When Archetypes Win: The Protester

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Time Magazine’s 2011 Person of the Year is “The Protester.”

“Everywhere this year, people have complained about the failure of traditional leadership and the fecklessness of institutions. Politicians cannot look beyond the next election, and they refuse to make hard choices. That’s one reason we did not select an individual this year. But leadership has come from the bottom of the pyramid, not the top. For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME’s 2011 Person of the Year.”

For me, this brings up all sorts of reactions. There’s the Pagan community’s own role in Occupy movement, of course, but there’s also a certain sense of creation in Time’s decision. The invocation of an archetype, The Protester, or perhaps the formation of a new power (or powers), the animating spirit of protest itself.  Or maybe this is simply the new face of a god or goddess you already know? Whatever the case, this does seem a victory of sorts for embodied principals and concepts. Let’s see if altars to “The Protester” start popping up, and what it means when The Protester is invoked.

This brings me to an opinion piece over at Religion Dispatches, where Sarah Morice-Brubaker engages in a bit of “nerdy parlor-game fun” and ponders which religious figures would support (or not support) the Occupy movement.

“But what about other religious figures? Surely we can also hypothesize about whether they’d have supported the Occupy movement? In a spirit of nerdy parlor-game fun more than serious analysis, I’ve compiled my own hypotheses, sticking within my own tradition of Christianity since it’s the one I know best and since I don’t like plundering other people’s belief systems for levity. But I’m eager to hear suggestions.”

So I would personally love to hear my readers responses to this question. Which Pagan/pagan thinkers (or powers/gods) do you think would be for the Occupy movement? Which ones do you think would have steered clear, or criticized it? Let’s keep this civil and fun, try to be creative! I’d also love to hear any thoughts on The Protester as an archetype or power, best responses from each of these questions will get featured in a future post here at The Wild Hunt.

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  • Anonymous

    The Trickster Goddesses/Gods, for sure.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/paganswithdisabilities/ Tara “Masery” Miller

    I could agree with the Trickster being the prominent influence. I looked back over the archetypes Joseph Campbell defined in common human myths and wasn’t sure if the Protester would be the Hero or the Trickster. It could be both. The hero ultimately leaves the ordinary world (status quo) and bring back something that changes the world. They have to be vigilant and fight for the knowledge or object. The trickster often uses laughter to change a viewpoint and all of the funny meme’s on the internet pointing out the absurdity of over use of pepper spray etc. would fit that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/enodiaofthestar Lindsey Vaughn

    well I was going to say it but looks like someone else had the same idea.

  • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

    Indeed. . . 😉

  • BlueMountainGirl

    I’m extremely annoyed and disturbed by this image. It looks like nothing so much as the photos seen in the media of Al-Qaeda terrorists with bandanas hiding their faces. I got a very clear (albeit subliminal) message that protesters are to be equated with terrorists – in the minds of the moronic public, anyway. Time Cover = EPIC FAIL.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dsalisbury David Salisbury

    He or she is simply wearing a sknitted cap and a bandana. The bandana is a very common protest method that I have even done myself. It helps protestors from being wrongfully indicted, and it protects them from tear gas and pepper spray if that occurs. Some people will always equate civil unrest as terrorism, but that’s really their problem, not the problem of those trying to change things.

  • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

    I think it would be difficult to Time to give the protester a face – the spirit of the award seems to be going to the very spirit of protest expressed by so many thousands of people, and not to one individual person as to whom it is typically awarded. I suppose there is something frightening and “terrorizing” about protest – the fact that it upsets the present order, and by it’s very nature is meant to be disturbing – but I think Time would have been wrong to put away the mask and give this protester a face.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002086502589 Kira BlueStar

    I think it would have been almost impossible to give the Protester a face. Not only would the androgyny have been destroyed, but the issue’s subtitle (“From the Arab Spring to Athens, From Occupy Wall Street to Moscow”) covers a variety of ethnicities. Creating an image that manages to evoke many of them simultaneously is a pretty neat trick. The masked figure also evokes a Shadow aspect of the Protester archetype, the Rioter, which we also saw this year in Britain.

  • Ladyquality

    I read somewhere that the image is inspired by a woman protester on Tahrir Square in Cairo. So I see a woman warrior here, anonymous in her solidarity with the crowd, rebellious under her veil. Beautiful, well done Time Magazine!

  • Jhamm77

    I actually think the image helps unravel the stereotype of “the terrorist” This is a time when protestors are very popular, and everyone has heard about “Arab Spring”, but too seldom does the media attribute any face to those protests. This is a very typical image of a female protestor in Tahrir square, and it’s about time the Arab Working Class got their due in the US media.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1006464595 Cathryn Bauer

    I felt exactly the same way. I think a much fairer way of putting this would have been a panel with small photographs of genuine 2012 protesters from around the globe.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    Telemachus definitely. He was vastly outnumbered and outranked, but through wisdom and a willingness to go the distance (rather fer distances at that) he stood by his mother and his home against the suitors who sought to claim what was rightfully his. I believe he would stand behind “The Protestor” with the keen knowledge of how it feels to be a stranger in his own home.

    I can imagine Dike and Elpis would stand behind this rising of the average man against the tyrannies of an aristocracy attempting to hold on to their power at all cost. But on the other side of that coin I believe Athena would want the OWS supporters to think about how they may have played a part in their own demise. This would be the time for the American people to become crafters, able to ply viable trades, once again instead of the desk bound gluttons we have, unfortunately, become.

    Unfortunately, I can’t say how good I feel about The Protestor becoming an archetype, especially here in the west where protest is part of our civic duty. We are given that right as American/European citizens. I also fear that this will turn into yet another concept that only applies to “uprisings” that fit our ideals. Palestinians have been doing this for years; why aren’t they mentioned?
    It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Anonymous

    One small quibble: we aren’t given our rights, that’s why they are called rights. While they can be forcibly suppressed, they cannot be eliminated, only given away.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    I apologize as I am attempting to understand what your statement means or even what your point. It doesn’t make sense to me nor does it seem to even address any of the issues in my post. If you want to “quibble” over word usage…um…okay?

  • Anonymous

    I am responding to your statement of “…here in the west where protest is part of our civic duty. We are given that right as American/European citizens.”

    As Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau noted, however, rights cannot be given: they are either natural, e.g. they arise from one’s existence as a sentient, social being; or they are legal rights given by some political jurisdiction or unit. My quibble is that the right to protest, as a conglomeration of the rights to peaceably assemble, to petition their government for redress of grievances, and of free speech, are natural rights; and therefor one’s location is immaterial whether or not that right is present.

    I invoked the Declaration for the line about the inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; the right to protest falls under all three.

  • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

    I’m sure we’d see the god Uranus there – sudden, startling, radical, and revolutionary change are his specialty.

  • Castus

    And how is that?

  • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

    Which brings to mind my waggish Occupy Wall Street picket sign slogan –

    Wall Street Wants To Occupy Uranus. . . :-)

  • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls


  • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

    Are you confusing the recently discovered planet Uranus–and the associations modern astrologers have projected onto it–with the Greek titan Ouranos?

  • http://twitter.com/mizvalkyrie94 k s

    The Indigos are finally making their mark.

  • Krystal H.

    My gods are generally thought of as “don’t rock the boat” kind of gods, but I kind of think Freyr would stand with the 1% because he “frees all fetters”. Perhaps Thor as well, as he’s a god of the common people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dsalisbury David Salisbury

    I totally agree on Freyr. Humanity and the state of the land are big concerns of his and he is very much a “common peoples” god.

  • Lonespark

    Hrrrm. I could think of Heathen gods of justice and change, who would be good for protestors to call on, but not necessarily stand as archetypes of protest themselves. Gods of the common people definitely fit….

  • Guest

    I think both those gods would be good choices from the 99% (which is what you meant right, not the 1%?). Thor protects the common people who work for a living (and are losing their pensions, job security, etc., and I think he would also be a good god for the veterans.), and Freyr for the people who live off the land (and therefore are hurt by destruction of the environment, like the possible poisoning of the Ogallala aquifer which a lot of farmers depend on for water).

    Tyr would be the god to call on for justice, but he would only if their cause really is just.

    Loki just likes rocking the boat. I’m not sure how useful he would be for real positive, useful changes. I think he just likes change for its own sake.

  • Angela Raincatcher

    Prometheus immediately came to mind as a patron for protestors. I think stealing fire from the gods for humans certainly aligns with the Occupy movement.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Prometheus, Hephaestus, and heck, even ol’ Zeus himself was a bit of a revolutionary in his day.

  • Cara Schulz

    Zeus was and is concerned with keeping order, so I don’t think he’s be down with it. But Prometheus? A case could certainly be made for his approval.

    Eris? Yep.

    Hestia wants everyone to go home and bake cookies.

  • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

    Great, now I wish I had cookies.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    I was thinking of Zeus conquering the Titans and creating a new order. Pretty revolutionary to me!

  • Lonespark

    Yes! But…I’m not sure all revolutions fit with a Protestor archetype. Once you become the King, or the Government, or even if that’s your goal, maybe you’re dealing with a parallel kind of destruction/creation cycle?

  • Mike

    someone once said, “every revolution eventually becomes a bureaucracy”

  • Kagan MacTane

    A coup d’etat is not the same thing as a revolution. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” doesn’t represent any real change in power structures, just in the person(s) occupying the top slots.

  • Anonymous


    Hail Eris!

  • Laura

    Creative chaos: Eris would love it.

  • Obsidia

    Aradia! and the Spirits of Joan of Arc and Robin Hood!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1650681499 Diotima Mantineia

    Richard Tarnas has suggested, in his excellent book _Prometheus the Awakener: The Archetypal Meaning of the Planet Uranus_, that Uranus should have been named after Prometheus, the Titan, who rebelled against the gods to bring us fire.

    Astrologically, Uranus — or Prometheus, as you prefer — is the planet of freedom, liberation, rebellion, of sudden change. It is the archetypal revolutionary, whether that revolution is by new inventions, new governments, or new paradigms.

    Astrologers have been predicting global protests at this time for many years now, because of Uranus’s entrance into the sign of Aries in late May of 2010. The “Aries Point”, which is the first degree or two of the sign, is a volatile point of the zodiac, and Uranus’s 84-year-cycle over this point can be historically correlated (and Tarnas does just that in his book) with revolution and protest, as well as sudden changes and advances in science and technology. Uranus will be within shooting distance of this point until March of 2012, and the alignment was almost exact last Saturday, when Uranus went direct, no doubt as “Time” staffers were preparing this announcement.

    This particular passage of Uranus over the Aries Point is empowered by the fact that it will be in “aspect” (geometric relationship) to the planet Pluto beginning in June of 2012, running through the first half of 2015. This is an incredibly intense pattern of planets, and Pluto’s involvement presages massive breakdown of the structures of both government and big business. We live in interesting times.

  • Castus

    I’m quite disgusted by Time’s choice for Person of the Year. Glorifying insurgents and terrorists who have consistently threatened the stability of secular, nationalist, and in some cases, pro-West, in favor of backwards Islamist ideals is horrifying.

  • Castus


  • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

    One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. They have a right to remake their own country as they see fit, just as we do with ours.

    (sorry for the double post- this was originally meant to be here)

  • Jhamm77

    I’m disgusted by your support of state-terror and class warfare against the poor, and most of all the monstrous equation of “terrorism” with “non-violent resistance” You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

    Hermes would certainly have his fun here creating chaos using those who are sometimes seen as outcasts or feel outside the system. Pan would be among them as well soaking up the merriment seen in some of the protests in one minute, giving sage advice in the next. I remember reading in The Great God Pan by Donna Jo Nappoli that Pan’s gift of prophecy came not from a revelation, but from the understanding of others and seeing life from their eyes, and I agree with that.

  • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

    One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. They have a right to remake their own country as they see fit, just as we do with ours.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    And isn’t that the rub? What if the “Arab Spring” consisted of people wanting to institute a conservative Islamist government? Even now, conservative Muslims will have many seats in the Egyptian government and while they claim to not want to model themselves after Iran, how much hand-wringing do you think the West is doing right now?

    This is, precisely, what I mean by this “message” being peddled to the open hearts of the American people. We have a long history of appreciating “rebellion” when it turns out to be Western friendly, the moment it’s not well…look around.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    We should remember that Time’s Person (formerly Man) of the Year is the one who has most influenced human events in the past year. It’s not an ennoblement. Hitler and Stalin, in their time, have been Men of the Year.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    Thank you for reminding me of that. I had completely forgotten that fact.

  • http://www.facebook.com/enodiaofthestar Lindsey Vaughn

    That’s true… not all influence is a good thing.

  • Jhamm77

    The difference is that neither Hilter or Stalin were popular in America. “The Protestor” on the other hand is popular. It is rare indeed that the establishment will acknowledge the effectiveness of protests….(i.e. vicories of the labor movement are often attributed to employers for eventually reforming their policies, rather than to the workers who originally forced those companies to make the changes.) Therefore it’s a real boon that these popular protests are gaining the recognition they deserve.

  • Jhamm77

    But the fact is….Arab Spring DID NOT consist of islamists, and that is why it was so effective…..it was a real coalition of people of all walks of life….They are fighting for general freedom and equality…..protestors have even formed a ring around a Coptic ceremony in order to protect it from islamist violence! You can bet the West is ringing it’s hands! The U.S. was the main supporter of these dictatorial regimes to begin with! U.S. corporations stood to loose very lucrative contracts when Mubarek was forced to step down. And the protests are still happening, they are still fighting for their right of speech, and their right for the movement to participate in elections.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    You basically just proved my statement. They’re seeking what those in the west consider “ideal” so they get the applause ,the accolades instead of say, Palestinians, who just want their land back and don’t want to harassed by a Zionist state. They aren’t mentioned at all even though they’ve been doing this for longer than most OWS people even realized they were getting shafted.

    Also, you are aware that some participants ARE Islamists right? Hence since the general elections Islamists have been gaining power. They want freedom and equality alright- they want the freedom to not have an American puppet government funneling millions, if not billions, of dollars into western hands. Some of them want to not have to kowtow to Israel anymore and some even, believe it or not, WANT an Islamic theocracy; so to generalize this entire movement into basic terms is to show a complete misunderstanding of the various situations in the Middle East- an area of the world that has had to deal with Western intervention for hundreds of years.

    I wonder if the Western world is ready for what could come out of these elections and power shifts. I hope for the best for the middle east and I hope they achieve something close to what the people desire; even if doesn’t align with my own views on how I’d like to live. This is especially since relations between Israel and Turkey (one of our greatest allies in that region) have strained to a particularly dangerous point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mousebrat Shawn Carter

    I think Mercury/Hermes as the passive aggressive anarchist that he is would probably hit fairly close to home. The abundant use of communication technology that has fueled this movement would also get his juices flowing. Honestly, the movement feels like a combined effort of a few different archetypes/gods all working together to create an idea.

  • Merofled Ing

    ‘Once there were gods’

    Once there were gods, on earth, with people, the heavenly muses
    And Apollo, the youth, healing, inspiring, like you.
    And you are like them to me, as though one of the blessed
    Sent me out into life where I go my comrade’s
    Image goes with me wherever I suffer and build, with love
    Unto death; for I learned this and have this from her.

    Let us live, oh you who are with me in sorrow, with me in faith
    And heart and loyalty struggling for better times!
    For such we are! And if ever in the coming years they knew
    Of us two when the spirit matters again
    They would say: lovers in those days, alone, they created
    Their secret world that only the gods knew. For who
    Cares only for things that will die the earth will have them, but
    Nearer the light, into the clarities come
    Those keeping faith with the heart’s love and holy spirit who were
    Hopeful, patient, still, and got the better of fate.

    (Friedrich Hölderlin 1770-1843)

    And yes – a few tricksters, to liven it up

  • Anonymous

    That’s lovely; thank you for posting it.

  • Merofled Ing

    And you are like them to me – the wild hunt is, and your posts and what I have learned here. So thanks to everybody and feel happy and centered as we wait for the solstice, and work or write for justice.

  • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

    I must say that I am honoured and gratified that TIME magazine chose the fate of naming The Emerson Avenger aka *The* Protester :-) as it’s Person Of The Year for 2011. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Cosimano/613012064 Charles Cosimano

    I wonder if anyone remembers that the cover of Time had a curse with it, and anyone whose picture was on the cover had something really bad happen to them.

  • Mia

    Looks like we need a new Defense against the Dark Arts professor next year…

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    ::spews drink::

  • http://www.dregstudios.com Brandt Hardin

    TIME is providing some much needed acknowledgement to the importance of protest. The Occupy and Arab Spring Movements are NECESSARY for our citizens to expose the corruption which Big Business has infected our Government with. Every single person occupying the streets and protesting Corporations is a hero and a patriot. I was compelled to lend a hand and create some new posters for the movement which you can download for free on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/11/propaganda-for-occupy-movement.html

  • Obsidia

    One thing that just struck me about the picture as Archetype–we don’t know if it’s a woman or a man. Very very cool!

    Also, the people who are calling this protestor a “terrorist,” why would you say that? There is nothing in the picture that has anything to do with violence. The covering of the head and the mouth are for protection. As Bob Marley sang it, “Get up, Stand up, Stand up for your rights!” The Spirit of Bob Marley is here, too!

  • Mia

    I agree with your first statement, and I like that you can’t make additional physical assumptions with the way the picture is drawn.

    I think some call it a terrorist because a common picture of Islamic terrorists include a bandana across the face. That’s the first thing that sticks out in the image, so the association doesn’t surprise me.

  • Castus

    Why did my previousl comment get deleted?

  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

    I haven’t deleted any comments.

  • Stephy J. H.

    Brighid, definitely. The world being transformed, reforged, would absolutely fall under the purview of the Lady of the Forge, and the story of Brighid Ambue (champion and advocate for the rights of the ambue, warriors who owned no cattle) clearly demonstrates, at least for me, on which side of the line she would fall.

  • Anonymous

    Yeshua ben Yusef. He spoke truth to power; he didn’t tell power what to do about it. His actions were peaceful, except that bit with the Wall Street of the Temple — got a bit carried away. Influential? Yup — whether or not in the way he intended. Got spin doctored by Saul the Pharisee of Tarsus and hosts after him. Men and women quite willing to follow where he was leading — until the cops showed up. Rattled a few cages, right in the center of town. But peacefully — mostly.

    Y’all can argue pantheons and archetypes about which category he belongs in — depends on how you look at him.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    This is one sexy answer. Yeshua Ben Yusef would not only support OWS, and the protestors, he would die for them.

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, no matter who or what he was, it wouldn’t help and it would get spun all the wrong ways in the media — but, wait, I repeat myself.

  • Daniel SnowKestral

    I could definitely see my Matron Goddess Brigit as a force for the Occupy Movement. She represents victory, transmutation, and is also the Gaelic Goddess of Healing, known for Her charity, kindness, strength, and, as well, creativity and inspiration. Her Green Mantle guides, guards, and protects; She is Mid-Wife to the Soul.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002938369897 Brittany Aronson

    I think Ma’at is supportive of the OWS movement; as the Goddess of justice I think she is probably horrified at the way the 1% has taken advantage of the 99%. I also believe she would be proud of the way that the protesters have worked to create an orderly and stable society within their camps (with the exception of Oakland).

  • Nightfall

    Agreed. Also Set and Sekhmet, as deities that looove tearing away what is unneeded and old and useless, then guiding you along to find a new way.

  • Merofled Ing

    Some Egyptian blogs (in English) use Ma’at as their symbol – you can find them via google. Some are individuals (no names given, surprise surprise), some are law students. So she’s certainly there, somewhere.

  • Jhamm77

    How about “Libera”, the Plebian Goddess celebrated by slaves and the poor in ancient Rome. She was the daughter of Ceres, who was syncretized with Stimula and Semele, mother of Dionysus.

  • http://phantomcircle.blogspot.com/ Modred

    Crowley, Gardner, and Williamson would look down on the movement as rabble, probably Valiente as well. Cochrane is up for grabs — he lived in a slum and did manual labor, so he might have been a supporter. Sybil Leek was a cool old bird who believed in cursing, so I’d like to think she’d be pro-Occupy, but who knows. Alex Sanders was the self-proclaimed “King of the Witches” so I’m thinking he’d come down on the side of the patriarchs not the protestors. Cunningham would have been out front carrying a sign.

  • Acaldag

    Wondering why they didn’t use the “Guy Fawkes” / “V for Vendetta” image that so many protesters are using.

  • Cigfran

    Because only one particular protest movement is associated with that symbol, and the Person of the Year isn’t Occupy.

    But you knew that, didn’t you?

  • A.C. Fisher Aldag

    Actually, no… thank you! :-)

    Wonder why my regular account isn’t working?

  • Cigfran
  • Mia

    Kris Kringle 😀 “You are clearly a rebel and a non-conformist!”

    (dear gods why do the ads keep popping up at me every time I hit the reply button?? Is there a new format to this site I’m not aware of?)

  • Anonymous

    Win: Brittany! :)

    Ma’at is the best choice for a Goddess who supports the ideals of Justice and Truth.

    ‘ should mention the difference between an archetype and a deity 😉

    Akana Anash to everyone who supports social change. If you’re interested in doing more try change.org and http://www.care2.com/

    Praise Ma’at!

  • Morpheus Ravenna

    The Morrigan is taking a very strong interest in the protest movements – not just Occupy, but the whole global process. I can’t necessarily argue that She is an appropriate deity to represent the movements or the ‘protester’ archetype, and if I and others of Her priests hadn’t been getting such clear messages from Her about this all year, I probably would not bring Her up in this context. But it’s been vibrantly clear that She is very interested, and even actively present in these arenas. Perhaps as the streets of nations are transformed into the battlefield in a liberation struggle, She is drawn there. She seems in modern times to have come into a relationship with humanity of urging us toward uprising, fierce authenticity, liberation.

  • Crone

    Urania, of course.

  • Crone

    Long may those spangled stars wave…