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At the ant level, Carlisle is the Father archetype, and the Patriarch.   At the cloud level, though, he represents the archetype of God the Father.  (For a description of the “ant level” and “cloud level,” please see http://twilightsagaarchetypes.com/fate-and-destiny/.)  Carlisle is one of my favorite characters because of what he represents –his character makes me feel good and gives me hope for the other characters as the story unfolds.

Ant Level — Father and Patriarch

At the ant level, the Father/Patriarch is obvious.   Carlisle is the “father” of his vampire children and as the patriarch, he is the loving leader of his family.   He guides them emotionally and psychologically, and he provides a safe and structured home-life to promote their well-being to ensure a happy and healthy future for his family, just as any good father does with his human children.  The difference between any man who happens to be a father, though, and a man who embodies the “Father” archetype is the archetypal Father lives this dedication to a completely different degree — I am fortunate enough in my life to have a Dad who embodies the Father archetype.   Everything he did while I was growing up was a reflection of his commitment to his children’s growth and nurturing – he cared deeply about our emotional well-being and self-esteem, and whether WE thought we were doing our best (not by HIS standards, but by OUR personal standards).

Carlisle is the same in that he cultivates healthy camaraderie among his children, not petty rivalry and artificial competition.  (Emmett still loves winning for the sake of winning, but Carlisle is not interested in changing Emmett’s true nature — Carlisle respects Emmett for who he is, also consistent with a great Father archetype.)   Aside from his love for Esme, Carlisle’s entire existence is devoted to his children and his family life, and by example, he gives them a great role model for humility, strength, wisdom, discernment, thoughtful decision-making, integrity, compassion, sacrifice (for the benefit of others), and what it means to be a whole man representing all of those values without compromise and without apology.

In addition to the Father, he also represents the Patriarch because his role is not just as the individual parent, but as protector, leader, and statesman for an entire clan.    In distinguishing between these two archetypes, it is important to note that not every good Patriarch is a good Father (because what is best for the clan is not always what is best for an individual child), but in Carlisle’s case, he beautifully and graciously embodies both roles with a healthy balance.   When he makes a decision that is more “patriarch” than “father” (such as early in the series when Carlisle agrees to Bella’s request to transform her, despite Edward’s desperate plea to his father to not condone, much less participate in, her transformation), Carlisle always explains his decisions and seeks to comfort his children so that they understand (as best they can) the necessity of doing what is right for the family as a whole.   In those difficult instances where decisions as patriarch and father are mutually exclusive, Carlisle does so with compassion and empathy — he is not the kind of patriarch who simply says “because I said so.”   To the contrary, when Carlisle has to make difficult decisions as patriarch that conflict with his wishes as father, he is incredibly kind and gentle in delivering his firm and unwavering patriarchal decision.


Cloud Level — God the Father; Divine Father

At the cloud level, then, how can Carlisle possibly take the Patriarch to any higher level, such that he represents the archetypal power of God?  (Please note this is different from the Savior archetype — please see the analysis of Nessie as Savior at http://twilightsagaarchetypes.com/nessie/.)   The best evidence of Carlisle’s role as the Divine Father is in Edward’s partial manuscript called  Midnight Sun (available at http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/midnightsun.html).   Edward’s comments about Carlisle, and his description of Carlisle, left me choked up the first time I read the series because they reminded me how woefully insecure and inadequate we all often feel when thinking of our own relationship with God.   The following passages highlight the exalted view of Carlisle compared to Edward’s view of himself (consider these passages from the perspective of every person who, at some point or another, has done something that makes him or her feel “unworthy” of God’s love because of our misdeeds, and so profoundly alien from the ideals that we project onto our view of God’s perfection — from that perspective, Edward’s comments bring to life Carlisle’s archetype as God the Father as the exalted ideal that we all aspire to embody when thinking of our own relationship with the Divine, and when we reflect on our shortcomings as miserable failures when trying to live up to the ideals of our Heavenly Father, our Creator, our Divine Mentor, etc.

“There was no resemblance between the two faces.  They were bright day and blackest night. . . .I’d imagined that my face had begun to reflect his, to an extent, in the last seventy-odd years that I had embraced his choice and followed in his steps. My features had not changed, but it seemed to me like some of his wisdom had marked my expression, that a little of his compassion could be traced in the shape of my mouth, and hints of his patience were evident on my brow.

“All those tiny improvements were lost in the face of the monster. In a few moments, there would be nothing left in me that would reflect the years I’d spent with my creator, my mentor, my father in all the ways that counted. My eyes would glow red as a devil’s; all likeness would be lost forever.

“In my head, Carlisle’s kind eyes did not judge me. I knew that he would forgive me for this horrible act that I would do. Because he loved me. Because he thought I was better than I was. And he would still love me, even as I now proved him wrong.”

* * * *

“There was no reason why I shouldn’t try, at least. Make a good choice. Try to be what Carlisle thought I was.”

* * * *

“But there was always a choice—there had to be. I cut off the motion of my lungs, and fixed Carlisle’s face in front of my eyes.”

(Midnight Sun, pp. 13-20).

These are just a few examples from the first few pages of the manuscript of references to Carlisle as the exalted Creator and source of Divine wisdom and perfect compassion and perfect judgment that exist throughout the entire series.   Carlisle is not just Edward’s father at the ant level; he represents that cosmic, otherworldly motivation to be Edward’s BEST; from the archetypal level, Carlisle’s “perfection” (his divinity) is what inspires Edward to be more than Edward would ever give himself credit for being.  That is one of the many roles God serves in our lives — to show us what we are capable of, and to inspire us and to give us hope in our moments of weakness and desperation.   Carlisle serves this role throughout the series for Edward, and it is magnificent to see Edward’s spiritual self-esteem grow and blossom as the story unfolds until he finally feels worthy of the most divine kind of love.

To be clear, I am not theorizing that Carlisle represents God in any literal way or that he represents God in the lives of the characters at the ant level.  When looking at archetypes, we have to avoid the temptation to look at anything literally, so the fact that Carlisle has the archetype of the Divine Father does not mean he IS the Divine Father.   There are people walking around in our lives who have the God archetype, but that clearly does not make them more “divine” or more “special” than any of the rest of us — it just means that among their soul’s work, they are tasked with learning to manage this particular archetype just like the rest of us have to learn to manage ours.

For example, I once knew a neurosurgeon who had/has the God archetype — he thought of himself as a God figure because he thought the power to save lives was in his hands, and his hands alone (one might say he had a “God complex,” as the expression aptly goes).  His shadow archetype acted with profound arrogance and hubris;  it never occurred to him that he may have had (real) divine assistance behind his skills.   His shadow archetype walked around with an ego the size of a bus because he felt like he was superior to everyone else because of his ability to perform the most delicate types of procedures on the human brain and to single-handedly save lives.   While his ego stems from the shadow aspect of this archetype, his highest potential is to learn how to balance his gifts with humility and with grace (this particular person was not ready to live with humility and compassion yet, but it remains his potential to live that way if he chooses to live the light aspect of his archetypes).    We all have this choice, whether we have the God archetype, the Savior archetype, the Healer , the Martyr, etc., etc. — all of them have the potential for shadow and the potential for light, and it is the archetypal journey that we are all tasked with, no matter which individual archetypes we have, to bring them to their full potential in order to manifest our destiny instead of our fate.   (For a description of the distinctions between fate and destiny for purposes of this Twilight analysis, please see http://twilightsagaarchetypes.com/fate-and-destiny/).

All that to say, Carlisle has the God/Divine Father archetype, but he embodies an example of the light, positive aspect because he acts through this archetype with responsibility, with compassion, with grace, and above ALL else, with profound humility.

Transformation from Shadow to Light Aspect of an Archetypal Existence

Carlisle also shows us one of the most beautiful and clear examples of what the transformation “looks like” when we make a conscious choice to live from the light aspect of an archetype and to surrender the ego-driven shadow aspect.    Carlisle spent the first part of his vampire life in total misery and desperation – he loathed that he had been turned into a life-sucking creature with the potential for murderous and gluttonous impulses.  He hated his new “self” so much that he tried to commit vampire suicide by denying himself the very thing that made him what he was — a thirst for human blood.   When that did not work, he was even more miserable – it seemed not his human death, nor his vampire life, and not even his vampire death were within his control.    Then, in an instantaneous act of survival instinct, he descended upon a deer without any conscious thought for what he was doing.   Almost immediately he realized he DID have a choice.   He DID have the ability to “control” his shadow impulses for human blood.   The impulses would never go away because they are part of who he is, but he discovered he could CHOOSE whether to live by those instincts, versus living by the highest potential for his kind of existence.

That moment for Carlisle is arguably the most important moment in his life — in that instant, several things converged at once — he CHOSE survival, but he chose survival in a way that is consistent with his highest potential, not his lowest shadow.   It is important to note that choosing survival is NOT shadow — as Carlisle illustrates, he wrongly assumed (at first) that his survival meant death for humans, which left only one option – his death, because he was not willing to kill people.   It was not until he surrendered to survival by instinct that the other option was revealed.    This is so often the case in our own lives — we work so hard to make something happen or work or fit within parameters that we assume are the only option, and we spend so much precious time suffering as a result of what we think is our only option.    But when we give up the notion that we have all of the answers or all of the facts, and we surrender to the most modest and most humble of resources right under our nose (no pun intended), resources that were there ALL ALONG, it is in that act of humble surrender that other glorious options become clear to save us from drowning in hopelessness.

What Carlisle experienced in that first encounter with a deer was a mystical experience to be sure.  We all have mystical experiences from time to time in our lives, in all different flavors and degrees, but they are different from “regular” profound experiences because this type of clarity only happens when we surrender what we think we know, when we surrender our notions of what must be true, when we have no other option but to look up to the heavens and to surrender to whatever God reveals to us in that moment – that moment of divine surrender to have the life preserver of hope that was there all along thrown to us in the form of another option.

Carlisle’s experience with that first deer not only saved his life in the literal and immediate sense, but it saved his life in every other possible way — it completely transformed his entire existence.     At the ant level, he drank from a deer for the first time – no big deal; at the cloud level, he chose to live — but not only that, he chose to live with responsibility and compassion; he surrendered to what God revealed to him as a higher option (and one that was there all along).    As a result of that mystical and transformative moment, he chose his highest potential, never to turn his back on that guidance for the rest of his existence.   He would spend the rest of his life not only living that lifestyle in earnest sincerity, but serving as a quiet and humble example for others.   This is the way mystical experiences transform all of us when we surrender to the truth that we always have choices – even not making a choice IS a choice, and options are often hiding in plain sight when we open ourselves to the cloud level around us.

God does not take away and deprive us out of judgment or punishment.  He liberates us from the perception that we need those things from which we are liberated and from which we are beholden.  (Carlisle thought he needed human blood to survive, and because he was not willing to take human life, he was willing to die because he thought his death was the only option in order to avoid taking human life.)   So on one hand, he knew it was impossible for him to take human life, but by the same token, he assumed this necessarily meant his death because he thought there was no other way to live consistently with his values – that God had taken away any other options.    (Insert here anything in your life that you think is necessary for your survival or your happiness – something you crave or are beholden to, and something you assume God has “taken away” from you.)

It is a difficult reality to grasp, but as Carlisle illustrates, when our heart is consumed by, and depends on, and craves, something that “owns” us, we taint the deep and mysterious well of our heart.    That deep well is intended solely for God’s purity, so the poisonous and debilitating assumptions and choices have to be shed (whether pride, ego, fear, whatever the case) before the well can contain the purity of our highest potential.    The truth is that God loves us enough to put our heart through the cheesecloth (the cheesecloth that we are not strong enough to employ for ourselves because we are stuck in our ant level) to purify our heart and to release the impurities from our heart’s well so that we may fill it with God’s pure potion to manifest our highest potential.    Only when Carlisle surrendered to his desire to live, AND released his assumption that the only way to survive was to take human life, was it revealed to him that he did NOT need human blood in order to live with integrity.   He could live, and he could live in a way that is consistent with his integrity and his values, but he had to be put through the ringer before he could see that.   The ringer is not punishment – it is sometimes the only way we can release the paralyzing assumptions and fear that prevent our heart’s well from seeing (and living) clearly.   Edward has numerous mystical experiences of his own throughout the series, but it is always Carlisle who inspires him by example.

5 Responses to “Carlisle”

  1. JudyRidenour says:

    Jennie–Wow–Wonderful–Thank you! Just read through this one time — want to go through it again more slowly but wanted you to know I found it and do so appreciate your thoughts and insight and kind treatment and good wishes. It sounds like we share this depth of respect and inspiration from this character Stephenie created in her story.
    I haven’t worked through my own archetypes to much degree but your exploration into these character profiles is a great encouragement to me to do my own work. Thank you.
    I’m so glad you are writing again. Great start to the new year! Good wishes to you. JR

    • Judy, your generous feedback is sincerely appreciated. Carlisle is indeed an important character, not just at the literal (ant) level in the story, but also because of what he embodies archetypally.

      I have been working with archetypes for approximately eight years, and I can truthfully say the work has opened up my faith and my view of the world exponentially. If you’re feeling inclined to understand yourself better, and more deeply, and to understand what motivates you, what challenges you, and what you need to do (and become) in order to live your highest potential (whatever that might be in your life), then I encourage you to look at archetypes with a personal eye and an open heart. There are people all over the world who are certified to assist others with this kind of self-awareness (for all faiths and denominations — as I have said before, archetypes are not a replacement for personal faith and beliefs, but are instead a tool to take that faith to a different level by engaging with it directly through a language of the soul). If you go to myss.com, and click on archetypal readings, you can find someone in your geographic location to help you get started; or you can do this on your own by reading about it and doing self-study for a while, which is the way I started out — just follow your heart, listen to the guidance you are given (not by anyone else, but from that divinely inspired voice resonating within you), and commit to yourself to become the person you want to be, one day at a time. Whatever you hope to be and become is within your grasp, and your archetypes, whatever they may be, are there to help you every step of the way!!

      Thanks again for your continued interest and encouragement. Your e-mails have meant a lot to me, and I’m happy to address any questions (or other characters) you want to discuss! Have a WONDERFUL year, and may all your dreams come true :)
      With love – Jennie

  2. Amy says:

    I am so impressed with this examination of Twilight. I never thought to distinguish between Carlisle as the father and as the patriarch. It it so insightful of you to make that distinction.

    • Amy, thanks for your note! I’m glad you like the site, and I hope you’ll visit again — I always love questions, so feel free to send me an e-mail if you have other characters (or other archetypes) you want to see featured in this manner.

      Thanks again, and all my best wishes for a lovely new year! Jennie

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