top of page

Soulful and Spirited Temperaments, by Walter Odajnyk

Dernière mise à jour : 26 oct. 2023

Paul Cézanne - Pierrot et Arlequin, 1888

Extracts from :

Walter Odajnyk Archetype and Character

Power, Eros, Spirit, and Matter Personality Types

Soulful and Spirited Temperaments

"My observation of various types of behavior and attitudes has led me to conclude that the pursuit and expression of every archetypal style and interest is characterized by either a soulful or spirited quality of temperament. I therefore make a distinction between the archetype of Pneuma/Spirit as a motivational drive and ‘spirit’ as a temperamental characteristic.

The use of the same archetype in two different ways is possible because every archetype has multiple manifestations, each one with its own specific attributes. For instance, the great mother archetype includes the Virgin Mary, the sky goddess, the earth mother and Kali. It can also be represented by such impersonal objects as the moon, the ocean, a tree or a cave. Although the great mother archetype is the source of all these representations, each possesses its unique characteristics, a separate frame of reference and a different meaning.

This multifaceted nature of every archetype is also true of the archetype of Spirit. Thus, Spirit can appear as a wise old man, as Mercurius in alchemy, or wind, breath, light or fire. Archetypal-motivational typology relies upon two psychological attributes of this archetype, as a motivational drive and as a temperamental quality.


The soulful temperament

People with a soulful psychological temperament are receptive, reflective, often deliberate and slow. When speed is of the essence, do not ask a soulful type. They like to take their time and feel their way into things. The 19th-century composer Johannes Brahms, for example, took 21 years to complete his Symphony No.1 and discarded 24 drafts of a chamber music piece for strings. Contrast that working style and pace of the soulful Brahms with the lightning speed of composition by the spirited Mozart !

When soulful types are upset, or matters are not going well, they turn moody, morose and sulky. If introverted, a sense of melancholy and retreat are natural to them; if extraverted, they impose their moods and deliberations onto the surrounding environment. They give credence to hunches and have no difficulty with irrational, fantastic, emotional and even contradictory perspectives. They can play with various schemes and scenarios. But, unless soulful types are impassioned or highly extraverted, they prefer to think, or rather, to reflect before they act.

Soulful individuals are emotionally and personally connected to the physical world and to other people. They tend to be loyal, take things personally and are loathe to do something out of mere principle, or for abstract logical reasons. They love beauty and harbor an almost mystical connection to nature.

As the romantics on the typological spectrum, they are easily swept away by their fantasies, passions and irrational notions, sometimes even indulging in fits of unreality. If blessed or cursed with a modicum of creativity, they will tend to pursue their creative fantasies and not understand why the world does not follow suit; their vision seems so real and compelling. For the soulful, John Keats’ words in his Ode on a Grecian Urn have the ring of eternity:

“‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”


The spirited temperament

In human beings the upward striving of spirit, its tendency toward purity and perfection, can make a person abstract, distant and cold. Like the fairy tale princess in her tower, spirit can isolate one from human contact, its critical eye discerning every fault and blemish.

Discriminating, judging, phallic, assertive words and actions can castrate and utterly destroy all feeling, connection and relationship. As the Jungian psychologist James Hillman notes, spirit tends to mistake “above” for “superior” and looks down upon soul and its desires, fantasies and involvements with the human and material realms. In this context, Jung speaks of “the crime of sainthood,” for saints often “murder” ordinary human impulses, the love of family, for example.

Thus spirit, when allowed to run its course unchecked by humanity, by soul and Eros, easily turns into dogmatism, fanaticism and authoritarianism. It demands discipline, order, rules and regulations — doing things the “right way,” whether in one’s personal, social or spiritual life. When turned inward, the perfectionistic and judgmental demands of spirit can deprive a person of all self-esteem or self-confidence, and bring an individual to the brink of suicide. In this way, as we saw with soul in its negative form, spirit turns into a death demon that can destroy a person’s life, figuratively and actually.

These are the dangers that can afflict people whose personality becomes too narrowly identified with spirit. Even in well-balanced individuals, spirited types will be fiery, impatient, mobile and aggressive in their approach to matters at hand. They may be inconsiderate, not seeing the point of getting into all the details of a problem or issue. They will be decisive, judgmental, cutting and somewhat rough at the edges. On the other hand, they do bring a great deal of “fire” and “spirit” to things and are not afraid to try new approaches. In the process they may not always take into account people’s feelings or even what appear to be insurmountable obstacles and difficulties. Spirited people favor Napoleon’s maxim,

“On s’engage, puis on voit,” "first you engage, and then you see".

When necessary, they may rely on charm and seduction, but generally will prefer bold strokes. They emphasize the force of character and will. It may seem as though spirited types are under the sway of the archetype of Power, but that is not necessarily the case. They can apply their spirited temperament and attributes in the area of Eros and seek union and connections in a spirited, forceful, aggressive and willful manner. Furthermore, they bring these qualities of personality to bear on any area of interest — spiritual or material, intellectual or worldly. Extraverted spirited types will use these temperamental qualities when engaging the outer world; introverted types will apply them to their inner life."

* * *


PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
bottom of page