Find Your Warrior Archetype, Sisters: We are in the Fight of our Lives by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

I read a news story this week about dozens of children sex trafficked at an auto show in Detroit. I read about a young man getting no jail time for sexually assaulting a six year old girl… sex traffickers targeting and grooming girls through internet apps for children… white women still earn $0.80 for every dollar men earn, and women of color even less… the Supreme Court may kill Roe v. Wade this week… five women executed in a bank, and the media ignored it… many men used the government shutdown to coerce (rape) poor, desperate mothers into trading sex for money or food… yet another gunman shot his ex-girlfriend and four other people…

There’s plenty more bad news. We live in a collapsing, apocalyptic dystopian misogynistic nightmare. Misogynist violence floods to us in a toxic deluge from billboards, magazines, movies, TV shows, ads, games, and most interactions with family, friends, and our culture.

How do we survive in this holocaust? How do we keep sane? How do we protect that which we hold most dear?

As a professional Peacebuilder, I know well how violence begets violence. Our culture continually promotes the false narrative that one more war will bring peace, one more fight will end the fighting. People sometimes misunderstand archetypes and assume the idea of a “Warrior archetype” has something to do with this myth of redemptive violence. It has certainly been misused that way, just as the Nurturer archetype has been misused to mean smothering a child/partner and not letting h/er have healthy boundaries or independence. Similarly, the Seeker archetype can be distorted such that people look down their noses in smug superiority. Every archetype can be misused by the ego to perpetrate violence.

The beauty of archetypes (which were developed by Spielrein, not Jung – he raped her and stole her ideas, passing them off as his own) – is their mythic ability to guide us beyond our flawed human manifestations of them, similar to Plato’s Ideal Forms. So do not be confused by distortions of Warrior archetype, common in a misogynist patriarchal culture. You who know that patriarchy defines feminists as rabidly insane man-hating homewreckers ought to know not to accept what patriarchy hands us as “truth.”

In times such as these, we need courage to persist, nevertheless, even when the going gets tough. We need to be brave in the face of suffering. We need to move beyond our fears and join our voices in liberative strength. We need to speak and march and act for and with vulnerable ones who are oppressed, downtrodden, and silenced.

We also need the Warrior archetype to help us move beyond the fears that drive our egos, so we can speak and act from a place of virtue rather than self-gratification. For example, see Dan Millman (The Peaceful Warrior), the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa (Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior), and Prof. Robert Thurman.

As Kiersten Marek tells children, “The Warrior is acting in us when we feel a deep need to make things right.”

Let’s find some examples! Quotes and stories of strong Warrior archetypes can give us a boost when our courage flags:

When life gives you something that makes you feel afraid, that’s when life gives you a chance to be brave.

— Lupytha Hermin

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

— Maya Angelou

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

— Audre Lorde

Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power – not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.

—bell hooks

You know, house-elves get a very raw deal! It’s slavery, that’s what it is! That Mr. Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he’s got her bewitched so she can’t even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn’t anyone do something about it?
—Hermione Granger

Poe, get your head out of your cockpit. There are things you cannot solve by jumping in your X-wing and blowing something up. I need you to learn that.

— General Leia Organa

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.
—Carrie Fisher

With one sweep of my arm, I push her behind me.

“I volunteer!” I gasp. “I volunteer as tribute!”
—Katniss Everdeen

I know how to run without you holding my hand.


I did my job. Despite your best efforts and your incompetence, I succeeded where you failed.

—Lorraine Broughton

Yeah, right. How were you supposed to know? Fucking men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you’re so creative. You don’t know what it’s like to really create something. to create a life. To feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction.

—Sarah Connor

Guts. Grit. Perseverance. Climate scientists such as Kate Marvel have lost hope. They are now telling us that Courage is all we have left:

I have no hope that these changes can be reversed. We are inevitably sending our children to live on an unfamiliar planet. But the opposite of hope is not despair. It is grief. Even while resolving to limit the damage, we can mourn. And here, the sheer scale of the problem provides a perverse comfort: we are in this together. The swiftness of the change, its scale and inevitability, binds us into one, broken hearts trapped together under a warming atmosphere.

We need courage, not hope. Grief, after all, is the cost of being alive. We are all fated to live lives shot through with sadness, and are not worth less for it. Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending… But here we are, together on a planet radiating ever more into space where there is no darkness, only light we cannot see.

Sisters, it is time to Woman up. Forget toxic masculinity. Forget patriarchal ideas of glorified violence. We need much stronger Warriors than that. We need #OvariesOfSteel. We need smart, strategic, gutsy, fierce Ecofeminists…. like you.


Trelawney Grenfell-Muir  teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. Previously a fellow at the Institute of Culture, Religion, and World Affairs and at the Earhart Foundation, Grenfell-Muir has conducted field research in situations of ongoing conflict in Syria, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland.  Her dissertation explores the methodology, constraints, and effectiveness of clergy peacebuilders in Northern Ireland. She has been an invited speaker in community settings and at MIT, Boston University, Tufts, and Boston College on topics of gender violence, economic injustice, and religious or ethnic conflicts and has also moderated panels on genetic engineering, cloning, and other bioethics issues. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.

18 thoughts on “Find Your Warrior Archetype, Sisters: We are in the Fight of our Lives by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

  1. Thanks, Trelawney, delightful where you say — “Sisters, it is time to Woman up.” Absolutely love those clover earrings you are wearing of faith and hope and joy. Also want to say, I am a huge fan of Audre Lorde (she was born in New York City, 1934-1992). She described herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and so just to add another quote by her — where she says:


    1. Thank you so much, Fran. Lorde has so many good quotes, it was hard to pick just one. I love that one, too. She really has helped me through a lot of tough times. Warrior, indeed! Thank you for your comment, I love what you said. That’s a great self-description… just perfect.


  2. Trelawney, thank you so much for posting these powerful words. You made me curious about Dr. Sabina Spielrein,– I had never heard of her although I know about Jung and his archetypes of course — so I followed the link. Now I’m sitting here shaking with anger, no, rage and thinking once again of the consequences of theft by patriarchy. Unbelievable arrogance. Please continue your Warrior work. It’s important to all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lorraine, thank you. When I first read about Spielrein, I shook with rage as well, and I bring her up EVERY time anyone mentions Jung. Thank you for joining me on this journey, joining your voice with mine is wonderfully “encouraging” – giving me courage to rage on. <3

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the galvanizing post. Love the quotations. And thanks also for the link to the article about Sabina Spielrein.


    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Yes, the Spielrein story really gets me. I bring her up whenever anyone mentions Jung. I find great comfort in quotes and stories such as these… they help me persevere. As do you! Thanks for walking with me along this challenging road.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. PS: I subscribe to poem-a-day from Here is today’s poem.
    On Anger
    Rage Hezekiah

    My white therapist calls it my edge, I hear
    Angry Black Woman. She says, Strength
    of Willful Negative Focus. She says, Acerbic
    Intellectual Temperament. I copy her words
    onto an index card. She wants
    an origin story, a stranger with his hand
    inside me, or worse. I’m without
    linear narrative and cannot sate her. We
    perform rituals on her living room floor. I burn
    letters brimming with resentments, watch
    the paper ember in the fireplace, admit
    I don’t want to let this go. What if anger,
    my armor, is embedded in the marrow
    of who I am. Who can I learn to be
    without it? Wherever you go,
    there you are. She asks what I will lose
    if I surrender, I imagine a gutted fish,
    silvery skin gleaming, emptied of itself—

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, this is very, very powerful. Why do people always want to rush us through/past our anger? Anger is holy and sacred. Especially the anger of the oppressed and traumatized. One third of the Psalms are laments. Only by honoring, voicing, validating, and making space for our anger can we ever find space for other things as well.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. I’d like to add here a poem also by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), such a great, great American poet. Here’s one of her wild and wonderful magical masterpieces — and so tenderly written and so womanly, and where she says with delightful enthusiasm —

    Will there really be a “Morning”?
    Is there such a thing as “Day”?
    Could I see it from the mountains
    If I were as tall as they?

    Has it feet like Water lilies?
    Has it feathers like a Bird?
    Is it brought from famous countries
    Of which I have never heard?

    Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!
    Oh some Wise Men from the skies!
    Please to tell a little Pilgrim
    Where the place called “Morning” lies!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dickinson is a true genius, and delightfully subversive! My father’s favorite poet – after his brain injury, he rarely read anything other than Dickinson. He called her his “girlfriend” and wanted only Dickinson read at his funeral. Thank you for sharing this gem. <3

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This made me cry. Thank you for reclaiming the warrior archetype away from toxic patriarchy and for true courage and strength. The quotes are wonderful. We might not have much, but we have each other, and it is time to Woman Up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “We might not have much, but we have each other” — sort of defines our entire lives, you and me. Thank you for making life survivable so many times. I know I’m more outspoken, but you’re an extremely powerful warrior, which I believe you know more and more each decade. <3 <3

      Liked by 1 person

  7. One of the most endearing, brave, and wise actions I saw on the news lately, that has stayed with me in it’s beauty, was Medea Benjamin of Code Pink. It might have been a Trump speech, I’m not sure any more. But Medea stood up and protested, and three or four very large guards tried to stop her. She didn’t freeze, or fight back, … but simply flowed out of their grasp and reach like a slippery bar of soap…all the while continuing to calmly and clearly say what she had to say. It took three large men to remove this very small woman from the auditorium…still speaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh wow, what a powerful essay. You nailed what a warrior is and isn’t And you ares so right – Jung may have coined the words archetype in patriarchal times but archetypes have been around since the earth evolved….Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Sara! I certainly am blessed by your warrior voice here! And it seems clear to me that Spielrein — not Jung, not Freud — was the one who first proposed the existence of mythic archetypes in the human unconscious. No surprise that Jung and Freud distorted her ideas with sexism, though!! Thank you, too, and bless your journey! <3

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful post with so much depth. Hermione Granger and Maya Angelou quoted in the same list. My kind of philosophy!

    I, too, cried when reading about Spielrien. How many more mothers and grandmothers have been lost to history? An entire herstory that is lost. Thank you for helping us to reclaim this piece of our puzzle.

    Here is another quote I just came across this weekend to add to all the amazing ones already quoted:
    “You can’t test courage cautiously.” Annie Dillard


    1. Thank you so much, Janet. Oh, it was hard to choose my quotes, there are so many wonderful characters, either historical/living or mythic! :)
      I know what you mean about “how many more” – just when I think I know how bad it is, it is SO MUCH worse than I thought. That keeps happening. :(
      …what a fantastic Dillard quote. I love it. Oooh it gave me goosebumps!!!!! Thank you for sharing it!!!
      Peace and blessings on your journey. <3


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