Author Jean Bolen Discusses Women’s Activism & Artemis Archetype
Jean Shinoda Bolen, author, Jungian analyst, activist and highly accomplished professional who is respected worldwide for her influence and works in the areas of psychiatry, health, healing, neurology, peace and the women’s movement, was a riveting and commanding presence as she spoke recently to a room of mostly female students and faculty in the Schine Auditorium at Sacred Heart University.
Following a luncheon, Bolen’s talk focused on the “Indomitable Spirit in Activists and the Archetype of Artemis,” two topics with which she is intimately familiar as a past board member of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the leading advocate for a United Nations Fifth World Conference on Women, author of 13 books in over 80 translations including Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman and star of three acclaimed documentaries—the Academy Award-winning anti-nuclear proliferation film Women – For America, For the World; the Canadian Film Board’s Goddess Remembered; and Femme: Women Healing the World.
Introduced by Mary Lou DeRosa, vice provost for Special Academic Programs at SHU, Bolen, who was visiting the University on a weekend break from her participation in the U.N.’s March 9-20 Commission on the Status of Women, began her presentation commenting on her writing process and inspirations. “I write a book when I become pregnant with one. I get an idea; I get the energy for it and start the labor of research,” she said. “The archetype of Artemis was liberated by the women’s movement.”
Bolen explained that Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the Hunt and Moon, whose realm was the wilderness and symbol was the mother bear, is the archetype in women who have an innate sense of social justice, desire for equality with men and sisterhood with women. Untamed and unsubdued, the archetype enables women to focus on targets of their own choosing, to be protective of girls and the environment and have a spiritual connection with nature. Real-life and fictional examples of women who embody Artemis include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai; fictional Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and Jo in Little Women; Gloria Steinem; Angelina Jolie in her position as the special U.N. representative of UNICEF; and Wangari Matthai, the Nobel laureate who inspired the Green Belt movement in Africa, Bolen said.
As a Jungian analyst, Bolen noted that she is inspired by the works of Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. “Jung said that there are patterns deep within us that influence us. Different people have different abilities and skills, and some show up early. We often connect with a character like Artemis, because we recognize patterns within that character that are also within us,” she said.
She continued, “I see Artemis as the symbol for the women’s movement—a kind of mother bear—and you don’t get between a mother bear and her cubs. I’m pleased with the recent progress in popular culture of featuring the Artemis archetype through confident heroines. There’s a real opportunity for women to live out the Artemis archetype that wasn’t before possible.”