Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Hades archetype: an in-depth look

Exceprts from "Gods in Everyman" Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.

Hades as the Ploughton- The Archetype of The Rich One

A different type of reclusive Hades may have sampled the outer world, and know that he
prefers the subjectivity and richness of his interior world - the Plouton or “riches” aspect
of Hades. In our extraverted culture, which emphasizes productivity, people are not
encouraged to spend time alone “doing nothing”.  Thus the introverted recluse is judged
negatively, or considered peculiar for spending so much time alone.

Hades the reclusive Ploughton is, however, a “missing” part in many people, who do not
value opportunities to be introverted in they way that this archetype can be.  Introverts
can live an interior life in touch with their own subjective reactions to outer experience. 
A type of introversion (introverted sensation, in Jung’s psychological topology) may be
experienced as inner dialogues, visions, or bodily sensations.

To have Hades as part of ones psychological nature can be very enriching. Hades the
recluse is a source of creativity that can be expressed through the arts, often in visual
arts. However, without access to Zeus’ view of objective reality, and Poseidon’s
emotional responsiveness, which are needed to balance and make sense of Hades’
subjective perceptions, the person runs a danger of emotional isolation and withdrawal
into a world of one’s own.

Hades the Man

The theme for Hades is how to adapt: Can he stay true to himself and also fit into the
outer world? His innate subjective predispotion is not encouraged; on the contrary, he is
measured against a personality standard that is the very opposite of who he is. He usually
grows up in a culture that is foreign to him, that requires him to grow beyond the
confines of this archetype if he is to find a place in it.

Early Years

The introverted child such as Hades does not usually make a strong impression. The
invisibility for which Hades was noted sets in early. Because he does not have either a
strong will or a get-into-an-uproar personality like his brothers, as far as others are
concerned, he often seems to react unexpectedly, especially to new people and new
situations. How something or someone appears to others isn’t what he is reacting to; how
it subjectively affects him is responsible for how he reacts.

Even if he does nothing out of the ordinary he prefers to hold back and take in
experience rather than reach out for it. So he will appear shy as a little child and serious
and withdrawn as he gets older.

There is something autistic about the Hades personality that shows early. When he is
distressed, the sensations he perceives or the impressions he experiences may be purely
subjective, so that others don’t fathom what is going on

So the Hades boy may thus feel unwelcome in the world as he is and find that his interior
world is, in contrast, a refuge. The Hades boy enjoys his own company, anyway and wants
to spend time by himself - or perhaps with an imaginary friends. From nursery school
onward he is intruded on by others needs for him to be more social, and he probably
continues to thwart the nurturing needs that his mother may have for him to be
dependant on and responsive to her.

Adolescence and Early Adulthood

A Hades adolescent follows a very different drummer and runs into trouble when he tries
to conform to the beat of adolescent conformity. He doesn’t know how others just seem
to know what the fads are, doesn’t get caught in having the “right” clothes and would
just as soon miss most of the “right” parties even if he were invited. If he has developed
an extraverted side to himself that is “good enough” to let him get by, and has the inner
security to be himself, he knows by now that he is a distinct individual and has tested the
conversational waters enough to conclude that he prefers his own company to most
people.  By now he may have one or two friends, which is as many as he wants.

For him to get into college or into a career requires development of other archetypes.
Education promotes Apollo’s rational thinking and objective perceptions and teaches
writing and speaking, which are Hermes qualities. Both gods help him to be more
extraverted.  He runs danger of doing this too well and tries to be what others expect of
him- a risk of entering a work world in which he can be competent, but that has no depth
of meaning for him.


The key that can connect inner and outer worlds for him is to have an interest that grows
out of his inner experiences develop into an occupation. This provides him an in-the-
world identity and means making a living through doing something that has meaning for

This archetype is unempowering, in that ambition, communication and persona are all
lacking. Unless he develops other archetypes, he could “drop by the wayside” in his high
school years and anytime thereafter. He may not be hired for anything other than
unskilled work at marginal pay. Whatever he does do, he often does quite seriously. He
often stays at a repetitious job that offers no challenge because his “real” life is the
interior one.

If a Hades man has a well-developed Hermes (the archetypal communicator- who can
move between worlds and carry information between them- and the conductor of souls to
the underworld) then he may bring the depth level to which he has aces up to the world.
These two archetypes function together in film making, depth psychology, and other
fields. Here he may find that he has special gifts to do deeply meaningful work that he
loves to do for its own sake.


Yet like Dante, who saw Beatrice once and was then inspired by his inner relationship with
her to write The Divine Comedy, Hades men can be deeply affected by their subjective
inner experience of a woman whom they hardly know. A Hades man is also capable of
having a deep soulmate connection with a woman, who can share the riches of the inner

The reclusive and secretive Hades does not know how to enjoy the camaraderie of other
men. He feels apart and makes his way in a world pretty much as a loner. Other men let
him be. Something about him keeps him from being picked on - or included. Being one of
the boys doesn’t matter to him, which gives them no shunning power, and something bout
his inner orientation conveys strength. He is “different” but not in a way that invited
being a victim. The few friends that he might have in his life will have to enter his realm,
perhaps drawn into discussion about his perception.

If he finds a woman to love him, he will get married. Like Zeus and Poseidon, Hades men
also want to establish households, and have stability and order. Marriage is crucial in
determining the course of his life. Without marriage, he will stay a loner, and an outsider,
maybe a recluse. With a wife and children he becomes part of a family and community
through them. His wife mediates between her introverted husband, who is often
inaccessible to others, and other people. Often she interprets to his children as well.

If he has the support of a family a community and works, then most likely he is the stable,
patriarchal head of a family. If he developed an intellectual life, he may be an
academician, absorbed in an interest that allows for a rich interior life. If he has
developed an expressive ability in the arts or literature, his work is highly subjective.

If he has developed and lived out several other archetypes through his significant,
enduring relationships and work, he may have entered both the emotional realm and the
realm of the mind and will as well as the interior realm. Without Hades as a primary or
major archetype, a man may not naturally develop a familiarity with this realm. Many men
do not, especially those who find the outer–world tasks of the first half of life easy. Thus
the Hades man who has had to adapt to outer life is at midlife more often fully integrated
in these three spheres than most men.

Psychological Difficulties: The Invisible Man

Often, like the god who hardly ever left his realm, and had a cap of invisibility when he
did, a Hades man is unseen because he avoids people or, if he’s present, he doesn’t show
himself. Because, he’s not interested in whatever is going on in the world anyway, so he’s
not up on sports, current fads, political news, the chit-chat of a cocktail party and the
backyard barbeque. And his reactions are subjective, anyway, which strikes others as
peculiar, so he’s learned to be quiet and invisible rather than inappropriate.

The Loner Personality: A Schizoid Person

The Hades man has a predisposition to be alone. If  circumstance and people confirm his
tendency to mistrust others and feel inadequate in a competitive world, he will withdraw
into himself. He keeps to himself what he perceives and how he reacts. Others let him be
reclusive, since his nonverbal and often verbal message is “Leave me alone.” As a loner,
he can live in a closed-off inner world, leading a schizoid existence based on a stable but
constricted psychological disorder

Inferiority complex

If we use Jung’s descriptions of psychological types and accept his observations that the
“inferior” function is usually devalued and the opposite of the most conscious, utilized
“superior” function, Hades represents the inferior function in the Western, patriarchal
industrial world. What is valued are hard facts or objective reality and logical thinking;
what is rewarded is the ability to get to the top, to successfully compete for status,
power, affluence. So Hades is likely to suffer from feelings of inferiority, low self-
esteem, and lack of confidence, because he is not up to “the standard” of what a man
should be like.

Inferior performance in this culture is also a source of low self-esteem. It is hard to
compete in a foreign culture, and this situation is equivalent. The dominant extraverted,
competitive culture is foreign to the Hades man. Yet it is possible to compensate, to
develop a  second language, adapt well to a different culture, and even excel. Still, he
often has an underlying feeling of inferiority, a continual monitoring of himself, and a
feeling of somehow being a fake when success comes.

Difficulties For Others

The difficulty Hades creates for others by being himself is that he lives in his interior
realm, and the rest of the world usually lives elsewhere. The direction of his psychic
energy or libido is inward. And his significant others want some of that energy to flow
outward into their relationship or into the world. At the very least, they want Hades to
communicate about what is going on down there. Loving someone with a reclusive nature
is especially hard for extraverts, who may take their exclusion personally and think that
they have done something wrong when an introverted partner or child withdraws. That
very tension and the tendency for opposites to attract can draw Hades out- or can make
the other person more introverted or lonely.

Ways to Grow

A Hades man will be an isolated person unless he develops other aspects of himself. He
needs to develop a persona to be approachable and visible, and to find the means to
express his inner experience.

A persona is the face we wear into the world. The Latin word person meant “mask”, and
referred to the masks that were worn on stage, which made the role the actor was to play
immediately recognizable. A persona is how we present ourselves, the initial impression
we make. A Hades man who lives more in his inner world than in the outer world must
consciously craft himself an appropriate persona, putting some thought into how he
presents himself. Since the small talk that allows strangers to be at ease with each other
does not come naturally to him, he’ll need to put some thought into what he says and
how he wants to come across. A well-functioning persona - like the clothes we wear -
needs to be appropriate to the situation, as well as reflect the person. Hades needs to
make an effort to be both visible and approachable, in other words.

Finding Persephone

A Hades man will do well to find a receptive woman who can mediate for him with the
world. A Hades man will gradually open up and share his perceptions and richness of his
inner life, but he must first be accessible. “Persephone” does this for him, either as a real
woman, or as his anima - which Jung describes as the unconscious feminine aspect of a
man through which he expresses gentleness, emotionality, and sentiment. This
expressiveness softens his more forbidding aspects and makes him more approachable.

Activating Hermes

Hermes was the only god that freely entered and left Hades’ realm. As Messenger god and
psychopomp (which means guide of souls), Hermes delivered messages, guided souls to
Hades, and came for Persephone. He was noted for the suddenness of his appearance-
which is how an intuitive insight arrives on the scene- as well as for the quickness of his
mind and his facility with words. When Hades and Hermes are present together, Hermes is
the means through which the images or shades in the underworld of Hades are understood
and then communicated to others.  This is what C.G. Jung did when he described the
archetypes of the collective unconscious.  If through reading Jung and other analytical
(Jungian) psychologists or poets such as T.S. Eliot, a Hades man finds the vocabulary to
convey the riches of his inner experience, then his own Hermes has been activated.

Drawing on other gods - Going out into the world.

The man who is predominantly and innately an introverted Hades usually has ample
opportunity to develop other archetypes, which is the way he grows. All the years of
compulsory education draw on Apollo qualities. Living in linear time, meeting schedules,
thinking scientifically, rationally explaining cause and effect help develop this archetype.
Putting ideas into words is also a part of school that develops Hermes. And if he is loved
or loves anyone, then the realm of emotions also becomes a place in which he grows.

A Hades man who recognizes himself in these pages and realizes that his family was so
dysfunctional that he withdrew too much into himself, can grow psychologically beyond
Hades as an adult. It begins with a decision and a commitment to do so. Then it takes
courage, to venture out of the world of his own in which he found safety and isolation.

If he realizes that he is spending too much time in his inner world, he might structure his
time to focus more on the outer world; he could take courses that will teach him what he
feels he does not know, or take up a skill and concentrate on it.

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