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Life Arts    H4'ed 1/21/10

Avatar: The Archetypal Message Is "Get Back In Your Body!"

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There's been so much written about Avatar since its release last month that hits the target but misses the bulls-eye. Right wing conservatives fear it is a call to eco-terrorism, the Vatican is afraid that it calls for a return to Paganism and Nature worship, minority writers see it as another example of white supremacy. Certainly many see it as anti-corporate and anti-military, and even more people see it as a call to defend the environment. So many perspectives and all right in their own way.

So let's look at some of what's being written before I get to the archetypal message of the movie.

Josh Schrei so aptly notes in his article (Avatar and the Vocabulary of Evildoers -- Why James Cameron's Script Isn't as Bad as you Think - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-schrei/avatar-and-the-vocabulary_b_413853.html) the dialogue in Avatar is very true to life. Yes, corporate leaders think and say very much the same things as we hear in the movie. The truth is, corporations and their leaders are the real eco-terrorists, not the indigenous peoples who are trying to stop them. Corporate leaders are the savages who haven't developed a moral compass about life. And so they twist reality to re-make themselves into the forces of good and life. It's the same delusional hypocrisy we've been hearing from our leaders now for the past decade. C.S. Lewis brilliantly portrayed this mind-boggling nonsense in his book (from the 50s) "That Hideous Strength".

Then we have the Vatican dissing the movie. Vatican Radio said it "cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium" Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship." Well, Nature is full of Divine Spirit, and while we might never be able to worship it as our ancestors did, we can very well understand that God/dess speaks to us through our natural world. I personally can attest to the healing power of honoring the Spirit in Nature, attuning to the seasonal changes, feeling how the Anima Mundi or World Soul is how the Divine Spirit manifests in all of life, not just humanity.

This is what good stories do! They make us think; they bring up emotions; they touch on our beliefs. So even without the Golden Globe to tell us this was the best story going this year, we all know that it is, because Avatar has affected hundreds of millions of people around the world. It has become one of our new collective myths.

Avatar's appeal is not just visual, it is visceral. Like the ancient myths, it gives form to new archetypal energies, new ways to see ourselves as a people. Woe to the corporations, because it speaks to people's hearts and makes us think about our lives and about our world. How it speaks to us and what we hear is filtered through what we believe and the emotions those beliefs bring up for us. This is what a good story does, makes us think about what we're feeling and valuing and hopefully teaching us to see a bigger picture.

So I'd like to take you on a Jungian exploration of the film so you can see the archetypal depth of meaning there, and know why so many people are drawn to the story.

Carl Jung's work with fairy tales indicates that they are the bare bones of archetypal stories, and symbolic of an archetype's energies and purpose. Archetypes are known through their symbols and the stories those symbols create - such as myths, and later when Christianity banned the old myths, the fairy tales they became, passed on through the generations, stories about how to deal with life.

The beginning of a fairy tale always sets up the initial situation in life: A king and queen long for a child indicates that the collective culture (the king and queen) cannot produce new life. Without new life and energy, a culture dies. The beginning of the story tells us where the problem or the wound is.

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Cathy Pagano is a spiritual advisor and Jungian psychotherapist, storyteller, author and teacher. She is the author of a book on the return of the Goddess, "Wisdom's Daughters: How Women Can Change the World". Cathy trained at the C. (more...)

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