Peter Pan in Midlife and the Midlife of America:
A Personal and Collective Memoir

A Posthumous Book by Jim Lewis,
Edited and foreword by Erin Sullivan
©2002 by Jim Lewis, a.k.a. Jim Slayden
and the Astro*Carto*Graphy Living trust

Note: The following excerpt is from Jim's long-awaited book, which he never succeeded in publishing while he was alive. It is reprinted with permission of Southwest Contemporary Astrology. The book is special gift from Continuum and from Editor, Erin Sullivan, to the astrological community that loved Jim so well. To order a copy, visit

Chapter 3: When Archetypes Seize a Society

Just as individuals can be possessed by archetypes, so can societies. In fact, since a society cannot be said to have a psyche at all, any "character" imputed to it is bound to resonate with one or more of the archetypes. The fervor attached to national flags, leaders, and symbols is indication that they are perceived as numinous by members of society. Political campaigns amply illustrate the effectiveness of the exploitation of these emotionally powerful and mostly unconscious symbols.

Beyond merely resonating with nationalistic symbols, from time to time archetypes can possess a whole society as powerfully as they can an individual--invariably without the majority's conscious awareness. Since archetypes in control exhibit a "disintegrating effect on consciousness," their eruption on a societal level usually bodes ill. Jung opined that when a society is "possessed" by archetypal forces, it leads to destructive mass psychoses. Societies do not always collectively behave in a rational manner...

It seems that once an archetype gains control it is like a viral infection and must be allowed to run its course. Also like viruses, archetypes in control are not just symbols but have a dynamic life of their own, a history which they can impose on an unconscious, willful entity and so impel it to action and even to a foregone apotheosis…

Aside from the creation of increasingly clever technologies, very little seems to have changed in the human psyche in the span of recorded history. Though it is unpleasant to admit, we are psychically constituted of much of the same stuff as were the people who collectively brought into being the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust. The only thing that changes is the identity of the archetype which is ascendant at any particular times, and the balance of elements within the archetype.

It is not surprising that there is so little awareness of which, if any, archetype is at any time "ruling" a society. The fish cannot be expected to know as much about water as a land-based creature, and collective delusions most difficult to perceive if one is part of that collective. The most useful clues to that mystery are to be found in comparative mythology, religion, and culture….

Shifts in archetypes' domination can be recognized on two levels in western society:

1) An individual, archetypal shift is analogous to the changes in self-definition which accompany life transitions. Of those transitions, midlife is a particularly critical time, when immortal youth metamorphoses into the committed, mature individual.

2)Collectively, as seen in the case of the USA and its aging Baby Boom. When an individual change is undergone simultaneously by so many, it acquires meaning on a collective, societal level as well. It is to the characterization of both the individual midlife passage and to this contemporary, increasingly emergent generational transition that the remainder of this book will be dedicated.

ABOUT THIS BOOK AND ITS AUTHOR: Jim Lewis was a beloved member of the international astrological community and contributed vastly to the development of organizations like AFAN. Although he was best known for his creation of Astro*Carto*Graphy, to which this site is devoted, Jim was a deeply political individual, as you may glimpse from this excerpt. His seminal work on midlife was closest to his heart, but this book was never published in his lifetime, much to his regret. Continuum salutes Erin Sullivan for bringing this posthumous book into being. To order a copy, visit

For Astro*Carto*Graphy articles by Jim Lewis,
visit Continuum's Articles Collection.

CREDITS: Sound file by Tom Savarese. Starry treatment by Donna Cunningham. Dead-on archetypal clip art from Art today. Jim's photo courtesy of Erin Sullivan.