Most of what you read about archetypes you might meet on your Hero’s Journey include The Shapeshifter. Inherent in her name is change and the unknown. What am I looking at? Are you friend or foe? When I look a second time, why do you look different to me?
Your friend at work listens attentively to your ideas and encourages you to “go for it,” but when you bring up your idea in a meeting with others she hems-and-haws, expressing doubt.
Your partner tells you every day how much she loves and supports you, but she never seems to want to look at your creative output.
Your parent gives you extra family duties and chores because “Family is more important than whatever it is you are doing, young lady.” Then you overhear them bragging about your accomplishments and creativity.
The Shapeshifter has a role in your Hero’s Journey, just like the Guardians of the Threshold. A Shapeshifter’s job is a gut-tester and an awareness-tester.
Here’s what I mean: When you stop, get quiet, and listen to your self, what does your gut tell you? Can I trust her or him? How far can I trust her? What is their role on my Journey?
Whatever your answer is, that’s OK. That is their role in this Journey with you. Look around, you have other allies and mentors for your Journey. Your best friend, your mom or dad, your favorite teacher may not fill the roles of allies and mentors for this Journey. Knowing their role will alleviate your confusion. Knowing they may be a Shapeshifter will remind you to act with integrity when responding to them.
Like her name, inherent in The Shapeshifter’s role (and her nature) is the need to change, to shift, to be inconsistent. From the point of view of your story, she just can’t help it. That’s her role. This is where your awareness and ability to be compassionate are tested.
Another role the Shapeshifter has in the Monomyth and on your own Hero’s Journey is to bring in elements of the Supernatural and Mystery — anything you have absolutely no control over. It’s a great reminder that you do not have control over others’ actions or feelings, no matter how hard you might try.
Don’t mis-read this. I’m not saying you have no rights to state your feelings when others hurt you, nor am I saying you should not act for your own self-preservation. I am saying to watch what the other person does, see that with compassion, and act for yourself from a place of integrity to complete your Hero’s Journey.
As Andrew Carnegie said, “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”
Photo by Mike Wilson Unsplash.com