Originally published at Horror Buzz.com 9/5/16 (PDF)
Carl Jung stated, “archetypes are, by definition, factors and motifs that arrange the psychic elements into certain images, characterized as archetypal, but in such a way that they can be recognized only from the effects they produce.”
Archetypes are living, breathing, psychically-enhanced images which penetrate our collective unconscious. They resonate within us and pull us into a dream world. It is in myth, that we find Hera, Dionysus, Zeus, and it is ever so rare that a living, breathing archetype is able to be in the four dimensional world we reside in.
Elvira, created and portrayed by the great character actress, Cassandra Peterson, is that rare living archetype who breathtakingly evokes our imagination but doesn't stop there. She is alive, we can stand next to her and take a photo, we can say hello, we can have her coffin collection of brilliant and witty TV and film jokes, signed as a keepsake for forever.
In an interview long ago, Peterson stated that the Elvira is made up of four ingredients, “sex appeal, cheese, humor, and a dark side.” Together, these ingredients have offered eternal life to a character who has broken through the wall of the 3rd dimension, where most costumed characters forever live on. They typically have a theory, a look, and an actor, but what about the breath? When she is ON (in full regalia) it takes one’s breath away. The character lives a parallel life to the actress and the actress who becomes her, is fully aware of the difference between the two, with a smile and wink.
Instead of a sign, she is a symbol. Instead of a 3 dimensional prank, she is someone who is always in style. From the 1980’s, through the 90’s to today (2016), her look is still as appealing on primal levels, as it is on deeper, intellectual, spiritual and empowering ones. She is no one’s woman but her own, a high priestess with a virtual cauldron of humor and an ever appreciating fan base.
The great Russian acting-method creator, Constantin Stanislavsky, taught his students about the Magic If, that is becoming and not playing a character — indeed the Groundlings star (with a vast array of merchandising and an upcoming 35 year retrospective print anthology) steps into the living heartbeat of Elvira and once she does, Peterson is riveting, deep and untouchable. Royalty, yet unique and without the need for lineage.
Coming from a theatrical, psychological, and spiritual background, I can honestly say that Elvira is not only an inspiration but an actual archetype who can both possess and conquer the spirit of those who value imagination and the beautiful magic of year-round Halloween.
Mikhail Tank is an author, radio host, and student of Jungian psychology. With a BA in Theatre and a recent original presentation at the Art & Psyche conference in Italy — his works include the Darksoul Theatre and the upcoming music album, titled Sir. Tank: Happy Halloween (Orchard/Sony with music producer Brett Bibles). Follow Mikhail via Twitter & Instagram @mikhailtank
© Mikhail Tank