Calling on Pop Culture Archetypes
Magical Girl as Archetype
Traits: transformation, friendship, hidden strength
The Magical Girl isn’t just any old archetype. She’s one of the most popular, most-invoked archetypes in Japanese comics and animation. She’s been built up, deconstructed and reimagined. Hell, I’m not even the first one to use the Magical Girl as a magical archetype. (Also, if you’re a fan of Sailor Moon in particular, I recommend checking out Serenitism, it was an interesting take on a spiritual path based on the mythology of Sailor Moon.)
If you’re feeling stuck in a mundane life, you may need to invoke the Magical Girl. She knows the value of the everyday because that’s her downtime, but what she seems is definitely not all she is.
The easiest way to invoke her is to get home from work or school, change into a completely different outfit, and go do something exciting that would surprise the people around you. If going out with your witchy friends is an option, you can do that. If you don’t have a lot of witchy friends, or the time and money to go out, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, though. You can go out by yourself or with another adventurous friend and try all kinds of things – a blacksmithing class, a burlesque show, skydiving lessons, or anything else you’ve always thought sounded like fun but worried was the kind of thing other people did.
Failing that, hold aloft your sword and yell “for the honor of Greyskull!” Or maybe that one only works in Etheria.
Magical Girl is also useful when you’re in an environment where you feel you have to be closeted about some aspect of yourself – your orientation, your religion, your gender, or even just your hobbies. Being in the closet, feeling like you have to pretend all the time? It’s fucking *hard*. Nobody does it because it’s fun. But sometimes you have to, for safety’s sake, keep your secrets secret. Magical Girl has experience with that. She knows how much it sucks, but can be necessary. She’ll help you hold your secrets in your transformation locket, kept close so you never have to forget who you are.
Calling On Mary Sue
Traits: Attention-grabbing, totally amazing, special snowflake
Ah, Mary Sue.
Sometimes spirit guides choose us, and sometimes we go to them. Working with the concept of Mary Sue in this way is very much the latter. If you’re going to seek out a guide who has the qualities you want to learn, why not start with someone who is, by definition, your idealized self?
Deb at Charmed Finishing School wrote:
But I realized that if I wanted to become That Girl, I needed to wear her clothes. I needed to become her. If I wanted to change my set point I needed to do as Gordon suggested and enchant my purse. I needed to step up.
And that’s the thing about Mary Sue. Writing a Mary Sue is a small act of rebellion and reclaiming. You’re taking back the idea that you don’t matter enough to be in your own stories. You’re announcing to the world that fuck yes, you *are* that awesome. You’re too good for Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes *and* Dean Winchester, and they better not forget it.
Mary Sue is not unlike your Higher Self. She’s what you want to be, and engaging her is a good step on the path to getting to that state of alignment with your own Mary Sue.
To start working with her (or Marty Stu), think about what you want to be. Describe yourself the way you want other people to see you. Go ahead and write it down like it’s the introduction to a fanfic if you want to; if not, just visualize it. What is she wearing? What is she carrying? What is she doing?
Now think about those traits and figure out how to get there. Start small – if your Mary Sue is a goth who goes out in full regalia, maybe you should start dressing more epically. If she has a business making magical objects, maybe you should take a class on woodworking or jewelrymaking. If she’s the kind of hedgewitch who uses bones and home-grown herbs to build her spells, consider getting some smaller potted herbs to start or learning to break down a corpse.
You can learn to be that person who’s always cooler than you. Don’t just aspire to be that awesome – see your inner Mary Sue, and then start taking steps to become her. Call on her when you need self-confidence, and ask her to help you see yourself as the hero(ine) of your own story.
Calling on Hobbes: Tiger-Fylgia of the Suburban Forests
Traits: energetic, hungry, prone to pounce
Van Gogh would’ve sold more than one painting if he’d put tigers in them.
The fylgia is sometimes described as an animal-self or a form of the soul, sometimes as a Norse version of a “spirit guide” or a fetch, sometimes as being akin to the daemon in His Dark Materials. It’s an animal-spirit that’s intimately linked to your soul, whichever is ultimately the best description. Traditionally, of course, they tend to be wild animals that can protect or guide you.
In the modern suburban world, as small children we are surrounded by images of animals – or I suppose I should say Animals, in the Narnian or Ozian fashion, as they are clearly sentient and often humanoid, talking and going about their days. Aside from a housecat or dog, and the occasional trip to the zoo, this is how many of us understand animals.
Is it any wonder, then, that the fylgia, the animal-projection of the self, would take the form of a talking animal for a suburban proto-practitioner?
Hobbes is the best example of this in modern media, in my opinion. As a tiger, he is running that line between civilization (tuna fish sandwiches, warm fireplaces on cold days) and wildness (mauling Calvin). The strip firmly refuses to address the relative reality of Hobbes’ existence, but it’s clear that only Calvin can see Hobbes as anything more than a stuffed tiger. So it goes with anyone’s interaction with spirit guides, though – like Calvin, we need to put our stock in our own perceptions and experiences. Discernment is important, (especially if you don’t want to get grounded for calling your mom a disgusting alien) but ultimately, nobody knows what you see but you.
That idea of the overlap between “reality” and “imagination” gave me a framework for understanding the astral when I was young, so in a way I guess I could call Hobbes one of my own spirit guides. It turns out you can learn a lot from a tiger.
Calling on Grover
Traits: enthusiastic, lovable, furry, blue
Grover has always been my favorite. He is a Muppet of Many Hats, who plays a variety of roles and can teach many lessons.
As the long-suffering waiter trying to please Mr. Johnson, he is an inspiration to the many people who work in customer service. He gets frustrated – he’s only human, er, monster, after all – but he never lets it get the better of him.
As Super Grover, he knows that there is nothing more important than helping people, even when you’re not entirely sure how to do it. The act of honestly trying is important, and even if you don’t succeed, the effort matters.
To know Grover is to know that there is always someone on your side, willing to help because helping is the thing you do. That’s a hell of a thing to know, when it’s dark and you’re alone, or you need company, or you’re just a little overwhelmed and you need a little help waiting tables or selling some slightly used letter Vs.
Super Grover always comes when you ask for help.
The Monster At The End of This Meditation
At night, after my spouse goes to bed, I sit with myself and seek to turn the page.
The bindings I have build for the Monster are numerous and varied. One day it is glue, another it is ropes, and yet another it is bricks. Each represents a lesson I took to heart about something that was wrong with me and needed to be hidden.
Each night I defy the fuzzy, blue guardian of my inner Monster. Each night he confronts me with fears and anxieties, with my scrupulosity, with what people would think if they knew how terrible I am.
Muppetwork is not very impressive, I don’t think. Other people are doing major devotional work, writing books, ascending to new heights of understanding, new spiritual towers. Me, I am going *down*. I am going *in*. I am slogging through my book, toward the inevitable finish. I just keep turning pages.
The monster at the end of the book is myself. Unlike Grover, I knew this before I started. My problem is not that my monster will eat you or me up. My problem is that freeing him is only the beginning.
I am no longer sure if my goal is to put on my wolf suit or remove my person suit. Perhaps it is both.
The monster is myself. The monster is free, and I am a nervous wreck. Now what?
Calling on the Crow
Traits: death, grief, memory
People once believed, that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens, that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow could bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.
If you had any kind of goth tendencies in the mid-to-late 90s, I’m sure you remember the Crow. I know for a fact I’m not the only one who felt drawn to the mythology in the book and the comic. It was one of the first rabbit holes I remember going down, research-wise, where there was no real answer. Of course there was no answer. It wasn’t that kind of mythology.
I nonetheless cobbled together an altar the way I did all my high school religion, with a couple of candles and a vague idea of how to cast a circle and call the corners. I didn’t need anything, not really. I didn’t ask for anything that first time, just wanted to see if it would work.
I did ask, later, when I was struggling with suicidal thoughts. He was one of several psychopomps I reached out to when I was trying to find my own path into death. He reminds me a little of the Morrigan, in the way he does what is bloody and necessary. He is cruel in his kindness; bringing someone back from the dead for revenge saves no one, and leaves his avatars shaking and screaming as they put the pieces together.
He is a god of empathy. He can use memories to comfort, or to hurt. I’ve never done it myself, but it might be possible to call on him to create justice by forcing another person to understand your point of view.
If you’re looking for associations, he makes it easy. Any crow figure can stand for him if you don’t want to buy a statue, his color is black, and if you want music, he has a soundtrack. All of the films were on Netflix last time I looked, but you really only need to watch the first one. He seems to prefer if you also make an ancestor offering to Brandon Lee.
Calling on the Doctor: the Companion Path
We each have to walk away from the TARDIS eventually.
The Doctor, and the Time Lords in general, are explicitly more than we can hope to aspire to. The language of the show itself describes the Doctor the way humanity generally speaks of gods, even though we get to see the Doctor at his weakest and most recognizable moments.
The Companions, on the other hand, are the people who walk beside the Doctor. Sometimes they are other Time Lords, but most often they are humans. Companion is the role we aspire to as viewers; we want to be swept up in something wonderful and beyond our control. We want the Doctor to show us the universe.
The companion path begins when the curtain is pulled back. It may well begin before the Doctor gets on the scene, but the Doctor is the doorway to understanding what you’re seeing. Formally accepting the path means passing through the threshold of the TARDIS.
You’re a time traveler now, Amy. Changes the way you see the universe... forever.
Being a companion isn’t easy. It means starting from scratch when it comes to your assumptions about how things work. It’s dangerous. But it changes your point of view on the universe and your place in it.
You learn to trust the Doctor, and then you learn that you can’t trust the Doctor. Because his priorities are not necessarily going to be yours, because he makes decisions for the wrong reasons, or just because it’s time for you to re-enter the flow of time... Whatever the reason, all companions eventually leave, but Doctor willing, they leave breathing and stronger than they were before.
That’s the secret, I suppose. The Doctor teaches you not to need the Doctor.