Meet Diana, she is a 27 year old film student who is exploring the origins of the strip tease in Hollywood movies. She finds herself excited and mesmerized by the portrayals of Mata Hari and Gypsy Rose Lee. Diana has noticed that they have begun to appear in her sexual fantasies – sometimes she is a lover of Gypsy Rose Lee and sometimes she is Gypsy Rose Lee. There is something about the confidence, the flirtatiousness, and the elegance of these characters that she finds compelling. Diana, who comes from a rather conservative background, is struggling with the stereotypes of the slut / whore / prostitute that these characters are often labeled with and her awakening attraction to this archetype. These labels don’t feel like they really capture her experience of these Queens of the stage so she has decided to embody one of these characters in her next film assignment to learn more about the mysterious appeal that is simmering within her.
Meet Rob, he is a 55 year old engineer whose children have all moved out and he and his partner are now interested in rekindling their sexual relationship. Rob finds that he was more turned on than he thought he’d be by the bondage section of the local sex positive retail store. He is reminded of an Anne Rice Vampire book that he had picked up in the 80’s that featured some scenes of the power dynamics of dominance and submission. He has started researching other books and videos that depict this type of BDSM play and is hoping to present some ideas to his partner.
Both of these individuals are on a journey. Exploring what turns us on and what peaks our interest while untangling these desires from cultural stereotypes can be both informative and transformative.
Archetypes (Latin = primitive + model) are the recurrent symbols of our lives – they appear in our relationships, our work, our communities, and yes, in our sex. And not just in our sex, but in our sexuality – the multi-faceted tapestry in which our creative, generative energy manifests itself. Sometimes we visit an archetype, like on Halloween or a theme party (though if it calls you at this level, further inquiry is a good idea). Other times an archetype deeply informs our life. Sometimes an archetype visits us early – a teenage parent thrust into the archetype of “mother” or “father” – and sometimes an archetype visits us late, like a 60 year old exploring her inner maiden. We cannot predict what challenge or inspiration will best serve us at any point in our lives so look to the themes that are calling to you in the present moment.
Ask yourself these three questions to discover what archetypes are currently courting you:
Explore where in your life that you feel the most vital, the most alive, the most excited. What are the movement qualities, sensations, and images that arise. What is your relationship to power here? What are the activities here? What allows you to feel masterful?
Explore where in your life you feel the most awkward or uncomfortable. What are the movement qualities, sensations, and images that arise. What are you protecting against? What is your relationship to power here?
Latest compelling sexual fantasy: Who are you in the fantasy and what is the setting like? What is your relationship to power? Describe the relationships between the characters in the fantasy.
You now have three “sketches” to give you a sense of the archetypes that you are currently in relationship with. Are there any similarities or connections between the three sketches? What are their differences? Do they remind you of anyone you know – a real person or a character?
The first prompt looks at your home sexual archetype – where your energy is flowing freely and in a masterful way. The second prompt is evoking your challenge archetype – it shows you what archetype you are currently wrestling with and shows you your shadows. The third prompt is your growing edge archetype – the sexual archetype that is going to show you what is next for you in terms of where you will become masterful by resolving some challenge to be explored and resolved.
There are many ways to actively explore these archetypes. They can be explored through a creative project like Diana’s film, a visual media project like collage or painting, a change in wardrobe, or a redecoration of a bedroom. They can be explored through fantasy with visualizations, journaling, or dreaming. They can also be explored through sexual play with yourself, with a partner, or with a group. Whatever way you choose to explore, you can expect to broaden your personal repertoire of expression, experience a surge of creative energy, a rekindling of passion in relationship, or just have your mind totally blown by how you newly experience the world.
This can also be ancestral healing work. Perhaps you have an ancestor who was shamed or even ostracized for divorcing or having an affair. You may find this archetype calling you to explore the depth of this experience and heal the shame that can be passed down to us through our lineage and relieve the burden of unexplained jealousy, mistrust, or wandering behavior that is affecting our current intimate relationships.