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The meaning of Michaelmas….

The following article is taken from this article by Ben Johnson:

St Michael

St Michael

“Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on 29th September. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days; in England, it is one of the “quarter days”.

There are traditionally four “quarter days” in a year (Lady Day – 25th March), Midsummer (24th June), Michaelmas (29th September) and Christmas (25th December). They are spaced three months apart, on religious festivals, usually close to the solstices or equinoxes. They were the four dates on which servants were hired, rents due or leases begun. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid. This is how it came to be for Michaelmas to be the time for electing magistrates and also the beginning of legal and university terms.

“St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin – the edge into winter – the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months. It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defences during the later months of the year.

“Traditionally, in the British Isles, a well fattened goose, fed on the stubble from the fields after the harvest, is eaten to protect against financial need in the family for the next year; and as the saying goes:

‘Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day,
Want not for money all the year.’

“Sometimes the day was also known as “Goose Day” and goose fairs were held. Even now, the famous Nottingham Goose Fair is still held on or around the 3rd of October. Part of the reason goose is eaten is that it was said that when Queen Elizabeth I heard of the defeat of the Armada, she was dining on goose and resolved to eat it on Michaelmas Day. Others followed suit. It could also have developed through the role of Michaelmas Day as the debts were due; tenants requiring a delay in payment may have tried to persuade their landlords with gifts of geese!

“In Scotland, St Michael’s Bannock, or Struan Micheil (a large scone-like cake) is also created. This used to be made from cereals grown on the family’s land during the year, representing the fruits of the fields, and is cooked on a lamb skin, representing the fruit of the flocks. The cereals are also moistened with sheep’s milk, as sheep are deemed the most sacred of animals. As the Struan is created by the eldest daughter of the family, the following is said:

‘Progeny and prosperity of family, Mystery of Michael, Protection of the Trinity.’

“Through the celebration of the day in this way, the prosperity and wealth of the family is supported for the coming year. The custom of celebrating Michaelmas Day as the last day of harvest was broken when Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church; instead, it is Harvest Festival that is celebrated now.

“St Michael is also the patron saint of horses and horsemen. This could explain one of the ancient Scottish traditions that used to be practiced on Michaelmas Day. Horse racing competitions in the local communities would be held and small prizes won. However, with a twist, it was the only time at which a neighbour’s horse could be taken lawfully the night before and ridden for the entirety of the day, as long as the animal was returned safely!

“In British folklore, Old Michaelmas Day, 10th October, is the last day that blackberries should be picked. It is said that on this day, when Lucifer was expelled from Heaven, he fell from the skies, straight onto a blackberry bush. He then cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, spat and stamped on them and made them unfit for consumption! And so the Irish proverb goes:

‘On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on blackberries’

Michaelmas Daisy

“The Michaelmas Daisy, which flowers late in the growing season between late August and early October, provides colour and warmth to gardens at a time when the majority of flowers are coming to an end. As suggested by the saying below, the daisy is probably associated with this celebration because, as mentioned previously, St Michael is celebrated as a protector from darkness and evil, just as the daisy fights against the advancing gloom of Autumn and Winter.

‘The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.’

(The Feast of St. Simon and Jude is 28 October)

“The act of giving a Michaelmas Daisy symbolises saying farewell, perhaps in the same way as Michaelmas Day is seen to say farewell to the productive year and welcome in the new cycle.”


Joan of Arc and Les Soldats

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A doodle of Joan of Arc drawn by Clement de Fauquemberque of the Parliament of Paris.  The only contemporary drawing we have of her.



Today marks the 587th anniversary of the death of Joan of Arc, burned at the stake at Rouen, France.  As the flames engulfed her, she clutched a cross made of sticks to her bosom, fashioned by an ordinary English solder.  “Jesus!”  was her last word.  She was 19 years old.  In 1920, almost 500 years after her death, she was finally canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Everyone in the West knows Joan’s story from the novels of Mark Twain to Thomas Keneally, from filmmakers Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson to Otto Preminger, from playwrights George Bernard Shaw to Jean Anouillh.  In recent years, she has been taken up by multiple video games based on the Hundred Years War.  One of her greatest biographers is undoubtedly the French medievalist Regine Pernoud who has written 3 highly readable, deeply researched books on the subject, relying on the Latin transcripts of her trial and rehabilitation trial of 1455-56 to bring Joan into 21th Century relief.

While everyone knows the story of the peasant girl called by Sts. Catherine, Margaret and Michael the Archangel to rid France of the English and their Burgundian enablers, and crown the dauphin Charles Valois king, not many people know her companions-in-arms.  The most famous captains of the French army during the latter part of the 100 Years War were Jean Dunois, The Bastard of Orleans, Etienne de Vignolles nicknamed “La Hire” (The Anger) and Gilles De Rais, the Marshal of France.  Along with several others, these are the men who rode into battle with her, camped with her and lifted the siege of the city of Orleans that led to Charles’ coronation.  These two events would lead to the end of one of the most brutal European civil wars.


Jean Dunois called The Bastard was born in Paris in 1402.  He was the illegitimate son of Louis d’Orleans, Duke of Orleans and a long time supporter and campaigner for the House of Valois (the Armagnac Party) in the 100 Years War.  Prior to meeting Joan, he fought as a Captain with Etienne de Vignolles in various engagements at Le Mans, Baugé, Cravant, Verneuil and the Siege of Montargis.  Like most Armagnac commanders, he was captured by the Burgundians and held for 2 years (his own father being held for 25 years after Agincourt) before the actions at the Siege of Orleans.

Undoubtedly, his fame has been secured through his association with Joan, his public devotion to her and his steadfastness in warfare.  Using the sometimes limited man power and short bursts of violence that characterized this war, he engaged with some success the legendary English commanders of fact and fiction:  Sir William Glasdale (Classidas), Sir John Falstaff (Fastolf), Thomas, Lord Scales, William de la Pole, the Duke of Suffolk (Suffort) and Sir John Talbot.


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Jean Dunois the Bastard of Orleans

From the above portrait alone, it is easy to see why the Bastard has been presented in film and stagecraft as the silky, handsome negotiator between Joan and the dubious and profane officers of the French forces.  During the Christmas seasons, with his typical elan and ingrained sense of chivalry, he had his minstrels play for the English and on one occasion delivered fish to Talbot for his evening meal.  Some historians have argued that it was this lassitude on the part of the French aristocracy that prolonged the war against the despised “goddams”; nevertheless, Dunois was a brave and wily adversary against the English.

In March of 1429, the French army was encamped at Orleans along the south bank of the Loire River far from the English situated on the north by the gatehouse Les Tourelles.  The French commanders were expecting to meet a spiritual adviser* and instead were greeted by an impatient warrior who immediately tore up their battle plans, accusing them of  traitorous deception.  She demanded to know why the army was on the “wrong side” of the river and did not cross over and engage the enemy.  Gently remonstrating, Dunois suggested they wait for better weather and a more friendly wind direction.  Joan was having none of it:  “In God’s name, the counsel of the Lord your God is wise and safer than yours.  You thought to deceive me and it is yourself above all whom you deceive, for I bring you better succor than has reached you from any soldier or any city; it is succor from the King of Heaven.  (He) has taken pity on the town of Orleans, and will not suffer that the enemies have the bodies of the lord of Orleans and his town.”  At that moment, in one of many weird circumstances that would baffle Joan’s friends and enrage her enemies, the wind switched direction, allowing the French captains to raise sail and cross over into the city. Dunois later described his feelings:   “It seems to me, that Joan in battle and in warfare, was rather of God than of men.”  He became her fervent friend and defender.

In the days to come, Joan, protected by Dunois, attempted to speak to the English and warn them to retreat.  A message sent by arrow towards the fortified gatehouse predicted that William Glasdale, the commander of the remaining bridge over the Loire, would die a watery death if he did not decamp.  Instead, Glasdale rained down angry curses on her head, calling her “cowgirl,” “witch,” and “bitch.”    The Bastard relates:  The moment she was there the English trembled with terror; and the (French) King’s men regained their courage and began to climb, delivering their assault against the bulwark and not meeting with the least resistance.  Then that bulwark was taken, and the English who were in it had fled.  But they were all killed, among the rest Classidas and the other principal English captains of this bastille, who intended to retire into the bridge tower but fell in the river and were drowned.  This Classidas had been the man who had spoken most foully and in the basest and most infamous language against the Maid.

Glasdale’s body was not recovered.

It was recorded that Joan cried tears of rage and sorrow over the senseless loss of English lives that day.  She attempted to nurse the dying and had the last rites administered to many of the soldiers.  This sudden and unexpected loss led the English to completely abandon the Loire Valley although Joan and Dunois followed in hot pursuit.  They fought several more skirmishes before they escorted Charles VII to his coronation on July 17, 1429.

After her capture at Compiegne, Dunois led an unsuccessful bid to free her. Despite this failure, he continued to fight against the English for the remaining years of the war.  It is unclear if he was at her rehabilitation trial or wrote a lengthy document testifying to her saintliness and patriotism.  His testimony is well worth reading and is one of the few direct accounts we have the Siege of Orleans and Joan’s participation in it.

He married twice, was  honored in his own lifetime, and died in 1468 at the age of 66.


Beautiful medieval image of the Siege of Orleans.  Les Tourelles (the gatehouse) is clearly shown.



la_hire_et_potron_xaintrailles_01la hire

la hire 2

Three fascinating presentations of La Hire from the medieval period to today – although he seems to be morphing into Falstaff!  (This last is from a video game where La Hire is a popular character.  There is no contemporary image of him.

Etienne de Vignolles was also known as “La Hire”.  There is controversy whether his nickname means  “The Anger” or “The Prickly One” or “The Hedgehog” but one thing is clear:  it was a byword for fear and terror not only to the English “goddams” but to the people of France as well.  La Hire brought Total War to the countryside long before William Tecumsah Sherman made the concept infamous.

In the wake of the Black Death, the 100 Years War was one of devastating consequence to the rural medieval society.   Unlike the War of the Roses in England, plundering, murder, rapine, torched homes, farms and cattle were considered justifiable acts to these French guerrilla forces.   Up until he met and was influenced by Joan of Arc, La Hire was very much a man of his time and place.  It is no wonder that he became a prime villain in violent 21st Century video games:  “War and Warriors:  Joan of Arc,” “Age of Empires 2:  The Age of Kings” and “Blade Storm:  the Hundred Years War.”  In the latter, he appears as an amusing Hulk-like ogre when, in fact, he may have been a much smaller man.   What history does relate is that he cursed so badly during military councils that a shocked Joan immediately set out to put a stop to it.  She forced him to the sacrament of Confession and encouraged him to replace foul language with prayer.  She banned excessive brutality and cracked down on camp followers who were purposefully ignored by military leaders.  She went so far as to smack her sword against a whore’s buttocks and chase her from the field.  La Hire supported her in these reforms.  He cursed out of earshot and long after The Maid’s death, he prayed before a battle, kneeling upon the ground and intoning a witty supplication:  May God do for La Hire what God would have La Hire do for Him if God were La Hire and La Hire were God.

Etienne de Vignolles was born in southern France in 1390 and was not of high birth.  He was apparently a lifelong soldier, who may have began his career at Agincourt.  He rose through the ranks to become commander of the French forces and was instrumental in lifting the Siege of Orleans.  As part of that campaign and prior to Joan’s arrival, La Hire was in charge of provisioning the army.  This led to the failed Battle of the Herrings in which he warred against Sir John Fastolf.

We do not know exactly why or when he converted  from reprobate and skeptic to true believer in the Maid.  All we do know, is that he eventually came to believe that she was a surprisingly good strategist and tactician in warfare and was open to all her advice.  (Joan, as always, maintained that any plans she put forward came directly from Michael the Archangel.)  After her capture, he attempted two separate rescue attempts at Rouen.  During the second, he too, was captured by Burgundians and imprisoned.  In typical fashion, he was back in action by 1432, several years after Joan’s death.  He died, perhaps killed by that most notorious illness of the soldier great or poor – dysentery – in southern France at the age of 53.  His image is said to be the Jack of Hearts figure on the French deck of cards.  In examining his signature, he appears to have been almost as illiterate as Joan:

la hire 3







gilles de rais

An early 19th century depiction of Gilles de Rais.  There are no contemporary portraits.  Perhaps they were all destroyed.


Gilles de Rais Laval, Baron and Marshall of France, is probably the most famous (or infamous) of Joan’s companions.  He inspired the French fairy tale “Bluebeard” – the story of a man who dyed his beard blue and murdered his wives.  We do know that in reality Gilles de Rais did not murder his rich wife (he simply kidnapped her) instead concentrating on torturing and murdering over 100 children at his castles in Champtoché  and Machecoul over a period of 10 years.  For these crimes – as well as the crime of heresy – he was executed at Nantes in 1440.

This aristocratic and immensely wealthy Breton was born in either 1404 or 1405, the son of two rich clansmen, Guy de Laval and Marie de Craon.  Orphaned at about 10 years of age, he was nevertheless cocooned in excessive luxury and indolence by his maternal grandfather and swaddled in affection by his doting nurse.  His excellent private education was in military matters and Catholic morals.  The latter didn’t leave much of an impression but his training was such that in that era of indifferent cruelty he became a highly effective soldier.  He was considered a brilliant and handsome young man by most who knew him.  He spoke and wrote fluent Latin and was a patron of the arts.

By 1427, well into his military career, he had personally raised 5 companies of knights beautifully clad and richly paid to fight for the Armagnac Party.  He employed salaried spies to scour the countryside for information to be used against the English and Burgundian enemies.  His vast choir of young boys must have raised amused suspicion among the more cynical soldiers but it was reported to be the finest in all the kingdom.

According to British author, Jean Benedetti, who took much of his information from “The Chronicles of the Siege of Orleans” by the eminent 19th century French historian Jules Quicherat, Gilles was with Dunois and Vignolles at Orleans while waiting for the arrival of Joan in the spring of 1429.  At a hastily gathered council, it was decided that Gilles would travel to the town of Blois to meet with representatives of the King and raise further provisions for the army.  He, therefore, missed her magnificent entrance into the town on her white charger with her raised banner of fleurs de lis on one side and the Archangel Michael on the other.  When one of the many banners decorating the town accidentally caught fire and risked a chance of spreading, she gallantly rode forth and snuffed it out with her gauntlet.  The crowd went wild in jubilation.

Once he returned, Gilles twice rescued Joan from various sticky situations during the Siege and helped her to safety when she was struck with an arrow above her breast.  He offered a bit of necromancy in an attempt to heal her which she hastily declined.  From there, he accompanied her in all her campaigns as well as attending the Coronation.  He was with her again at the failed Siege of Paris when she was struck in the thigh by a bolt from a crossbow.  She was dragged screaming from the fight.  Exhausted by the war, and secretly plotting to buy peace at any cost, Charles VII declared the battle lost and entreated Joan to withdraw.  She would not return to battle until the following year when she rode to relieve to city of Compiegne.  Wearing a long tunic over her suit of white armor, a Burgundian soldier grabbed it and pulled her from her horse.  She was then sold to the English and imprisoned to await trial and execution on charges of heresy and witchcraft.

For all his help in securing the crown for Charles, Gilles de Rais was showered with many honors, including being created the Marshall of France.  Having secured his throne, Charles now retreated into safety and security leaving Joan abandoned to her many enemies and Gilles de Rais to his dark fate.  He retired from the army and returned to his many properties, beginning his descent into madness and vast criminality .

He indulged in wild extravagance – the building of homes and chapels (one ironically named The Chapel of the Holy Innocents), lavish theatrical events, experiments in alchemy and black magic, acquisition of fine clothing as well as furniture and paintings – all of which began to erode his vast fortune.  His family, the Montmorency-Lavals, were forced to appeal to the King and the Pope to put a stop to his expenditures; a royal edict was issued in which no one was allowed to enter into a contract with him.  Then the children of the towns of Champtoché and Machecoul and various other areas began disappearing.  Mothers, who had allowed their children to work in the kitchens on the estates of Gilles De Rais had suspicions but feared retribution from this most powerful prince.   Hungry, homeless children who wandered the landscape were particularly vulnerable to Gilles’ henchmen.  Kidnapped, they were taken into hidden rooms in the castles where they were subjected to beastly sexual torture before being killed by stabbing and beheading and their bodies thrown into fire.

In the late 1430s, the Bishop of Nantes Jean de Malestroit began to investigate the accusations against Gilles brought by both the nobility and commoners.  In July of 1440, the Bishop issued a summons against him and he was arrested at the castle at Machecoul and imprisoned at Nantes.  He was tried by both an ecclesiastical and secular court on charges of property theft, murder and heresy.  During the testimony, the flustered and horrified scribes switched from impersonal Latin to vernacular French to better describe his awful crimes.  Gilles, meanwhile, alternated between pitiable submission to the courts and loud arrogance and denunciation of the proceedings.  It was only when shown the instruments of torture that would be used to extract a confession, he realized the jig was up.  He swiftly admitted guilt and gave a long, grisly recitation of his crimes.  He endured excommunication and reconciliation with the Church and was condemned to die by hanging and fire.  He met his fate with notable calm.

From there, he would pass from mortal man to the Bluebeard of French children’s nightmares.


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*Joan was said to fulfill a prophecy that “France would be ruined through a woman and afterwards restored by a virgin.”  The woman in question has often been said to be the profligate and conniving mother of Charles VII, Isabeau of Bavaria.  Charles VII doubted his royal parentage because of his mother’s promiscuous behavior and her open questioning of his legitimacy.  It is said that the famous secret Joan revealed to him at Chinon was that she knew he prayed to God to reveal who his father was.  Joan assured him that he was the true son of the mad King Charles VI.  The dauphin cried at the revelation and allowed Joan to escort the army to Orleans.


The Retrial of Joan of Arc, the Evidence for Her Vindication by Regine Pernoud

Joan of Arc by Herself and Her Witnesses by Regine Pernoud

Joan of Arc Her Story by Regine Pernoud and Marie-Veronique Clin

The Real Bluebeard The Life of Gilles de Rais by Jean Benedetti – an excellent and painful study of the Marshall of France.

The Maid and The Queen by Nancy Goldstone

Suggested reading:

All of the above.

Blood Red, Sister Rose by Thomas Keneally.  The great Australian novelist’s story of Joan’s military career.

Falstaff by Robert Nye.  The poet’s brilliant and libidinous novel of John Falstaff and his poignant and brief encounter with La Pucelle.










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Archetypal Richard III: Why Your Richard and My Richard Will Never Be the Same Man

Statue of Saint Michael defeating Satan, by Jacob Epstein, on the exterior wall of Coventry Cathedral, West Midlands, Coventry, England. (Photo by Steve Cadman; used by permission [stevecadman on Flickr].)

Statue of Saint Michael defeating Satan, by Jacob Epstein, on the exterior wall of Coventry Cathedral, West Midlands, Coventry, England. (Photo by Steve Cadman; used by permission [stevecadman on Flickr].)

“Without a bad guy, who could ever be good?”
~The Agent, “Sweet Redemption Music Company”

“Though it puzzles me to learn that though a man may be in doubt of what he knows, very quickly will he fight to prove that what he does not know is so.”
~”The King and I”

Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog,
Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell,
Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb,
Thou loathèd issue of thy father’s loins,
Thou rag of honor, thou detested—
~”Richard III” Act I, Scene III

“This is a man who stumbles and falls, but this is a man who tries. This is a man you forgive and forgive, and help and protect as long as you live.”
~”The King and I”

Speaking Archetypally

Have you ever said something like, “She’s a real witch,” or “He’s an absolute prince”? In that moment, you’ve looked at someone – or something – as an Archetypal Figure, and you’ve been speaking Archetype.

World history, religion, literature, and pop culture are full of Archetypal Figures. King Arthur, Lancelot, Elvis, William Wallace, Dracula, Buddha, Lord Elrond, Satan, Jesus Christ, Darth Vader, Superman, Hello Kitty, Captain Jack Sparrow, the Archangels Gabriel, Raphael, Michael and Uriel, and the Grim Reaper are just a few.

Shakespeare created the Archetypal Richard III, and for centuries many members of the audience have believed the Archetypal Figure is true to the man. Other audience members reject the Shakespearean model. They see the play and its characters as good literature, but bad biography. To them, this particular medieval king is a man needing his reputation and honor snatched back from the Tudors and restored.


Why Some People Hate Richard, But Are Incapable of Leaving Him Alone

Let’s say that I don’t like a contemporary singer, I’ll call him Munster Zample. A cursory search online reveals no one by the name of Munster Zample, so if a real Munster Zample is out there, please know that I’m not talking about you, and I mean you no harm.

Let’s say that I can’t stand [fictional] Munster, either as a man or as a singer. I don’t spend any of my time ferreting out the facts of his life or art, nor do I devote hours online spitting venom about him or his actions. I also don’t attack his friends, his family, or his fans. Munster Zample is off my planet to the point that if I run into a headline about him, I don’t bother reading the article. In short, I’m not interested in Munster Zample: I don’t care about what he’s up to, and I don’t feel the necessity to attack or attempt to influence any of his admirers. They’re welcome to him.

I can’t say the same about a few people who dislike or even loathe Richard III. A contingent referred to as “The Cairo Dwellers” repeatedly attack Richard and his supporters in a way that neatly parallels how Richard’s supporters repeatedly support him. “The Cairo Dwellers” are called thus because many members of this contingent travel far up the River of Denial while presenting their misconceptions as valid facts and arguments.

For a long time, I’ve wondered why those who see Richard as a victimizing, regicidal usurper, and those who see Richard III as no saint but still a victim of Tudor propaganda endlessly debate, argue, and attack one another, in print and online, in a useless attempt to prove one another wrong. Both Richard’s virtues and sins are so obscured at this distance, there are no absolute truths or proofs available to us regarding the real man, his motivations, or his actual actions. This lack means the debate can never end.

In the end, everyone – professional or amateur – who studies Richard sees him as they are, rather than the way Richard himself was. Each of us chooses a side, and off we go. I’ve learned that someone’s position regarding Richard III tells me far more about that someone than it does about Richard III. I’ve come to realize that each person interested in Richard’s life and times, whether in a negative or a positive way, has unconsciously attached an Archetypal Figure (or Figures) to him, and to those surrounding him as well.


What the Heck is an Archetypal Figure?

Two definitions of an Archetype are:

  1. A recurring symbol, particularly in art or literature.
  2. An original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied, or on which they are based; an artistic or literary prototype.

Examples of Archetypal Figures in art or literature are:

  1. Archetypal Tragic Hero/Heroine: Richard III (can also be a Hero), King Lear, Macbeth, Cassandra, Joan of Arc (can also be a Heroine), Anna Karenina. First you pity the Tragic Hero or Heroine as their fortunes fall, then you watch their downfall and sometimes their death due to a tragic flaw.
  1. Archetypal Hero/Heroine: Richard III (can also be a Tragic Hero), Frodo (can also be a Tragic Hero per Tolkien), Aragorn, Harry Potter, Elizabeth I, Hermione Granger, Joan of Arc (can also be a Tragic Heroine). Every Archetypal Hero or Heroine has an inherent virtue, a kind heart, and exhibits goodness. He or she is often alone in the world: many heroes/heroines are orphans, or they’ve experienced significant loss(es) before the story begins. In the course of the story, the hero or heroine fights an inherent evil or injustice in an attempt to restore balance and fairness to the world.


Welcome to the Light Side, and to the Dark Side: Both Sides Have Cookies

Every Archetypal Figure has a Light Side and a Shadow Side. Ironically enough, the qualities or faults that we dislike or even despise about a real or not-real individual are the qualities or faults we find in ourselves or in our behavior. This basically means if I loathe:

  1. The Saboteur in my manager who keeps sabotaging me by claiming my work as her own; or
  2. The Prostitute in my boyfriend whose “price” is a $100,000-a-year salary paid by a CEO who values my boyfriend’s willingness to “tweak” the profits ; or
  3. The Anti-Hero in Anakin Skywalker who is unrealistically redeemed by one good deed (saving his son’s life) after decades of deliberately hurting innocent people; or
  4. The Evil-Usurper in Richard III who executed the Knight in Anthony Woodville because Anthony was a pious and scholarly man who didn’t deserve to die, no matter what role he played after Edward IV died…

…it’s because something in the Saboteur, Prostitute, Anti-Hero, or Evil-Usurper’s Shadow Attributes is mirroring me. That is, I’m looking into a symbolic mirror that’s showing me something inside of me that I need to work on.

My strong reaction to any Archetypal Figure is a warning flare sent up by my inner-self. In the above examples, the message sent might be:

  1. I need to stop Sabotaging myself through my current boss’s dishonesty and find another job.
  2. Can I be bought? If so, what’s my price? How am I currently Prostituting myself – selling myself to the highest bidder rather than honoring my personal values?
  3. and 4. I need to stop being the sort of person who seeks to hurt other people before or after they’ve hurt me.

Take courage, because there’s a flip side to the squirmy realization that we’re as flawed as the people and characters we pass judgment on.

Have you ever felt an illogical, instantaneous attraction and admiration (more emotional or intellectual than sexual) to someone? Have you ever wanted to be near someone you just met, to take lessons in painting or acting or underwater basket-weaving from this person, regardless you have no prior interest in what they can teach you? Have you ever just wanted to spend time with someone because you’re inexplicably drawn to just listen to them or to be in their presence?

The people (alive or dead, real or not-real) we admire or are drawn to with this sort of magnetism possess Archetypal Light Attributes that are important to us. What we admire in them are usually attributes we need to develop in our own lives.

Let’s say I admire Lord Elrond of Lord of the Rings. I’m deeply attracted to Rivendell, which Elrond created as an Archetypal sanctuary and haven. If I dig deep enough to discover the symbolic Archetypal message behind my attraction to this fictional character, I’ll discover that I need to create a sanctuary and haven for myself in my real life. If I don’t dig deep enough to Figure out why Elrond resonates with me, then I’m liable to channel my attraction into something that creates a false sanctuary and haven in my real life – like writing fan-fiction based on Elrond and Rivendell, or projecting what I’m attracted to in Elrond onto an actor portraying him and following the actor’s career, which would get me nowhere in my own life.

Your strong reaction to any Archetypal Figure is akin to your inner bell signaling that your inner-self is trying to tell you one of four things:

  1. I want to be that; or
  2. I want to do that; or
  3. I don’t want to be like that; or
  4. I’m like that, and I need to change.


How Does All This Relate to Richard III and Others in His Life & Times?

Below is a table listing the Archetypal Figures, along with their light and dark attributes, which can be applied to how we see Richard III, Margaret Beaufort, and Henry Tydder.[i]

I was surprised at how many Archetypal Figures can be applied to Richard, Margaret and Henry. The list below isn’t exhaustive, either: you can likely come up with a number of others. The excessive number of Archetypal Figures that can be applied to these three people helps explain why so many people have such strong reactions to them, and why one person sees something in them another does not.

The Figures below are presented in alphabetical order. Note that some Archetypes cross over; meaning if you compare Richard and Margaret’s Figures, you’ll find they share some. The same applies to a comparison of Margaret and Henry, or Henry and Richard, or Henry and Margaret. This is because you personally interpret the Figures based on your own life experience and what the symbols for each Figure have come to mean to you.

What you see in Richard, Margaret, and Henry’s Archetypal Figures will never entirely match what someone else sees. In fact, disagreement is likely because each person works from their own symbolic, Archetypal meanings. And that’s just fine. No one’s reaction to or interpretation of these Archetypes is more or less valid than anyone else’s because different symbols mean different things to different people.

At this distance, Richard, Margaret, and Henry have all become Archetypal Figures themselves. So what you’re ultimately looking at in the tables below are layers and sub-layers of symbolic meaning, and the meanings are all your own. Remember: in the end, what you see in these Archetypes is like looking into a mirror; the Figures and their symbols reveal more about yourself than they do about the historical people involved.

While reviewing any Archetypal Figure, please try to remember that while each Archetype has a Light side and a Shadow side, it doesn’t follow that the Light side is good and the Shadow side is evil. Every Archetype and Archetypal Figure are neutral. We’re the ones who assign “good” and “bad” to their attributes.

Incidentally, you won’t easily change the way you view an Archetypal Figure, and neither will anyone else. Since every person’s view of a personal Archetype is buried deep in their psyche and based on their personal, intimate experiences with life itself, it’s folly to bully or mock someone in an attempt to change the way they see an Archetypal Figure. It just won’t work.

You may succeed in hurting the other person, but you’ll never understand why they feel the way they do about their own Archetypal Richard III, or any other Archetypal Figure in his circle. Neither will they ever understand yours.

And that’s all right.


Advocate Inspired to put compassion into action. Embracing negative causes or committing to causes for personal gain.
Child: Wounded Awakens compassion and desire to serve other Wounded Children. Opens the learning path of forgiveness. Blames all dysfunctional relationships on childhood wounds. Resists moving on through forgiveness.
Companion Loyalty, tenacity, and unselfishness. Betrayal by misusing confidences. Loss of personal identity.
Father Talent for creating and supporting life. Positive guiding light within a tribal unit. Dictatorial control. Abuse of authority.
God Benevolence & compassion. Recognizing the eternal force within oneself and others. Despotism & cruelty. Using power to control people.
Knight Loyalty, romance, and chivalry. A love of honor. Allegiance to a destructive ruler or principle. Romantic delusions.
Judge Balancing justice & compassion. Managing the fair distribution of power. Offering only destructive criticism. Misusing business, legal, or criminal authority.
King Enlightened, benevolent leadership. Benefiting those ruled over. Excessive feelings of entitlement. Rulership without restraint.
Lover Great passion & devotion. Unbridled appreciation of someone or something. Obsessive passion that harms others. Self-destructive devotion.
Martyr Learning the transcendent nature of service to oneself or a cause. Addition to self-pity.
Mediator Gift for negotiating fairness & strategy in personal and professional life. Respect for both sides of an argument. Negotiating with an ulterior motive or hidden agenda, either personally or professionally.
Messiah Serving humanity with humility. Exaggerated belief that you are the only means through which a cause can succeed.
Prince Romantic charm & potential for power. Using power for self-aggrandizement.
Rescuer Provides strength & support to others in crisis. Acts out of love with no expectation of reward. Assumes the rescued will reciprocate. Keeps the rescued one needy.
Samaritan Refines your capacity to help those you would prefer to ignore. Exacting appreciation & recognition for the help you offer.
Warrior Strength, skill, discipline, and toughness of will. Heroism, stoicism, & self-sacrifice in conquering the ego. Trading ethical principles for victory at any cost. Indifference to the suffering inflicted on others.


Avenger Desire to balance the scales of justice. Resorting to violence in the name of a cause.
Destroyer Releasing what is potentially destructive. Preparing for new life. Intoxication with destructive power. Destroying others’ dreams or potential.
Gossip Awakens consideration for the feelings of others. Honoring trust. Thrives on the power of passing on private or secret information. Betraying confidences.
Martyr Learning the transcendent nature of service to oneself or a cause. Addiction to self-pity.
Mentor Passing on wisdom & refining a student’s character. Inability to allow the student to move on to the role of Master. Imparting false instruction.
Mother Nurturance, patience, unconditional love. Joy in giving birth to life. Smothering or abandoning children. Instilling guilt in children for becoming independent.
Networker Enhances unity through the sharing of information. Engenders social awareness and empathy. Conveys information only for personal gain. Spreads fear and falsehood.
Queen Radiates a regal feminine. Uses her benevolent authority to protect others. Becomes arrogant when authority is challenged. Controlling and demanding.
Rescuer Provides strength and support to others in crisis. Acts out of love with no expectation of reward. Assumes the rescued will reciprocate. Keeps the rescued one needy.
Shape-Shifter Skill at navigating through different levels of consciousness. Ability to see the potential in everything. Projecting any image that serves your personal agenda in the moment.
Trickster Transcending convention, stuffiness, & predictable behavior. Manipulating others through duplicity.
Warrior Strength, skill, discipline, & toughness of will. Heroism, stoicism, and self-sacrifice in conquering the ego. Trading ethical principles for victory at any cost. Indifference to the suffering inflicted on others.


Beggar Confronts empowerment at the level of physical survival. Awakens the spiritual authority of humility, compassion, & self-esteem Dependence on others to the exclusion of effort.
Bully Highlights your tendency to intimidate others. Helps you confront the inner fears that bully you. Conceals deep fears behind verbal or physical abuse.
Child: Eternal Determination to remain young in body, mind, and spirit. Ability to see things with fresh eyes. Inability to grow up and be responsible. Extreme dependency on others for physical security.
Gambler Willingness to follow intuition, even when others doubt you. Relying on luck rather than hard work.
God Benevolence & compassion. Recognizing the eternal force within oneself and others. Despotism & cruelty. Using power to control people.
King Enlightened, benevolent leadership. Benefiting those ruled over. Excessive feelings of entitlement. Rulership without restraint.
Liberator Freeing yourself & others from outmoded beliefs. Releasing negative thought patterns. Imposing your own tyranny over those you claim to liberate. Ignoring legitimate constraints.
Midas/Miser Entrepreneurial or creative ability to turn anything to gold. Delight in sharing life’s riches. Hoarding money and emotions. Obsessive fear of losing your wealth.
Scribe Preserving knowledge & information. Altering facts or plagiarizing others’ work.


[i] The definitions are taken from Caroline Myss’s Archetype Cards. An invaluable source if you want to discern how Archetypal Figures affect your entire life and not just your point of view about Richard III is Myss’s book, Sacred Contracts.


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