Vulnerable, Vulnerably

by Christopher Lovejoy on March 28, 2022

Vulnerable: today, I’m letting this word give me pause so that I might drink of its juice.

In contemplation of “vulnerable,” I feel immediately drawn to the fact that it carries the affix -able, and so, what could “vulner-” possibly mean? “Vulner-” comes from the Latin “vulnerare,” which means “to wound.” Curiously, when I remain vulner-able, I am, quite literally, able to wound.

And so, by extension, vulner-ability is simply “the ability to wound.”

Example: the best Roman soldiers were vulner-able. I know, sounds funny, doesn’t it? I mean, the word vulnerable is normally taken by most contemporary persons in a passive sense: “able to be wounded.”

Interestingly, there’s a third side of “vulnerable” that is even more intriguing, but before we go there, let’s switch gears for a bit and take a close look at three potent archetypes of the human psyche as they apply to the notion of vulnerability: the child, the warrior, and the magician.

Child, Warrior, Magician

Archetypes of the psyche figure prominently in the work of C.G. Jung. For Jung, archetypes are not unlike magnets of influence that compel the human psyche to behave in certain proscribed ways, much like animal instincts do when they give rise to instinctive patterns of behavior.

Over eons, archetypes have coalesced (and continue to coalesce) into universal patterns of consciousness (not unlike motifs in narrative) that continue to this day to supply meaning, stir up feelings and trigger emotional reactions, and compel everyday behavior and conduct.

As an example, the child archetype has many aspects that have been showing up reliably over and over again for as long as human beings have occupied this planet, such as naive, needy, orphaned, natural, trusting, easy-going, magical, carefree, innocent, eternal, and divine.

In perusing this list, does any aspect jump out at you as being especially relevant to you?

Being the archetype of everlasting renewal, the archetypal child is typically open to playful, positive exploration. Those who have come under its influence are generally easy-going, have a carefree approach to life, and tend to trust others quickly and easily much if not most of the time.

Like the child archetype, the warrior archetype also has a long list of aspects: aggressive (in its true sense, one that embodies initiative, effort, energy, and forcefulness), mindful, skillful, purposeful, adaptable, minimalistic, decisive, loyal, disciplined, and emotionally detached.

Being the archetype of creative destruction, the archetypal warrior in its fullness only destroys to make room for that which is new, fresh, and more alive than before. We tap this archetype when we remain intent on removing a bad habit and replacing it with a more productive one.

Those under the influence of the warrior archetype are mission-driven or purpose-driven, naturally inclined to set goals, strive for goals, meet goals, and feel pride in meeting said goals to the extent to which they can overcome challenges, difficulties, and obstacles along the way.

True warriors ~ warriors in their fullness, with integrated shadows, without being hypercritical, controlling, or cowardly ~ enjoy “the win;” they feel energized in the act of safeguarding themselves and others; and they feel invigorated when they spearhead a campaign or crusade.

By contrast, those under the influence of the magician archetype strive to make dreams come true, drawing on knowledge and wisdom of how and why the world works as it does; going and growing with the knowing and flowing, they explore and expand promise and possibility.

Magical persons “consume less to create more.” In service to creation, they might craft daily routines, with or without a mentor, to realize their dreams, e.g., a daily meditation practice. Oftentimes, they are seeking and finding any excuse to magically employ their eyes, hands, voices, or bodies.

In view of these archetypes, let’s now turn our attention to the three sides of vulnerability.

The Three Sides of Vulnerable

I would submit that all three senses of vulnerable are valuable (sorry, couldn’t resist), all the more so when they’re viewed in context, one in relation to the others, and so, in keeping with the archetypes laid bare above, let’s begin with the passive interpretation of “vulnerable.”

(1) The Vulnerable Child = “Able to Be Wounded”

By remaining vulner-able in this sense, I remain ready, willing, and able to be wounded in a particular way, not in a masochistic sense (though this sense, admittedly, could apply to those who so identify), but in the sense of retaining access to tender feelings and gentle manners.

By contrast, the other side of the coin is that if I feel exposed to any possibility of physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual harm, I had better be vulner-able ~ be able to wound ~ to shrink the time it takes to exercise a defensive measure, no matter how compromised or diminished.

(2) The Vulnerable Warrior = “Able to Wound”

By remaining vulner-able in this sense, I remain, quite literally, ready, willing, and able to inflict a wound in a particular way, for a particular reason, if and when and where this is necessary, which, by implication, would suggest a readiness not to be wounded in that same way.

Either way, I remain poised to inflict a wound or to defend against said wound. Like an able Roman soldier ~ indeed, like a vulner-able Roman soldier ~ my focus draws its strength and resolve, at least initially, from the ability to inflict a wound, not from the intention to wound.

In word or deed, such wounds need not only be physical in nature. In being emotionally vulner-able, I can be poised to enjoin opportunity with preparation, knowing that I can trust myself or others only to the degree or extent to which I can remain poised to strike, if only gently.

(3) The Vulnerable Magician : “Able to Heal the Wound”

By remaining vulner-able in this sense, I remain able to show up as my true self, to liv ‘n luv the most authentic version of myself, while crafting the most authentic version of my life, no matter how daunting or difficult this might seem to be when the time comes to perform magic.

The magician is ever ready to toggle or juggle the passive, literal, and active sides of “vulnerable.”

The Way to Be is to be . . . Vulnerable

The concentric spheres in which, from which, through which, to exercise vulner-ability are many.

First, the vulnerable core, within myself, for myself; and then, with someone I trust; and then, with a few someones I trust; and then, with more than a few whom I can trust; and then, with many to trust; and then, finally, with almost everyone, whether they care enough to trust me.

In these circles, many are the ways of “vulnerable” :

  • might I be the first to open up, to speak my truth?
  • might I be the first to say “no” without explanation?
  • might I be the first to speak openly and candidly?
  • might I be the first to move against the status quo?

In asking, ’tis not my intent to be hard ‘n haughty.

  • might I be the first to be the beginner at doing?
  • might I be the first to express a stronger feeling?
  • might I be the first to show you how much I care?
  • might I be the first to request help when I realize . . .

This latter query reminds me of just how often I can be vulnerable when I care and dare enough to request help, for support or assistance; this latter query also reminds me of just how much and how often I can feel vulnerable, and yet, welcome opportunities to also lend a hand when . . .

  • my needs are not a priority, so that I might attend to the welfare of another;
  • I am without complex feelings of loss, so that I might stay loyal to the cause;
  • I do not suffer, so that I might absorb hardship with few, if any, complaints;
  • no feeling of betrayal clouds my judgment, so that I might live up to my code;
  • I feel no need to minimize my imperfections, so that I might remain effective

Here, I am reminded of two ways to be wealthy: to have all that I desire or to desire all that I have. To be vulner-able, the latter option seems so much easier; if the incline is towards more, and ever more, what hope or chance is there of tasting the nectar of wealth and freedom both?

Vulner-ably, might it not be better to invite rather than incline?

Paradise, Connection, Structure, Contribution

We live in a world of many archetypes, with ready access to at least a few of these archetypes, with many functions that provide many ways of being in the world. In terms of these archetypes ~ child, warrior, magician ~ I engage the world through these four modes of approach:

focus through one of three lenses of paradise (begin with the end in mind)
safety and security (child), peace and freedom (warrior), knowledge and wisdom (magician)

focus through one of three lenses of connection (no people, no meaning)
safety and belonging (child), testing and training (warrior), sensitivity and intimacy (magician)

focus through one of three lenses of structure (structure determines behavior)
safety and service (child), conformity and control (warrior), creation and innovation (magician)

focus through one of three lenses of contribution (to leave a legacy in the world)
safety and mystery (child), control and mastery (warrior), mystery and mastery (magician)

It might seem obvious to the casual observer that the warrior archetype is incompatible with the other two archetypes (child and magician); it might also seem obvious that these latter two archetypes are also incompatible with each other, at least on the surface of innerstanding.

Let’s close out this post with a closer look.

In Search of Archetypal Integration

So far, we’ve examined three sides of vulnerable in view of three basic archetypes ~ child, warrior, and magician. We’ve also briefly examined what vulnerability can look like in real life more generally.

So just how compatible are these archetypes? We’ve already seen hints that these archetypes are compatible enough to be integrated by the way each type handles vulnerability: the Child is able to be wounded; the Warrior is able to wound; and the Magician is able to heal the wound.

Wounds can be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual; they can sow division and exclusion; when inflicted, they can be nursed and they can be healed, though they can also lead to estrangement or derangement. In the final analysis, the archetypal wound is the wound of separation.

This wound becomes apparent when I contemplate a graceful exit strategy:

  1. have a plan A and a plan B for each circumstance (job, home, business)
  2. be clear about who or what you are releasing (a person, place, or thing?)
  3. plan as far and wide in advance as possible (to minimize nasty surprises)
  4. ensure the necessary resources asap for bringing the plan to completion

We were all born to be children and, whether we like it or not, we all need (eventually) to contend with being a warrior of sorts and (eventually) come to terms with using magical means to manifest magical ends, preferably without much if any deception, manipulation, or exploitation.

As far as I can see, psychic integration (or, if you prefer, integration of the psyche) moves in two directions at once: in a horizontal direction and in a vertical direction; that is, (1) onward developmental integration from birth to death, and (2) along the upward spiral of integration.

Where the evolution and ascension, transcension and inclusion, of the archetypal child, warrior, and magician are concerned, is it even possible to move consciously and deliberately from innerstanding to initiation to integration ~ and back (down) again? I wonder: what are the odds?

I suppose what I’m asking is this: magical warrior child? Or magical child?

And so, could we not evolve and ascend to craft a world for the magical child, one where comedy is spontaneous, and one where the impacts of tragedy are carefully, if not masterfully, transcended and included? What would it take? What would it not take? Any ideas?

Onward and upward!


Food for Thought

On the matter of sensitivity, am I sensitive? Or am I too sensitive?

As a positive quality, sensitivity speaks to me; as a negative condition, sensitivity gives me pause.

Speaking positively, am I quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences that seem relevant to me, both from within and without? Or, negatively speaking, am I just too quick (or not quick enough) to detect or respond to such changes, signals, or influences?

Speaking positively, can I enjoy and display an easy innerstanding and appreciation for the feelings of others? Or am I just too quick to dampen or downplay an appreciation of those same feelings?

Ouch! Sensitive? Or too sensitive?


our one desire is to conjure a wholly fulfilling timeline in spacetime
where’s the impasse? wherein lies the will to wisdom and freedom?

~ yours

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