I am aware that I am inhabiting a polyphonic universe – that is to say I am made up of many different voices, impulses, attitudes or parts. I am not just one thing. How many times have I ended a sexual relationship with the sense of this being the right thing to do, only to find myself several days later feeling a sense of regret that it has ended and hoping that we will get back together? It may be a helpful perspective to consider that the one that ended the relationship is not the one that is now feeling the regret. Listening to all these various voices can sometimes feel like trying to conduct an unruly orchestra and can leave us feeling split or divided. One way I have found immensely helpful in understanding these varying facets of myself has been the exploration of archetypes from the pantheon of gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. C.G Jung introduced the idea of archetypes in psychology as powerful inner forces which can be personified by Greek gods and goddesses.
Whether the sensuality and passion of Dionysus, the wisdom of Athena, or the maternal nurturing qualities of Demeter, by immersing ourselves in these figures and their myths these inner forces within us are given a much larger and richer context in which to be held as the dramas unfold of what it means to be human.
Most of us were taught about the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus at some time in school and have seen statues and paintings of them. The Romans worshiped these same deities, addressing them by their Latin names. The Olympians had very human attributes: their behavior , emotional reactions, appearance, and mythology provide us with patterns that parallel human behavior and attitudes. They are also familiar to us because they are archetypal; that is, they represent models of being and behaving we recognize from the collective unconscious we all share.
Jean Shinoda Bolen M. D. Jungian psychologist.
If you are interested in further reading I can recommend:
Goddesses in everywoman; Powerful Archetypes in Women’s Lives – Jean Shinoda Bolen
Gods in everyman; Archetypes That Shape Men’s Lives – Jean Shinoda Bolen