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Valentine's Day & The Six Archetypes of Love

by Dr. Allan Hunter


Whenever Valentine’s Day comes around – and who can get through February without seeing the signs in the stores? – we are made to feel emotionally inadequate if we, for some reason, decide to opt out of making Hallmark richer or balk at paying inflated prices for roses. So let’s take a look at the derivation of this special day, because it’s the perfect opportunity to differentiate between two kinds of love – the conventional kind of love that is so characteristic of the Orphan archetype, and the committed love and deep attachment that is at the heart of the Warrior-Lover’s life.

If you’re familiar with the six archetypes of love you’ll already know that these archetypes act as a sort of road map, showing how we can progress from being the Innocent, to the Orphan, the Pilgrim, the Warrior-Lover, the Monarch, and finally achieve the Magician level of awareness. The interesting thing is that many of us might be real Monarchs at work – take-charge kind of people – and yet be less adept at the emotions, where we might still feel like searching Pilgrims. So let’s see how this plays out for February 14th.

Historically St Valentine was a priest who married couples according to Christian ritual in the days of Imperial Rome, when it was forbidden to even be a Christian, let alone get married to one. Valentine, therefore, was clearly a man who believed that love mattered – since being married according to Roman law meant being married according to the Roman gods, and they were a rampant lot of extra-marital sex-adventurers if ever there were any. Valentine must have believed strongly in what he was doing, because he died rather than stop doing it.

So why did he bother? Partly it’s because the Romans definitely saw love differently than we do. Cupid, that chubby boy with a bow and arrow we see on our greetings cards, was anything but cute to them. He was, instead, a terrifyingly powerful god in their view, one who struck people down with his arrows, turning love into longing, suffering, and despair. The temple of Venus was a place of agony and unfulfilled wishes.To the Romans Cupid and Venus were about overwhelming lust, the urge of the hormones, and they respected those. They even feared them. What they didn’t understand was the sense of a higher love that could grow between those lovers who were on a spiritual path.

By enshrining love as a goal that the gods had to grant to the believer the Romans made themselves helpless in the face of passion. Love pierced you like an arrow and you had no defense and no control, so you prayed for help. In terms of the six archetypes of love, which the ancient Greeks certainly knew about long before the Romans, the Roman way was to turn people into Orphans who needed help, who couldn’t manage on their own, who were weak. This is Orphan love. It’s when we feel we have no power at all. And, unfortunately for us, if we have no power in the face of something we tend to do what all people do: we shrug and hope to escape undamaged. ‘That’s just the way it is’ we say. Most Romans, in their hearts, wished for something a lot less demanding than the love Cupid brought. They wanted something tidy and easy. Faced with this they trivialized deep feelings for one another and, if they could, they chose mere attraction. It was safer.

Valentine, in contrast, saw that any two people who were determined to love each other and work for a greater spiritual good within a belief system were clearly not such feeble souls. They had already rejected comfortable orthodoxy – the Orphan’s way – and had searched within themselves for meaning – the Pilgrim’s way. Arriving at the desire to be married they were choosing to be peaceful and loving, but they were also aware that marriage was just the beginning of something that would grow, because relationships that are alive always do grow, and change, and develop. This is the realm of the Warrior-Lover, of real commitment, and courage.

The Romans liked their version of things because it kept the population pliable, and serial monogamy was tolerated because it allowed for the easy switching of partners when the relationship began to stale. They didn’t care for any version of love that asked more than this, which is why they persecuted Valentine and many other sects like his. Asking more from life, and from the gods, was seen as dangerous. It threatened the citizens’ devotion to the Empire. For real love, as we all know, almost always has to confront orthodoxy. The Romans wanted their citizens to remain as perpetual Orphans; Valentine had a higher sense of what people could be.

So when you look around the stores at this time of year you may enjoy the fun of Valentine’s day or you may be bored by it. But you can refresh your soul, if you wish, by recalling that long ago Valentine stood up against a lack-luster version of love and chose instead to honor and respect a more powerful kind of love. We might do well to recall he was in direct revolt against the cheapening of love that we still tend to see around us. He didn’t despise those who were archetypical Orphans, though. He simply suggested that if we wish we can find a higher, more vital love. Today we watch Hollywood movies which seem to ask us to accept that a few lines of witty dialogue are all that is needed to spark an attraction deep enough to hang a lifetime upon. We may want to recall that Hollywood and Hallmark are not always the best guides as to what love might be.

Valentine died horribly rather than cheapen love. His example made him exceptional. If we are alert to his legacy then we cannot help but see the value of love between people that can, ultimately, grow to be a love that includes all those one cares for. Doing this we can become Monarchs in terms of the archetypes of love. And when we do so others will notice, be inspired, and we become people who can help move those we care for towards a more vital sense of what love can be. At that point people can become more than they had ever believed was possible. That’s when we can become Magicians.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs Valentine’s example can remind us of a better path by making us aware of the real power of love. It’s not just about chocolates, roses, and sex, although it can start there. It’s about what comes later.

Dr. Allan Hunter’s The Six Archetypes of Love; from Innocent to Magician is available from Findhorn Press and from Amazon.com. Find out about the archetypes and which one you are living, or visit www.allanhunter.net  and www.sixarchetypes.com


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