Sacred Center & Four Foundational Archetypes

C. Michael Smith, Ph.D.

Restoration of The Creative Sacred Center (Axis Mundi)
What is it that drives the human quest for “something more”? What fuels our longing to “reach beyond,” our drive for excellence, as well as our tendency to be vulnerable to a myriad of addictions? Jungian  psychology leads us to ground the origin of these longings in the fiery energies of the creative and sacred Center, which Jung called the Self-Archetype, others call the GodSelf or Entelechy Self at the Center of the human personality, and of the world. This Center of being not only creates us, but Calls to us, beckons to us, lures us, to develop and express our creativity and generatively in life.


Eliade’s comparative phenomenology of patterns in world religions and archaic societies has revealed the prestige of the creative sacred center in world mythologies, especially myths of creation (cosmogonies). The world comes to birth from the center and spreads out geographically, and in the individual psyche we are born from the center and develop in four quadrants, which we call the four archetypes of full selfhood development. This is not just any center, it is The Center from which creation emerges, and from which you are called to live your full expression of selfhood. We each yearn to be close to The Center, aligned by it, inspired and energized by it. Being in close regular relationship to the Center keeps us refreshed, alive, inspired, and powered up by creativity and life energy. Being distant from The Center makes the world and energies run down, ultimately fragmenting us in the chaos which lies being the central manifestation of the Sacred as our axis mundi (center of the world).


When we are too far away from this creative sacred Center, we lose Axis Mundi 1the power of unfold, develop, and achieve full selfhood, what Jung called wholeness. All kinds of dragons and little devils threaten to take hold of us and dissolve whatever structure we may have achieved. This is when we need to let go of our run down and fragmenting world, return to or relocate the creative sacred Center, undergo a death/rebirth, or a renewal through some form of sacred ceremony, or technique of the sacred. This activity of finding or returning to The Center, accessing it appropriately and regulating it has been the special province of the shamans. And so the first foundational archetype we take up can be the Lover Within us which draws us to what we most deeply desire to become. Alternatively, we may begin with the Shaman Within us, which has the potentials and capacities to help us open the heart and navigate by it, to our sacred Center. Learning what it is and can do for you, and for others, is crucial, and properly activating and regulating it is just as important. It will bring you back to The Center, and from there all four foundational archetypes can spread out and develop from The Center, if you decide to engage the process. In this work we engage various techniques of the sacred, ranging from active imagination and shamanic journeys, to guided meditations, to dream work, prayer, sacred ceremonies, and so on, designed to help you properly activate and regulate these archetypal powers, as you develop in all four foundational archetypes. In fact developing any foundational Archetype towards its maturity of expression tends to bring in the other Foundational Archetypes. without the Lover, the Shaman would be detached and perhaps manipulative. Without the Warrior Within (focus energy and determination), the Shaman would lack the needed attention to safe boundaries, due ritual process, and energetic focus and high service. The Warrior without the Lover is silly too aggressive and in compassionate, and without the Shaman lacks imagination, and without the Elder Within lacks the larger mission towards which his or her focused aggression should be in disciplined service (the Mission).  In walking your heart-path and bringing your gifts to the world, it gives you the courage, strength, focus, and protection needed. The Elder, like the good King and Queen of Folklore, reaps the harvest of the Warrior, Lover, and Shaman in developing mature forms of generatively and care, for the kingdom (inner and outer world).

The Compass Within (NGS)
The Heart compass is always attuned to the Source, axis mundi or deep center of the psyche, its ground plan for Your life Calling and stock-photo-old-compass-on-vintage-map-128223317individual unique patter that wants to be embodied along with the fullness of Self-development and maturation, (The Archetype of You). It draws on the Lover for attraction, passion, fire, and on the Shaman for exploring and expanding in imagination, and on the Warrior for manifesting it with focus, action, and protection until the mission is accomplished. The practice of using and following the heart’s navigational system (NGS) is a regulated use of the energy of the The Center, in modulated bliss following ways, rather than overwhelming or disorganizing upsurge of numinous energy. This inner Compass is largely somatic and feeling based, and can be located in the middle of the body. It aligns with the Center, and expressions the Archetype of You as you walk your heart-path. I teach this important navigational skill set in my consultations and workshops, along with the Four Acts of Power, by which you manifest your creative work and gifts.

The Four Acts of Power
The Issues of Invitations and Life-Vision is the Sacred King, the NGS is ever-attuned to the vision for embodying your essence in life (Archetype of You). It tracks invitations of the Archetype of You and signals like radar, as it also draws on the knowing and imagination of the Shaman Within, and employees Warrior energy to manifest or enact the Invitation, and to protect the whole creative process of manifesting an invitation. (For more information on these four power acts, see my PDF article of the Four Acts of Power, published by Sounds True, Inc.



The Shaman Within
The Shaman Within is the archetype of cognition, awareness, inner work, envisioning,  initiation, and healing. We may each, with sufficient development, become a “Technician of the Sacred,” able to locate, properly access and regulate the creative energies at the sacred Center of oneself, or another person, or of a community. This archetypal Center is the source and “spiritus rector” all other foWay_of_the_shaman_resistance2010undational archetypes, each of which needs the participation and development of others into developing the fullness of selfhood. Without adequate access to the Shaman Within, a man or a woman will sleepwalk through life, never asking the questions which can liberate from unconsciousness and naivete. We each need this inner psychoanalyst,—the Shaman Within—to help us wake up, get a clear vision for our life, come to know our own central Archetype and align out lives and all the other foundational archetypes. For this reason, I am presenting it first, here. We need proper activation, regulation, and development of the Shaman Within to give us the keys to accessing the various inner spaces of the deep self, and to help us come to serve responsibly as ritual elders and guides for other people. Lack of proper access and regulation with the other foundational archetypes can lead to the shadow qualities of detached manipulation, tricksterish, and harmful brujoism. Facing these shadow qualities helps integrate them. We should not ask if, but when, the shadow aspect show up in our lives.


The Lover Within
The Lover is the archetype of affiliation and heart-open connection. Accessing and regulating Lover energy properly, a man feels enthusiastic and compassionate about his work and relationships. Celebrating the beauty of nature and the physical world, the mature Hekura embrace
Lover becomes a guardian of the Earth. Elevated to full expression it becomes the Generatively of the King or Queen Within, the compassion and care of of the Shaman Within (i.e. Some Amazonian shamans say that Love the Real Medicine). The Lover Within also fuels and serves the higher purpose of the Warrior Within, especially the Warrior of the Heart, and it gives motivating reason for the defense and protection of vulnerability of oneself and others. while pursuing your life calling and drawing closer to the fullness of your selfhood, as your heart-based living draws you to the right order for your life by the creative sacred Center of being.
The Lover encourages an unbounded connectedness to life through powerful feelings, but if the Lover Within is poorly developed, you may find yourself alternately expressing its shadow aspects of promiscuousity and or feeling isolated, feeling emotionally vulnerable or being interpersonally exploitative, impulsive and addictive,. You may be afraid of your passion, and so unable to feel the fire of life. Accessing Lover energy properly, you may feels enthusiastic and compassionate about your work and relationships. Celebrating the beauty of nature and the physical world, the mature Lover becomes a guardian of the Earth. Elevated to full expression it becomes the Generatively of the King Within, the Medicine of the Shaman Within, fuels and serves the higher purpose of the Warrior Within.

Durga in Warrior aspect

The Warrior Within
The Warrior is the archetype of self-disciplined, courageous, strategic aggressive action and boundary protection. The mature Warrior, however, is energetic, decisive, strong, and perservering in reaching his/her goals. You need your Warrior well on line whether you are walking your own heart-path, involved in a creative project, or trying to express your voice and hold your group. If you are writing a book, forexample, it takes Warrior energy to focus on the book writing in a disciplined way, and you need strategy, and focused action to bring it to market and get it out there. Or if you are developing some new growth shoot, a new idea, or a new project, you may need to protect it from premature exposure, or from distraction, so you can focus on it until you have hit the target and the new creation stands on its own legs. You also need a good

Aries/Mars servant to the Higher Mission
Aries/Mars servant to the Higher Mission

warrior for protecting you vulnerable places and inner life, and to be able to set firm if flexible boundaries in your relationships. On the shadow side, if Warrior energy is not accessed properly, an individual may find himself or herself caught up in cruel or self-destructive behavior of the shadow Warrior. Yummy become obsessive or compulsive about things, develop too much unnecessary order, or act out your aggressive energy in frustrating or harmful ways. Facing these Little Devils of the Shadow helps us regulate and integrate them, and keep them from acting out harmfully. We should not ask if, but when and how, the shadow aspects show up in our lives.


The Elder Within
This is the wise Elder, who in indigenous Amerindian cultures cares about the community, or humanity, about the younger generations, about the needs of Mother Earth. The Elder Within is the archetype of generatively, of caring your and guiding the younger generations, and teaching them how to live with respect for others, and in heart-open and earth-honoring ways. Mythologically, it has often imaged as the mythic Chief, or King or Queen Within, the crowning archetype of full nurturing and generative selfhood, drawing on the highest regulation of expressions of the Shaman Within, Lover Within and Warrior Within energies. In fairy tales and Tarot, the King and Queen symbolic our powers of inner sovereignty and self rule, so that we can enter creative and generative leadership in out outer world. This Royal Archetype when properly accessed and regulated is able to steward the creative and sacred energies, bless, inspire, encourage, and nurture and protect others, and call forth the best in them, for a higher principle or Unknown-1mission. It depends on the progressive development of the other three foundational archetypes. When the King or Queen Within is developed in its fullness in another purpose, you feel a powerful presence, sense their wholeness, their creative and centering energy, rightly ordered, right priorities, and able to see you in your value. The mature King or Queen is able to empower, bless, and admire others as well as oneself. Dis-identification from this archetype, combined with proper development and regulation is important to avoid shadow manifestations,—Without proper access and regulation of this foundational archetype, a person can become immobilized by grandiosity, lost in depression, act like a narcissistic tyrant, and bereft of a sense of meaning, and without the Shaman Within and Warrior within on line, is unable to invoke, maintain, or protect a sense of a right order, and connection with the creative springs of life (and of the individual’s psyche).



The Journey to The Center and the Archetype of You


“I saw that here the goal had been revealed. One could not go beyond the center. The center is the goal, and everything is directed toward that center.   ”                                  -C.G. Jung

“A universe comes to birth from its center; it spreads out from a central point that is, as it were, its navel.’     –Mircea Eliade

The following is a discussion of the Sacred Center of creation, the axis mundi. We will be discussing the archaic roots of its effects upon human life socially and personally or individually. The ideas expressed here are indebted to my mentors, Mircea Eliade of the University of Chicago, and Robert L. Moore of the Chicago Robert-L-MooreTheological Seminary and the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. It was Eliade who first taught me these ideas, and Robert Moore, my
doctoral chair, who helped me see how they applied to Jungian and depth psychology and the four foundational powers of full selfhood. You can find much detailed discussion and elaboration of all this in part two and three of my book, JUNG AND SHAMANISM IN DIALOGUE.

Mircea EliadeUntil his death in 1986, Mircea Eliade, of the University of Chicago, was the world’s foremost historian of religions. He was a student of Jungian psychology, for Jung had noticed a prevalent pattern in world religions and culture, in myth and iconography, in sacred art and architecture. Jung was always scanning for patterns in the myth, art, and religions of the world. He noticed a particular recurring pattern everywhere he looked, which he called the “Quaternio,” illustrated symbolically four-sided temple, a royal palace, four sided image of the cosmos, the four sided mandala. and the four directions of the medicine wheel, each arrayed around a symbol of the sacred Center, be it a a Bindu point, a Sacred Tree, the capstone of a ziggurat, the apex of pyramid, the sacred symbol of crucifix.

Eliade noticed this pattern in the comparative study and history of world religions as well. For Eliade, if you understand the structure of mythology, archaic human beings had a constant and real sense of how fragile “right order” in the world is, continually being threatened by chaos. I greatly expand this understanding in my book PSYCHOTHERAPY AND THE SACRED. They had a sense that while a habitable space can be created, it always has some level of threat from the forces of chaos.

Human beings can’t live in a disoriented and disordered space. Today we see the forces of chaos gathering and threatening our lives: drive-by shootings, corporate greed, pollution and global warming, threat of thermonuclear war, fascism and xenophobia, and terrorist attacks, an overload of information through social media and the plethora of real and fake news feeds. We are moving away from the right order of the sacred center, towards that chaos which our ancient human forebears dreaded.

Today, while we are not happy about it, we are getting accustomed to the horrors of increasing chaos, and we are unable to shake off the anxiety of a world fragmenting and falling apart.. We are daily th-2terrified by the disintegrative and regressive changes I just mentioned, that we are seeing in our world. But our archaic human ancestors did not assume that you could or should live in a chaos, When things have run down like this, the world  needed a death and rebirth, a return to the origins, so that a right order had to be found. In those days of old it was usually the role of the shaman, or ritual elder to facilitate the process.

There are a lot of different forms that mythology takes, many myth-themes. For Eliade one kind of myth-theme is foundational to the others, it is one related to creativity, for he believed the cosmogonic myth of the creation of the world was at the root. The cosmogonichands-of-creation-evelyn-patrick myth of origins reveals a theme of a time, in the beginning, when things were created right, coming fresh from the creator’s hands, and formed in an exemplary or archetypal way—forms to be on-goingly repeated, like replication of the DNA pattern. Things were not chaotic or fragmented in the beginning, because of this “right order.”  All things, not only humans, but the elements, the plants, animals, waters, fishes of the sea, the birds, insects, and the medicinal herbs were created in a right ordering. At the center-point of creativity, creation happened, the archaic human version of the Big Bang, and it happened here, at the navel of the world, the “axis mundi” (center of the world). In every archaic society you can find a location of the center of the world, that axis mundi from which the world comes into being and proceeds, spreading out across the landscape and the psyche of archaic humans. This is the world as it should be, before humans pollute it and demonic-destructive forces mess it up.

The art and iconography of the symbolism of the center has been identified as a symmetrical scheme, a kind of geometric structure. If we pay attention to sacred geometries today we may see that it DSCF6125reflects the archetypal right order and exemplary structure of things. In sacred art and mythology around the world, ancient peoples saw the sacred order geometrically, which appropriately balances the opposites and organizes things around a numinous center-point. The Mandalas of Tibet and Nepal, the Four Cardinal Directions, reflected in the Amerindian Medicine Wheel is an example of balancing energy and focusing human attention on all four quadrants (or directions, or elements) 291-B-925x1317 are arrayed around a sacred center. The good news is that the closer you are to the Center personally and socially, the more likely you are to living in the right way, and are in reasonably good balance and health.

Eliade also had some bad news, but a profoundly useful insight that applies to us socially as well as in terms of our individual psychology. It is this: The farther you move away from that creative and renewing Center of origins, the more danger to the social and personal worlds, things run down and anxiety arises. Consider the present xenophobia, terrorism, projection of evil, scapegoating, war, murder, or a languishing loss of energy, an entropy, a declining of life energy, increasing depression. We see the world moving towards the wasteland, and chaos. The sense is that the center, not just any center, but The Center with the creative energy and right ordering of things is now remote, and many of us are getting very nostalgic for a return to origins, to The Center. As we get more distant from the Center, things begin to run down, we get into regions at the edges of our map, “Here There Be Dragons,” as the Renaissance explores wrote on the outermost edges their maps. Beyond the known and ordered world those mythic monsters symbolized the destructive powers of Chaos that humans have often dreaded—a psychotic realm, if you will. th-3When you get too far from the Center, the laws of the right order do not apply anymore. For individual persons, if you are too far from this sacred Center of life, the anxiety that arises, comes to you for a good reason, because the Forces of Chaos are powerful demonic forces, “little devils” can possess you. Humans can secumb to despair, depression, aimlessness, anxiety, fragmentation, and the fierce Dragons of regression and psychosis.

Technicians of the Sacred & Reconstituting the Axis Mundi
thWe’ve discussed what the Sacred Center is, and how important the right order it provides is to human communities and individuals. We’ve discussed the Forces of Chaos that threaten the human world socially and personally. Now we must ask, what do we do to reconstitute the sacred orienting Center?

Eliade’s most profound insight into archaic humanity is their belief that periodic return to the source for renewal was ontologically necessary. They knew the initial jolt of energy would run down and they’d need to return to the Center for another vitality engendering jolt. You don’t repair a worn out world, you re-create it. You return to the Center for this Re-creation and renewal of vital creative energy. This is the basis of the New Years festivals, in which the old world dies, and the New Year is rung in with great ceremony. For archaic human being it wasn’t simply adding another new year onto the past year. it was Renovatio—a complete re-creation from the Origins, the navel of the universe, the axis mundi. If you lost it, or forgot where it is, you have to find it again.

The shamans, technicians of the sacred, could do this, could find the th-2true Center again. After you find it, you have to get connected to it properly, plugging into 200,000 volts so you can start running things again. These technicians of the sacred could perform a ritual and take the people safely through a renewal by death and rebirth. By properly locating, accessing, activating and developing your archetypal Shaman Within, you will develop the capacity to locate and safely connect with the sacred Center, for yourself and your clients.
If you are a psychotherapist or life coach, listen up. This mythology is has much to teach us about the creative formation of the self in individuals, from the “right order” of the transpersonal Archetype of You, to your local human self expression of it. And it is about the restoration of the right order in the afflicted. In traditional shamanic healing, Eliade observed that shamans often called on their tribe’s cosmogonic myth to support, ground and in-form the their healing ceremonies with their patients. The healing rite itself is considered creative and every form of creation repeats the patterns of the Cosmogonic myth of origins, or of the first shaman, the first medicines, and so on. This repetition of the archetypal-mythological forms.

There is much about our archaic ancestors that we can and should learn from, because they were closer to the sacred Center in their lives, than we in the modern world today are, and they had ritual wisdom and knew how to properly access, regulate, and express the archetypal energies of the psyche. What we can do and ought to do today is activate the Shaman Within each of us, and return with th-3open heart through the “technology of the sacred,” to the spiritual arts of ritual, of prayer, or worship and song, of questing for vision, of repentance, atonement, and the vessel of renewal, of symbolic ritual death and rebirth, and once again appropriately connect and align with the sacred Center of life and renewal. Once a strong connection and alignment with the sacred Center is made, we are ready to begin appropriately accessing and activating and developing the Four Foundational Archetypes of selfhood towards optimal expression.


Locating the creative sacred Center that founds the right order, is the key to developing the other foundational archetypes into fullness. Living close to your Center creates a right order and balance in your life, and keeps you plugged into the source power to be able to succeed and fulfill your reason for being here, in this life. Distance from the Center drains you of energy and progressively distracts you from the right order for your life, You slide in anxiety toward the chaos dragons that possess and may destroy you, unless you renew yourself at the Center, or locate the Center if you have lost it. This is why sacred transformative ceremonies of renewal and death/rebirth initiation are so important, because they renew the world, renew a life. The process of personal “altaring” can help you relocate the sacred center each day, and the NGS helps you track the right order of Your Archetype. This Archetype of You is surrounded by the four foundational archetypes, which it empowers.
The Shaman Within, called on by the sacred Center, locates and properly accesses and regulates the Sacred Center. On the public scale this is the creative sacred Center of the world for a community, but on a personal level, it is the creative sacred Center of the individual psyche, and once active it calls for the development of King, Warrior, and Lover, as well. The highly uniquely patterned essence that  I call the Archetype of You, is the Right Order, for you to embody. in your life, as you move away from chaos by developing each quadrant into its fullness.

I like to begin my teaching by directing my students first to the archetype of the Shaman Within, for it is as technician of the sacred that it is able to locate your deep psychic Center which functions as your Daimon, or Guardian Spirit, conveying the deep ground plan, the right order your life is called to embody and expression. You need full expression of each of the foundational archetypes of Selfhood to full accomplish the life you are called to live in the world, throughout the life-cycle. We need to know how and when to summon each foundational archetype, and the Shaman Within has this potentiality as part of its basic configuration of possibilities. Like the King’s of Israel who summoned its generals, prophets and wisemen, and artists, you need to know which foundational archetype you need whenever you need it on line and helping out. Von Franz, offering classic Jungian perspective on the Shaman, says that it is the archetype of the Self that stands behind the life and work of the shaman. (von Franz. Jung: His Myth in Our Time).


What is Psychoshamanic Mentoring Vs Coaching?


Mikkal Montage 1Mentoring is a long term and progressively deep relationship between mentor and a client who feels having an experienced resource person to help them navigate a a life path, including numerous creative projects that may arise. Coaching tends to be more limited to a specific problem, or a specific capacity or skill set to do something. Mentors do coach their clients on specific issues and projects, but it is their own ongoing inspiration and creative life that is the foundational project.

The word Mentor suggests someone who is older and more seasoned with life experience, at least in a given field. I train psychoshamanic life-coaches, and they do important work. A coach may have technical knowledge and useful skill sets, but work short terms with clients. In my own psychoshamanic mentoring it is the life path, the path of heart or individuation that is fundamental, focusing on the calling and vision of a life, navigating life from the heart, and allowing the creative inspiration and projects to grow out of that organically.

Dante Aligheri, who wrote the Commedia describes himself at midlife in a dark wood and lost. He had turned aside from his true calling and path, the “verace via,” and just then , by a synchronicity, a human mentor, Virgil, the Latin poet appears as a guide. Virgil has Dante_Lucabeen through much of the psychospiritual geography and the forces that Dante must face, if he is to recover his true path. Virgil acts as his guide and soul friend, until Dante is ready to rely on inner guidance or inner mentoring, which comes to him in the figure of Beatrice, who acts like Dante’s inspiring muse and guiding spirit.

C.G. Jung spent the early part of his career as a medical psychologist and did lots of psychotherapy. But after the resolution of his famous midlife crisis, he came increasing to mentor individuals in his second half of life, people who were seeking their own calling and path. imagesJung schooled them in navigating through dreams and synchronicities, withdrawing projections and dissolving limiting attitudes, but increasingly taught them “active imagination,” a psychospiritual practice very much akin to the shamanic journey, and similar to Dante’s relationship with Beatrice as inner guide. Once Jung saw that his clients could work well on their own through active imagination, he knew his role was less necessary, or no longer necessary at all.

My own psychoshamanic mentoring tends to last several years and my clients work with me on site at my wilderness retreat center, Crows Nest, in the Southwest Michigan woodlands. CN circlelargeThis wild and natural environment allows people to drop imagesour of busy city life and social consensus, unplug from the “matrix,” if you will, a drop down into their true self, where we can go to work on the life-calling and see what kind of life redesign may be in order. I also offer workshops which facilitate and expedite this work, and in Europe, South American, and S. Africa, I offer workshops, and trainings, as well as individual consultations in beautifully wild retreat centers. However, some choose to work with me via tele or Skype, and some like to work with me in intensive one on one retreats at Crows Nest in SW Michigan. We tend to tailor make the right kind of relationship frequency and depth of work, as suits the situation, location, and pocket book of the client.

For more information on my workshops in the USA, FRANCE, and other countries, check out the schedule on my Crows Nest website: DSC_0114RET

Jungian Psychologist