We all have a unique blend of archetypes within us. These mythic forces carry the energies we need to bring forth our true potential and fulfil our Sacred Contracts. So how do you identify your personal archetypes?
Firstly let me explain what Archetypes are. These are larger than life figures that are woven into the Universal fabric of humanity. If I mention an archetype you will already know something about it; you won’t need to go and look it up.
If I talk of the Mother archetype you will have a ready image of what that means to you. Of course Archetypes are big, complex patterns and each has many faces; all of them have their light aspects and shadow aspects. If you carry the Mother archetype you may be the ‘nurturing mother’, the ‘abandoning mother’, the ‘mother hen’, the ‘earth mother’, the ‘devouring mother’ or another aspect of the Mother.
Some archetypal faces emerge with trends, so presently we have the ‘yummy mummy’ in the UK. This is stereotypical, a ‘sub-archetype’. In the UK we know what is meant by ‘yummy mummy’, but someone from another culture might not and a hundred years from now it may make no sense at all, unlike true archetypal faces which are cross cultural and timeless.
Those who study archetypes are usually aligned with the work of Carl Jung. Jungian psychoanalysts use archetypal patterns as a key to understanding the complexity of the human persona, but the archetypes themselves are ancient; the Hunter and the Shaman were painted onto cave walls. Archetypes run the full gamut of human history and can be tracked through mythology, folklore, epic poems, gods and goddesses, fairy stories and literature, right up to movies and advertisements.
Finding your intimate team of archetypes, those patterns you carry within your psyche, is part of the process of self discovery. If you don’t know which archetypal energies you are connected to how can you know yourself? So where do you start in finding your own archetypal team? Which energies do you carry and what do they tell you about your life purpose?
Start by describing who you think you are. I describe myself as Healer, Teacher and Writer professionally and these archetypes all fit me well, however you aren’t just what you do for a living and some people do a job that isn’t a good fit for their archetypal selves. If you are really unhappy in your work and just do it for the money then an archetypal bad fit may be part of the problem.
Look beyond your job to the dynamics of your life, especially repeating patterns of behaviour. For example do you have a pattern of coming to the aid of people in trouble? Perhaps you are the Rescuer, the Knight, the Samaritan, the Hero, the Heroine, or the Avenger? It depends on how your urge to help manifests. You have to study yourself and consider which profile fits you best.
You also need to distinguish between the archetypal patterns that you admire and those that are truly yours. I would love to sing, but I don’t have a beautiful singing voice; the Singer just isn’t in me and to claim it is would be wishful thinking and self delusion. The Teacher archetype however runs through me like the letters in a stick of rock. As a small child I lined up my dollies and teddies to teach them lessons and I have taught professionally all my adult life. I am at home in the classroom.
Consider the types of stories you like to read, the films you watch, the myths that interest you. Note which kind of characters you are drawn to.
Are you a devotee of Detective stories and movies? My husband has a strong Detective archetype and reads this genre a great deal. When you examine an archetype don’t just look at it on the surface, take it, stretch it and look from other angles. Sherlock Holmes is the stereotypical detective, but Steve loves to find things out; he hunts down the clues and searches out the truth, whether that is part of his working life as a Shaman, or part of his relaxation. His mind is very active and no detail escapes him. That is a clue to the Detective being one of his key archetypes, he just can’t stop detecting in whatever he does!
I love to read stories where the protagonist has to undergo an arduous journey to seek out the solution to their troubles and overcome adversity on their path. My favourite books are the Wizard of Earthsea series by Ursula Le Guin, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and the Moon of Gomrath by Alan Garner and the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read and reread these! Something in these stories speaks to my soul and I think it is calling to the archetype of the Seeker, the determination I have to follow my own path, whatever hurdles are placed in my way, however uncomfortable it gets. There is also a magical aspect to all of these books which speaks to and nourishes my Child who has never doubted that the Universe is a wondrous place.
Researching and getting to know your archetypes can be a rewarding, fulfilling and illuminating voyage. You are going deeply into your own psyche and you will uncover things about yourself that are profound. I have utilised the materials created by Caroline Myss as she has done a great deal of groundwork. Take your time in your exploration and you will begin to understand what motivates you and what the highest expression of each Archetype can help you bring into your life. Caroline's book Sacred Contracts contains a useful archetypal directory to help with your identification process.
Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential