The Teacher and Nun were shaped by the Roman Catholic sisters, who taught Myss from high school through graduate school. The Queen appears when she wants "to blast people out" of wanting a realized life without accepting the opportunities for growth presented to them.
"The classroom becomes transformed into my royal court," she writes, "and I symbolically 'decapitate' people who are yearning for liberation yet are prevented by those very fears from moving forward."
Myss is talking a lot about archetypes these days as she tours for her newest book, "Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential." The core of the book is the belief that, before we are born, our souls agree to learn specific lessons in our upcoming lifetime. In order to fulfill that agreement, we get involved with certain people, find ourselves in certain places, and have to deal with certain life circumstances. How we handle all of that is the measure of our growth and progress.
Myss believes that we can better identify our contracts (because there are many) if we understand what energies are operating in our lives. Her book presents a very detailed program for identifying which energies are at play in our lives, and how to work with them.
"Sacred Contracts" is Myss's fifth book; the first two, "AIDS: Passageway to Transformation" and "The Creation of Health" were co-authored with Norman Shealy, M.D. The other two--"Anatomy of the Spirit" and "Why People Don't Heal And How They Can"--both made it to the New York Times best-sellers list. In addition to her books, she has created a number of tapes and CDs (through Sounds True), has appeared on Oprah, and was one of public television's fund-raising stars.
She talks to Beliefnet producer Anne Simpkinson about sacred contracts, the eighth chakra, criticism of her teaching style, and her new program on the Oxygen channel.
You have a new book out called "Sacred Contracts." What exactly is a sacred contract, and why is it important?
From my point of view, the leading cause of stress today is the absence of meaning in people's lives. You can say that stress is caused by the workplace and relationships, but all of those are extensions of the struggle with direction, self, and spiritual empowerment.
So I started to wonder: Are we meant to do something? Are we meant to be with certain people? Are agreements made before we incarnate? If we believe in life after death, why not believe in life before life? Why would that be any more outrageous?
I came to believe that we very much make contracts before we incarnate. We make contracts that are directed toward our personal empowerment, toward the expansion of our hearts, and toward the expansion of our contribution to the group soul of humanity.
In your book, you talk about your Catholic upbringing. So let me ask you, do you see this life as a one-shot deal--you live and then you die and go to heaven or hell...
You believe in reincarnation?
Oh sure--and so does the Church, by the way. Reincarnation was very much a part of Christian tradition until the belief was edited out somewhere around the 400's, I believe. They edited it out when they started to take the formation of the doctrine seriously, when they started to pull together the oral and written traditions.
Why did they eliminate this particular one?
They thought that people would not try as hard in this life if they thought that they had another chance.
I noticed that when you talk about sacred contracts, you always talk about them on two levels: contributing to personal growth and to the evolution of the planet.
Yes. Absolutely. Everything you do affects the whole; as above, so below.
When I talk to a Western audience about a sacred contract, they think I'm talking about a job. It's so ridiculous [to ask] where's the job I was born to do, without thinking about the people who are unemployed. Are you telling me that they're suddenly of no value?
See, people can't imagine that they could be born to become a forgiving person. That
could be the most significant contract of their lives, and, in order to fulfill it, they have to have certain people in a close relationship and they have to have this physical body. We don't like to think that our lives could be humble. Or, that in this lifetime, our contract is to be of service to others.
What's hard for people to accept is what's true. Time and time again, we learn that life is not a rational experience. Buddha taught us that. Jesus taught us that. You name the spiritual teacher, they all teach that we suffer because we want life to be something it is not. It is not organized and rational.
I felt that there had to be a way to discuss data that existed separate from biological, physiological, and emotional data. This dimension that I'm talking about is impersonal; it's symbolic. It's what we call the collective unconscious or the archetypal dimension. For me, it represented the next level of our energy system, which is represented by eighth chakra.
We have a physical reality, we have an internal reality, and we have a symbolic reality, and all three operate simultaneously. Our first, second, and third chakras are aligned to our physical life; four, five, six, and seven to our emotions, our attitudes, our choices, our spiritual life; and the eighth to our symbolic life where our contracts are scripted.
And it seems to relate most to what you talk about in the book.
Absolutely. The contracts and negotiations your soul has made, in my opinion, form the texture of your life. You make arrangements for certain commitments, for opportunities to meet certain people, to be certain places, but what you do and how you are when you get there, that's where choice comes in.
In these days--that we talk about as the New Age--our ability to know ourselves has increased ten-fold. We now have access to our inner world in a way we never did before. We need a vocabulary that can describe where we've been. That was what motivated me to create a tool through which people can identify their archetypal patterns.
There are hundreds of thousands of archetypes, but each of us has only a dozen that, in this lifetime, form the closest, most intimate connection to the events as they unfold in our lives.
Sure, you can relate to all of the archetypes in some way. I'm not a physical mother but I can relate to mothering; I consider that I birth my books. But I'm not a physical mother in the same way [as] women whose whole lives are about raising their children.
I would look and find the 12 archetypes that are direct influences in your life, and from that I would say the most important thing you can do is to learn the meaning and the guidance from those archetypal patterns. The tool I developed is all about helping you discover that.
The bulk of your book describes the sacred wheel, this tool you're referring to. Why did you choose the wheel, and how does it relate to the horoscope and to archetypes?
I was teaching a group of students--this was years ago--and I was trying to explain to them that they had influences around them at all times. I said, "Look, just imagine that you are sitting at the center of a wheel and imagine that each of the spokes was a different influence on you." I looked at that image and realized that I had drawn an astrological chart. Then when I was doing the archetypal research, I wondered what it would be like if I found a way to help people locate each of their 12 archetypes--one per astrological house--in a way that would combine the meaning of that house with the meaning of an archetype. Reading the two together would enhance a deeper view of the journey of one's life.
That sounds like a mouthful, but I did the same thing in "Anatomy of the Spirit." I took Christianity, Judaism, and Eastern religion, and combined all three systems. I said, "Look at how all three are written in the spine, and how all three speak of human biology."
The astrological wheel, the 12 houses, represents the 12 areas of life from relationships to home to marriage to money. Every one of the aspects of life is represented on this wheel. When you do this wheel in the system that I developed, it helps you locate your archetype for each house respectively, so you have 12 archetypes and 12 houses.
What you've got are two different cosmic systems operating as a team in a way they never did before. When you combine them--and isn't the world of consciousness all about combining and making things one?--the insights you have are positively incredible.
How does it work?
Let me give you an example. The first house of the astrological chart talks about your persona, how you present yourself to the world. Now let's say that you had the Queen archetype in that house. When people meet you, there will be something about you that strikes them as being royal, entitled, gracious, benevolent, or in command of things. But believe me, the common image that people will have of you is that you fill the room much more than someone who has a Child archetype in that house. That person would strike people as being very immature, fragile, magical, innocent, or playful.
What I tell people is that you don't have to be a master of intuitive calmness to discern your archetypal patterns. The first and most important thing is that you are willing to be open-minded and honest about your own life.
In the book, you write: "I often give the appearance of being nearly ruthless onstage when I'm interacting with certain people."
Yes, I'm quoting from the book. I was wondering how you respond to the critics who say that this is not a helpful approach.
Let me say that thank God the people who say that are in the minority. Second, I kind of laugh because I think that there must be something people like about being ruthless because my workshops are enormous. Third, I think that I'm not ruthless. I'm very direct and I'm bold. Which one's going to help--someone saying to you, "Here's the bottom line: Either you get bitter or you get better." Or do you want me to sit there and be yet the 15,000th ear that you weep in?
From my point of view, people need backbones, not wishbones. We've gotten much too indulgent about healing. When I'm with people who tell me that 20, 25, 35 years later, they still can't release the fact that their mother wasn't there for them, I cannot look at them and say, "Why don't you tell me again and I'll be another indulgent shoulder." I want to say: "How come you don't tell me how many people you've hurt, and how many lives you've made miserable?"
I have one more question for you. You have a new program on Oxygen. [It debuted on Saturday, January 12.] What will it be like?
The show is called, "The Journey," It's on weekends, but you'll have to check your local time listing.
Is it a talk show format or...
It's not the standard talk show format; I don't interview guests. Rather, I engage and interact with people and do medical intuitive readings while also teaching. I examine a subject, and how to get through and get on with your life when you've gone through a certain challenge. I have people on the show who've done just that; they're incredible examples.
I also have people on the show who are looking for guidance and I do readings on them. I help people in every way I can and that's the show.
It's interactive and it very much involves my work as a medical intuitive, but it's not about medical intuition. It's kind of a workshop, and it's also a therapy healing dynamic. It's a very unique show.