In my last post I wrote about the Warrior and Mother archetypes. This time we’ll look at the Scholar and Wisewoman. The instinct for reflection is about the basic human “end” to be released from delusion. There is something in all of us that wants to know and understand. Children want to see, feel, touch, taste, and smell everything. As we grow older, if our curiosity is not stifled by too many rules and inhibitions, we want to understand why and how things work. Later still our curiosity about the world extends to the inner universe. We just naturally feel good about ourselves when we acquire helpful new insights into our behavior because self-knowledge is its own fine reward.
The instinct for reflection is symbolized by the archetypes of Scholar and Wisewoman. The clear, piercing focus of the Scholar is motivated by the drive for self-preservation. He believes the key to our survival and self-fulfillment is the ability to reflect on life, study, acquire knowledge, and learn the secrets that will release us from our delusions. In the mandorla symbol of interlocked circles, our Scholar is the circle representing the left hemisphere of the brain, the logos that primarily processes information with focused consciousness and logical thinking by means of linear, rational, verbal thoughts and ideas. With his preference for clear discrimination and knowledge of objective phenomena, the Scholar’s specialty is the thinking of science and technology.
His archetypal partner, the part of us motivated by the drive for species-preservation, is the Wisewoman, our all-knowing mistress of the hidden arts. Her specialties are the brain’s poorly understood right-hemisphere qualities of mythos. The primary functions of mythos are diffuse awareness and analogical thinking. These spawn several ways of knowing: body awareness, spiritual awareness (knowledge of, and connection with, the Other), the ability to synthesize paradoxical messages from diverse sources, and the ability to create meaning from subjective experience, emotions, relationships, intuition, gnosis, imagination, and symbols.
When the Scholar’s focus, clarity and objectivity are intentionally employed in service to exploring our unconscious depths, the Wisewoman’s intuitive connectedness, self-awareness and openness to otherness are unearthed and activated. Empowering both of these poles of the instinct for reflection strengthens our mindfulness and leads to expanding consciousness. This is a mental state of heightened awareness and receptivity to information coming to us from both the exterior and interior worlds. Being open to both is the hallmark of partnership in the mental domain. The result of this inner marriage is the activation of the Sage archetype. Other names for this energy include mage, magician, philosopher, prophet/ess, sorcerer/ess, shaman, wizard, medicine woman/man, and wise old woman/man.
This form of archetypal energy can be identified by several specific skills. They include truth-seeker, mental juggler, light-bearer, lifelong learner, wall-wrecker (breaking through our resistance to otherness), chain-breaker (losing old habits and releasing attachments to outcomes), choice-maker, namer (of truth and reality), clown (or life-changing trickster), connector, and problem-solver.
Archetypal psychologist Carol S. Pearson says Sages have little or no need to control or change the world; they just want to understand it. The Sage’s path is the journey to find out the truth—about ourselves, our world, and the universe. At its highest levels, it is not simply about finding knowledge, but about becoming wise. It is our Sage within who, like Wisdom People from every tradition in every age, resonates to the adages, “Know thyself,” “To thine own self be true,” and “That ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
The more free you feel to seek the truth, regardless of societal consequences, the more mature your Sage will be. How badly do you want to know the truth? How powerful is your Sage?