Creating Your Future Self: Manifestation Through Archetypes & Avatars
by Sarah Gottesdiener·
Creatives and witches know that symbols and signs are powerful tools to aid us in transformation. But what about becoming a different, emergent version of yourself using existing or imaginary archetypes and avatars?
It’s a fun and effective way to explore embodiment.
Archetypes and avatars can help us create blueprints and new maps to help us heal and evolve. They guide us into dialogue with our shadows, help us confront and dissolve blocks, and can be shields and talismans as we navigate change.
Archetypes and avatars are useful when we are creating our new selves and our new boundaries: we can claim—or reclaim—our identities of creative, artist, adventurer, lover, and anything else, through these archetypal anchors. By choosing archetypes and exploring how we will live out their energies, we receive direction and guidance about everything we need to write our next chapter.
The official definition of an avatar is an incarnation in human form or an embodiment of philosophy or concept. (Archetypes and avatars are similar, so I use the terms interchangeably.)
There is an unconscious, or collective aspect to the archetype — an ancient mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors that are still present in the collective unconscious and conscious.
Avatars feel more current and modern—and even aspirational and future-oriented—with all of their associations and attachments to tech, social media, and our projected images in digital spaces. Both archetypes and avatars can evolve with our interpretations of them, as well as reference and reflect collective concepts.
There is a charge of energy with both that we can work with to heal, transform, and move forward in other ways.
Working and healing with archetypes and avatars
There are archetypes all around us: we see them in the Tarot, in deities, astrology, movies, popular culture, and other media. Rockstars change up their personas with every new album. Superheroes have been taking on new identities to save the human race from creepy villains with bad style since the very first comic book.
Archetypal embodiment has backing in psychology. The Batman Effect is “an active cognitive strategy” that helps us move forward with confidence in order to navigate stressful or challenging situations. Studies have shown that envisioning a better, braver, version of ourselves can create real change. World-class athletes visualize winning their races or games, so why wouldn’t we try it with our own goals?
Archetypal embodiment also gets us out of our amygdala and into the frontal cortex. The amygdala is where we react, the front cortex is where we respond. The frontal cortex has long been thought of as the center of creativity. Stimulating our imagination is a form of healing: creativity, learning new skills, journaling, daydreaming, and all things that stimulate our imagination to support the healing process.
For those of us who don’t easily co-regulate with other humans, and who must tend to our nervous system, we can also co-regulate with our archetypes. In doing so, calm our nervous systems and receive more support and guidance from them. Pro-tip: combine your co-regulation with supportive herbs like passionflower and milky oat straw, and receive even more grounding and nourishment.
Creating an avatar of our future self, and utilizing them as a compass and instigator of change, is particularly useful for Highly Sensitive People. Most Highly Sensitives are naturally—or have been programmed to—attune to someone else, so it’s easier to focus on another version of ourselves, who can then guide us. If you are a Highly Sensitive, it makes complete sense to use this as an effective transformational strategy. Highly Sensitives tend to be able to focus on others more easily than on themselves. When we create an avatar of ourselves, or speak about ourselves in the 3rd person, or make art about ourselves as a character, or utilize ancient archetypes as a way to feel reflected, we are utilizing magic in a way that feels natural and easy, for us.
When we want to change, it can be hard to do so because we don’t have a mirror, we don’t have affirmation, and we don’t have anchors. Claiming a new identity, or a new aspect of ourselves that we’d like to bring forth can be daunting. We need to see ourselves in relationship to others: whether it be through lineage, art elders, or as part of a larger constellation of crafters, activists, or yes…even a Tarot or magical archetype.
In my Resourcing The Creative Self online course, we kick off our process by creating a mood board for our artist selves. It’s an archetypal exploration: who do you want to be?
You can use this to gather inspiration for your creative practice, and it’s an effective start.
You can also do this to help describe and visualize who you’d like to become, and what parts of yourself you’d like to bring forth for this fall season and beyond.
This mood board is a grouping of visual symbols: it’s meant to serve as a mirror and a spell. It’s also a map, filled with suggestions around what actions to take, what colors to bring into your art, and what aesthetic you want to explore. In Resourcing The Creative Self, I encourage folks to not only bring in Tarot cards, art inspiration, and words, but spaces that feel conducive to art, and other artists you want to be in conversation with. Experiment, play, and let them infuse your consciousness. You could ask yourself: as the High Priestess, how would I respond to that painting prompt? What would Dolly Parton do to finish their poem? How would James Baldwin set up their writing space?
The secret magic to making avatars and archetypes work for your creative practice and healing is knowing that they are you. Avatars and archetypes reflect aspects of yourself that you are ready to explore and focus on for a while in order to integrate, create, and heal. Your intuition and imagination grant you the tools to solve your problems and give solutions. Let the nonlinear, magical part of your psyche help you with art and creativity.
If you’d like to further explore avatars and archetypes for creativity and healing, sign up for Resourcing The Creative Self.
It’s going to be fun, magical, and it will change your life.
For more of my thoughts on this subject, listen to my Moonbeaming podcast episode about this.