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Gods In Everyman by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Gods In Everyman (1989)

by Jean Shinoda Bolen

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Wow! Jungian psychology and Greek mythology in one clearly-written package. Couldn't put it down. ( )
  frankcezar | Jan 12, 2012 |
"Archetypes are a powerful tool for self-knowledge because they tap into the universal collective language we all share. Learning to become more aware of your own archetypes can help you see yourself, the bigger picture and is a good place to start creating solutions for yourself and others. This book is for men." ( )
  PamelaWells | Mar 16, 2010 |
I have a shelf of books that I have labeled “personal mythology.” By that I mean, books that apply insights from ancient mythology and folklore to today, to the psychology of individuals. Several of them let you classify yourself as to type. For example, there are the series by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette dealing with the warrior, king, lover, and magician (or shaman) within, those mature masculine archetypes. Then there are titles like these: The Maiden King by Robert Bly and Marion Woodman; Men and the Water of Life by Michael Meade; Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa P. Estés; The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By by Carol Pearson; and the like.

Probably my favorite among these books, however, is Gods in Everyman (Harper, 1988) by the psychiatrist, Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen. (Her previous books had been The Tao of Psychology and Goddesses in Everywoman, but the one I discovered first turned out to be the most meaningful one to me.) Using the pantheon of Greek gods, she explores the relationships between fathers and sons and identifies eight male types still prominent in human affairs today. Perhaps her most important chapter, of course, is the one entitled “Finding our Myths—Remembering Ourselves.” But before she arrives at that point, she works up the meanings of each of the eight gods. There are the three father archetypes: Zeus, god of the sky, who represents the realm of will and power; Poseidon, god of the sea, the realm of emotion and instinct; and Hades, god of the underworld, realm of the soul and the unconscious. Of course, there is a bit of all three in all men, especially those of us who become fathers ourselves and take on leadership or managerial roles.

But I must admit that it’s what she calls the “generation of the sons” that first captured my attention. Of course, I had always wanted to be an Apollo-type, god of the sun, hero and favorite son. I knew from early on that I was not cut out for that nor to be an Ares, god of war, that is a warrior, dancer, and womanizer. My father himself, I recognized, had been an Hephaestes, god of the forge, a craftsman, inventor, and loner, but he had always been frustrated in achieving fulfillment of his inner nature. I had inherited none of those genes at all. I knew that I might be a Hermes, the messenger god. In fact, I had done my best to become a communicator and traveler, even a trickster if the truth be known. But to my shock (and, at first, to my dismay), I discovered that in Dr. Bolen’s schemata, I fit better the Dionysus role, god of wine and revelry—the mystic, lover, wanderer.

The author devotes a chapter to each god/type. First, she tells the Olympian’s story; then she explores his archetypal patterns. Then she defines the male type associated with the god, from his early years and parents through adolescence and young adulthood, including such topics as work, relationships with women and with other men, sexuality, marriage, and fatherhood. She proceeds through the middle years and old age, always relating the type to stories of the Greek god. Finally, she concludes with psychological difficulties associated with the type and suggests ways for him to grow. For example, the Zeus character may be subject to a “might makes right mentality,” may fear the usurper, may maintain an emotional distance from others, and even become subject to images of grandiosity (“the emperor’s new clothes”).

She always develops interesting ways for the god/type to grow. For the Zeus man, for example, she says it is often a heart attack that fells him. “To save his life he needs to come down from the summit . . . . This man may finally get the message that [a heart condition] isn’t just a physical problem, but a physical expression of an emotional problem.” Even more interesting, she concludes the Zeus chapter with the unhealed wound of the Grail legend. “As long as his wound remains unhealed his kingdom will stay a wasteland.”

OK, OK, you say, this may all be too pat. On one level, I think of it as a kind of parlor game, not unlike the daily horoscope. You can read yourself into any one of the god types. But I recommend the book, especially to teachers and family men, for two reasons: it gives a fascinating new way to study and understand those old familiar stories we tell our children, and introduces new stories that we may not have heard before. Furthermore, it provides an engaging way to think about one’s own nature and one’s relations with others. I’ve learned to enjoy being a Bacchus; I’ve even learned to see his positive side and, more or less. control his weaknesses. And I was fortunate enough to marry a Demeter, but that’s another story. (Demeters raise Venus and Athena both to a new level! To me, Demeter is the ideal woman, but that’s a Bacchus speaking, you understand.)

By the way, I read placemats in Chinese restaurants too. I’m a rat. Rats do well to marry dragons. But Dr. Bolen’s books are a good bit more scientific than you might guess from my description. I rank her work well above the popular Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. At least for my own personal mythology. ( )
  bfrank | Jul 4, 2007 |
Eye opener. ( )
  sunny | Apr 19, 2006 |
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This book is about the gods in Everyman, the innate patterns—or archetypes—that lie deep within the psyche, shaping men from within.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060972807, Paperback)

In this challenging and enlightening companion volume to the bestselling Goddesses in Everywoman, Jean Shinoda Bolen turns her attention to the powerful inner patterns--or archetypes--that shape men's personalities, careers, and personal relationships. Viewing these archtypes as the inner counterparts of the outer world of cultural stereotypes, she demonstrates how men an women can gain an nvaluable sense of wholeness and integration when what they do is consistent with who they are. Dr. Bolen introduces these patterns in the guise of eight archetypal gods, or personality types, with whom the reader will identify. From the authoritarian power-seeking gods (Zeus, Poseidon) to the gods of creativity (Apollo, Hephaestus) to the sensual Dionysus, Dr. Bolen shows men how to identify their ruling gods, how to decide which to cultivate and which to overcome, and how to tap thepwer of these enduring archetypes in order to enrich and strengthen their lives. She also stresses the importance of understanding which gods you are attracted to and which are compatible with your expectations, uncovers the origins of the often-difficult father-son relationship, and explores society's deep conflict between nurturing behavior and the need to foster masculinity.

In Gods in Everyman Dr. Bolen presents us with a compassionate and lucid male psychology that will help all men and women to better understand themselves and their relationships with their fathers, their sons, their brothers, and their lovers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:36 -0400)

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