Aloha! It’s time to put the pedal to the metal and start to meet the cast of this hero’s journey – our exploration of the stories that rule our lives. As we go through, you might find yourself resonating with one or more of the characters and stories that we uncover. Remember also the hero’s journey – the typical journey starts out with someone naïve and inexperienced, who goes through several stages of transformation on his or her journey to enlightenment, redemption, victory and wisdom.
These characters, our heroes, are called archetypes – they embody typical characteristics and patterns of behaviour and belief… but you’ll recognise them – both in yourself and in the myths and stories that we tell. Because, remember, the only reason we tell stories is to embody truth. (What? You mean you thought they were to entertain? Only on the surface….)
As we go, we’ll look at the characteristics of the archetype – we’ll look at their task and the gift they bring, at their fears and the way they deal with danger, and how they evolve. We’ll also look at the shadow side – what happens when that particular characteristic is given too much power. And as we go, consider the strengths of the individual archetypes – one or more may be at the forefront of our lives, but to operate as a rounded and whole individual able to deal with everything that life brings, we need to have balance.
I found out, for example, that the warrior archetype was quite weak for me. That meant that it was easy for people to trample across my boundaries and take me for granted – with a subsequent knock on effect in the rest of my world. By paying attention to that part of my psyche, I built a strength and a resistance to being taken advantage of – along with an ability to fight for what is right rather than meekly accepting it.
The stage of the journey
We start out at a stage of our personal evolution called Preparation. This stage is our learning stage – a stage where we are being made ready for the challenges we face. Here the basic traits that are going to be essential to our evolution and our survival are created and strengthened. For sure, we’re going to learn more on the journey – through experience, through our teachers and mentors, and through divine inspiration – but the core skills, the core beliefs, the core understandings of life are created here.
And so let’s introduce the first of our characters – the Innocent
We all start out here, you know. Obviously, as children, we are naïve and trusting, expecting everything to work out for us. We rely on others to do the work for us, to love us and care for us. There is something wonderful and refreshing about that innocence, that sense that life is meant to be easy and simple, that doors will automatically open for us, and that the Universe itself seeks our good. As Einstein himself is rumoured to have said “The most important question a person can ask is, ‘Is the Universe a friendly place?’” The Innocent will be certain that the answer is “Yes”.
The nature of the Innocent
There is of course a sense of trusting and of believing that all will be well – and of course some of that is born out of simple naïvety… but go deeper beyond that and you’ll find a deeper and more primal trust in the rightness of things – that everything is in its place and works perfectly. That’s not ignoring the facts – that’s actually the core and deeper truth at the heart of the Universe – that things are set up to work for us rather than against us.
The primary goal of the Innocent is to stay safe. Sometimes that means hiding from danger – or from any change that may eventually lead to risk, or feeling unsafe. It’s the primal need for all of us to be secure. But secure is dull and boring – secure doesn’t lead to adventure, or enlightenment, or fulfilment. Secure is stable, for sure – but only the risks associated with change will bring depth of character and true purpose. The Innocent will always seek to fit in, to avoid creating waves or standing out.
Consider Luke Skywalker in his dull yet safe life on Tattooine: everything is safe and secure, but does it actually mean anything? Or Frodo Baggins, living a life of simplicity and gaiety in the Shire, unaware that any darkness lay beyond the boundaries of his idyllic paradise.
Of course, the main fear of the Innocent, as it is of the newborn, is being abandoned. Abandonment leads to change, to the need to stand on one’s own two feet. And the innocent will go to any lengths to avoid this – stepping into relationships to avoid being alone, sticking with a company for fear of what ‘going it alone’ might bring – avoiding change at all costs in order to seek safety and security – the bliss of consistency.
Response to the challenge
When danger appears, and the dragon rears its head, the Innocent can respond in only one of two ways. The first option is to bury his head in the sand and deny that a problem exists – if you can’t see it, it can’t hurt you. The second is to call for help – to look for some power beyond yourself to rescue you.
For some, that rescuer might be the government bailing us out of a deep and dark hole. For others, it might be a retreat to the safety of friends or family. Others seek their answers in spirituality or religion, looking to a deity to rescue them and make everything all right again.
A Heroic Task
Yet there is a task for the Innocent, something that only the pure of heart can achieve. The Innocent demonstrates that Paradise can be regained, that it is possible to walk through life in trust and honesty. The Innocent will seek the best in everyone and holds up a goal for others to reach – to cease their striving and struggling and relax, trusting that all will be well, or, as my Huna teacher says “Everything is Working Out Perfectly” (or, for short, EWOP).
Despite the apparent weakness of the Innocent, that very innocence bears great gifts – gifts that, in our worldly wise cynicism we tend to overlook. The Innocent is, at heart, trusting, optimistic and loyal – thinking ill of no man, expecting the best at all times. Such is the power of trust and belief that the Innocent truly believes in the inherent ‘rightness’ of the world – and by holding on to that belief, actually makes it so. Such is the power of true innocence in the world.
The shadow Innocent
Of course, such naïvety has its weakness. Our hero can find herself shackled to irrational optimism, even in the face of obvious difficulty. Reliance on others for assistance can lead to putting off dealing with problems, relying on ‘it’ll be alright in the end’ or expecting that some knight in shining armour will rescue them – or that God will hear their prayers. It’s also easy for the Innocent to fall into dull conformity – the sense that it’s always been done this way… and that it’s dangerous to stand out or to make waves.
Levels of the Innocent
Although the Innocent is usually the starting place, we can often find ourselves called back here – whenever a desire for stability and safety overrides our desire for adventure and our call to purpose. This is what finds heroes in a cave, unwilling to step out and face the challenge again – this sense that once upon a time all was just darn peachy – or that, having set out on the adventure, things were much better back at home. The hobbits on their journey dream of breakfast – and second breakfast. Alice wishes she was safe on the riverbank and had never followed the rabbit.
Initially, the Innocent is unquestioning, unaware of danger and trusting of everyone, especially of authority. However, that innocence cannot last and disillusionment and disappointment set in as the world is not seen to be as perfect as expected, that authority figures have feet of clay and that truly we are responsible for our own happiness. However, the Innocent will retain faith in human nature and a belief that deep down inside all men are good. And that experience will allow us to grow in wisdom – retaining that innocence yet without naïvety or dependence on others.
The Innocent’s story
The archetypal story of the Innocent is to step from apparent paradise, peace, calm and tranquillity, where all is safe and secure into a world where those foundations are rocked. The Innocent retains faith that all is well, and that very faith sustains them, rebuilding a new paradise in the certainty that everything is as it should be.
Exercises and dreaming
Find yourself an icon of childhood – perhaps a well loved cuddly toy, or perhaps a place that you loved to visit. Or go and hug your mother or father – or even cuddle a baby. If you haven’t got access to the physical reality, then bring a memory of that to mind. How does that make you feel – relax into the sense of being safe, of total well being.
Consider your life at the moment. Look at the good things, and at the not so good stuff. Is it just maybe possible that everything is working out perfectly? Could it be that in the heart of any difficulties you might be facing are hidden the seeds of the answer?
Next week we’re going to look at what happens when we step beyond Innocence, and consider the Orphan – but for now, look at where the Innocent appears in your life, and where maybe recovering some of your true Innocence and faith might help you move forward.
Until next time – enjoy the journey!
Find out more at www.timhodgson.org
PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS