to touch the skin. Contemplation of internal patterns. Understanding that “my husband and I are in the same cart, harness.” A feeling of special bodily lightness after two days of working with the myth.

  1. Yolanda Jacobi “The Psychological Teachings of K.G. Jung", published in the collection "Carl Gustav Jung: Spirit and Life", M., "Practice", 1996.
  2. K.G. Jung “Psychological types”, M., AST “University book”, 1997.
  3. K.G. Jung, K. Kerenyi “Soul and Myth. Six archetypes", M., AST, Minsk "Harvest", 2005.
  4. R. Graves “Myths of Ancient Greece”, M., “Progress”, 1992.
  5. D.Sh. Bolen “Goddesses in every woman”, Kyiv, “Sofia”, 2006
  6. Neumann E. The moon and matriarchal consciousness. The Fear of the Feminine. – Princeton: NJ, Princeton University Press, 1994
  8. Errien E. The Path of Four Roads. – M., Publishing House “Sofia”, 2003
  9. S. Suzuki. Zen consciousness, beginner's consciousness. Riga, Ligatma Publishing House, 1995
  10. Nauwald N., Goodman F. Ecstatic trance. – M., “Ripol Classic”, 2008
  11. D. Matthews, "Celtic Shaman". – Sofia, Publishing House “Helios”, M., 2002
  12. M. Eliade, “Shamanism. Archaic techniques of ecstasy." – Kyiv, Sofia, 2000.
  13. “Slavic mythology”, M., publishing house “International Relations”, 2011.
  14. Materials of the exhibition “Shamanism” of the ethnographic museum. St. Petersburg, 2013

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published