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Archetypes On Meds
by Flora Jardine

Downtown I see the Archetypes all around me. Offspring of ancient gods and goddesses, they throng the pavements. The weather is warm, the squares and sidewalks full, and the mythical Archetypes mingle with residents and the homeless. Like the homeless they seem lost and disoriented. They seem to be on medication -- probably disabled, probably living on disability pensions.

Gods, of course, can escape the laws of physics. They can be in more than one place at a time and fill more than one body at a time. (Trans rights are nothing new to them.) Here on the street I see embodiments of Dionysus (the Lover), Athena (the Hunter), Zeus (the Ruler). I see Narcissus staring at himself in a shop window and Hephaestus lighting a fire in a back alley. His wife Aphrodite, bored with his metal-working obsession, is flirting with every man who walks by, even with Morpheus, who is sleeping in a doorway. Daphne lurks as a presence inside an urban tree, where Apollo trapped her in a fit of pique.

I sit on a bench and watch the passing mythological parade. The doings of these neighbours were once legendary. Today they all want something from me: cash, attention, a listening ear. "My exploits were heroic," many are at pains to tell me, "until cruel Fate brought me down."

They've fallen on hard times, the Archetypes. Once heroic, they're now pathological. Bullies, predators, addicts and elitists to a god and goddess, they no longer inspire mere mortals. Their ideology invites disapproval, but some are excused as disabled folk with traumatic pasts. Many agencies are trying to help by getting them into rehab or giving them therapy: Apollo's doing diversity re-training and Eros is in a sex-addiction help group. Bacchus has gone sober and works with the Salvation Army, preaching abstinence. Hera's running a single mothers' support group. The Muses have applied for City Arts Grants encouraging culturally sensitive singing and dancing.

Hermes' messages, never politically correct, have been banned by the language police. The luxury mansion Olympus, once home of the gods, is now a homeless persons' shelter. On its roof sits a CCTV surveillance camera, watching everyone from on high ... so that at least hasn’t changed.