The Mystery of Money – Beyond Greed and Scarcity | Chapter 3 | Bernard Lietaer (2002)

Reproduced from:

Chapter 3: The Archetypal Human

“Five is the symbol of the Human.”
Hildegarde von Bingen, 12th century mystic1

“Mit Zirkeln und Fünfwinkelzeichen Wollt er Unendliches erreichen”
[With circles and pentagones, one can reach infinity]

“For, ever faithful in five things, each in a fivefold manner,
Gawain was known as a good man and, like gold well refined,
He was devoid of all villainy, every virtue displaying in the field.
Thus this Pentangle new he carried on coat and shield…
That is the pure Pentangle, so called by people wise in lore.”
Old English, Anonymous, 14th century3

We can now integrate the findings of both previous chapters into a single map.

Specifically, I am incorporating the missing archetype of the Great Mother in Jung’s quaternio as interpreted by Moore and Gillette (Figure 1.4). The final result is Figure 3.1.

Figure 3.1 The (more) Complete Archetypal Human

To make the archetypal map as gender neutral as possible, the title of “Provider” will sometimes be used as synonym for the “Great Mother” archetype. This way both men and women can more easily identify with both the masculine and the feminine aspects of themselves. Such attempt at building up gender neutrality is yet an additional reason to use the Yin-Yang concepts as explained next.

Gender and Yin-Yang energies

“When male and female combine,
all things achieve harmony.”
Lao Tzu4

Oriental philosophers have developed an infinite number of ways to describe the Yin-Yang relationship and polarity. The following figure offers those selected as most relevant for our purpose.

Figure 3.2 Yin-Yang Coherences

One advantage in using the Yin-Yang vocabulary is that Taoists never separate polarities. They emphasize the connection between them – their complementarity.

In contrast, Western languages and thought processes will tend to oppose them, separate them, and even systematically favor one over the other (sidebar)

Using BOTH Eyes

When we see with one eye, our vision is limited in range,
and devoid of depth” (Gerda Lerner)

The Yin-Yang way of looking at reality are not competing ways to relate and interpret reality, not more than your right eye competes with the left one. Instead, because of their differences, together they provide you with range and depth of vision, something which neither one can do by itself.

For the past millennia, humanity has tended to impart legitimacy to the vision contributed by only the male half of its “eyes”. We have thereby projected a hierarchical duality on concepts such as activity/passivity, creative/receptive, culture/nature, mind/senses, spirit/matter; invariably claiming the former to be somehow “better” than the latter. What matters here is not to deny the qualities inherent in the masculine viewpoint, but to empower the feminine to an equal level. A shift in consciousness towards giving equal emphasis on both views is about more than fairness; it may be the key to provide a synergistic impulse towards the sustainability of our species.

“The feminine and the masculine are not objects, not things, not simply biological bodies we are attempting to unite, but rather complex, archetypal organizations of consciousness…What is needed is a recognition of the synergy between these polar opposites. Synergy is evident everywhere in nature, and is an important source of causation in the ongoing evolutionary process. Since the relationship between male and female is fundamentally synergistic, it is essential that we rethink and recreate our cultural and symbolic understanding of the feminine and its relationship to the masculine to increase the possibility that the human species will co-create an evolutionary change that is advantageous to the entire biosphere. If we do not, we are in danger of bringing about our own extinction..”5

This Yin, Yang and Integrative overlay is made explicit in Figure 3.3. [Editor: Use the DaVinci + modern woman 5 pointed star]

Figure 3.3 Yin, Yang and Integration Functions in the Archetypal Human.

The by-now familiar Warrior and Magician archetypes represent two Yang energies. The Lover and Provider/Great Mother archetypes regroup Yin energies on the other side. The Sovereign (King/Queen) is androgynous in nature, and integrates all Yin-Yang energies, the energies of all four other archetypes. In its role of the Higher Self, it is concerned with the evolution of the whole to its next evolutionary step.

Notice that in my terminology, Yang is masculine, which is not synonymous with man; similarly, Yin refers to the feminine, which is not the same as woman. There is of course typically predominance of masculine energy in men, and of the feminine in women, but when this predominance becomes exclusive dangerous pathologies can develop. In fact, archetypal psychology shows that a male cannot be fully man in a mature way without having access to his feminine dimension, just as a female cannot be fully woman without accessing the masculine in her.6 For instance, a Warrior without the loyalty and love for an ideal higher than himself becomes a dangerous element in society, a potentially destructive “loose cannon”. He is not a true Warrior. Moore and Gilette called him “an uninitiated or immature Warrior.”

This is why the Warrior and Lover energies are necessary complements to each other, as all Yin- Yang phenomena. The Warrior creates boundaries and defends them, while the Lover dissolves boundaries. They both need to be balanced by the other. Even classical Greek and Roman mythology points out this polarity/complementarity by depicting Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love (Venus to the Romans), having as her main long-term romantic relationship Ares, the God of War (Mars). The power of their union, and the risks in separating one polarity, were made explicit by the archetypal names of their three children: one daughter Harmonia (“Harmony”) and two sons Deimos (“Terror”) and Phobos (“Fear”).7

The Archetypal Human and the Material World

Another way of reading this Archetypal Human map is to consider that the two “arms” of the five- pointed star-figure deal with how we relate to other humans, as was just discussed; while its two “legs” describe how we “stand” in the Universe, i.e. how we interpret it and relate to the material world. This is illustrated in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4 Archetypal Human and Relationships to Others and the Universe

 [Note to the Editor: in final artwork, this star will be replaced with a human being standing facing the reader, with open arms and legs, as in the well-known DaVinci figure. Here the figure is a composite of two half humans. The left half (the right of the standing figure) is half of the DaVinci man; the other side is half of a modern photograph of a woman standing in the same position. This composite figure represents the archetypal human with the masculine and feminine in balance. This image could also be used on the cover of the book.]

In this archetypal map, what will interest us most for our topic of money are the “legs” of the figure, i.e. the ways we relate to the material world. This is why several chapters (4 to 7) are dedicated to the way the Great Mother and the Magician impact money. However, this total map is also important because it contributes both context and an insight into the dynamics of archetypal systems. What we can learn from these dynamics is common to all archetypes. It will, therefore, be directly applicable also to archetypal relations to money.

In summary, this model of the Archetypal Human aims at highlighting three issues key for our times:

it formally addresses the question of psychic wholeness;

it makes explicit the importance of a balance between Yin – Yang, masculine and feminine energies; and it identifies five key sociocultural roles that have historically proven necessary for a healthy and sustainable society.

Archetypal Five

More complex maps of the human psyche could readily be built, but my objective was to keep it as simple as possible. Given that the quaternio had left out at least one important archetype, the minimum number of archetypes for our map is five. It also turns out that the number five is itself an archetype matching our intent.

Indeed, the number five is itself the archetype of the human. We have five senses through which we perceive the world, and five fingers on each hand by which we can interact with it. The ancients called the human being the microcosm because it inscribes itself perfectly in the star pentagon, with the sexual organ at its center.(see photograph). A wide variety of traditions from all over the world prove the archetypal nature of the interpretation of the number five as relating to the archetypal human (see sidebar “Five Across Cultures).

Five as an Archetype across Cultures

According to both Hesiod and the Aztecs, the current humanity is the fifth. From the Mayas to the Orientals, from Plato, Plutarch, and Paracelsus to Medieval traditions, the number five represents life manifest, and specifically the microcosm that is the human.8

For Islam, there are five prayers per day, five reasons for tithing, five causes for ritual washing, fivetakbir (prayer formulas), and five keys to the mystery of the Koran (Koran 6, 59; 31, 14).

Five is also one of the most important numbers in the Chinese tradition9 It is associated with the five directions (the four directions of the compass, plus the Middle). The “Five Classics” (wu jing) are the five major references books for the Chinese tradition. One of these five books, the Book of Rites, deals only with the five types of relationships between people. Chinese medicine organizes all human energies in quintuples, as does Chinese astrology and geomancy. Ancient authors also mention “under the sky, the universal laws are five.” They also talk about “Five Moral Qualities”, “Five Gifts of Life” “Five Permutations of Being”, etc.

“Stardom” still refers to excellence, as in “stellar performance,” “movie star,” “sports star,” and “five-star general.” Over sixty countries, each supposedly trying to have unique symbols as flags, have included the same five-pointed star as symbol. This is the case, among others, for the American, the European and the Chinese flags (see examples).

The five-pointed star was a magical symbol protecting against evil in Babylon, Egypt, Greece, India, China, Africa, Western Europe and pre-Colombian America.

Photo 3.2 ¼ page

Flags from four of the more than sixty countries that have incorporated the five-pointed star in their national emblem.

Photo 3.4 ½ page

“The pentagon is often hidden in important art work. For instance, the famous gold mask of Tut-Ankh-Amon is built on the pentagon, as symbol of the regeneration of life after death.”

Photo 3.511/3 page

The five pointed star was supposed to protect against evil spirits in many cultures. It was called the ‘Drudenfusz’ in Old German. It is engraved here on the inner side at the head of a cradle dating from 1579.

Photograph 3.1 of Agrippa’s microcosm ¼ page

The Human inscribed in the pentagram as seen by Agrippa of Netesheim. To him, this shows that the human being was created as a Microcosm of the Universe. The astrological symbols refer to the Macrocosm.

[Editor: distribute illustrations close to where corresponding topic is mentioned]

Iamblichus, the most prolific source about the life of Pythagoras, reports that “The Pentad is particularly comprehensive of the natural phenomena of the universe.”10 A sampling of photographs below illustrates that point.

In conclusion, from an archetypal viewpoint, it makes sense to have our archetypal human built around the five-pointed star.

The Shadows of the Archetypal Human

Of course, each archetype also has its own shadows. The following figure (3.5) presents the full map of the archetypal human with its shadows explicitly identified.

Figure 3.5 The Archetypal Human and its Ten Shadows

All the Yin shadows are represented in italics and surrounded by an ellipse, while the Yang shadows are in straight characters surrounded by a rectangle. Observe how each Yang shadow is an excess of the energy of the archetype; while each Yin is a deficit of that same energy.

It is important to experience these archetypes and shadows as emotional fields, not just mental images. One way to experience the “feel” of the different archetypes and shadows is archetypal games (see sidebar on Archetypal Games for examples.)

Archetypal Games

Here are some games that help gaining familiarity with the archetypal human. Help yourself with Figure 3.5. Also, make up your own games if you so desire.


Why did Eve give an apple to Adam from the “Tree of Knowledge” in the garden of Eden? Take an apple, and cut in half exactly at its equator, instead of the usual polar way. Bon appétit! (If you don’t have an apple, see photograph on next page).


The following game can be played by yourself or with others. The idea is to name and describe people you know personally or by repute who have embodied each one of these archetypes or shadows. Be graphic. Remember, archetypes are primarily images, activating emotional and behavioral patterns.

If you want to make it a competitive game, the winner is the one who can depict the most striking examples of all five archetypes and/or all ten shadows.


If you have a group of children, or of adults in touch with their creative child, ask them to make a drawing, a collage, a movement, a facial expression or mime, music – anything except words – to express an archetype or shadow of their choice. The others have to guess which archetype or shadow is represented.


A variation is to have them portray either the archetype they particularly like, or the one they most dislike. Be prepared to deal potentially with strong emotions with the latter: they will be in touch with their shadow.


Another game can be played if you have a large group of participants (20 or more). Post five signs with the names of the five archetypes in different corners of the room. Ask people to join the group with whom they identify most. Afterwards, have them explain why they made that choice. If and only if enough trust exists within the group, have them discuss what issues they have experienced with the shadows of their archetype.


Finally, seek illustrations of the various archetypes by your own favorite author. My own example of this uses quotes from the famous 13th century Persian mystic and Sufi master Jelalludin Rumi (see sidebar “Archetypal Invitation”).

Archetypal Invitation by Jelaluddin Rumi


“We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are the pain and what cures pain.
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.”11


“Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah.
It makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.”12


“Only this ancient love circling the holy black stone of nothing.
Where the Lover is the Loved, the horizon and everything within it…
Is the one I love everywhere?”13
“I’ll close my mouth
in hopes you’ll open yours.”14


Tell me. I’m puzzled.
Who is the teacher?”15
“I have one small drop of knowing in my soul.
Let it dissolve in your ocean.”16

Great Mother

“Friend, our closeness is this:
Anywhere you put your foot, feel me in the firmness under you.”17

“No more advice.
Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull
of what you really love.”18

Shadow Resonance

I propose that there is a connection between all Yang shadows on one side and all Yin ones on the other. In physics this is called a “resonance” phenomenon. For instance, if on a piano one plays one note, all the strings at the octave of that note will start vibrating (resonating) as well, without any physical contact. A soprano shattering a crystal glass by singing the frequency of that glass reveals the power of that phenomenon.

Similarly, a strong Yang shadow tends to activate all the other Yang shadows. For instance, someone who is a tyrant will more likely also be sadistic rather than masochistic, addicted rather than impotent, hyper- rational rather than indiscriminate, greedy rather than live in scarcity mentality.

Starting with another shadow will similarly re-connect with other Yang shadows. For instance, hyper-rationality can be described as an addiction to and tyranny of Reason. In other words, there tends to be”Yang coherence” between all of the Yang shadows, as if they were contaminating and reinforcing each other.

Someone who is stuck in Yang shadow coherence will tend to cast any “Other” in the Yin coherence. It will therefore cast automatically such “Others” – such as Nature, women, or so-called “primitive” races – in the role of the Yin shadows.

This would explain the long history of the portrayal and dismissal by mainstream Western values of any such “Others” as weak, impotent, irrational, masochistic, and deserving to live in scarcity.

Photograph 3.3 of the pentagon in flowers, the sliced apple, a sand dollar, etc. ½ page total

The apple sliced on its equator reveals the five pointed star at its center. The pentagonal symmetry abounds in both plant and animal life. This may justify why many cultures used it as symbol of universal life.

[Editor: possibly take out the apple example separately for the next page (for the archetypal game to work) and regroup the other examples above?]

Fear as common denominator

The common denominator among all the shadows is fear. However, fear is a normal, healthy emotion to have. When a mountain lion attacks you or a car veers out of control in front of you, fear will unleash an adrenaline rush that will help you react faster than you normally would. Each one of the archetypes has a healthy space for fears and their corresponding desires – e.g. hunger for the Provider, desire for love for the Lover, survival for the Warrior.

But fears become shadows when they freeze up and become permanently embodied. It is when fear becomes a permanent, rather than a transient, reaction that a pathological shadow becomes embodied. From this perspective, the history of the Western repression of the Great Mother archetype is one of a progressive societal freezing into the specific fears that have now been institutionally embodied in our money system.


“The Case of the Missing Archetype” has demonstrated that money systems, from their prehistoric origins onward, were attributed primarily to the Great Mother archetype. As Western societies were characterized by a systematic repression of that particular archetype, they developed money systems that embodied the shadows of that archetype. These shadows turn out to be none other that the collective emotions of greed and fear of scarcity. All professional operators, brokers, fund managers, financial experts will confirm that financial markets are primarily driven by these two collective emotions.

Greed and fear of scarcity are therefore not an indelible reflection of human nature as is explicitly assumed in all our economic theory and most of our conventional wisdom. Instead, the current money system itself, by providing a systematic incentive to save in the form of money, is constantly creating and reinforcing those two shadow emotions. The real issue, however, is the monopoly accorded to these types of currencies, not leaving any choice in the medium of exchange to be used – regardless of the purposes of the transactions and the relationships involved. We will in fact discover societies that – although obviously not perfect in many other respects – left a choice as to the types of currency to be used, and actively discouraged the accumulation of at least part of its money. They thereby succeeded in creating a societal dynamic very different from ours (Chapter 5 and 6).

The second conclusion is that we can now see why the three taboos that have prevailed in Western society – sex, death and money – will tend to appear and disappear together. As we saw repeatedly across civilizations, they are attributes of the same archetype – the Great Mother. After millennia of repression of the Great Mother archetype, it is to be expected that her main characteristics would have become important taboos.

Testing the Map

Maps can only be tested when they are put to use. The map of the Archetypal Human will be tested by applying it to various issues that have until now not been very well addressed with more conventional tools.

The rest of this book provides several examples of such tests, first on historical case studies, and then on our contemporary situation.


Table of Contents | INTRODUCTION











  1. quoted in Davy, Marie Madeleine. Un Traité de la Vie Solitaire: Lettre aux Frères du Mont-Dieu 2 Volumes (Paris, 1946) pg 170.
  2. Goethe Maskenzühe (1818) verse 618-619.
  3. Anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (London: Penguin Classics, 1959) pg 50.
  4. Mitchell (translator) Tao Te King number 42.
  5. Dwyer, Molly “Complexity and the Emergent Feminine: A Cosmological Inquiry into the Role of the Feminine in the Evolution of the Universe” (Winning Paper of the 1999 Vickers Award International Society for the Systems Sciences, Asimolar, CA)
  6. Jung developed this idea as the necessary integration of the animus (masculine energy, which is conscious in man and unconscious in women) and anima (feminine energy, which is conscious in women and unconscious in man). Individuation is defined as the full integration of both energies in every human.
  7. Shinoda Bolen, Jean Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1984) pg. 235.
  8. Chevalier, Jean and Gheerbrant, Alain Dictionnaire des Symboles (Paris: Laffont, 1969) pg 258.and Gobert, M.H. Les Nombres Sacrés et l’Origine des Religions (Paris: Stock + Plus, 1982) pg.69.
  9. All the Chinese information is coming from Eberhard, Wolfram A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought (London: Routledge, 1986) entry on “five”.
  10. Iamblichus Life of Pythagoras translated by T. Taylor (London, 1818). Also see chapter five of Schneider, Michael S. A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe: the Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art and Science (New York: Harper Perennial, 1994).
  11. Jelaluddin Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks in The Illuminated Rumi (New York: Broadway Books, 1997) Pg. 111.
  12. Ibid pg 81.
  13. Ibid. pg 112-113 and pg 88.
  14. Ibid. pg 85.
  15. Ibid pg 88.
  16. Ibid. pg 120.
  17. Ibid. Pg 117.
  18. Ibid. Pg 20-21.