The term “archetype” has its origins in ancient Greek. The root words are archein, which means “original or old”; and typos, which means “pattern, model or type”. The combined meaning is an “original pattern” of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are derived, copied, modeled, or emulated.
Most, if not all, people have several archetypes at play in their personality construct; however, one archetype tends to dominate the personality in general.
Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist and philosopher, believed that we all channel unconscious archetypes that deeply effect our behavior. We find these archetypes in myths, fairy tales, and even within ourselves! Are you the explorer or the hero? Maybe even the rebel?
Jung identified four major archetypes, but also believed that there was no limit to the number that may exist.
The self is an archetype that represents the unification of the unconsciousness and consciousness of an individual. The creation of the self occurs through a process known as individuation, in which the various aspects of personality are integrated. Jung often represented the self as a circle, square or mandala.
The shadow is an archetype that consists of the sex and life instincts. The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos and the unknown. These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others.
Jung suggested that the shadow can appear in dreams or visions and may take a variety of forms. It might appear as a snake, a monster, a demon, a dragon or some other dark, wild or exotic figure.
The Anima or Animus
The anima is a feminine image in the male psyche and the animus is a male image in the female psyche. The anima/animus represents the “true self” rather than the image we present to others and serves as the primary source of communication with the collective unconscious.
The combination of the anima and animus is known as the syzygy, or the divine couple. The syzygy represents completion, unification and wholeness.
The persona is how we present ourselves to the world. The word “persona” is derived from a Latin word that literally means “mask.” It is not a literal mask, however. The persona represents all of the different social masks that we wear among different groups and situations. It acts to shield the ego from negative images. According to Jung, the persona may appear in dreams and take a number of different forms.
Jung suggested that the number of existing archetypes is not static or fixed. Instead, many different archetypes may overlap or combine at any given time. The following are just a few of the various archetypes that Jung described:
The father: Authority figure; stern; powerful.
The mother: Nurturing; comforting.
The child: Longing for innocence; rebirth; salvation.
The wise old man: Guidance; knowledge; wisdom.
The hero: Champion; defender; rescuer.
The maiden: Innocence; desire; purity.
The trickster: Deceiver; liar; trouble-maker.
1. The Innocent
Motto: Free to be you and me
The Innocent is also known as: Utopian, traditionalist, naive, mystic, saint, romantic, dreamer.
2. The Orphan/Regular Guy or Gal
Motto: All men and women are created equal
The Regular Person is also known as: The good old boy, every man, the person next door, the realist, the working stiff, the solid citizen, the good neighbor, the silent majority.
3. The Hero
Motto: Where there’s a will, there’s a way
The Hero is also known as: The warrior, crusader, rescuer, superhero, the soldier, dragon slayer, the winner and the team player.
4. The Caregiver
Motto: Love your neighbor as yourself
The Caregiver is also known as: The saint, altruist, parent, helper, supporter.
5. The Explorer
Motto: Don’t fence me in
The explorer is also known as: The seeker, iconoclast, wanderer, individualist, pilgrim.
6. The Rebel
Motto: Rules are made to be broken
The Outlaw is also known as: The rebel, revolutionary, wild man, the misfit, or iconoclast.
7. The Lover
Motto: You’re the only one
The Lover is also known as: The partner, friend, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist, spouse, team-builder.
8. The Creator
Motto: If you can imagine it, it can be done
The Creator is also known as: The artist, inventor, innovator, musician, writer or dreamer.
9. The Jester
Motto: You only live once
The Jester is also known as: The fool, trickster, joker, practical joker or comedian.
10. The Sage
Motto: The truth will set you free
The Sage is also known as: The expert, scholar, detective, adviser, thinker, philosopher, academic, researcher, thinker, planner, professional, mentor, teacher, contemplative.
11. The Magician
Motto: I make things happen.
The Magician is also known as: The visionary, catalyst, inventor, charismatic leader, shaman, healer, medicine man.
12. The Ruler
Motto: Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
The Ruler is also known as: The boss, leader, aristocrat, king, queen, politician, role model, manager or administrator.
Jung, C.G. (1951). “Phenomenology of the Self.” The Portable Jung, 147.
Jung, C.G. (1964). Man and His Symbols. New York; Doubleday and Company, Inc.
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