Archetypes and their meanings

Last week the discussion revolved around how myths, fairy tales and folk tales gave us a blueprint to life.  This week I thought we could go into the different archetypes that make up these stories and how these archetypes show up in ourselves.

The term archetype comes from Ancient Greek meaning original pattern.  It is the primordial image, character or pattern of circumstances that recurs throughout the various stories and is considered to be a universal concept.

Psychologist Carl Jung used the concepts archetypes in his theory on the human psyche. He believed that these universal archetypes reside within the collective consciousness. 

Jung identified 12 primary archetypes that represent the range of basic human motivations.  While each person has a dominate archetype, all are within us and make up our personalities.

These archetypes play out throughout the tales of mythology, folk tales, tv shows and movies.

Jung broke the 12 archetypes down into four groups of what each archetype is looking for.

These four cardinal groups are:

The Ego - Those who want to leave a mark on the world.

Order - Those who provide structure.

Social - Those who seek connection.

Freedom - Those who yearn paradise.

The 12 Archetypes are:

The Innocent, Everyman, Hero, Outlaw, Explorer, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Lover, Caregiver, Jester, and Sage.

The below diagram shows how each archetype falls into the different cardinal groups.

Those that want  to leave a mark.

The Hero.

The Hero is perhaps the most widespread depiction found in literature, movies, religion, folk tales and mythology.  So many of our stories have this person prevalent in them. 

The Hero embodies the traits we admire or aspire too, strength, courage, unbending will and moral compass, hope, faith, loyalty, a strong sense of justice, responsibility, accountability, impenetrability to corruption, an urge to protect the downtrodden, and able to galvanize others into action.

They are motivated by their need to prove themselves, they are constantly seeking new challenges to prove their worth.  The hero is committed and focused to fight for what really matters.  The hero will typically succeed in bringing peace to everyone but himself.

Despite all his positive traits the Hero can be quiet susceptible to his Shadow side. These traits are they're superiority complex, apathy, selfishness, stoicism, black and white view of things, rigidity, refuses help, jealousy and arrogance.

The hero can become the heartless villain if the shadow side of self is not reconciled.


 The Magician

The Magician is also another archetype well represented throughout literature for around the world.  They have an intellect that seeks to bridge the gap between the inner sanctum of the mind and that of spirit.  They possess extraordinary sometimes even supernatural knowledge, skills and understanding that enables them to create mystical changes.

They are usually knowledgeable, charismatic, admired and well liked by others. The Magician can see the opportunities that arise in chaos and can pull off awe inspiring feats that seem impossible to those around them.

The Magician is constantly seeking or exploring the secrets of the universe, however for all they're 'powers' the Magician can be just as restricted by those same powers from actively participating when they sit in their shadow side.  Self preservation is strong in them and more often then not they are not willing to risk themselves for a cause.  As such they can be seen as cowards, scheming, dishonest  immoral, manipulative and exploitative.

The Outlaw

Most people will see this group as wild and eccentric, they don't care about the status quo, they see rules as just a suggestion.  They are the group that rail against the established order.

They are the oddballs, the rebels, the nonconformists, the crazy ones.

It is through them that we see world changes.  They imagine, create, invent, explore, inspire, turn the world upside down, they create the game changers.

The Outlaw speaks to our fundamental desire to be free from rules and regulations.  They are the ones that feel the need to change the world from what they see as corrupt, tyrannical, repressed, fearing powerlessness, they are most motivated when they are making the world a better place.

While the Outlaw can be the catalyst for change, they are also destructive and nihilistic and out of control.  They often employ dangerous and misguided methods to achieve their goals. 

They will often alienate friends and family, and can lose their way and sense of morality, they don't mind being feared or harming innocents if it means they will achieve their goal.

 Those who yearn for Paradise.

The Innocent.

The innocent are the people who always see the glass as half full.  They are our inner youthfulness, purity, exuberance and idealism.

They are eternally optimistic and take us back to a time to when we where unblemished by the world.  

The innocent keeps a positive outlook and maintains hope and faith in their ideals, while inspiring others to believe that everything will work out.

Others are drawn to the innocent due to their enthusiasm, positive vibes, their sense of wonder, while still being wholesome and honest, and calm demeanor.

They are driven by their desire for freedom and happiness for everyone. They are truthful and honest in all their dealing and the most sympathetic of the archetypes.

The innocent does not deal in double meanings or hidden agendas, there are a few different sub archetypes within this archetype and they are: 

Child, dreamer, Idealist, Muse.

 The shadow side to the innocent can see them being very dependent on those around them, while refusing to acknowledge their own weaknesses, they often lead sheltered lives and are prone to ignoring reality.

They can also be childish, irritating and boring, prone to throwing tantrums, blame others, their overflowing optimism can border on irrationality.

Primrose Everdeen Hunger Games

The Sage

They are the wise ones, the mentors, the teachers, and the  philosophers.  The Sage seeks truth, wisdom, and power by trying to understand the world through logical and and analytical mind.

They believe in the pursuit of truth, seek the answers to life's most profound questions by looking inwards, through introspection and reflection. 

The Sage is often the teacher to the hero before the hero begins their journey. 

They're intuitive, reflective and always curious which drives them to learn and seek the truth.  

As they seek the truth the Sage will be offended when lied to or emotionally affected when something they believed was truth turns out to be false.

With their innate intelligence and wisdom the Sage isn't easily corruptible however they do have their shadow aspect.  They can be arrogant and prideful, and can be overly critical or unsympathetic to those they deem not on the same level as them. 

They can be quiet dogmatic and stubborn when it comes to their views on the world.

 The Explorer

MBTI statistics show that only 9-10% of the population belong to this group, but despite that they are perhaps the most familiar to us as we are exposed to them from early childhood, through cartoons and stories.

The Explorer are the wanders, the pilgrims, the adventures of the world. They seek to get away from the daily grind with the restrictions that come with everyday life to forge new trails, their goal being to find the meaning and self realisation  through discovery.

They are motivated by the need for freedom and independence to search for their true meaning and purpose, this could be through travels and adventures around the world, or through looking inward to find the meaning and his sense of identity.

Like the Innocent there are sub-archetypes within the explorer, these are:

Adventurer, Pioneer, Generalist and Seeker.

Just like the other archetypes the Explorer also has a shadow side, their shadow will see them wander aimlessly chasing thrills, avoiding commitment.  They reject conformity so much that it could see them actively keeping away from groups, becoming a misfit.

They are indecisive and fond of grand, unachievable goals, that can leave them disappointed.

 Those who provide Structure

The Artist

The Artists are the dreamers, creators, inventors, musicians, writers and innovators.  They express the richness of the human consciousness through their creativity.

They use their art to form their self expression. They are nonconformist, and not afraid use their creativity and imagination to create something that will challenge the norm.

The Artist is unfulfilled without art, and they can find beauty in what others deem ordinary.

The Artist is focused on innovating, and finds motivation from within.  They will put their entire focus and energy on their ideas and create something that will stimulate our senses and speaks to our soul.  

They value self expression more than anything else, and their pleasure comes from creating something that didn't exist before.

The Shadow Artist can become eccentric and self destructive, they don't care to know the negative results of realizing their vision. They can be paralyzed with self-doubt, spending so much time on their art wanting it to be perfect can cause the artist to become a recluse and depressed.  

The Shadow Artist can lack focus and be impulsive, and may take on a new project before finishing their current one.

Sub tropes of the Artist Archetype is that of the starving artist who believes art must involve suffering, pain and poverty, and the tortured artist who may have some form of mental illness, and may turn to drugs to enhance their focus to escape their struggles of daily life.

 The Ruler

Their Motto is 'Power is everything' The Ruler desires to exert power over everything and everyone in his community.

The Ruler represents power and authority, using their skills and talents they aim to maintain a balance between order and chaos.

They are created to committing a prosperous and successful community. They have a compelling desire to maintain their status and power.

The Ruler will always play by the rules, and expects others to play by them too. They are courageous and cares for their people and inspires them.

They know how to take control and attract attention to themselves. They are organised, responsible and visionary.

The Ruler embodies charisma, courage and benevolence. Their motivation comes from their desire to ensure safety, stability, and security to their community.  They are confident in their abilities and always ready to take charge.

On one side of the coin the Ruler is kind and benevolent, on the other they are arrogant, cruel and greedy.

When in their shadow they fear to lose control, so will over compensate by being manipulative or tyrannical.  In an attempt to hold their position they can become corrupt or authoritarian, and become reckless in their  behavior, punishing anyone who questions them.

The Care Giver.

The Care giver are the people who are most fulfilled when giving love, care and protection to others.

They are selfless, compassionate, supportive, empathetic, kind and offer unconditional love.

They care more for others than they do for themselves, and are known for sacrificing themselves in service to others. They can easily sense if someone requires any assistance, they are the people that won't think twice about rescuing and protecting other people.

Their fear is thinking that others will see them as selfish, so are always trying to please everyone.

The Care Givers motivation comes from their joy of helping others and making a difference in their lives, they are optimistic and always ready to lend a hand, and are easy to forgive others for their mistakes, self-sacrificing and generosity comes easy to the Care Givers.

As Care Givers are not very good at saying no, and constantly try to please everyone, they are prone to burn out, as they are not great at self care end up being stretched thin which develops feelings of resentment, and will cause them to guilt trip others and act like a victim.

A shadow Care Giver can be viewed as over-bearing and manipulative.

 Those who seek connection

The Lover.

The Lover is the archetype that most people are able to relate to the most easiest.  They are of deep feeling, emotion, sensuality, passion and pure aliveness.  This archetype is more than just about romantic love.

Their motivation comes from expressing love in general, they seek intimate relationships and seek to find the ultimate partnership.  This archetype when identified strongly within a person can cause them to fall deeply and intensely in love, too the point where it dominates their lives.

This archetype is expressed with familial relationships and friendships as well, showing dedication and commitment to those they love, seeking to be as close to them as possible.  

They easily express passion, gratitude, and appreciation towards others or something.

The Lovers are very sensual by nature and enfold themselves wholly utilizing all their senses in everything they do.  Life and expression are important to the Lover in all areas of their life, and seek environments that they love, as they find divine bliss and ecstasy.

The Shadow Lover is addicted to love, and intimate relationships become everything to them, seeking fulfillment from the relationship.  This makes them unbalanced, and neglecting other aspects of their life.

By making the object of their love their entire existence, the lover gives their power away, which is detrimental to their self esteem.  As such they can suppress their true self, failing to speak up about their own needs, putting up with bad behavior, and as such can be taken advantage of.

Another aspect of the Shadow Lover can be promiscuity, in their pursuit of love may mistake sexual interactions with love, or may hope that those interactions will lead to love.

The Shadow Lover can bring out destructive behaviors such as jealousy, revenge and rage.

 The Jester.

The Jester are the jokers, the people who want to have fun, they are the people who bring the comic relief in stressful situations.

They are more interested in the journey rather than the destination.  They are not trying to get any where and are all about the here and now.  They understand the importance of enjoying life.  

Those who identify strongly with the Jester generally have a good work-life balance, the  key motivation for them is to avoid boredom. 

The Jester while motivated by fun , but will use humor to illuminate corruption or dishonesty in others.

Their priority in life is light-hearted, carefree and fun, they are the ones  that enable us to let go and just be.

The shadow Jester fears boredom and as such this fear can prevent them from just being, it can also drive them to addictions to forever avoid states of dullness.

  As they live in the present moment they may have the inability to plan ahead, and can be prone to time-wasting and procrastination.

The desire to entertain can lead to people pleasing making them overlook their own needs.  

They can turn nasty and their jokes and become cruel, mocking and hurtful.  They also are known  as the trickster.

Lastly they can use humor as a mask to hide their true selves, distracting them from their emotions and difficulties.

 The Every-man.

The Every-man is interested in the good for all people.  They are about virtues and values, being down to earth, supporting the common good and community.

They are democratic and fair, and accepts everyone, they don't tolerate dishonesty and pretense.  They are all about common sense.

The Every-man is motivated about belonging to a group or community, they are driven to connect with people. 

Their biggest fear is loneliness and being left out. To avoid being left out they easily blend in with the crowd.  

Honesty is important to them and as such they are driven to fight corruption, they embody the spirit of the common people. 

They don't seek glory, they just seek to be accepted as part of the group.

The shadow Every-man can lose their sense of self, because of their willingness to blend with the crowd, they can lose their individualization, as such this can override their sense of self protection making them easy prey to peer pressure, which can lead them to compromising their morals and values.

As such they can develop a victim mentality, becoming cynical, digging into self pity and complaining about how they and their group have been wronged.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll go further in and break down the archetypes into how they work with the feminine and masculine energies, and ways to work with the different archetypes.