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Page, Mage, Sage: A New Archetypal Framework for Development

As part of my work with career development, I have done a lot of work with assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Enneagram, and other assessment instruments. Additionally, I myself have studied other esoteric systems like astrology and tarot. What all of these systems have in common is that they are all reaching into the use of archetypes to talk about ways of being and looking at the world.

Archetypes are most known from the work of Carl Gustav Jung (who research inspired the development of the MBTI) and Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero’s Journey and The Power of Myth. From these sources came George Lucas’ development of the Star Wars series and almost every superhero cartoon and movie ever written. The concepts are that we as a culture (or cultures) have some innate understanding of roles that characters and people play, and it helps us to organize our minds and our worlds. While many people dismiss any system that uses archetypes as “not real”, one could say the same for art and literature that “isn’t real”. A more helpful question is “Is it useful?” I find that archetypes help me and my clients in seeing truths about themselves and their place in the world.

As we can see now with the state of our society, with the Black Lives Matter protests, the COVID-19 pandemic, our economic uncertainty and other distresses in the world, the way that people see their roles is either shifting, disappearing, or being cursed at. We are in a state of a breaking through from old patterns to a new world structure that we have no idea what our new futures will look like. Given that uncertainty, people naturally gravitate to standard archetypes to gain a sense of stability and comfort. As we can see, many people, whether BIPOC, LGBTQ or any other minority, are refusing to been seen by the stereotypes put on them by other communities and live their most authentic lives. Now is the time to be thinking of different ways to envision the way with think about ourselves and our cultures.

For many years, the Goddess worshiping community has had an archetype of women as they move through their lives, namely The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone (or Wise Woman). I’ve always seen this as the Path of Nurturing, as many I’ve talked with have discussed it in that context. There hasn’t been a similar archetype for men, and I’d like to share my thoughts on a possible structure. While most male archetypes have been either the Lone Cowboy, the Maverick, the Leading Man or similar types, there’s been no sense of development from one to the other, I’d think that our world needs a pattern of positive development for men that I like to think about as the Path of Development.

I see in this new construct three archetypes, and I’ve had them all rhyme for ease of memorization. I call the The Page, The Mage, and The Sage.

  • The Page is a role from the medieval times, where a young man would usually be in a guild or under the tutelage of a skilled craftsman or mentor, and would learn a trade or other role. A page is starting out in life and is still in search of knowledge and his place in the world, and usually looks to those who have gone before for guidance as to what has and hasn’t worked in the past, and is supported by a larger community. The Page looks to the Mage and the Sage for guidance.
  • The Mage is another name for magician, and the Mage is skilled and is at the full power of his craft. He can do things for others and is knowledgeable of the ways of the world, but (as we’ve seen in many stories about magicians in the past decades) still can learn things with new experiences. The Mage can mentor and teach the Page, but still looks to the Sage for guidance.
  • The Sage is one who has trodden all the paths, learned much, as it not as focused on proving himself to others, but more interested in passing on knowledge and being wise counsel to the Page and the Mage when asked.

I like to think that we are all Pages, Mages, and Sages in different parts of our lives. When we start a new career or pick up a hobby, we are Pages once more. Sometimes we don’t want to “be in the game” of something and retire to our Sage status for someone to ask us how we used to play. What I like about this construct is that you can move up and down and in and out of it, depending up where you are in life. You can also be a Page to someone else on one matter, and a Sage to them in another.

As I stated in the beginning, this may or may not be true, but it can be useful if it helps you think about your own life and career, and what role you currently see yourself in. This is applicable to anyone, not just those who identify as men.

How do you see yourself?

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