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Article Two: United States Elections 2016: Getting the Right Perspective


People around the world, and Americans are no exception, often relate to their elected representatives or their monarch as a parent. This is a purely subconscious process meaning that most people have no idea how emotionally they are responding to their leaders. They like to think they are being purely rational in their choices and decisions.  In the United States, the president has always been a daddy figure, a father figure that many project their great hopes onto. Deep down they believe that the great father will fix everything, protect them from all harm, and make everything all right just as a child hopes for this from their natural father. 

This year for the first time a mommy figure was introduced but people are not used to thinking of a mommy figure as a daddy figure. This requires a big psychological shift that some people are prepared to make but obviously many are not. They say, where is my daddy. I want my daddy. So this year there was a choice between a daddy and a mommy/daddy. The nation was split but in the end people decided that they weren’t quite ready for the mommy. Maybe later. Not quite yet, especially when the daddy figure advertised himself as a super daddy who would restore greatness to the land. In addition there were several problems with the mommy figure. She was not seen as trustworthy by many, in other words not a good mommy, perhaps even a bad mommy in some folks opinion and that made it very difficult for the country to enthusiastically and overwhelmingly select a woman for the very first time, the first good MOMMY president. Granted she got the popular vote by close to two million votes but in this toxic atmosphere it had to be overwhelming, a complete landslide, and it wasn’t, so with the help of a great deal of manipulation including gerrymandering, vote suppression, fake news, Russian hacking, and FBI games, the patriarchy prevailed as it mostly has the last couple thousand years.

Now let’s shift our perspective a bit to the ancient shamanic notions of the archetypal masculine and feminine and how they need to be balanced for the greatest power and well being. This is a huge topic that I can only touch on here but it is important in light of what is happening in the United States and in the world.  After studying indigenous beliefs and myths, the late Carl Jung popularized the ancient understanding of the marriage of the masculine energies and the feminine energies in his books and classes. The notion is that each archetype has to come to terms with its polarity and this is done in an archetypal way through the hero’s journey. The idealistic innocent young man must set off to find himself, be tested and initiated by life, and come back the wise seer. Likewise the young maiden has a similar task, starting out as the young innocent idealistic girl who must go out into the world and similarly be tested and initiated through challenges and obstacles to eventually become the wise crone. Through this process they become more alike and can then engage in the alchemical marriage of the masculine and feminine, a cooperative and balanced relationship that is mutually productive and constructive.

Now there are two versions of each youth archetypes and two versions of each of the elder archetypes because they each have both positive and negative poles. The young man may be brave and idealistic and set off to right the wrongs of the world or he may be spoiled, narcissistic, and even a bully who over rates himself and thinks he is God’s gift to the human race. The young maiden may be innocent, beautiful, kind and generous like for example snow white or she might be a spoiled brat, a bimbo obsessed with her appearance and attempting to manipulate men through her sexual wiles like perhaps snow white’s stepsisters. In the case of the elders the magician or seer may be a powerful and wise older man, a kind and generous magician type, yet one who does not put up with any crap. On the other hand he may have become contaminated by the lust for power and gone to the dark side like Darth Vader, Sauron, or Lord Voldemort. The crone may be a powerful, wise older woman who is generous, kind, and puts up with no crap either. On the other hand, she may have become corrupted by power or ambition, compromised her ideals and gone to the other side. She may have become an ice queen, a cold hearted destructive force of evil, like Morgana, Maleficent, or the Wicked Witch of the West; terrifying to deal with.

Each human being has the task of exploring all aspects of these eight possibilities in their long journey to ultimate enlightenment and awakening. They may act out the part or have to deal with someone who is in that role. As we look at the recent presidential candidates, archetypally one man and one woman, we can readily see, despite the many projections on them, that neither has arrived at the ultimate state of wisdom, just as most of the human race has not. That is why we are still here. We can point to them and say, What a crook! What an idiot! What a liar! However we might as well just point to ourselves and say the same thing. We are all idiots a good deal of the time.

Rather than find any kind of alchemical union with one another, the candidates squared off as mortal enemies and fought bitterly to destroy the other and win. They symbolically represent the state of affairs in our culture, the war of the sexes, the lack of respect, the lack of cooperation that exists between them at large. They also represent the lack of integration within each one of us. They symbolize the masculine and feminine wars within us that create havoc with our happiness and well-being. Their battle then is our battle, both within our psyches and without us in our cultures and societies.

In the case of Hillary, she is a woman struggling with trying to be in the positive pole of the crone but slipping into the negative pole of the crone in the public’s estimation. In the case of Donald Trump he is a man struggling with trying to be in the positive pole of the young knight in shining armor but sliding too often to the negative pole described above.   This is a rather classic meeting between the young knight and the Crone. Only when both are in their positive poles and both can respect the other can there be an archetypal resolution and both gain in mastery,

Ultimately neither can win over the other nor should they. This passion play shows us where we are as a collective and how much work there is yet to do to truly mature into a great society. Perhaps America has never been truly as great as is possible because we have never solved this problem so far.  Is a great America about drilling for resources, about legitimizing a caste system both racially and economically, about thumbing our noses at the rest of the world, having a massive military, or having all powerful dominant corporations? Perhaps a truly great America is about maturing into a population of people whose masculine and feminine sides are developed, who are respectful of one another, and who are cooperative and can love one another as a people?

As humans we all have flaws to work on and to correct. Our leaders are the same. They have not completed the hero’s journey for it is a long one.  They mirror where we are. They will behave or misbehave to the extent that we the people have unfinished business within ourselves. If we think of this nation as a person then within this person are powerful emotions and the voices of many sub-personalities clamoring for attention. Some are the voices of small children: “Me first. I hate you. Look at me mommy and daddy. I want some candy,” and so on. Some are the voices of the ambitious older child: “Give the power to me. Trust me. I want all the resources. I win, you lose. I can do no wrong. My daddy can beat up your daddy. I am always right.”  Some are the voices of the young adult: “I am sorry. Can I help you. Everyone has something to say. We can’t leave anyone behind. People are more important than products and the bottom line.” And some are the voices of adults: “Love your brother and sister. Listen first before speaking. Do not tolerate that which is not equally beneficial to all. There is power in diversity. We can learn from our brothers and sisters. I disagree and I respect your right to hold a different point of view.”

All these voices are clamoring to be heard in a typical human being. Some voices are weak and some are strong. As we grow we strengthen some voices over others that we allow to recede into the background. Our country needs to grow in the same way. A healthy person is one who has a good moderator within to manage the many voices. Our leaders need to similarly be good moderators for a healthy country with its many voices.

The Hero’s Journey


Joseph Campbell introduced us to the powerful motif of the Hero’s Journey that has been adopted by the film industry with great success. I have spoken before about how human beings in this mythical series of lifetimes, playing our roles as characters in a virtual reality setting called Earth, is exactly like a movie following the theme of the Hero’s Journey. We do this individually and collectively. The elections just held are a part of the script we have collectively written for this part of our movie. All of us are playing our roles perfectly. For some the heroine was crushed and tears flow and for others there is back slapping all around and the pop of champagne corks.  If you are one who is aghast at the outcome of the elections then this is one of the proverbial “All is lost” moments when every possibility seems cut off and everything is lost, the house, the senate, the presidency, the supreme court, the environment, human rights, everything. There is a funeral march playing in the background as everyone contemplates where this is all headed. Even those who thought they won everything may suddenly feel they lost as their candidate begins to renege on campaign promises and so on.

As we all know, the movie is not exciting unless there is one or more “All is lost” moments. We have to come to the very edge of losing everything just like a gambler at the tables. The girl doesn’t get the guy or vice versa. The hero is defeated handily and is about to be killed or maybe has been killed already, we don’t yet know. The aliens are about to destroy the Earth but then at the last moment the hero saves the earth. Now, that is a movie, truly exciting. So when the time comes for the movie to end, there is great satisfaction. Instead of all is lost, everything is won. We just can’t have victory so easily and so soon now, can we?  This movie we are acting in is a longer one like the classic “Gone With the Wind,” not a modern day hour and twenty minute movie. We need to see it through to the end and we can’t just walk out.

Those are the rules of the game we are playing, our rules that we forgot we made when we started this game. We also forgot that everything in this virtual reality movie is expendable because they are all props: Bodies, trees, minerals, plants, cars, houses, buildings, and so on. Look at the destruction of World Wars I and II or any carnage for that matter. This world has seen any number of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, and volcanic explosions. Scary? Yes! Destructive to the props? Yes! Constructive for humans by bringing them back together? Yes. For sure it can feel horrible for a while but then the world recovers. Nature is resilient.  We are resilient. We die, we forget, and we come back. We die, forget again, and come back, over and over and over. It is all happening right this second but we are experiencing it in linear time. When we go to the multiplex cinema our movie may have ended but in the screening next door the middle of the same movie is playing complete with explosions and dramatic music and we think, “Oh that is the part where the Aliens are taking over. This movie we are in is actually over but it seems to be playing out detail by detail. One day there will be no planet earth and it will not be missed. Prisoners get attached to their cells. We get attached to our world. In some ways they are not so different.

You may say: “Well this time is different because the viability of the earth hangs in the balance. All could be lost.” However in the biggest picture of all, it is never like that. If we are stupid enough to destroy our own nest, the game will continue on another planet in another parallel, and another, and another one until the game is complete.  Yes, there is no problem because there are endless parallels to work with.

Remember the shamanic injunction: Never believe in appearances. When it seems all is lost, it never is. That is because we are not playing a losing game here. What would be the point? We are playing to win however we have to remember what it means to win and revise our perspective. Ultimately this is an adult game, not a child’s game. We are not here to play king of the mountain nor are we here to have everyone praise us. We are here to remember who we actually are, a part of spirit. When we finally remember, we are enlightened.

Mind you I dearly love this planet and never want to see any harm done to it or its people. I am not saying that destruction is acceptable. What I am saying is that destruction is inevitable and part of the process of creation. There are deeper forces and I know for a fact that this planet and everything on it is temporary, is not permanent. One day each one of us will physically die without exception and one day this planet will come to its natural end. Those are the facts and yet we can enjoy it all while it lasts. On the other hand each one of us has an essence that is immortal.

In this series of articles I am purposely starting with the big picture context and slowly zeroing in on the more local drama and the details about certain personality types that may or may not be in positions of power soon. That is coming.  If you continue to find these articles helpful then read the next installment in about a week.

José Stevens PhD is an international lecturer, corporate team builder and organizational coach, consultant and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker and author of more than twenty books and numerous articles, he is also co-editor for A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism and a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. He is the founder, with his wife Lena, of the Power Path School of Shamanism and The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in indigenous cultures. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years.


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