The Ancient Art of Arkhelogy: The Importance of the Core Self and Core Writing

Jennifer van Bergen

[Note: This is the fourth part in a seven-part series.]

PART FOUR: The Arkhelogy Program

The Arkhelogy Program is made up of an introductory or beginner course, an intermediate course, and advanced work. The introductory course teaches all the component skills through exercises. At the conclusion of the introductory course, the teacher shows the students how the component skills work together, but students are not yet asked to integrate the skills. This course takes from six weeks to four months, depending on how often the class meets.

In the intermediate course, the process is the exact inverse of the beginner course. In the beginner course, students work from one exercise to the next, in sequence, applying each skill mechanically as they go. In the intermediate course, students bring their material to the teacher and the teacher applies the Arkhelogy Method to that content. The teacher will request that material from the student based on her knowledge of the student, previous work, and on questions she asks him or her.

During the beginner phase, the student does all the work and the teacher's only task is to guide the student to do each exercise completely and correctly. During the intermediate phase, the teacher does all the work with the student's material, working with the student closely to ensure that the teacher's work is accurate as to that material, working closely with the material to ensure careful application of the method, and showing the student how to apply the Arkhelogy Approach to it.

Gradually, the student shifts from doing each component skill separately and mechanically and starts to integrate all the skills into doing the global skill of Arkhelogy. This process takes many months and sometimes years. A student may be “doing archetypes” in one part of his material but resist applying the skill to other content areas in his life. A student may fully grasp and be able to utilize the Arkhelogy skill but recoil and revolt, refusing its efficacy or application, at some seemingly random or meaningless point. Each of these points is significant in the work and is part of the process.

Again, a mere descriptive list of the exercises cannot in any way fully or accurately represent the Arkhelogy Method. The component skills themselves do not “add up” to the global skill of doing archetypes, nor can one who has mastered the Arkhelogy skill break down her work into the component skills. The separate skills simply merge into the global skill, and the global skill itself becomes natural, automatic, unconscious. Once the circuit is connected, it is like a switch turned on. The skill applies universally to everything and neither the insights nor the outcome of its application can be anticipated since the content of each and every person will vary from one another. Furthermore, the skill, since it already existed previously in the person, becomes merged with the rest of his or her personality and is no longer separable. The master student can no longer say “I'm doing one of the exercises,” or “I'm practicing doing archetypes.” She will say “It's just something I noticed.”

The Component Skills

There are six specific “separating out” component skills. In these exercises, the student learns to separate out one fact, one drive, one discrepancy, one analogue, one moment, or one realm from another. An invisible thread that runs through all these exercises, which is apart from the mechanical, mental function of separating out, is “emotional access work.” Always, the teacher must encourage the student to allow himself to feel whatever he feels and to record those feelings on a separate sheet from the exercise work.

“Separating-Out” Skills

In the character facts exercise, one lists facts about a selected person. The two main rules are use no adjectives and do not give your opinions. You may only list what is observable: in other words, what the observed person DOES and says. This prevents you from relying on a pre-formed opinion, one which already has a pre-existing judgment or opinion of the person, leaving no room for anything beyond that opinion. It teaches you how to really observe without judgment. This is a necessary skill if you are going to discover the archetypes carried in people.

In the universal drives exercise, the learner chooses a monologue from a monologue book and attempts to figure out, first, what goals the character has in the monologue and then, second, what is the character's most basic drive.

In the discrepancies exercise, the student finds a simple discrepancy in a person and frames it into a two-part sentence, such as “She says she loves nature but she lives in the city.” Here we begin the mechanical steps that will lead to forming archetypes. This step is also crucial because it starts the process of generalizing (universalizing) specific behaviors. (See ectypes below.)

In the analogues exercise, the student relates to something that happened to someone else. The student must identify an incident that she has observed in another person's life, identify what she thinks that person experienced/felt, then find an incident in her own life (which is NOT factually identical or similar to the other incident) in which she felt the same way. This is a powerful exercise that works directly on developing practitioners abilities to see from another person's point of view.

Being in the moment is self-explanatory. The student selects a moment and tries to imagine time stopped. This is a difficult exercise that we use mostly to identify the skill, which is easier to use in analogues, but is, in fact, a separate skill.

An additional exercise that does not train a skill but teaches a concept is the universes of discourse exercise in which students watch movies from a list of “UoD” movies and separates out the two universes of discourse. For example, in a ghost movie, the UoDs are the ghost world and the world of the living.

Integrating Skills

The first step toward folding the separating-out skills into the global archetypes skill is called ectypes. The student takes a specific discrepancy sentence and turns it into a generic sentence by changing the individual's name to “S/he is the one who....(says she loves nature but lives in the city).” This is a simple mechanical step but it changes a specific action (and specific person acting) into a generic action. It changes the focus from the particular doer to the content and meaning of the action itself. Thus, “Frank winks when he says he hates reading books” becomes “he is the one who winks when he says he hates reading books.”

Then comes isotypes. In isotypes work, we search for an example of something that has a similar (but not identical) meaning to our ectype sentence. We ask “What is similar to reading books? What is similar to hating reading books? What is similar to someone who reads books and to someone who hates reading them? What is similar to winking? What is similar to someone winking and saying he hates books?” Through this process, we must ask what each thing means: What does it mean to read books, to hate to read them? What does it mean to wink? What does it mean to be someone who hates reading books? And so on.

The search for an isotype can take hours, days, weeks, months, years. Students just starting out with archetypes work will begin with simple discrepancy sentences. As students advance, they will learn how to work with more complex juxtapositions in what is called “two-column work.” Instead of just a two-part sentence, students use two columns to show discrepancies and juxtapositions.

Here's an example of a more complex set: a man who grew up in an all-female household is impotent unless he imagines he's raping his sexual partner. We could add and subtract other facts, such as that he is a solo practicing criminal defense attorney, that he has two daughters, that he practices in a major city, that he collaborates equally well with women as with men attorneys, etc. In the process of selecting which facts will make up the isotype, we consider the meaning of each fact or fact combination. If what draws your attention is that he grew up surrounded by females and is impotent, you then look for isotypes: other examples which have a similar meaning but different set of facts. Is it similar to grow up surrounded by war lords? If so, what would the second component be? What would be like impotence in relation to growing up around females in the context of war lords? Would it be similar to be an Asian child adopted by a Caucasian family?

Isotypes work leads to archetypes. A person who practices doing isotypes for some time will eventually end up doing archetypes. There is no “doing archetypes” exercise, for this reason. Similarly, it is impossible to train someone simply to “do archetypes.” All the other components must be working in tandem for one to “do archetypes.” Yet, the act of searching for other examples through meaning trains the mind to discern the common pattern of organization for the particular human behaviors under observation.

Eventually, the practitioner of Arkhelogy will be able to identify a nascent archetype and will know the outcome – the destiny, as it were, of that archetype. This is where the seer-phenomenon comes from, because arkhelogers see archetypes in people's daily behaviors and come to know how they play out.


Appendix D: Van Bergen (2007). Chart of Tasks, Exercises, & Skills



Skill/Ability Name

Translation or meaning

What it is NOT

Character facts

Identifying relevant CF’s
& separating out facts
from one’s opinions
Gnos-anthro Knowing people Judgment, opinion,
logical conclusions,
adjectival descriptiontest1

Being in the moment

Slowing down
and suspending
sense of time

Making time
sing or roar

Meditation, trance,
hypnosis, free
sensory awareness

Universal drives

the whole life
& what drives
the person
Gnos-amianthy Knowing the un-extinguishable Freudian drives
(Eros, Thantos)


Seeing &
contrasting things
Parably Placing next to Critique, criticism,
logical deduction,
devil’s advocacy,


home to
oneself what
another person
feels or experiences
Homopathy Having
similar feelings
as another
Pitying, judging,
using metaphors
or analogies to

of discourse

the elements
& rules of
the dual
(This exercise
is not about a
skill; it is to teach
the ways of
the dual mind.)

Emotional access

your feelings
Anthropathy Having
sharing feelings


Perceiving &
Arkhelogy Knowing
the highest,
primary thing
Esoteric arts,
tarot, magic,

from specific
to general
Ectypy Making general Generalizing,


Finding other
examples by
Isotypy Finding things
with similar
Finding analogies
or metaphors


PART ONE: Arkhelogy: A Gateway to the Self
PART TWO: The Archetypal – The Eternal & Eye of the Soul
PART THREE: Some Principles of the Ancient Art of Arkhelogy
PART X: The Arkhelogy Skill: Lost in Time
PART SIX: International High School Writing Programs
PART SEVEN: An Arkhelogy Program for International Schools

Jennifer Van Bergen is an author, educator, and environmentalist currently living in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches English and Law at Sante Fe College. Van Bergen is a former faculty member of the New School University in NYC, where she taught a course in the Writing Program that she eventually developed into her book Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious. Van Bergen is also the author of The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America. She has also published several scholarly law articles, including one on the 1801 electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, here. [ ]


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