Intro to the Graves/Jung Model – Intro to Levels 1 and 2


Level 1 — Beige

L1-Beige is about beginnings. Infancy. Primitive man out fighting the elements. Scavenging alone with his mate and offspring like wild animals. It’s also about what happens when we are thrown backwards by catastrophe and the “beginning again” that happens under those conditions. It’s tempting to dismiss L1 as unimportant and uninteresting — not having much impact on our modern world. This is be a hasty conclusion, because the body’s adrenaline system treats every stress as a an L1 issue of physical survival. Health requires keeping the mind from treating every frustration as a fight or flight situation.

The problems of existence at L1 are as basic and simple as life itself. L1 is about survival. Sleep. Water. Food. Shelter if possible. Warmth if possible. It is existence without past or future. Will I survive this moment, right now? How do I do that? L1 is reactive and totally self involved in maintaining physical stability— because self is all there really is. If it is possible to put into words a primary problem of existence at L1, it would be isolation. Being completely on our own, with no obvious one (or many) to rescue us, stand up for us, or come to our aid.

If the world is a state of nature, then you must act and survive like other animals. Scrap, scrape, scream. We cope by taking care of ourselves at every turn. We do whatever it takes, manage however we can, and never question our own self-centered, self-referencing world.

L1 is motivated by physical needs. There is no such question as “what do I want for dinner?” — only, “will there be anything to eat?” “will I find anything to eat today?”

Being successful at L1 means you get to live. It means you have the ability to survive the physical world: to acquire food, shelter, and water. If L1 fails, the individual dies or lives in constant desperation to survive; existence is extinguished.

Our very distant human (or pre-human) ancestors existed at L1. Each wandered, homeless and without ally. Following the seasons. Fending for him- or herself in all regards. Eating what they could find on the move. Always in fear of predators. Not necessarily the highest link on the food chain.
The stark image of roving bands of feral children, orphaned and displaced by war, or by drought and other natural disasters can be seen as L1 at its primitive worst in the modern world. There is no loyalty or family between these children, no thought for a future or a college education, no concept of their place in the world — only the raw, naked drive to stay alive. They roam like wild dogs; scavenging, stealing, even killing for food. They become L1 survivalists, fighting each other for every morsel and every moment of warmth or stitch of clothing.

When someone is blinded or otherwise disabled as an adult by a catastrophic event, they generally return to L1 for a short period of time to relearn survival in light of this new problem of existence. They must re-establish the boundaries of their world, learn to navigate, to feed themselves, and how to be safe under these new conditions. Once the basics of survival are in hand, they move on and begin their crawl back across the developmental map.

1. Is there existence?
2. Is there isolation and self-attention?
3. Is there survival in trauma?
4. Is there eating, sleeping, etc…?
5. Is there reproduction?

Even at this early stage of existence, there is a core learning which must be realized to produce a healthy existence. Before L1 can progress to L2, there must be the universal learning of how to need without shame. With this critical unconscious learning well in place, L1 is well equipped to be a healthy and contributing human individual at L2 and beyond. An absence of this ability to need without shame will corrupt all future levels and produce extremely unhealthy interactions with others.

The Tarot begins with the Fool, a lone person, but with an animal usually a dog, interacting with him, though he is barely aware of it. This is the state of the infant with teddy bear, the primitive with fetish or idol. Repressed social affects surface through a transitional object that allows the individual to practice social skills in a less threatening situation than contact with another human being. Thus it prepares the way for the next stage.

Level 2 — Purple

“Sacrifice self now to the wishes of the chieftain, tribe, spirits…”

L2-Purple is about forming into the first social structure. This is where we first learn to trust and relate to others, to value one another, and to know that it is possible to survive what we fear — together. All those things we learned in kindergarten are L2 lessons — absolutely necessary for continued healthy development, and for healthy existence at any subsequent level.

Our cultural rituals — the ones that cross all the boundaries — like funerals, weddings, wakes, seasonal celebrations, planting and harvest celebrations, and ceremonies celebrating birth and entrance into adulthood — are L2 markers.

At L2, the biggest problem of existence is still achieving safety in a dangerous world. The dangers of nature, predators, weather, illness, accidents, unseen spirits and ghosts, monsters, disappearances and death must be fended off and protected against. An L2 world is a world of fear, but in contrast to the previous level it has a new resource: the tribe.

In a world that is frightening and mysterious, once we have the necessary social skills, we band together for safety and to placate the spirits that threaten survival. We call on our ancestors who have gone before for assistance. We sacrifice to gods, pray, and perform rituals; use totems, magic, taboo, superstition, and symbols; and we enlist the aid of a shaman, witch doctor, medicine woman, oracle, chieftain, or high priest. We do as we have always done because that is what works. It is what our fathers and their fathers did — it is what we will do.

L1 was out there on his own, never getting a good night’s sleep because he was always keeping an alert ear for noises in the night. If he ate, it was because he found his own food. If he was clothed, it was in garments of his own fashioning. By L2, however, the individual takes his learned survival skills and contributes them to the well-being of the group. If he doesn’t catch a fish today, he will still eat because someone else will catch a fish. He can rest and sleep, secure that someone else is watching the camp, and tomorrow he will watch and they will sleep.

L2 clings together, interdependent, sharing everything. A tribe, a family, a brotherhood. This is where we learn faith and trust.

The primary L2 motivator is towards safety and security, and away from fear. The sacred is also a clear motivator, because of the presupposition of deities running in this system.

Success at L2 is marked by the ability to trust others and to be trustworthy, and the ability to form relationships with others.

L2 is a place where classical conditioning is the most effective way to teach and learn. Consider what it means to live a life of ritual: when I sacrificed the fattest goat last year, it rained for two weeks. If we need rain now, what do I do? I sacrifice the fattest goat I’ve got. The goat burns — there’s the rain. If it doesn’t rain, I must’ve sacrificed either an inappropriate goat; performed the sacrifice in an incorrect way; or be at the mercy of a fickle and merciless god. Nonetheless, at L2 we are motivated to learn and to repeat what has worked before. This is a culture of sameness.

L2 learns by repetition, as described above, but more accurately, by observation of what goes on around them. They observe success, then imitate that success. They observe failure, and so avoid those things which lead to failure and harm. This is where we get fully develop our ability to learn by experience. All of life becomes a classroom, and everyone becomes both a teacher and a student.

Failure or absence of a complete and well-formed L2 leaves individuals unable to trust, unable to form lasting and healthy relationships, unable to satisfactorily meet expectations of the family/tribe (or have reasonable expectations), and forever looking over their shoulder in fear of the unseen.

Success at L2 results in an ability to relate to the family or tribe, and to carry out successful interpersonal relationships throughout life. It provides the personal resources to allow your own needs to be met by others, and to allow you to meet the needs of others. It gives you the skills for communication, interaction and cooperation, and thereby guarantees the continuation of the life of the tribe/family through mating and births. A successful L2 provides a sturdy relationship with deity and with the sacred: the groundwork for success at all subsequent levels.

If L2 is missing, incomplete, or damaged, the individual will be isolated from community and family and unable to succeed at personal relationships, or become an integral part of “the group.” There may be an incomplete understanding of the relationship between life and death, or a profoundly stilted development of wonder, and a lack of respect for rite, ritual, and symbol. The sense of what is sacred may be missing or distorted, and thus the relationship with deity may be equally missing or distorted.

There are very few L2 cultures left on the planet, and they are primarily in South America, Africa, Oceana, and the Arctic. Historically, any tribal or clannish culture which takes care of itself without aggression toward other tribes would be living at L2. These societies are pre-literate, but often creative and artistic, especially in their worship and ritual.

L2 organizational structure is a circular tribal structure led by elders, shaman or chief who makes decisions. The ways of the tribe are sacred and rigidly preserved. If there is a work product, it belongs to everybody, and everybody benefits from it.

In our modern world, an individual with a strong L2 is one who enjoys an extended family, or a family of any size that is heavily soaked in traditions and interdependence. Children/babies reach L2 as soon as they are able to recognized that they exist as part of the group and that the group takes care of itself and of them. Once that security is known, the monsters under the bed and the dragons of story can be survived and even tolerated, because the tribe will protect.

Organized religion offers strong L2 for many people because of its family structure and its link to the spiritual and the unknown. In fact, it is often said that God lives at L2. In the Judeo-Christian Bible, it is when the Jews ask to leave L2 behind and move on to L3 by receiving a king their God says they are abandoning Him.

In most modern cultures, societies, brotherhoods, unions, and other close-knit “clubs” supply us with some structural L2. We cling to holidays, decorations, costumes, parades, festivals, masks, parties, cycles, feasts, superstitions, and other traditional activities because of the “home again” feelings they arouse in us.

L2 gives us our groundwork and our past. Without it, we are adrift and alone in a scary world.

1. Is the family/tribe in tact?
2. Is there respect/fear for gods, ancestors…?
3. Is there a sense of belonging, safety and trust?
4. Is there easy interaction within the group?





What, though, if everyone in a family or tribe were entirely trusting? What if all failures of tradition or personal betrayals were repressed? What if a group continued in denial like the followers of Reverend Jones, who went faithfully to suicide? Preserving healthy L2from fanatical credulity is the emergence of the repressed in the form of its archetype, the Trickster. In Ancient Greece, he was Hermes; for Native Americans of the Southwest, Coyote. S/he manifests as the mischievous child in the family or shaman in the tribe. In the Trickster’s selfishness and willingness to violate tribal norms, s/he does instinctively what becomes the next stage’s conscious way of life.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s