The Lover Archetype – Interview

With Marianne Hill – Healing The Shadow practitioner

This is the transcript of an interview by Carolyn Clitheroe, a psychotherapy student who has developed an interest in shadow work and the archetypes. In relation to her studies she interviewed Marianne about the Lover archetype. This is the fourth in a series of interviews, the first was the Sovereign archetype interview, the second was the Warrior archetype interview and the third was the Magician archetype interview. Before the Sovereign interview transcript there is a simple overview of all four archetypes. If you’re not familiar with the four archetypes you may wish to take a look at this summary to help put this Lover interview in to context.

This interview took place in The Green Room in Frome, Somerset in May 2018 and focuses on our inner Lover. The discussions are wide-ranging and a variety of topics relating to the Lover are discussed – Intimacy and attachment, grief and loss, the inner child, body wisdom, addictions, sex and more… Inevitably the other three archetypes – the Magician, the Warrior and the Sovereign – are also discussed, since all four archetypes are interwoven and interdependent.

Marianne Hill interviewed by Carolyn Clitheroe (Sampritti)

June 2018 in The Green Room, Frome Somerset


C.  So here we are ready to do our Lover interview – which for some reason, we don’t know quite why yet – we put at the end of the series. It’s quite funny because I have been really watching my food and my calorie intake the last little while but on the way here I just had to have a bar of chocolate and I thought ‘Oh yeah – I’m entering into the Lover territory….!’ So I was wondering if, as usual, you could talk us through what’s in the Lover corner and give us an overview of what the Lover is. Then we can dive deeper into particular areas.

M.  Well, the first thing I see is the little group of cuddled up animals. They have really been drawing my attention this morning. They look so snuggled up and content there – happy with each other and safe and trusting… The Lover is about this primal need we have to bond with others and to connect with others. Quite clearly we’re born with that need – in order to survive we need to be able to connect to somebody else – usually our mother – very intensely and very deeply, because our survival can depend on that. So the sense of safety that comes from that is something that we all look for and it is essential to us at the start of our life. Being held is essential to us and forming that connection and obviously also being fed, cared for and accepted by those around us.

So the Lover really comes from that instinct that we have to connect and also to love – just to look out and love everything we see around us, and to relate to the world in that way – that way of receiving. When we’re first born all we can do is receive. So the Lover is very much about yielding, about allowing, and about trusting. When we’re first born we don’t really have any other option other than just to trust those around us and yield to what’s happening. To allow them to love us – if we’re lucky enough to be around people who are wanting to love us – and allow in the touch and allow in the food and allow in the nurture and allow in the nourishment.

The paradox here of course is that for many people having a baby is one of the greatest joys of their life, so that receiving that the baby is doing is giving a gift to the people around her. This is what many of us lose touch with, especially if we haven’t had that kind of start where the people around us have experienced us as a gift – if they haven’t experienced giving to us as a gift to them. In that situation we don’t learn this. We don’t learn that our yielding, our vulnerability, our openness, our receiving is a gift to others. And this is the first gift that we are meant to learn to give when we’re born – we learn to give the gift of receiving, and to give others that pleasure of looking after us, nurturing us, connecting with us, caring for us.

C.  Yes, I’ve heard it said that we often think that the greatest pain is to not receive love, but actually it’s even more painful not to be received, not to have our love received. I think there’s a truth in that.

M.  Absolutely. Yes. And society condones the idea that giving is a good thing and receiving isn’t – but how can anybody give if there’s no one there who’s willing to receive – in an open and grateful and joyful way?

C.  And so that dual aspect of the Lover – receiving and giving – is what happens in romantic partnerships as well isn’t it?

M.  Well the Lover only receives. If you think of a baby the only thing they’re giving is the gift of their joyful receiving.

C.  Mmmmm!

 M.  So the lover connects, but it’s the Sovereign part of us that gives. So if you think of a mother/child situation then the mother is in that Sovereign role, the responsible one, and the child is in the Lover role of receiving that care and attention.

C.  And yet that nourishes the Sovereign, so maybe the language is too restrictive of giving and receiving…

M.  Yes – it nourishes both. But there’s something deeper going on than the giving and receiving which is just the bond, the connection, the sense of reverence and adoration of the other person, and I believe that happens both ways. The baby is adoring the mother, or the father, whoever they’re connecting with, and the parent is just adoring the child – that’s separate from this sense of giving and receiving. And that really is the type of pure connection – when you talk about intimate relationships – the Lover part is that connection that’s just about ‘being with’. That’s just about reverence of the other person, adoration of the other person, connection with the other person. Rather than ‘doing to’.

C.  Yes, it’s like a ‘field’ rather than a ‘doing’. 

M.  Yes. And obviously giving and receiving does happen in romantic relationships and we will want to be cared for, looked after, given advice to by the other person, but then we’re going in to a Sovereign/Lover dynamic where one person is caring and that’s obviously perfectly healthy so long as it can go both ways. But the actual Lover aspect is just the ‘being with’ – where no one is really giving or receiving. So sex is a good example of this….

C.  Because you have to be in the moment with sex…

M.  Yes, ideally with sex you’re both in the moment you’re both enjoying. You might be giving to the other person but you’re enjoying that and there’s just a really free flow – of presence and connection – that’s not about either person being in the Sovereign and being the bigger one and being the one who’s being responsible or caring or giving. That’s the kind of difference. It’s a common confusion people have because the Lover is a very vulnerable place to be. We’re in this receiving place as I described with a new born baby, we’re totally vulnerable. If we’re allowing ourselves to be in that place of yielding, receiving, taking, we’re very vulnerable to the other person. So if we want to protect ourselves from that then one thing we can say is ‘I’m going to be always the one who’s giving.’ So we find, as you said, some pleasure and joy and some sense of connection by giving to another person. But we’re slightly bypassing something – we’re bypassing being in that Lover place and just ‘being with’ and being vulnerable to another person. So it’s good to be conscious of that and to sometimes come into this Lover place and just be in that and connect from that place.

C.  I’m wondering as well how you can bypass that vulnerability using the other archetypes as well. For example Magician – you might be having all these fantasies and living in a fantasy world in your sexual relationship and that can be fun and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if it’s always only ever that then presumably there’s an avoidance of the real vulnerability of the here and now.

M.  Yes and you’re bypassing the connection with that person because you’re imagining or fantasising about someone else. So that’s a very good way to lower the vulnerability – which obviously has pros and cons. And with the Warrior we can obviously set our boundaries very strongly in an attempt to avoid going in to that vulnerable place.

C.  Or go the other way I guess with the S and M games or something like that…

M.  Yes, but I would say that might be more Magician – where you’ve got that predator/prey dynamic going on that we’ve talked about before. But there may be something worked out there around the Warrior as well. All of the archetypes do come in to sexual relationships – it’s not just the Lover. But the Lover is the one where, as you said, you’re really moving with, being with..

C.  …being nourished…

M.  … allowing that connection, and being in the moment with the other person, rather than thinking about anything.

C.  Yes. I see there are some butterfly wings on the Lover corner…

M.  Yes, They’re there to represent play.

C.  Ah! Yes!

M.  And the imagination. The Lover, again, is a very child-like part of ourselves, and gets developed – or doesn’t get developed – in childhood. So play is a very big part of the Lover. So I try to put some things there that represent play – and bright colours, sensual objects and fun objects…

C.  Yes, and texture. There’s that lovely sheepskin there, and those lovely round pebbles.

M.  Yes! So things that we can feel. Our Lover is very much about our body, so the idea of not thinking that you gave earlier was a really good one. We’re not really thinking when we’re just going with the feelings that our body likes – ‘Oh I love the soft rug.’ or ‘I love the cool feeling of the smooth stones.’ We’re being guided by that rather than any kind of intellectual thought and just really being in the moment and enjoying those feelings. The same with play. When children are playing they’re absolutely absorbed in the moment and just allowing their imagination to go wild and free. They’re not thinking about responsibility or consequences, so they’re just able to really be connected to themselves and what’s flowing through them.

C.  So I’m thinking about what you said about attachment, and that the Lover is very much about how we attach to the world around us and the people around us. So if there are traumas in that domain of the Lover then they’re attachment traumas presumably?

M.  Mmmm, yes. Our ability to be in our healthy Lover depends on our ability to form attachments where we can trust another person and rely on them and receive from them. And it also depends on our ability to deal with loss of connection. We all lose connection in our lives at certain times and if we can’t be with the grief of that loss of connection then that’s when our Lover can really get damaged. Things stop flowing. I think of the Lover as being about the river of life. If everything’s flowing – if our Lover is a really vibrant strong healthy part of us then we’re just flowing down the river of life and things aren’t taking too much effort, things are generally flowing, we’re not really having to try too hard to follow our natural path. But if we have a loss and we can’t process it – we can’t feel our grief – then something gets blocked. If that grief doesn’t flow – if you think of tears, which are a big part of grief – if those tears don’t flow it’s like the river gets blocked. Then the flow can stop in our life. We don’t just damn up our feelings about that one person, we kind of dam up all our feelings when we’re not able to feel our grief. That can stop us having access to all the aspects of the Lover – to the play and the creativity and the sensuality and the sense of connection. And it seems like only when we’ve really mourned and grieved for one loss of connection can we be free to go on and form new connections.

C.  In attachment psychology, from my understanding, ruptures that are managed well then create more resilience and more ability to receive love and create other bonds in the future.

M.  Absolutely. If we have experienced loss as overwhelmingly devastating then we won’t want to make any new connections – because we know at some point we will lose that connection, and the risk of the pain that loss might bring is just is too high. But actually what it seems like is that if we lose someone we don’t actually lose connection with them – we may lose them through death or through them moving away – but we don’t stop our connection with them. We actually stay very strongly connected to them through our pain.

C.  Yes. Yes.

M.  Because this Lover part of us is programmed to love, it’s programmed to connect. So even if someone’s died, that love is still there and that connection with them is still there.

C.  Yes. I saw a beautiful film with Ram Das a couple of weeks ago and he said exactly that. He has done a lot of work around grief and dying and working with people who are recently bereaved and he said when you’re in the feelings of grief milk it for all it’s worth. Really let yourself have all of those feelings and express them fully and be in all of that and then he said there’ll be these small moments of stillness where you realise that that person hasn’t left you. I thought that was so beautiful, there was such a truth in that – that you haven’t actually lost connection to the source of that connection that was between you and that person. Beautiful.

M.  It is really beautiful, and it shows how strong this archetype is, because we will go to any lengths actually to maintain a connection with someone that we’ve loved and lost. The problem is if we’ve lost someone painfully, or without, as you say, the support that we need as a child, then we’ll hold on to them through some painful memory, something painful that we connect with them. So quite a lot of us carry around that kind of a connection. It can really interfere with our lives because we’re unconsciously carrying it around – we’re actually clinging on to it for dear life – as a way of remembering that person.

C.  Yes. That’s really interesting because for me that brings up a kind of loyalty, a loyalty to that connection. In family constellations if somebody in the family, for example a great aunt, has say committed suicide or died a violent death or something like that, if it hasn’t been processed in the family system somebody at some point might find that connection, and they will express that loyalty by dying in the same way, or dying on the very same date, there will be some very obvious connection between those two things. That really plays out systemically as well as in the individual’s life.

M.  Absolutely. Human beings are so connected. In a way the Lover is the archetype that’s most in shadow, because we don’t acknowledge that in our society. We’re in an individuated society, where the individual is the core unit. But this plays out when there are major tragedies in what is sometimes known as survivor guilt. if someone is the only survivor of a plane crash the chances of them killing themselves are very high. Because they’re so connected with the other people who died that they can’t bear to go on living when the others have died. There’s a sense of wrongness that sometimes just doesn’t go away. 

So we stay connected in these painful ways because we haven’t processed the grief, we haven’t had the support to process the grief. I’m working on this at the moment about my dad, who committed suicide when I was a young girl. I suffer from a lot of fears and a lot of terrors, and at the moment I’m working with the idea that they might be a way of staying in touch and connected with my dad – because I lost him in a very terrifying way that wasn’t explained to me, and he himself carried a lot of terrors I believe, and that is one of the reasons he was so unhappy.  So because that grief has remained unprocessed I think I may be carrying these terrors as a way of staying connected with my father. So I’m now working with processing that grief and finding a different way to stay connected with him where I can have an image of him as somebody loving, as a loving father inside of me – which was also a truth – he was a loving person, but I disconnected from that in the trauma and chose (unconsciously) to hold something else in his memory instead.

C.  Do you think that can be because it’s too painful to hold the positive image sometimes as well?

M.  I think certainly for me that was true. There was a need, at that age and with no resources, for me not to stay in touch with the goodness and love because the pain of that would have been too much. So only now at the age of 50 do I seem to be able to really touch in to some of that pain. And as I let that go I can take hold of a more loving, joyful memory of him. I’m finding that he was quite funny and playful and there are sides of him that I really love now that I can imagine living inside of me and that I can have as a memory of him. So I do this work with people surprisingly often actually – really letting go of that connection, of that old way of connecting (which is so painful). There’s no way I would suggest letting go of the person full stop, but it’s about letting go of the old way of connecting and really grieving as you let go of that. Also grieving all the reasons why – as you say – why did I carry that difficult and painful and terrifying way of staying connected with my dad? Grieving everything around the death or separation that was so difficult. Then, when that process has been completed we’re free to stay connected to the person we lost in any way we want. We can then choose a joyful way of staying connected to them, and something is freed up then, and we can go out in to our life and start forming new connections. It’s very hard to form a new connection when you haven’t grieved for the old connection, so we can get very dry and very stuck and very isolated in that place of not having fully grieved. And then the Lover goes completely in to shadow for us.

C.  I’m always struck with the Lover just how physical and embodied this side of us is. There’s no denying the physical existence of being here in the now – that seems to be where the Lover really lives – and to be able to connect in to that place and know what we really truly feel about something through our physical sensations or our felt sense. There’s a such a wisdom in that which isn’t often connected in to, unlike maybe the Magician which is really educated in us – say at school – or the Warrior where we may really learn ways to be with that in our culture. There don’t seem to be that many ways of really learning to be with the Lover.

M.  No, not so many. I love your word wisdom – body wisdom. And there are more and more people who do bodywork and people who go to classes – yoga classes for example or Qi gong where they can be with their body and what’s happening in their body and get in touch with that kind of wisdom. Meditation can serve that purpose as well – though sometimes it can kind of avoid the body, but it can also be an opportunity to really go in and be with the body. More and more people seem to want that. But there’s a problem with going into the Lover…. . Let’s go through the Lover qualities: we’ve got sensuality, we’ve got playfulness, we’ve got creativity, we’ve got connection – deep connection, we’ve got spirituality – they’re such things that people are really drawn towards them, their eyes light up and the question is – why don’t we all live in this wonderful place all the time? But the thing is it requires us to be in our body, as you’ve just said Lover is about being embodied, and in our bodies live all our feelings. I’m also a shiatsu practitioner and I believe that really deeply from the work that I do – that our feelings are stored in our tissues – and there’s also lots of scientific evidence for that now. So as soon as we start to really connect with our bodies we have to really connect with what we’re feeling. For a lot of us that’s scary, or at least unpleasant, or inconvenient.

C.  Yes. ‘Inconvenient’ seems to be a word that always comes up for me around Lover. I’ve used that word a lot in the last couple of weeks about my feelings and how I think other people are seeing me when I’m in this Lover space.

M.  Yes, and I went through that process this morning. I was feeling quite a lot this morning, and a lot of it wasn’t pleasant. I wanted to push it away with a good few cups of coffee because I had an important interview to do! – but I thought ‘Well hang on a minute, the interview is about the Lover. Let’s try and be a bit more congruent here.’ So I took some time to lie down and put some music on and see if I could allow the feelings to be in my body and deliberately move towards that Lover side. But I was really aware of the ‘inconvenience’ of having and allowing these feelings, because they put me in a more vulnerable place to do this interview. So the Lover is quite ‘inconvenient’ for the kind of lives that we live where we’re taking on responsible roles, where we have to do things in a set amount of time and get them right within that time frame. School doesn’t encourage children to develop their Lover side. There’s less and less play these days, less and less art, less and less music, and even when there is it’s in the confined limits of certain time boundaries – and that’s just not the way that the Lover operates. The Lover wants to be with what is, and that may be playing one particular game for 3 hours, and most schools wouldn’t allow for that within their structure.

C.  Yes, when I want to tap in to that side of myself I always have to tell myself at the beginning that I’ve got all the time in the world, and if I don’t do that I can’t really access it properly.

M.  No. And it’s lovely that’s how we’ve set up this interview today so we had plenty of time. Neither of us has got any time limits and that works really well for the Lover. The lover really doesn’t want to know about boundaries or responsibilities, and the Lover aspect doesn’t flourish under those conditions, because that’s the opposite of being with the flow and following the flow and following the river of life.

C.  So what happens when the Lover isn’t balanced with the other archetypes?

M.  Well, we’ve talked a little bit about what happens if grief gets blocked, which is the main thing that damages the Lover. So if we’ve had a loss, and particularly earlier in life, which we haven’t been able to process – and the grief has got stuck and we’ve lost our ability to trust that we can love and be loved – then this whole Lover side can then go in to shadow. It becomes unsafe territory. If we don’t trust that others are going to be there for us and that the world is a safe place where we’re going to receive love, where we can relax and yield, then none of this will be safe. It won’t feel safe to play. It won’t feel safe to connect, because we might not get good stuff coming back towards us, or we might lose that other person. It certainly may not feel safe to be as open as is required for a sexual relationship -where we’re really very vulnerable and we can’t plan and we don’t know what’s going to happen and we have to be in the moment. It may really not feel safe to express our emotions, because we don’t get the sense that someone’s going to be there connected with us to support and hold us in that. So we can become quite dry, quite stoic. There can be a lot of shame. If we look at how our society views Lover there’s a lot of shame around what might be called ‘neediness’. If we’re in touch with our Lover we’re likely to feel ‘needy’, and it can be very helpful to find other words for that which carry less shame.

C.  Inconvenient being another one of those shaming words that’s used.

M.  Needy and inconvenient, yes! It’s wonderful to try and re-frame that as, for example, ‘I’m someone who likes to connect, who like to have attention. I’m someone who enjoys connection.’ Any other way that we can hold that is helpful. Similarly with expressing emotions, ‘I’m a very emotional woman,’ is, I think, a nice thing to say as opposed to ‘overemotional’ which is the way it might often be framed. But if we fear all of that and we fear being shamed for these sides of ourselves and the huge risks that such vulnerability can involve then we’ll just be very dry, very disconnected – from our bodies, from our feelings, from other people, maybe also from nature. Were forced to live much more in our Magician, thinking everything through and getting answers that way rather than feeling.

C.  I’m really aware that a lot of people access Lover through drink. Culturally that seems to be an ordained way to access emotions. Also many people seem to need to drink before they can make love because it numbs everything out doesn’t it? It numbs things out to a certain extent so that the pain doesn’t have to be so unbearable and some of the goodness of the Lover can be got to.

M.  Mmmm. I think alcohol does different things for different people.

C.  That’s true. That’s very true.

M.  It can help us let go of that responsible side. For me I would say my experience is it lets that responsible side of me have a bit of a rest, so I can more easily be in my Lover. Quite often for me that means more emotion can come out. So that can be not such a safe thing, but also quite a relief.

C.  Some people go straight to Warrior with Alcohol don’t they. If that’s what’s actually there. That’s the thing that they’re having to manage all the time then that’s going to be the first thing that comes out isn’t it?

M.  Yes, alcohol is likely to allow out whatever is being repressed. However it does seem to particularly give some relief for the Lover part of us and that makes me think of addictions, which lie in the Lover archetype. This would fit in the category of one of the imbalances that you were asking about earlier. Addictions can occur when we find we seem to need ‘too much’. Most of us have some kind of experience of feeling that one or more of our needs or wants is just ‘too much’. And if we have that sense then we might give up looking for that from other people – we lose hope of finding that in a healthy way. Whether it’s our need for connection, for talking, our need for expressing emotions, or for play, our need for being held, our need for sex. Maybe even our need for being in nature, or for being alone, or our need for being spiritual and connected to what’s above or below. If we have a sense that our needs are too much and not acceptable then we can try and look for them to be met in some way that’s not going to ‘bother’ people. Again the idea of being ‘inconvenient’ comes up. So if we find we get relief from alcohol we can look to form a connection with alcohol where that becomes something that we can depend on, that’s somewhere we can go to get our needs met, and we don’t have to make ourselves vulnerable to another person.

C.  Yes. That makes sense, yes.

M.  So we can form a dependency on something else, something non human and non natural…

C.  Ah, that’s why they call it a ‘dependency’. Gosh yes, I never really made that connection before – a dependency on a drug or on an addiction.

M.  Yes. And there can often be quite a sense of ritual around that as well. It’s something that’s very special and meaningful to the person. It’s interesting, when I work with different people, if we take alcohol as and example, it doesn’t seem to be the amount of alcohol that defines whether they’re addicted to it or not is the relationship to it. People who are addicted know they’re addicted because there’s something about the quality of that relationship. Of course the problem with that way of coping is that they’re getting something from the alcohol, but they’re not getting the thing that they really want. So the hole never gets filled – that need never really gets met. So that’s why it becomes an addiction, because then they go back to try to fill it again but it doesn’t really get met. And drugs and alcohol are only one example of this. People get addicted to just about anything. Work addiction is a really common one. Anything that we can rely on, in the way that we might not be able to rely on other people. So work addiction is quite sanctioned in this society which is why it’s quite a common one because we can get some of our needs met, some sense of having our needs met – maybe for connection or for intimacy or for a sense of approval from our work, but it doesn’t really hit the mark, and so we just keep going. When we really get our needs met we reach a point of satisfaction – we don’t need to keep on and on going back for more in that way.

C.  And what about co-dependency, because that’s a really subtle one isn’t it – because we do need other people.

M.  It’s a very very tricky one, yes. This whole Lover territory is very very tricky because we absolutely do need other people. Some forms of therapy or personal development work will be trying to encourage people to become self reliant and I absolutely tell people the opposite. I think it’s really important that we have support and that we look for support. That’s a natural part of our human nature. The problem though is that our outer world reflects our inner world. So if our inner world contains a picture – with my clients I work a lot with inner worlds and the kind of picture or the dynamic that’s going on in there – so if our inner world contains a picture of broken or dysfunctional connection, or cruel connection, then that’s what we’re likely to find in the outside world. So even if healthy connection is available we’re likely to not move towards it. There’s something about human nature where we attract what fits with the picture inside us. So I encourage people to work with their inner world and learn how to support and care for themselves – not so they can stop looking for it in the outside world, but so that they can successfully find it in the outside world.

C.  That’s really wise.

M.  So we do need to be able to do it for ourselves – and we need to be able to find it in the outside world too. If we’ve got co-dependency it’s a bit like the addiction thing, because we’re not finding what we really want in the other person. We’re not finding a genuine connection there, we’re trying to fill up the hole of not having that picture inside us of a healthy connection. So we keep going and connecting with the other person in a way that’s not a true Lover connection.

C.  And that other person will feel that and they will respond to that won’t they – I think that’s the thing too. If you’re for example demanding that somebody support you then they’re not going to want to return that and then that can be a self fulfilling prophesy of being rejected all the time.

M.  Yes. As you said it is really subtle, because we do need to be able to depend on others and yet there’s something different from being totally dependent on them. And that’s something that every person needs to explore in themselves. But if we have these broken connections in childhood then it’s certainly going to be harder for us to get to that place where we can allow other people the right to connect with us on their terms, rather than in the demanding way that you describe – and to trust that they will choose to do that if they’re left to make their own choices.

C.  There’s something about being connected to source I think, that means that you can connect to that through other people, but you’re not depending on specific people to be OK. Obviously there will be people that we have more connection with and we do need to be connected with them, but if there’s an overall feeling that there is connection – full stop – then it’s less anxious and less fraught when we’re looking for it or when we’re experiencing it, and therefore less problematic.

M.  I think that’s very true. Again it’s the picture that we carry around inside ourselves. If we believe that the world’s  a place full of people who would love to connect with us given the right opportunity then that’s what we’ll experience. So we need to try and get some of that in to our inner world and that’s the paradox. We kind of get it into our inner world by experiencing it – and how do we get to experience it? The groups that I run are one of the ways out of that paradox, because we get to be part of a group where we do connect with others very safely and deeply and have that experience. And when you’re doing a piece of work you can connect with others and be held if you wish and connect in a way that may never have happened before. Then you have that image imprinted inside you and you start to believe in a deeper way that you can find that in the outside world and to trust that that will be there. And if one person leaves or goes it will be there in other people.

C.  Yes. Which is why it’s important to have community in that way.

M.  There’s a phrase from the bible that has always struck me around this – when Jesus said ‘Whenever two or three are gathered in my name – there I’ll be.’ And although I’m not a Christian I spent a lot of time as a child singing in a Cathedral choir and I often think of that phrase when I meet in groups – the power of two or three gathered together, with a particular purpose to connect with something bigger, something higher, is very powerful. And then no one is asking anything, or demanding or depending on the other members of the group, but you’re all creating something together.

C.  I think we have this funny thing in my family where I’ll cry and my son will say ‘Are you crying because you’re happy or are you crying because you’re sad?’ because to him it looks exactly the same. Quite often he’ll say ‘Mummy you’re crying, why are you sad?’ and I’ll say ‘I’m not sad I’m happy.’ and he’ll say ‘But it looks like when you’re sad, it looks the same.’ I think that what can happen is when you are touched by connection somehow it reveals the sadness. Somehow it reveals the grief of not having been connected up to that point. Or it sort of melts something that was frozen or something like that. I remember doing a very joyous dance workshop once and I felt so connected and I felt really connected with my body and I felt really ecstatically joyful. Then there was just this one moment where it switched and I tipped in to the most… like an abyss of grief, and they didn’t know what to do with me in this workshop. I had to leave the room. And I didn’t go back to that because it seemed like there was no real holding for that grief. Things that you’ve already said in this interview have shone a bit of a light on that for me. Because it touches in to that same place when you do re-connect. It touches back to the place that’s been wanting it for so long.

M.  We have to grieve our losses before we move on. So if we’re just given what we want sometimes we can’t receive that, because we haven’t grieved simply for the fact that we haven’t had it – maybe not ever, or not for a long time. Because grief isn’t just about things that we’ve had and lost. Grief can be for things that we’ve never had too.

C.  Yes.

M.  So when we finally get something that we’ve never had we may finally be able to release that grief around never having had it. And if we can’t release that grief then we won’t really truly be able to receive and connect with the new experiences. So what your saying makes complete sense to me.

C.  There’s something interesting to me about grief in that my experience of it is that you can go very very deep in to it and it can be difficult to know the reality outside of it, or to trust that it has its own process and that’s ok, that it will come to an end at some point. Sometimes it can be like being in the middle of an ocean and there’s no land anywhere, and I think that requires a lot of holding.

M.  Yes. Grief can take a long time to process as we go down in to it and come out. Unfortunately people in our society generally can’t hold grief – they don’t know how to just ‘be with’ it. Grief in a way doesn’t take much holding, it just takes a presence and a being with, and someone who knows that place, because otherwise it’s going to trigger that place in them and they’ll be too frightened to be with it. So it’s a paradox, it almost requires nothing – it requires a presence, it requires that Lover presence. But so many people can’t do that ‘nothing’. They’d rather do something – get you out of the room….

C.  …tell you to breathe! I find that’s an incredible thing. Every therapists I’ve been to has told me to breathe when I’m in deep grief and I feel like saying ‘I don’t think anyone has ever died of forgetting to breathe – I’m going to breathe, don’t worry about me breathing – just shut up!’

M.  And all of that comes from fear, but the person won’t necessarily recognise that, but if they’ve got deep grief of their own that they haven’t processed it won’t be safe for them to be around your grief. So a lot of people cannot just sit with someone’s grief and trust the process like you say, and trust that they’ll come out of that depth. So if that process gets stopped and isn’t fully allowed then you’re not going to come completely and naturally out of that. 

C.  Yes. 

M.  But there’s another aspect to it which is to do with all of the emotions actually – by the way all of the strong emotions live in the Lover, Lover is all about emotional expression and expression of all of the emotions lives in the Lover – So another sign that the Lover is out of balance is when we have a lot of emotion – a lot of drama – that never reaches completion.

C.  Yeah – I think that’s what I was trying to get to taking about the grief. I was trying to get to that experience I’ve seen in myself and other people of endless cycling of something, and that makes you wonder.. OK what’s really going on here?

M.  Yes, and what seems to be happening there is that there’s a natural inbuilt wisdom that catharsis is going to help and is going to heal, but the catharsis that’s happening is not about the deep pain that really needs the healing, it’s about more of the surface pain. 

C.  Yes, because there’s been research now done with people who have been traumatised that if they speak about what’s happened too soon and they go in to the emotional world of it too soon it can actually exacerbate the traumatic effects of what they’ve experienced. So there’s this kind of understanding that the catharsis alone isn’t necessarily healing.

M.  You have to have a psychological strength that’s able to hold that trauma.

C.  Yes, otherwise you’re re-traumatised aren’t you? You’re going back to it and you’re still not feeling held.

M.  So ultimately you need to – this is why most people wait til adulthood, and most people come to trauma work in their 30s -70s rather than teens or twenties for example – because you need to have developed those other sides of yourself – work, relationship, home and so on, so that you have some sense of safety and strength and success in whatever form that looks like for you in the world – so that you can hold the trauma in the context of all of that and it doesn’t totally overwhelm you.

C.  Yes. In the type of therapy that I was studying the question that you always always asked at the beginning of the session was ‘What’s resourcing you right now?’  Very immediate things and more symbolic things as well. And Lover is access to that resource as well isn’t it? Or are all the archetypes actually a different sort of resource? As you were describing that you have to have built up those other resources to go deeply in to the Lover place. 

M.  Yes, I think it’s the other three that need to be really strengthened up so that you can hold that Lover trauma, and the bigger the trauma the more of that adult maturity and confidence and wisdom that you need in yourself to hold the trauma when it comes up. 

C.  Yes, so that actually leads me on to wondering about empathy and sympathy. Sometimes if I’m with somebody who’s grieving and crying I find that I have that passing through me too, so there will be tears and feelings passing through me, and I don’t know whether that’s resonating with my own wounds or whether I’m genuinely empathising with them and just resonating with them because I’m being compassionate or empathic.

M.  Before I answer that I’d just like to go back and complete my answer to the question you raised earlier, about experiencing a lot of grief and not being sure if it’s ever going to end. When I come across people who are really overwhelmed with emotion in that way – and it seems to go on and on and maybe repeat in lots of different situations and there’s lots of drama – my belief is this: That person is very upset, genuinely upset, but they’ve not quite got to the really deep pain, for the reasons that we discussed, because they may not be ready in themselves to hold that really deep pain. The drive towards the catharsis is there, but because they’re not hitting the thing that’s really painful for them then that’s not actually getting resolved and so it isn’t ever ‘done’. So I find in the work that I do that when we do grief work that’s going back to the real core of that grief then it does have its natural process and people come out of it quite naturally.

C.  My experience of that as well is that it doesn’t look as dramatic either. When I’m in that place of really coming down to facing the reality of the situation it can seem very quiet somehow, after all of the tears. There’s a very quiet place where something can change.

M.  Yes, a lot of the dramatic side of it can be around what is sometimes called ‘pushing the river’. Pushing for this change, trying to get this catharsis, but it’s not flowing in the way that emotion would naturally flow.

C.  Yes. the image that I just had when I was talking about that quiet place is like – if you’ve ever been scuba diving – and you’re in the top bit of the ocean and you’ve got the waves and the currents of the water and then you go down and you go down and then eventually there’s a new floor. You’re actually on the bottom of the ocean and it’s an incredibly still place and it’s like reaching, touching into something where you can’t go any deeper somehow. It’s interesting how our metaphors are all very watery around the Lover.

M.  Yes, that is the element that we tend to associate with Lover. Partly because of the feelings. The body is made of mostly water and the body holds our feelings, and you have tears when you cry, and the image of the river of life is good as well, and the flow of life. So the metaphor of water seems to work really well. And of course water is life giving – no life can exist without water, and the Lover is really the key archetype out of all of them. Nothing is stronger than our desire to connect and our need to love, and everything we do is somehow driven by our Lover…

C.  Yes, it’s like the conductor isn’t it? A liquid conductance between all of life somehow.

M.  Yes. Yes, and often we’ll find it has a lot of quiet power. So quite often if we inspect our greatest aspirations, our greatest achievements in life, we’ll find out that what’s underneath, what we’re really trying to do is give the world what our inner child wants and needs. We’re trying to provide for our Lover part and that’s what gives us the drive actually to do what we’re doing.

C.  That’s interesting… Yes, I can see that.

I wanted to come back to compassion and empathy and that question about resonating with someone else’s feelings. What is that in the world of the Lover? Is that mirroring? Is that true empathy? What is that – if you sit with someone who’s in pain and you feel that you’re feeling it with them? Or is it sympathy, which isn’t very healthy I don’t think.

M.  No I don’t think with sympathy you’re feeling what the other person’s feeling. I think the Lover is… let me put it like this – underneath the Lover is the concept, the idea, that we’re all connected. Everything’s connected, we’re all the same, we’re all intimately connected to everything else. And again that’s an idea that’s been backed up now by modern physics. So if we’re listening closely to someone else who’s sharing something emotional and we feel that same emotion, well we’re really feeling our own emotion, but then we’re all the same, we’re all connected – so who’s emotion is it anyway? However if we’ve got that emotion in shadow in us then we probably won’t be feeling it. So if you’re angry, and I’m in denial of my own anger, then I won’t be feeling your anger, instead I’ll have to have a reaction to it – I’ll have to demonise it or I’ll have to cut it off somehow – or I’ll have to make it ok, and placate you. All this rather than just being with you and going ‘My God – you’re angry Carolyn. Wow! What’s going on? There’s real anger here!’ And I might feel a bit of anger in myself as I’m saying that to kind of meet you. But I can only do that if I know my own anger. So a little like what I was talking abut with the grief, someone can’t be with you in grief unless they know their own grief. Because there’s a danger that theirs might be stimulated so they have to push it away. It’s the same with all the emotions. So if we’re feeling what another person is feeling – and this happens in the work I do a lot, I feel what the other person is talking about – it’s not that I’m feeling their sadness, it’s that I too have sadness. So when they feel sad and we are, like everyone is, deeply connected, then I feel my sadness in resonance with their sadness, and I understand them. I don’t know their sadness, but I know sadness, and I feel that inside myself.

C.  And what’s happening if say somebody’s sadness triggers your sadness and then it becomes uncontrollable – you know like it definitely is then yours, and it’s not in shadow but it’s like – it’s there! What’s that?

M.  I would imagine that that’s because, maybe, you’ve got some work to do with that particular emotion. Maybe something at the moment isn’t processed for you around sadness so you’re responding in that way. When sadness gets triggered in you it doesn’t get triggered in just a little kind of ‘soundbite’ way to support the other person, but it gets triggered in a big way and you’re being reminded that you have a lot of sadness that wants to flow that may have ben blocked for all sorts of reasons. So that would be my first guess around that. So of course as a therapists I could easily block people’s emotions, because if I’m not comfortable with that particular emotion in me they might not feel able to express it, they would unconsciously pick up on my inability to receive and be with that. So I work very hard to be able to be with my own emotions and be comfortable with my own emotions so that I can welcome whatever aspects of people show up in the room. So that their emotion will resonate with me but it won’t overwhelm me, and nor will I have to push it away.

C.  Could we maybe talk a bit more about the connection between the Lover and the other archetypes?

M.  Yes, I was just thinking about that.

C.  The thing that I just thought of was  – you know I think this whole thing about single use plastic has really touched into people’s Lover side. I think especially since the Attenborough films that were released in the winter where you actually saw first hand turtles eating plastic bags. I think that the real grief that people felt has triggered quite a lot of activism. I can see there the connection between the Lover and the Warrior and the Lover and the Sovereign. The Lover being that fuel, as you were just describing, that’s behind so much else. Yes and it’s so interesting because I think when I first came to do work with you I saw the Lover as an afterthought – the Lover’s a bit nice, a bit whimsical, in the corner, a bit of candy floss. But then when we did the group a couple of years ago I always wanted to sit in the Lover corner, and lots of us sat in the Lover corner eating chocolates while other people were doing their work on the carpet. So I thought Mmmm… culturally maybe it’s sidelined but actually that’s where we want to be, and it seems to inform so much else as you were saying.

M.  Well what comes to mind as you talk is body language. That’s a really good example of the power of the Lover. We may go to work, dress ourselves up all smart, do something very important, very responsible, choose our words very carefully and so on, but actually –  and I’m not sure of the exact statistics – but something like 80% of what’s coming across is in our body language. It’s our Lover speaking to that other person through our body. So we have Lover so much in denial that we tell ourselves we’re not having anything to do with it, but take two people in an office having an important business conversation – largely it’s their Lovers interacting with each other. However hardly anyone actually admits that or recognises that. Such Lover communication can have a huge power over the outcome of the conversation because the Lover really does drive everything. 

C.  And it really shows up when there’s incongruence doesn’t it? When somebody’s saying something or making promises and you’re not feeling it. There’s this kind of ‘Mmmmm I don’t know about that…’ you can get sidelined by their Magician, but something inside, which is the Lover, is saying ‘I’m not feeling satisfied by this conversation.’

I remember having a weekend with a lover where we talked about how we were going to get back together, and we had this whole conversation about that we were going to get back together again. He was living in London and I was living in Bristol and after the weekend we drove off our separate ways – and I just laughed – because I knew we hadn’t just got back together. We’d just made this negotiation with each other and I absolutely knew we weren’t going to see each other again. I just had to laugh and I thought ‘What on earth was that all about!’

M.  That’s a great example. if we haven’t integrated our Lover then what we do will be empty in just that way. I read a good book about leadership recently and it said to listen to the different bodily sensations, which is very enlightened for a book on leadership. It talked about listening to sexual feelings in the workplace and recognising those as creativity flowing through you, and it was really helpful to some of the people that these guys had worked with because so often in the work environment you can get a lot of different sexual relationships going on that can mess up people’s work and personal lives. This idea of recognising those sexual feelings as being to do with creativity, which is obviously the Lover, was really helpful. Then being able to work with that with the other person recognising that that’s what the feelings are about and they’re not actually about the need for the two of you to have a sexual relationship.

C.  Yes. That’s very interesting.

M.  I thought that was a good way of working with the Lover in the workplace rather than denying it.

C.  Yes. I find it really interesting as well about the other physical processes that go on. Sometimes my digestion just seems to come to a complete standstill and if I really engage with another person – for example I have quite an exciting conversation about something – I can feel everything kicking back in to place. I’ll feel hunger again, I’ll feel the desire to eat or to go to the loo or whatever it is. It feels like ‘Oh – my digestion’s just come back on line.’ There’s been lots of research in to the polyvagal nerve which is a central nerve in our nervous system which connects lots of things together in our body, but it also connects people with each other. When you’re connected with somebody else it’s really good for your nervous system and all sorts of processes, unconscious processes, in the body, come on line and kick in and work really well when you’re in connection. That can also be in connection with your environment as well as other people. So it’s the process of life as you keep saying – it’s this river of life.

M.  It’s fascinating how basic and essential the Lover is. Well documented evidence from orphanages shows that if babies don’t get held they can fail to thrive or die, even if all their other physical needs are met….

C.  And that’s because their biological functions start to go off line isn’t it. they actually start to break down.

M.  They actually physically need that holding for their physical well being, which is something that we in our society find very hard to recognise really, that something as ‘Lover’ as holding could be essential for life.

C.  I think often people only wake up to that when they’re dying or when they’re very ill. For example there may be somebody in the family who doesn’t have much connection to Lover, but when they’re coming to the end of their lives suddenly they value the fact that their children want to actually spend time with them and be in that Lover space with them, and they often realise right at the end that that really was the important thing in their life.

M.  People often recognise the really important things in their lives right at the end, yes. They often appreciate touch more then too and that kind of physical connection. I was thinking about touch when we talked about emotions earlier and I was thinking about the body work that I do. A big part of our training was to be aware of what we were feeling and to be able to be comfortable with that and allow that to flow – because when you’re touching another person’s body you can’t hide what’s going on for you. So if I’m not feeling great I’d much rather be doing individual or group Healing the Shadow work than body work  because the body work really challenges me to be with what’s going on. It’s not about hiding it it’s about being with it. If I’m trying to hide it I can’t connect with the other person. So I have to be with what I’m feeling and be reasonably comfortable with it in order to put my hands on that other person. I can’t hide anything when I’m touching them. They will (probably unconsciously) pick up on everything that’s going on in me. So literally what I’m giving them is my body and being and presence and there’s no way I can avoid or circumnavigate that, or use any of the other archetypes to protect from that Lover connection.

C.  Yes, that’s interesting. That makes me wonder as well about what we pick up from other people – images that we might suddenly have sparking in our minds when we’re connected to or thinking about another person – that’s quite ‘Lover’ isn’t it. It’s a way of receiving information that isn’t cognitive.

M.  Yes, I’m someone who very often knows that a person’s going to phone me before they phone  for example. Science still doesn’t have a great rational explanation for that although theoretical physics studies show it could be possible – instantaneous action at a distance is possible – but we still can’t explain exactly how. However if you talk to a particle physicist they’ll certainly say that it’s not impossible. We’re only just beginning to understand these kinds of connections. There are experiments that have been done with water showing that the shapes of the crystals change in response to the emotion that has been put in to the water by the people around them, which I find incredible. If you remember our bodies are mostly water then we’re having that impact on the water in other people’s bodies all the time via our emotions. So we really can’t hide from all of these connections, which is probably why we do do our best to minimise the Lover in this society – because it’s actually so powerful.

C.  And I think it is more associated with feminine power isn’t it? however it’s quite confusing at the moment how we’re holding the feminine in our culture. This whole gender issue is confusing for me at the moment. But I think that – in as much as a lot of the feminine is in shadow – if the Lover is in shadow as well it’s then difficult to distinguish between Lover and feminine at the moment. Obviously the masculine has its own Lover too…

M.  Well what I see is that it’s much more acceptable for women to be in this place. I was absolutely horrified when my son was little and he had a lovely backpack in the shape of a cuddly animal and I offered to lend it to one of his little friends. They were two years old, and this friend’s mother said he couldn’t have it, he couldn’t go to nursery with this ‘soppy’ cuddly toy on his back. I was really really shocked. there were quite a few times when I was bringing up my son that I realised that from such an early age boys aren’t allowed access to this snuggly, soft, pretty pink glittery part of life (my son used to love pink glittery clothes and shoes and things.) It’s an absolute no for most parents. So it’s no wonder if there are a lot of men who aren’t connected with their Lover because they’ve really been told ‘boys don’t cry’ for example.

C.  I know, my son’s already got that. He’s just turned seven and he’s been told at school that he’s not allowed to cry.

M.  It’s desperately sad that men tend to have this cut off in themselves. I don’t think that’s ‘natural’.

C.  No and in other cultures you can see that it’s very different, you know in other cultures you can see men holding hands, or men dressing much more expressively and all of the things we associate with the feminine here.

M.  Traditionally in some cultures, especially where the men were required to be quite Warrior in their day to day life, they used to have circles, grief circles, for men – where they could regularly get together and express their grief. They were provided with a safe place for that because it was recognised how important that Lover side was, and it was also recognised that in the roles they were being asked to play they couldn’t express grief in their daily lives, so that special place was provided where they could deliberately and consciously come together and share their grief.

C.  That’s really interesting because I feel that there’s a connection between Lover and shadow Warrior. That if grief isn’t recognised there is somehow a connection to violence there. I just watched a film called ‘Once were Warriors’ which was about a Maori family. The father in the family came from a family who had been slaves – there was a slave trade in that part of the world a while ago. So he had completely lost his Maori roots and he’d been outcast. So he had all this incredible power in him but he didn’t have any real guidance, and you can see that there was a huge amount of grief and beauty in this man but it wasn’t finding any acceptance anywhere and he became really violent. I could see a connection between the two. I think when grief is overwhelming and when there’s shame attached to it then the violence is going to come from there.

M.  A  lack of connection with the Lover will affect why the Warrior is doing what he or she is doing. Because the Lover, in some way, guides everything. So if the Warrior is protecting – then what are they protecting? They need to be in touch with the vulnerable person – maybe themselves or their inner child – or the group of people or the cause or whatever it is that they’re in service to. If their action is not driven by that kind of softness and real purpose then I can see that it could just become attacking and destructive, because you don’t know when the job is done, because you don’t know what you’re really doing and why. Ultimately it’s the Sovereign who’s leading and choosing her mission – as I said earlier really based on what the Lover wants, it’s being driven by the Lover – and then directing the Warrior from there.

C.  Right, that’s interesting. So I imagine the Lover whispering in the Sovereign’s ear, the Sovereign commanding the Warrior and the Magician witnessing the whole thing – is that right? Where does the Magician come in to that picture?

M.  Well the Magician brings the perspective and the different options. That kind of wisdom…

C.  The ancestors as well…

M.  Yes. The Magician brings a steadying influence in that way. And the Lover softens everything. The Lover gives everything purpose. I suppose if you think about the analogy of a family, archetypically, then the Father is going out to work – well why is he doing that? He’s doing it to bring home money so that he can provide a home for his child or children – so the Lover (the inner child) is driving that. If you get a man who’s going out to work and doesn’t know why he’s doing it then that’s the Warrior acting for no reason. He may be stockpiling loads of money, he may be very successful at work, but probably not feeling really deep happiness and fulfilment, because why is he doing that? The purpose is gone. I’m not saying the only purpose is to look after children, but that’s just an example using the analogy of a family. It may be that his work serves his inner child in some way and that is the purpose.

C.  Yes, equally the purpose could be having a lover couldn’t it – an actual lover?

M.  Yes. The purpose could be anything that delights and cares for his inner child. And of course, in the analogy of the family the father needs to remember to come home and actually be with his children, not just working constantly, otherwise he’s not reaping the rewards of his efforts and he’s forgetting the reason why he’s doing what he’s doing. So the Lover gives that deep reason and purpose (- whether it’s caring for your inner child, your connections with spirit, with nature, with creativity, or connecting with and caring for other people). The Lover is a really precious part of us.

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