Dance with the Destroyer Archetype
:Discovering the Treasure of Midlife Re-evaluation
* A Weekend Workshop
We may have developed many ways to become anesthetised from our life experiences but loss, fear, pain and malaise force us into an initiation. During our 20‘s, our seeking is active; we feel like we choose it. But our midlife initiation, under the reign of the Destroyer archetype, chooses us.
During the 1960‘s, psychologist Elliot Jaques coined the term "midlife crisis," to capture a period when adults reckon with their own mortality and their remaining years of productive life. Others term it as menopause, while Nietzsche described it as the “noontide” of life. But it is far from a modern phenomenon.
In the 14th-century Dante wrote Inferno as an allegory for a midlife crisis. It begins with the words, “In the middle of the journey of my life, I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was wholly lost.” Mystics have named this experience the Dark Night of the Soul.
Irrespective of the term, it refers to the central period of a person's life and their great crossroads. Gail Sheehy suggests that it begins at age 35, at the beginning of what she calls one’s Deadline Decade.
Eckhart Tolle once said, “For most people, their only spiritual teacher is their suffering.” Hence the Destroyer archetype bombarding us at midlife with all manner of difficulties in the hopes that we might comprehensively re-evaluate our lives.
- Exhaustion, boredom, or discontentment with life or with a lifestyle (including people and things) that previously provided fulfillment
- Feeling restless and wanting to do something completely different
- Greatly decreased ambition
- Self-questioning; questioning decisions made years earlier and the meaning of life
- Confusion about who you are or where your life is going
- Irritability and unexpected anger
- Persistent sadness
- Increase in drug or alcohol use, overeating and other compulsions
The psychologist Carl Jung illuminated the purpose of midlife change (at least for those in the West who are more materially oriented) when he wrote the following:
Are there colleges for forty-year-olds which prepare us for our coming life and its demands, as ordinary colleges introduce our young people to a knowledge of the world and of life? No, there are none. Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning – for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.
Ancient societies and cultures clearly demarcate the periods of life. In Hinduism, they recognise life as having four distinct stages: student, householder, seeker and renunciate.
The student undertakes the formal learning required to live in the material world. The householder establishes and maintains a family, and works to create enough wealth to meet the family's material needs. Then, at midlife, comes the stage of the seeker. The seeker, like the student, is concerned with learning, though this time the learning relates not to the outer, material world, but to the inner world. And, like the housekeeper, the seeker is concerned with growth: growth, however, not in material wealth, but in wisdom and understanding.
The final stage is that of the renunciate who relinquishes focus on possessions and inconsequential things in preparation for dying. In Western societies, the primal drive for midlife reorientation is not formally acknowledged, let alone accommodated. But it is there, all right.
In the wake of contemporary challenges, we now have to ask what happens when an entire society evades the natural growth process?
In his work, Nature and the Human Soul, Bill Plotkin suggests that many of the major societal issues we are faced with stem from our profound sense of disconnection:
Compounding the ecological crisis are decaying economies, ethnic and class conflict, and worldwide warfare. Entwined with, and perhaps underlying, these devastations are epidemic failures in individual human development. True adulthood, or psychological maturity, has become an uncommon achievement in Western and Westernized societies, and genuine elderhood nearly nonexistent. Interwoven with arrested personal development, and perhaps inseparable from it, our everyday lives have drifted vast distances from our species' original intimacy with the natural world and from our own uniquely individual natures, our souls.
But if we know where to look, we uncover great opportunities spawned by these crises. All over the world, we are witnessing a collective human response to exigency, an immensely creative renewal, addressing all dimensions of human activity on Earth - from the ecological, political, and economic to the educational and spiritual.
Chaos to Clarity
While deeply unsettling and painful in the midst of it, ultimately the Destroyer archetype levels us in order to clear away that which no longer serves us. Upon understanding it and embracing what the influence has to teach us we become well placed to join the creative renewal that is taking place in the culture.
“Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.
From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.”
This workshop is for those who are in the midst of - or preparing for - or have navigated and wish to guide the emerging generation into - a very different second half of life. It is for those who want to explore what this means, step into it more consciously, and embrace what it has to offer.
9.20 – 10.45 SESSION 1 Everything Must Go – Exploring the Destroyer Archetype and why we Experience the Reign of Chaos known as Midlife Crisis
10.45 – 11.15 Morning tea
11.15 – 12.45 SESSION 2: Fertility which Follows Volcanic Eruption - Midlife Re-evaluation, the yearning for Authenticity and Potential for Self-Actualisation
12.45 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 3.00 SESSION 3: The Algebra of Life - Insights from the Language of Astrology which Relate to Upheaval, Midlife U-Turns, Clearings and Awakening
3.00 – 3.30 Afternoon tea
3:30 - 4.15 SESSION 4: The Power of Knowing, Owning and Telling our Stories - Recognising the Shadow in Recurring Scripts and Practical Tips on Storytelling
4.15 – 6.00 SESSION 5: Preparing a Story to Share Relating to One's Experience with the Destroyer - An Individual Task where Participants Prepare a Life Event Story to Share in the Evening.
7.00pm Sacred Space (Yurt Area) - Participants Share their Personal Stories and Learnings with the Group
8.00 Breakfast (for those staying on site)
9.30 – 10.45 SESSION 1 Insights from other Esoteric & Psychological Modalities - Numerology, Tarot and the Enneagrams Relationship to Midlife Crisis and the Destroyer
10.45 – 11.15 Morning tea
11.15 – 12.45 SESSION 2: Integration: Bringing it all Together - Practical Implications for One's Career, Calling, Relationships, Finances and Connection to Self
12.45 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 2.15 SESSION 3: Areas of Attention - An Individual Task Where Participants Journal About Which Areas of Life the Destroyer is Impacting and What Change Needs to Occur
2.15 – 3.00 SESSION 4: Small Group Sharing - Opportunity to Express and Discuss the Archetypes Current Influence and One's Challenges/Successes in Living More Aligned with their Values and Deeper Passions
3.00 – 3.30 Afternoon tea
3:30 - 4:00 SESSION 5: Small Group Sharing Continued
4:00 - 5:00 SESSION 6: Sacred Space (Yurt Area) - Whole Group Discussion
Maximum of 8 Participants
Location: Katoomba, Blue Mountains NSW
Cost: $400.00 includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea on both days and Saturday night dinner. $450 for those wanting accommodation Saturday night and breakfast Sunday morning.