The 12 archetypes feature so predominantly in the ancient mythologies of multiple cultures they cannot be passed off as inconsequential. It is not a coincidence that ancient cultures from all over the world placed an important significance on the number 12.
A logical conclusion for the consistent repetition of 12 archetypes, is that these energies are central to emotional healing and self-development. Today’s psychoanalysts also allude to this fact by classifying 12 “personality types” which they attribute to the 12 major archetypes.
Archetypes are essential catalysts for self-realisation. They are psychic energies that reflect your human nature. When all 12 are fully integrated into your conscious mind, you are whole, centred and calm.
Subsequently, understanding the positive and negative attributes of the 12 major archetypes can help you identify and release suppressed content from the unconscious mind and reprogram your personal unconscious.
Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist was the first person to classify archetypes as a psychological tool. He postulated the archetypes were human qualities that were universal to all of humanity and separate from the personal unconscious.
“The contents of the personal unconscious are chiefly the feeling-toned complexes, as they are called; they constitute the personal and private side of psychic life. The contents of the collective unconscious, on the other hand, are known as archetypes.” ~ Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
Moreover, Jung deduced that some personality traits are passed down by parents from one generation to the next. The most dominant archetypes in your parents – one can assume – may also surface in an infant child. However, the development or possession of the 12 major archetypes fluctuates throughout your life.
Archetypes can be defined as qualities and faults that are present or absent in everyone. They are subtle energies that create personality traits, instincts, intuition and actions that are “out of character.”
Understanding the contents of your unconscious is critically important for personal development. Unconscious content is essentially everything you don’t know about yourself yet possess the qualities that can make you all that you can be.
When an unconscious content is brought to the conscious mind, you expand conscious awareness and enrich your quality of life. You appreciate the smaller things, feeling connected with everyone and everything, sense unbridled love and cultivate inner peace. These are the qualities of a Buddha consciousness.
“Man becomes whole, integrated, calm, fertile, and happy when (and only when) the process of individuation is complete, when the conscious and the unconscious have learned to live at peace and to complement one another.” ~ Carl Jung, Man And His Symbols
If you have already researched the 12 Jungian archetypes, you will probably have noted that internet psychoanalysts have crudely clumped archetypes into personality types.
This wayward approach typically boxes people into a particular archetype. Moreover, it encourages individuals to focus on the qualities you do have rather than the qualities you need to develop.
The truth is that all 12 archetypes are present in your psyche. Some will be more pronounced than others. The archetypal qualities that are absent or weaker need developing before you become whole and release trapped emotions.
Not only is it important to find a balance between archetypal energies and draw repressed qualities from the unconscious into the conscious mind, but you also need to release trapped emotions that cause the damming up of energy. Failing to do so causes illness and dis-ease.
This article outlines both the positive and negative (shadow) characteristics for each of the archetypes. In keeping with the modern classification of archetypes offered by psychoanalysts, I have decided to retain the 12 major archetypes readers may be more familiar with.
It is worth noting the 12 major archetypes offered by mainstream psychology are often described as sharing the same attributes. In my opinion, some of the “personality types” presented by mainstream psychology can fall under the same archetypal figure.
For example, both the explorer and the warrior are attributes of the hero archetype but offer different qualities. Whilst they serve different functions, they are part of the same developmental process.
Although modern academia has digressed from Jung’s original classification of archetypes, the separation helps you to determine which attributes you need to develop or which energies you need to call upon in any given moment. During self-analysis, it is easier to determine which energy you need to develop or to deflate.
However, by creating additional archetypes to classify what is essentially the energy of a particular personality trait, the number of 12 original archetypes has been reduced to nine.
This irks me somewhat. My understanding of ancient mythology reveals there is a reason why there are 12 archetypes we need to integrate into conscious reality. And given almost every culture places an emphasis on 12 major archetypes, there is clearly an important significance.
In symbolism, 12 is the number of completeness.
As a consequence, there are essential archetypal attributes missing from mainstream psychology. So how can you become whole?
What are the 12 Major Archetypes
There are over 300 archetypes specified by psychoanalysts, but there is a lot of subtle overlaps so they have been placed into a palatable 12 major personalities.
Moreover, the 12 major archetypes have different attributes that complement one another; the magician and the sage, for example, are feminine and masculine principles that are needed to fully develop this side of your nature.
It’s worth noting that each of the archetypes has a shadow. Jung classified the Shadow as an archetype in its own right, but essentially the shadow is an amalgamation of all the aspects of your true nature that has been rejected by the ego and thus not recognised by the conscious mind.
In other words, it is unconscious.
You could say, for example, that the shadow is all the dark and evil aspects of you that exists in all humans. Quite rightly you want to have control over your potential for evil but it is also pertinent to be aware that such aspects of your nature exist.
There are also aspects of your consciousness that you need but have been repressed in the unconscious. These energies will emerge in your personality as a shadow archetype.
Recognising your shadow archetypes when they surface in your life will help you identify trapped emotions, release them and heal.
Likewise, understanding the positive attributes of all the major archetypes will enable you to determine which archetypes are developed, which are dominant, which have possessed your ego and which you need to mature.
The 12 major archetypes offered by mainstream psychology are listed in the table below. In the second column, I have named Jung’s original archetypes and stated which modern archetypes I feel closely resembles Jung’s original.
I have also included Jung’s original 12 archetypoes in the final column. This column is given in alphabetical order and does not relate to the archetypes named in the first two columns.
As you can see from the table above, the archetypes classified by modern psychology does not match Jung’s original list. This does make some sense, however.
Jung classified the shadow as an archetype by itself, but the shadow appears in each of the archetypes as negative traits. The shadow personalities have also taken on thier own archetypal name in modern psychology, for instance, the two poles of the shadow Lover are known as the Addicted Lover and the Impotent Lover.
Furthermore, I do not agree with some of the classifications presented by psychoanalysts. For example, the Ruler is considered to be an aspect of the Father archetype, but I feel the Self-ego axis is a closer fit. I explain why under the heading Ruler Archetypes below.
You will also notice that three of the archetypes named by modern psychology correspond with Jung’s hero. Again I will explain in more detail under the relevant heading, but the Outlaw is essentially a combination of the Explorer and the Warrior.
As I mentioned above, I feel mainstream psychology is missing important ingredients that cultivate an enlightened mind. Having said that, I don’t think Jung nailed the 12 archetypes either.
I intend to deal with the 12 relevant archetypes in the Guide To Greek Symbolism – Coming Soon. Until then, subscribers to any of the Master Mind Content symbolism courses (excluding Beginner’s Guide) and self-development courses can access more information about the 12 archetypes listed in this round-up from the VIP Members Area under the Decoded Symbolism option in the symbolism menu above.
The Ruler Archetypes
Also known as King, Sovereign, Tyrant, Bully,
The “Ruler” tends to be characterised as someone driven by a need for power. This is not entirely true even though the king’s sovereign energy does provide you with ambition and a drive for success.
Whilst a power drive is a quality everyone needs as part of their character armour, the Ruler archetype represents much more than a craving for success and power.
Essentially, the Ruler archetype is regarded as the authoritative archetype of the human psyche. Mainstream psychology aligns the Ruler with the Father archetype, because traditionally, the father is the head, and thus, the chief decision-maker of the family.
For instance, in their book, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine, authors Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette write:
“In many ways, the king energy is Father energy. It is our experience, however, that although the King underlies the Father archetype, it is more extensive and more basic than the Father.”
Personally, I associate the Ruler archetype with the Self-ego axis – the central archetype which has an ordering principle and unifies all the other archetypal contents.
Jung called this central axis the Self and associated it with wholeness. The Self-ego axis is a term devised by Jung’s brightest student, the German philosopher and psychoanalyst, Erich Neumann. It was the discover of Self-ego separation that has laid the foundation of depth-psychology today.
“The Self is the ordering and unifying center of the total psyche (conscious and unconscious) just as the ego is the center of the seat of subjective identity whilst the Self is the seat of objective identity. The Self is thus the supreme psychic authority and subordinates the ego to it. The Self is most simply described as the inner empirical deity and is identical with the imago Dei.” ~ Edward Erdinger, Ego and Archetype
The respected psychoanalyst John W. Perry also described the Ruler as the “central archetype” around which the rest of the psyche is organised.
In symbolism, the figure of the king is also associated with the sun. The crowns worn by royalty throughout the ages are symbolic of the sun’s rays. The sun is also a symbol of the Self. Lions share a similar meaning because their manes resemble the glare of the sun.
I understand why psychoanalysts make the connection between the king and the father archetype. You need to develop the gifts of the father archetype (Artist and Sage) in order to be a successful ruler – to have power over your thoughts, emotions and actions.
As Moore and Gillette point out, the energy of the King archetype means you are calm, centred and life-giving. When fully developed, it is the most important of the personality traits – just as the Self is the most important of the Jungian archetypes.
“The King archetype in its fullness possesses the qualities of order, of reasonable and rational patterning, of integration and integrity in the masculine psyche. It stabilizes chaotic emotion and out-of-control behaviors. It gives stability and centredness. It brings calm. And in its “fertilising” and centredness, it mediates vitality, life-force, and joy. It brings maintenance and balance. If defends our own sense of inner order, our own integrity of being and of purpose, our own central calmness about who we are, and our essential and unassailability and certainty.” ~ Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, King Warrior Magician Lover
Many of the attributes mentioned in the above description share traits of the “True Self” described by religions and also align with Jung’s Self archetype.
The Ruler has a very real fear of being overthrown. You will notice during the process of self-development that you will feel uneasy at times. The King’s fear of being overthrown will sometimes manifest as an intense feeling of stress in your head.
Again, we see here a correlation with the Self-ego axis described by the eminent philosopher and psychoanalyst Erich Neumann. The self-ego axis is the dual-facing centre of consciousness. The ego is the world-facing observer, whilst the Self draws information from within – what Jung called the collective unconscious which is the world of archetypes.
An understanding of the Self-ego axis is essential when understanding archetypes because these unconscious energies project themselves on to the ego. At times, they can make you act of character. You can learn more about this in the Beginner’s Guide To Symbolism.
The central powers of consciousness have autonomy and when their seat of authority is under threat, you physically feel the resistance because the ego is programmed for survival. When the ego does not have a program and you start doing something out of its control, you may feel panic or anxiety.
Thus the “king’s fear of being overthrown” is felt by resistance from the ego. Because the ego is programmed to respond with what it knows, it panics when the Self overrules it. In mythology, we see the struggle between the Self and the ego in the battles between gods and demons, heroes and monsters (or tyrannical kings).
In mythology, the death of a king or the heroes defeat of a monster (his inner demon), reflects a shift in conscious awareness. Before they achieve their conquest, the hero has to go through a battle or period of chaos.
If you don’t experience a transformation energetically, (which is the best way), you will experience it physically in the real world in some form of traumatic experience.
“Falling into an inflation (of ego) means a betrayal of one’s instincts (true nature). The instinct protects we have an instinctual protection against inflation. We have all often become inflated and know that when one is inflated one feels uneasy. Even before we fall down the stairs we have the feeling that today we will fall down, because somehow we have a kind of bad conscience or malaise, we don’t know why, and then bump! the punishment for inflation generally comes quickly; one walks into a car, or something like that….What is worse, inflation always means sterilization of the mind, for if one is inflated one is both sterile and stupid.” ~ Marie Louise von Franz, On Divination and Synchronicity
People with a well-developed ruler archetype typically have a goal which they are adept at putting into action. Depending on whether the King energy in you is benevolent or tyrannical, you will either persuade and inspire others to willingly support your vision or subdue them through manipulation and perhaps even force.
When positive, having the Ruler archetype in your character armour enables you to become a good leader. You carry an air of authority, people respect your opinions and take your instructions on board.
With a “good King” at the helm, you will have a successful career, raise your children to have strong moral values, earn the respect of others and share a peaceful marriage with your partner.
You exude confidence and authority. When making decisions, you have the mental capacity to use logic and reasoning rather than knee jerk reactions prompted by emotional impulses.
However, all archetypes have a negative aspect and a malevolent Ruler archetype is one to be feared. Just as we see in mythology and in real life, rulers can be tyrants that terrorise their subjects and their children.
In symbolism, “subjects” of a city, realm, kingdom or country are the cells in the body. If your children are afraid of you, their cells are also being damaged. They will also develop neurotic behaviours in adulthood.
For more information about how a father can disturb the emotional development of a child, read my article on the Father Complex.
When you provide your cells with good information your bodily functions work how they are designed to. This enables you to stay in good health. You also expand conscious awareness and make good decisions.
The King archetype (The Self) is responsible for maintaining order and creating a wealth of knowledge so that you prosper physically and spiritually. The organising function must be able to put information in formation. Without order, you experience chaos, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Attributes of the Ruler include good leadership, the ability to influence other people and maintain a likeable persona (ego). When the ruler archetype is integrated into your personality (Self) you will be decisive, responsible, reliable, cautious with words and actions and charismatic.
The shadow side of all the archetypes is the unconscious aspect of your psyche. To heal, you have to get to know your shadow archetypes and factor their positive aspects into your character armour.
When the Ruler archetype is fully integrated into the psyche, you are charismatic and amiable. However, the negative Ruler will place unreasonable demands on other people and get angry at them if they do not fulfil your wishes.
Even if your desire in any given moment is inconsequential, the tyrannical king can make you fly off the handle if you are in a bad mood.
If your Ruler archetype is undeveloped – thus the ego is inflated and has dominance over the Self – you are more inclined to engage in destructive behaviours.
Because the tyrannical ruler wants complete control, people that are possessed by this archetype find it difficult to delegate. In such cases, the shadow energies will appear in the form of feeling overwhelmed. This is an indication for you to stop putting too many demands on yourself and learn to trust others.
The expression, “don’t bite off more than you can chew” is appropriate advice for individuals looking to develop the ruler archetype.
A shadow projection may also make you a strict authoritarian, both at work and at home. This is a weakness in character that can be overcome by releasing repressed anger and adopting the qualities of the lover archetype.
When the Ruler archetype is underdeveloped, people will not admit they cannot do something in case it undermines their authority. This also reflects deep-rooted feelings that you are not good enough.
However, dishonesty will rear up in the shadow and you will eventually feel overwhelmed and stressed. If you recognise these traits in yourself, you need to activate and develop the positive side of the warrior archetype.
The Warrior archetype is the final step to developing a strong and trustworthy ruler that will enable you to achieve your goals and be happy with everything you have.
Also known as The Mother
Together with the Ruler, the Caregiver is the most important archetype to develop. However, both typically come at a later stage in life because they represent the matured and balanced Self-ego axis.
While the ruler in more concerned with making the right decisions, the Caregiver considers other people. The caregiver archetype is also known as the Great Mother that imbues unconditional love, compassion, dedication and patience.
Other attributes associated with the Caregiver are generosity, protection and nurturing. Developing the mother archetype enables you to willingly help others and put people’s needs before your own.
Adopting the qualities of the caregiver means you are easy to get along with, highly likeable, flexible and always willing to do what is required. It also means you take good care of yourself.
The caregiver is a positive mother that is able to say no to your child because you know what is best for them. On the flip side, you have the flexibility and presence of mind to understand your offspring need the freedom to explore the world and develop their personality.
The Mother archetype is connected with the root chakra which defines your sense of Self and provides your basic needs. When the caregiver is balanced you are grounded, emotionally stable and in good health.
The shadow side of the caregiver is said to fall into the categories of the “victim” or “slave” archetypes.
People with a giving and compassionate nature often have a difficult time saying no. Subsequently, you overstretch yourself and spend all your energy on other people rather than on yourself.
This type of behaviour is classified as the “Victim” archetype. By giving yourself to others you lose your sense of self and find it difficult to set boundaries.
The victim archetype is someone that does not nurture themselves and meet their basic survival needs – either physically or emotionally.
If the caregiver in you is unable to set boundaries, the shadow will appear as feelings of bitterness and resentment. You may even guilt-trip people so they recognise your sacrifices. Ultimately, you want to be recognised for your good deeds to feed your emotional body.
Shadow energies of the caregiver archetype also surface as feelings of inadequacy. This can quickly lead to anger and frustration which ultimately dissolves all positive aspects of the caregivers loving and compassionate nature.
Negative aspects of the caregiver arise due to a mother complex. Feelings of inadequacy often arise because you did not receive enough emotional support from your mother.
As an adult, you can often feel overwhelmed with situations you think are beyond your realm of capability. This makes you feel incompetent and unworthy – again feelings that were instilled in childhood because your achievements or your presence was not recognised.
Caregivers can also develop a slave mentality which leaves you feeling exhausted. When you are not in a position to do something for somebody else – when you have to say no – you feel guilty and ashamed.
Feelings of guilt and shame ultimately impact on your ability to relax and enjoy life. Trapped in your hips, these blocked energies prevent the loving and creative aspect of the feminine principle to flow through you.
Also known as the Member, Orphan
The main focus for the everyman archetype is to fit in, find a sense of belonging and enjoy life. It is the aspect of your nature that longs to be accepted by others in your community.
The Everyman archetype excels at creating and forging connections with others. They have a friendly and inviting demeanour that is instantly likeable.
This archetype mostly resembles Jung’s Persona archetype which he said is “the individual’s system of adaptation to, or the manner he assumes in dealing with the world.” [CW Vol.7]
It is this aspect of your personality that gives you the capacity to form relationships. It also hides the real you in the background. This can be a good thing if your animal nature is not refined.
Jung warned that if you associate with your persona, you lose your own identity and hide behind the mask.
“Whoever looks into the mirror of the water (the Unconscious) will see first of all his own face. Whoever goes to himself risks a confrontation with himself. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face.” ~ Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
When this archetype is balanced you perform well in groups and share a common vision. You don’t feel the need to stand out, just serve your function as part of a team.
Although you work hard, you are content with a simple life. Your family is important and you make time to give them the attention they deserve. Incorporating the Everyman archetype helps to offset the workaholic of the Ruler archetype.
Also known as the orphan archetype, the Everyman yearns for personal safety by spending time with other people. Although this archetype is a natural development from the Innocent (Child) there is still a vulnerability about the individual that craves company.
This generally occurs when someone betrayed your trust as a child. Maybe you felt rejected by your parents as we see in the character of Hephaestus in Greek mythology.
However, the imbalance may have been caused by something that is quite natural in the life of a young child. For example, when you realised the utopian fantasy you have as a child is not how the world really works, there is a high possibility you were left feeling powerless, hence the need to be supported by team members as an adult.
The gravest fear in the Everyman archetype is to feel left out. Being ignored is devastating. As a result, when the Orphan archetype is dominant, you may emotionally manipulate people to give them a guilt trip.
A weakness of the Everyman archetype is that they are dependent on other people. This can give you a character weakness that exudes a feeling of helplessness. You may even refrain from learning how to do things so that other people do them for you.
An underdeveloped Everyman archetype will also prompt you to conform with societal norms and the demands of people you want to like you. This will often lead to you saying yes to things you don’t really want to do.
Adolescent boys can often fall into this trap when they are dared to do something dangerous or foolish by their peers. To fit in, the everyman will do whatever it takes to impress his friends.
Moreover, the more you conform to what other people do, you start to lose your sense of identity. Or it doesn’t develop in the first place. This is common in people that do not know what they want to do in life. You may not even know what you like to do.
The Shadow Everyman can also manifest as anxiety. When you are not being True to your Self, the unconscious aspect of your personality will make you feel uncomfortable.
Denying yourself the things you want to do in life, takes away the things that you need to grow emotionally and spiritually. As you get older this will manifest as restlessness and an overwhelming desire to differentiate yourself from your friends.
Also known as Artist
The Creator is another archetype that corresponds with Jung’s Father archetype. As a matter of fact, it shares so many similarities with the Magician, I am not convinced it should be named as one of the 12 main archetypes typified by mainstream psychology.
In fairness, there is an argument to say the magician archetype is the feminine aspect of the Sage’s masculine energy, whereas the Artist is masculine energy and thus is applicable to the mind – the Masculine Principle of alchemy.
In keeping with internet psychology, I have included the Creator in this article for consistencies sake. However, I cover the “Artist” personality in the Father archetype deep dive which you can find in the Decoded Symbolism section.
I connect the Creator archetype with the Father because in symbolism the father motif refers to the mind – including the personal conscious which is where Jung explains “feeling tones” are stored. It is the emotional side of the Sage energy that I connect with the magician.
Moreover, every ancient myth that I know of has a Creator God – the Father of the world that is always accompanied by a female counterpart – even is he is hidden by symbolism.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” ~ Genesis 1.1-2
Artistic, or imaginative qualities, generated by the Creator archetype, provide you with inspiration and a vision. It is this “visionary” element of your personality that is ultimately adopted by the “King” archetype. The Self-ego axis is the decision-maker.
The imaginative function is also recognised in the Sage/magician archetypes. In myth, magicians are often closely associated with the King for this very reason; they provide them with the inspiration and information to pursue a vision and often give them the tools to achieve their task.
The difference between the Creator and the King is that the ruler seeks to maintain control of the vision and reap the rewards whereas the creator is happy to go about their business and delight in what they have created.
Again, we see here the two sides of the Self-ego axis in the King archetype. The Self is the inward-facing centre that finds inspiration and satisfaction from within.
The ego is the outwards facing centre that connects with the outside world. This is the aspect of your nature that needs validation from your creative achievements.
A positive aspect of the Creator archetype is the willingness to constantly learn. Eager to learn and improve, you are able to adapt to new circumstances without feeling flustered.
With the rapid pace of advancements in technology, new challenges come thick and fast. Being able to call upon the qualities of the Creator (or Magician) enables you to work out a solution.
Negative traits of the Creator archetype can often cause you to lose sight of what you have achieved.
When you focus on perfection, you struggle to accept things for how they are. The expression “an artists work is never finished” suits the shadow side of the creator archetype.
The inability to be content with what you have and move on is obviously a detriment to self-development. Unless you explore other aspects of life, you cannot develop your personality and ultimately become stale.
Moreover, whilst ever you pursue the ultimate creation, you lack stability and comfort. Artist personalities tend to live in their heads rather than paying attention to their emotions.
As a consequence, this can destabilise your connection with your relationships. By excluding other people, you develop the same negative traits as the ruler is unable to delegate.
Also known as The Child
The innocent is a modern product of Jung’s child archetype. This archetype is the closest you will get to the True Self or Divine Child of eastern mysticism; an uncomplicated and authentic personality.
When we are born, our awareness is solely in the unconscious. It is not until between the ages of 1-2 years old that we start to develop ego – our connection to the outer world.
“By the end of the first year of life, if not before, the egogerm of the child begins to prepare for its subsequent autonomy. Initially this development, too, is sheltered by the mother, who supports and furthers the child’s growing independence just as she does its learning to walk and to talk. While the first postnatal, embryonic year still stands under the sign of the unconscious unity of mother and child in the primal relationship in which the mother is simultaneously world and Self, the “migration” (as we have called it elsewhere) of the Self from mother to child gradually begins. With this second birth at the end of the first year of life and “postnatal embryonic period,” the ego-development and increasing independence of the child’s personality become evident.” ~ Erich Neumann, Fear And The Development of Personality
The Innocent Child archetype is the aspect of your consciousness that can guide you back to the unconscious in search of innate wisdom. Jung believed this wisdom comes from the collective unconscious – a second source of consciousness which is separate from the personal unconscious (subconscious).
As an archetype, the innocent is the most unique. It has been coined the “Alpha to the Omega” a phrase associated with Jesus on his journey from being a mortal man to becoming spiritually enlightened.
What this essentially means is that as a newborn child, we are totally oblivious to the outer world. We live in a pure state of bliss without any awareness of the dangers and stresses related to life. It is also said that you fall back into this state of pure consciousness when you die.
The ability to connect with the innocent can instil this sense of utopia and trust in Self within you. Integrating the Divine Child brings a state of inner peace.
In some respects, primordial energies contain the purity – and thus innocence – of a child. It is the aspect of your nature that searches for happiness and is easily pleased.
The innocent even desires peace for your enemies and embodies sympathy and sincerity. It is an archetype you need to call upon when forgiving people that have hurt you in the past.
Thanks to this purity, people that have a dominant aspect of the innocent archetype in their personality have a gift for inspiring people to do the right thing. They can also offer hope because optimism is the primary motivation.
For all the positive traits the innocent archetype offers, the shadow side causes serious problems in individuals and the world.
Because the survival of the innocent is dependent on others, people with a dominant child archetype are more inclined to follow and obey. This can make them lack responsibility and ignore reality.
People that blindly defend someone evil because they have an emotional detachment to them are typically possessed by the innocent archetype; a woman that goes back to the husband that beats her for example.
We also find the innocent in people that defend political leaders even when it is blatantly obvious to “awakened” people that politicians have no interest in serving the population.
It is often the case that people living a sheltered life are strongly influenced by the Innocent archetype. They have subsequently grown into an adult-child and harbour childish personality traits.
People that are possessed by the shadow aspect of the child archetype are easy to pick out. If you blame other people or situations for your “bad luck” it is a sign of the child archetype. If you are moody or cold-shouldered when you feel hurt it is because you have not learned to deal with failure and accept your own wrongdoing.
You might also be precocious and difficult to reason with. Moreover, you shy away from challenges and ignore anything that goes wrong. In doing so you invite more problems into your life moving forward.
Yet every problem or situation you encounter in life is an opportunity to learn something about yourself. The shadow side of the innocent archetype acts as a catalyst for growth.
“This agrees exactly with our experience of the psychology of the individual, which shows the “child” paves the way for a future change of personality. In the individuation process, it anticipates the figure that comes from the synthesis of conscious and unconscious elements in the personality. It is therefore a symbol which unites the opposites; a mediator, bringer of healing, that is, one who makes whole.” ~ Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
Naivety is also a trait of the shadow innocent archetype. In adults, this can lead you to trust people that want to rip you off – or worse, cause you harm. The Innocent in an adolescent is likely to suffer abuse at school.
To overcome the shadow nature of the Innocent archetype, individuals have to call upon the so-called warrior or explorer archetypes. Both these archetypes fit into Jung’s classification of the hero and are the second stage of ego development; courage and a desire to learn about the world.
Let’s take a closer look.
Also known as The Seeker
As the name implies, the archetype of the explorer is your desire to learn, travel the world and discover yourself. When this aspect of your consciousness is awakened, you are often prompted to go on a voyage of self-discovery in one form or another.
The explorer is the second stage of character development when the adolescent child breaks away from the mother. It’s not simply that you crave adventure. You are in search of your independence, your identity. You need the explorer to break away from the unconscious grip of the Father and Mother complexes. Teenagers that rebel against their parents are developing their explorer archetype.
In my opinion, the explorer corresponds with Jung’s Hero archetype. In myth and literature, the “hero’s journey” is typified by an adventure in which the hero encounters challenges that must be overcome – and thus we draw on the energies of the warrior – another hero archetype.
The explorer develops relatively early in children with inquisitive minds. For others, the energies emerge later in life when they are older and realise something is missing from their life.
I was in my mid-twenties before the hero emerged. Although I had always had an inquisitive, which suggests the explorer was present, I did not have the personal power to motivate the explorer into action. The reason for that is because I was shy, lacked self-confidence and had not developed the warrior aspect of the hero. The everyman archetype matured in me first because I needed to feel accepted and loved.
The explorer energy raises curiosity and compels you to go in search of meaning. This energy may initially surface as intuition and compel you to explore the matter further. It is a subtle energy that invites seekers into the temptation of discovery. You are open-minded about trying new things which ultimately results in a richer quality of life.
In Shamanic traditions, there is a tale of the Hummingbird that had sampled all the nectar Mother Earth had to offer. The only thing the Hummingbird did not have any experience of was God. So to fulfil her desire she hid in the feathers of the eagle, for the eagle was the messenger of God and the only creature on earth that came into contact with Him.
The Hummingbird is the stereotypical explorer that recognises there is more to life than they experience. Moreover, there is more to discover about your True Nature than you are consciously aware of.
There is some cross-over between The Explorer archetype and The Lover. In my opinion, The Explorer is the attributes of the male principle (strength of mind) and The Lover is the feminine principle (emotional qualities).
The explorer archetype is often one that remains repressed in adults and thus surfaces frequently in shadow behaviour.
Because society forces us to conform to pre-determined norms, people do not feel the need to explore alternative options. We also tend to believe what we are told as children and grow up with subconscious programs that create limiting beliefs, false truths and destructive habits.
This also accounts for why pop music and mediocre TV shows are the norms for most people. If you settle for what you are handed on a plate without exploring alternative options, you will have a mediocre experience rather than a rich quality of life.
Unless you reject societal norms, you will be moulded into a sculpture creating by other people. You will not be an individual with your own identity. Subsequently, you will feel lost and unfulfilled. When this happens, the True Self rebels and the explorer archetype projects on to the ego.
When the shadow explorer appears it is often in destructive ways. For example, you may take an interest in drugs to escape the monotony and mundane nature of life. While ever the explorer remains repressed, you will become addicted to whatever drives your motivation. And if your knowledge of everything the world has to offer is limited, your experience of life is also limited.
An urge to do something dangerous for the adrenaline rush, the search for excitement and obsessive ambitions are all attributes of the seeker looking for something fulfilling.
The explorer energy can also give you an irrational fear that you are missing out on something. It will make you agitated and restless. You, therefore, flit from one thing to the next and never actually finish or accomplish anything.
A negative aspect of the explorer is that you eventually feel unfulfilled. You soon become restless and feel the need to change your circumstances. If you are developing the explorer aspect of your inner-hero, you probably need to make these changes.
However, if this energy is a dominant force in your psyche, you run the risk of never settling down, starting a family and finding stability.
Sometimes you need to appreciate what you do have and adopt the cliche: the journey is part of the destination.
A positive manifestation of the shadow is the urge to leave a job or a relationship that is not working for you. Sometimes, the situations you get trapped in are because of the conforming nature of the inner-child. The explorer compels you to find your own path and your mould your own identity.
Individuals that have not developed a hero archetype by middle-age will typically undergo a mid-life crisis in search of an identity. This can occur in a variety of ways but typically involves acting out unfulfilled dreams.
The problem many people encounter during a mid-life crisis, however, is they hold on to their youth instead of acting in a way that is more fitting for their age. Whilst this newfound freedom or interest can bring joy, it may not necessarily help you to mature.
Essentially, the explorer archetype forces you to evolve. It helps you to discover new interests, to find a different perspective and to acquire more knowledge.
Unless you develop the explorer archetype, you will not mature or experience a rich quality of life. However, sometimes you need to call on the other attribute of the hero archetype – the warrior.
Also known as Hero
The warrior is characterised by courage and motivation. It is the aspect of consciousness that compels you to face your fears regardless of how nervous or anxious you are. It is part of you that has to battle with the challenges you face in the world – and indeed, with your own weaknesses.
Among Jung’s original classification of archetypes, the warrior blends with the explorer to create the hero archetype. But for the hero to become a hero, you must combine the energies of both the seeker and the warrior archetypes.
Although the hero is only the second stage of personal development, it has transformative qualities. You only upgrade subconscious programs by putting thoughts and emotions into action. The warrior gives you the courage to overcome the limiting beliefs implanted in your subconscious.
Individuals that confront their fears, explore the world to discover themselves or successfully give up addictions and habitual behaviours have a strong hero archetype.
If you find yourself failing in life or shying away from responsibility (the Innocent Child), it is the energy of the warrior you need to call upon and develop. Elenor Roosevelt famously said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Without the hero, you will have an unfulfilling life. Unless you evoke the warrior, you don’t awaken the explorer.
The hero archetype is, therefore, the catalyst you need to experience life and learn new skills that will successfully help you navigate the journey. The warrior aspect of the hero also gives you the perseverance to keep trying until you master whatever challenges lie in your path.
Archetypal energy that appears on the shadow side of the hero is a willingness to fight the good fight but for the wrong cause. This can lead you to defend your values and actions or remain loyal to someone even when the facts and motivations are not in your best interests or contribute to the greater good.
The shadow side to the hero character is often found in people that had an authoritarian parent(s) that criticised their behaviour, or if they suffered failure early in life. But it can just as easily originate from infanthood when you were denied or refused something you wanted.
Until you recognise and acknowledge your actions do not serve your best interests or the interests of others, the shadow side of the warrior will keep prompting you to perform actions that create chaos.
As a result, you remain stuck in a situation you don’t want to be in or keep experiencing “bad luck” because you have not learned your lessons and evolved.
For instance, it might be difficult for you to end a relationship because your hero is governed by lust. This is because you are possessed by The Lover archetype that leads you into temptation for the wrong reasons. If you keep going back to a lover you know is not right for you, you need to summon the strength to bring the relationship to a final end.
Lust can appear in many forms and is a product of not getting what you want or wish for. This emotion is often repressed at a very early age and is deep-rooted in everyone. It takes the courage of a warrior to break away from these chains of delusion.
“There is a lust for revenge, which is called rage; a lust for having money, which is called avarice; a lust for victory at all costs, which is called stubbornness; a lust for self-glorification, which is called boastfulness. There are many and varied kinds of lust, some of which are specifically named, others not. For who could easily give a name to the lust for domination, which, as we know from the civil wars, is nevertheless very powerful in the minds of tyrants?” ~ St. Augustine
The hero-warrior, although having outgrown the child, is still among the immature archetypes. The weakness is in failing to control your desires with rational thinking.
That said, the hero is central to your personal development and enjoyment of life. When this side of your character is developed you can go on to achieve the greatest good But when underdeveloped, you will remain unhappy and unfulfilled.
An inability to be honest and open with people is also a shadow aspect of the hero. You may avoid expressing how you truly think and feel because you are afraid of what other people might think of you.
There may also be times when you feel vulnerable or dependent on others to make your decisions for you rather than voicing what you really want. A weak hero will typically avoid taking an opportunity because its easier to stay in your comfort zone.
Other times you will act spontaneously without a plan. Here we see the naivety of the child that has not yet developed hero consciousness. Whereas spontaneity is a good way of developing the archetypes that constitute the hero, other times it will leave you unprepared and floundering – so choose your moments wisely.
An underdeveloped warrior archetype will also prompt you to shy away from challenges or lose your nerve during a contest. If you play a game of skill, the shadow archetype will give you the proverbial stage fright when you are in the jaws of victory.
This is the result of lacking trust in yourself because you were reprimanded for “being stupid” when you were a child. If you did something which “could have got you killed (or hurt)”, the hero in you in repressed.
The same problem may occur if you were never praised for your achievements. A disruption to your confidence-building process in childhood will prompt you to push beyond your limits in adulthood.
Subsequently, the shadow warrior causes you to be wild and reckless as an adult. Here the hero is trying to break into your conscious thinking but has to pushes you to the extremes – and perhaps beyond your capabilities.
In this scenario, the Self overrides the part of your ego that serves to protect your survival. Because the unconscious drives life, when it is suppressed, it will turn against you.
“The unconscious is not a demoniacal monster, but a natural entity which, as far as moral sense, aesthetic taste, and intellectual judgement go, is completely neutral. It only becomes dangerous when our conscious attitude to it is hopelessly wrong. To the degree that we repress it, its danger increases. But the moment the patient begins to assimilate contents that were previously unconscious, its danger diminishes. The dissociation of personality, the anxious division of the day-time and the night-time sides of the psyche, cease with progressive assimilation.” ~ Carl Jung, The Essential Jung: Selected Writings
People that look to establish their sense of Self are on the path to expressing their uniqueness. There is a lingering feeling that you have to prove yourself and leave a mark on the world. The warrior can help you achieve your goals but unless the positive aspects of this energy are developed, the warrior archetype is destructive and harmful.
This act of defiance is the explorer or outlaw archetype which are essential aspects of the hero. It can often surface in people in their 40’s that decide to leave the corporate world and set up their own business, design an innovative product or develop an innovative form of creative work.
Also known as Rebel
The Outlaw, or Rebel archetype, is another mainstream invention which essentially fits in the same mould as Jung’s hero archetype. In my view, the Rebel is the Explorer and the Warrior rolled into one. People with these energies present in their nature break away from conventional norms.
Rebel energy emerges in individuals that are outspoken. Whereas it is the energy of the Magician that intuits new ideas, it is the outlaw archetype that boldly suggests a radical way of the thinking is needed.
As with the explorer, the outlaw recognises when a need for change is required; either in the physical world in within yourself. The energy emerges as the nugget of an idea or a full-blown realisation.
Because the outlaw cares about making the world a better place, they are often in opposition to governments, corporations and anybody else they do not feel are serving the general population.
When this archetype is present, you may be considered controversial, radical or even a trouble causer. “Conspiracy theorists” is a favourite term politicians use to quell any idea their government is involved in any wrongdoing.
Yet outlaw gives you the ability to see beyond the veil of illusion. This often comes after seeking the Truth. And because you see more and know more about the world, you recognise other people’s opinions, respect them, and suggest positive solutions.
This archetype also recognises that something has to be destroyed before something new can be created. As we saw with the explorer, there comes a point where you have to leave a job or a relationship so you can grow.
The outlaw energy gives you the capacity to let go, to make bold changes when they are needed. In doing so, you can develop as a person, evolve spiritually, improve your career and find a happy relationship.
The shadow of the outlaw is also the same as the explorer so I won’t go into too much depth again here.
One point that is worthy of mention, is that if the outlaw archetype is present in a political leader that is also possessed by the tyrannical King, they may propose reckless changes that are not in the best interests of other people. Hitler is a prime example of this type of personality.
When the ego associates with the shadow side of the rebel archetype, you typically complain about things rather than making a change in themselves to change it.
In this instance, the outlaw archetype is not developed and the positive energies are still submerged in the unconscious. The energy has emerged as an idea but the individual has not found the courage to explore the matter for a solution or enact a change.
If, on the other hand, you also have a shadow warrior, you may try and bring about the change by doing something stupid that has not been thought through. On the flip side, the positive warrior archetype in its fullness will give you the power to make the right decision even if it means walking away.
To successfully integrate the outlaw archetype, you must be prepared to make changes logically and adapt to new ways of life. This means integrating the traits of the Father archetype into your Self-ego axis.
Also known as Wizard, Sorcerer
The Magician archetype serves as the bridge to the True Self. These energies are expressed as powerful intuitive thoughts and feelings. Whereas intuition in the innocent can sometimes be naive and undeveloped, the force is matured and much stronger in the magician archetype.
In mythology, the magician archetype shares a close connection with the King. Whereas the Ruler archetype makes decisions, and in his role as warrior summons the courage to act out new ideas, the role of the magician is to propose a suggestion and a strategy.
Because of the magician’s intuitive insights and the relationship with the king, I connect this archetype with Jung’s Mother archetype – which has been classified as the Queen archetype by mainstream psychology.
If the hero of the story is a prince or some other hero trying to overcome a tyrannical king or challenge, the magician usually shows up as a female sorceress – thus would correlate with Jung’s Maiden archetype, but is also seen on the anima such as Artemis in Greek mythology. Essentially, the energy of the magician is a transformative power.
The magician also has the skills and the know-how to put a strategy in place so acts as a muse for the Self just as the Queen, or a wife, acts as a muse for the King. This energy gives you the ability and the power to transform situations.
In the second card of the tarot, the Magician is seen with the four elements he will work with on the table in front of him. This reveals the magician in you understands how to work with the forces of nature and will use whatever tools are to hand.
The four elements also represent psychological abilities; passion, logic, creativity and application.
With the capacity to work with your innate forces of nature, the magician in you can transform consciousness and enable you to perceive the world in a different way.
By tapping into the infinite resource of the unconscious, the wisdom of the Sage appears – the next development of consciousness once you have mastered the powers of the magician and the King.
Wisdom is acquired by acting upon the knowledge you draw from the unconscious mind and realise it in the conscious mind. To develop on a personal level you have to transcend the mind beyond what you already know about the world.
It is wisdom that enables you to detach from the world, to step back and observe in order to gain a perspective.
People with a well-defined magician archetype are often introverted and considered as the quiet, silent types. Detachment can be seen as cold and unfriendly.
Subsequently, you will find that people who do not understand this aspect of human nature do not trust you and will keep their distance. They may see you as a loner or a weirdo.
On the contrary, magician archetypes enjoy being in the presence of other people that engage them in one form or another. However, there comes a point where you have to retreat to your own space to recuperate.
The shadow magician typically appears as three types of subtle energies; a broader perspective, detachment and alerting.
Although the magician’s energy enables you to see more alternatives, you may not always be satisfied with the options you have and feel there is a better option. This will leave you feeling unsatisfied with what you’ve got.
Here we see a close relationship with the shadow King that always wants more. This is a common problem in people that had a difficult choice to make when they were young. You may even have strong sensations of mental paralysis that clouds your decision making.
Your superior knowledge can also quickly leave you dissatisfied with the company of other people. For the magician that has mastered the art of detachment, this can pose problems with your willingness to connect with people.
Detachment has both positive and negative connotations. Whereas you may not be interested in material possessions, you can take this too far and deny yourself the smaller pleasures in life enjoyed by the Lover archetype.
If you retreat too far into solitude, you may even cut people out of your life. Doing so can starve you of emotional nutrition. When the magician energy is unbalanced, you may also have a tendency to analyse your emotions intellectually rather than experiencing the feeling.
In this scenario, you are living too much in the unconscious and not integrating the Lovers energies into your ego-conscious which when combined with the magician develops your feminine principle.
This aspect of human nature is often found in adults that did not receive emotional support from their families when they were children. If the intellect of the sage is also present, you will prefer to engage in intellectual pursuit rather than to explore the depth of your emotions.
Another shadow energy the magician possesses is being overly critical – even to the part of being paranoid. Because the magician is highly intuitive, a fearful ego that associates with this archetype will skew your perception.
For instance, you may have an intuitive thought that initially seems like a great idea, but sudden doubts overwhelm you. Or you may sense danger even when a threat does not exist. Your perception of the world is rooted in fear-based emotions rather than love-based emotions the feminine principle provides you.
It is the tricks played by the mind that stage magicians reenact when they create illusions. The shadow will create a false reality to prevent you from becoming empowered.
Another shadow side is the Trickster archetype which I will deal with in the section below. Likened to The Fool in tarot, the trickster will reveal the magician’s illusions by making a fool out of you.
People that were overly protected by their parents can develop this shadow magician mentality – especially if they buy into the fear-mongering pushed by the media and political leaders.
Whereas scepticism can serve to protect you at times, it can also prevent you from experiencing a richer quality of life. In such circumstances, you need to call upon the energy of the warrior in order to integrate both archetypes into the King.
Also known as Maiden
Moore and Gillett feel that of all the 12 major archetypes, the Lovers energy is missing the most in modern men. As a result, men are disconnected from their emotions and the world around them.
The Lover archetype encourages you to love yourself so that you are capable of loving others. But it is also the archetype that invites you to indulge and delight in the things you love in life. When it is developed, you feel comfortable in your own skin and can laugh at yourself.
Whereas the shadow hero finds it difficult to be open, the lover understands that honesty is the root of commitment and affection. This energy enables you to find happiness being part of somebody else’s life.
But the lover archetype is not merely about sex and the ability to form long-lasting relationships; it involves an inner-knowing of what you like and what you don’t. A positive lover archetype has control of your “libido” – creative energies that attract the things you deserve.
When awakened, the lover archetype encourages you to use your five senses to appreciate the finer things in life that are often taken for granted. You have vitality, feel connected to the world around you and experience a rich quality of life. But this ability to feel means you suffer pain as much as you delight in joy.
The energy of the lover archetype appears in flashes of inspiration that spark creativity. It is the primordial energies of Jung’s Maiden archetype that propels you from the cocoon of your parents and enables you to start experiencing life independently.
In doing so you start to understand what life is all about – which is why it is important to integrate the lover by reading social cues and being empathetic of others. By understanding the nature of others, you learn about your own nature and vice versa.
When the lover is awakened, you develop a passion and an appetite to pursue your own interests. The lover is, therefore, a perfect foil for the hero archetype. We see this is in Aphrodites infatuation with Ares in Greek mythology.
The lover archetype also fuels inspiration in the magician and dedicates herself to the King. In men, the lover archetype helps you develop your feminine qualities of care, nurturing and unconditional love.
In women, it enables you to escape the devouring mother, become a good wife and pursue your goals. In essence, the lover provokes aspirations and gives your life meaning.
According to Moore and Gilette, the lover is usually the most repressed archetype in western men. This is due to a patriarchal mentality in which men are not encouraged to express their emotions. As a result, male adults are “not in touch with their feelings.”
The lover is also repressed in children that are brought up in an environment that sets narrow boundaries. Parents that are devoutly religious or have rigid views of how to behave and how not to behave ultimately destroy the lover archetype in their child.
Destroying the lover archetype ultimately hinders the ability for a person to love themselves. This has a devastating impact on the life of an adult.
A lack of self-love ultimately erupts in destructive behaviours. On the one hand, a repressed lover becomes promiscuous and addicted to drugs, food or some other obsessive passion that feeds your emotions.
On the other hand, you can become impotent and have difficulty forming relationships or finding anything you can relate to. To overcome the shadow love, you have to invoke the energies of the explorer and embark on a voyage of discovery.
When people do not love themselves, they typically project this unconscious content on to other people and love someone too much. This is problematic because you demand too much from the other person which weakens the bonds you could forge.
Not only can loving someone too much lead to infatuation and suffocate your partner, but the intense feelings will inevitably lead to rabid jealousy, disappointment and petty arguments. It will also make you turn a blind eye when your partner is ill-treating you or humiliating you.
Someone that is completely out of sync with their lover archetype feels flat and empty. They have no passion for anything and struggle to form relationships.
A lack of self-worth can also make you eternally restless and you will always be searching for the right person, or an experience, that makes you feel alive. The shadow lover appears as dissatisfaction and depression.
On the other hand, you could become so obsessed with a project, hobby or vice that it eventually drives you to ruin rather than bringing you joy. Obsessions can cause problems with your relationships and your finances.
When the lover archetype is totally absent, people become too structured and disciplined. They have very little flexibility and find it hard to adapt to a change in circumstances.
Without the lover, you feel vulnerable and over-rely on someone or something; alcohol, coffee, marijuana, cocaine etc. Like obsession, dependency is a road to ruin.
A common cause of the shadow lover is a false belief that you cannot love or be loved. The neurosis stems from a lack of emotional support or love when you were a child.
You may also have abandonment issues which have not been resolved. A feeling of abandonment in infants cannot be avoided. Studies have found that babies feel abandoned the first time the mother leaves them alone. If parents do not respond to the cries (demands) of a baby in good time, the infant will feel abandoned. However, you don’t want your child growing up as a spoiled brat either.
These early issues of abandonment can, of course, be rectified as a child matures. With love, affection and care, a child will grow into a self-confident adult that should have the capacity to forge relationships with strong bonds. When the Lover archetype is allowed to flourish, people feel connected to everything and everyone.
Also known as Trickster, Joker
The Jester is the playful side of your character that seeks to bring joy and laughter. This archetype is the side to your nature that softens the tyrant King and makes you a warm and amiable leader.
As with other archetypes, however, the Jester has bipolar nature which does not recognise anything of value. The shadow trickster will try to fool other people with lies and manipulation. But essentially you are only fooling yourself.
“When the trickster is evident in the psyche, there is a “personification of traits of character which are sometimes worse and sometimes better than those the ego-personality possesses..the trickster motif does not crop up only in its mythical form but appears just as naively and authentically in the unsuspecting modern man – whenever, in fact, he feels himself at the mercy of annoying “accidents” which thwart his will and his actions with apparently malicious intent. He then speaks of “hoodoos” and “jinxes” or of the “mischievousness of the object”…on a civilised level, it is regarded as a personal “gaffe”, “slip” “faux pas” etc, which are then chalked up as defects of the conscious personality.” The “main part of him [the trickster] gets personalised and is made an object of personal responsibility.” ~ Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
From a positive perspective, the trickster teaches you not to take life too seriously, to make jokes and not to be too hard on yourself or others. Together, the Jester and the King are the quintessence of a work-life balance.
The Jester places pleasure and happiness above all else. It is a crucial aspect of consciousness which helps you to dissolve the stress associated with modern lifestyles and connects you with the “Divine Child” which is spontaneous and creatively playful.
When the playful side of your nature is ignored and suppressed because your personality is dominated by a tyrant king, the jester will appear to make a fool of you.
Jung noted the trickster’s bipolar nature is both animal and divine. On the one hand, this force possesses “superhuman qualities” and on the other is unreasonable and ignorant.
Jung classified the trickster as a rudimentary stage of psychological development – the “psyche that has hardly left the animal level.” It shows up at the hero stage as “instinctual, uninhibited, and often childish.”
It is the prankster in the classroom, the joker in the group, the inhibited leader of the pack, and the fool that acts without any thought of the consequences.
But whilst the trickster archetype is capable of buffoonery and crude behaviour, he can also fuel the creative function to bring forth innovative ideas and serve as a teacher that helps to bring unconscious content to the conscious mind.
“The trickster as a “primitive “cosmic” being of divine-animal nature, on the one hand superior to man because of his superhuman qualities, and on the other hand inferior to him because of his unreason and unconsciousness.” ~ Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
When the trickster is evident in the psyche, the individual will have personality traits that are sometimes better and sometimes worse than the ego possesses.
For example, whereas the shadow archetype provokes the personal conscious to acknowledge your character flaws, the trickster will make you believe anything is possible even when it isn’t.
Although Jung classified the trickster as “a summation of all the inferior traits of character in individuals” [CW9i], it is the aspect of consciousness that attempts to instil a belief that your goals are possible. You could say it tricks the ego to help you realise the error of your ways.
We see this clearly in mythology. Prometheus steals the fire from the gods to give to humans. Fire is a motif representing thoughts and the gods are your higher conscious nature. Hermes (the trickster) steals Apollo’s (conscious mind) cattle (concrete beliefs) and hides them.
The Trickster invites us to investigate thoughts ideas beyond your typical pattern of thinking and abandon the rational faculties of logic and reasoning. He is a right-brain thinker with a vivid imagination that is full of ideas and innovation.
People that can laugh at themselves and make others laugh have integrated the positive nature of the trickster archetype into the personality. So too have free-spirited innovators that can think outside the box and “transform the meaningless into the meaningful.”
However, because the Jester cannot always be trusted, you have to be on your guard to apply logic and distinguish mad-hatter ideas from the realm of fantasy. The Trickster will fill your mind with false perceptions.
The Jester’s shadow manifests in negative ways. When the playful side of your nature that seeks enjoyment is repressed, the shadow strikes a compromise – usually into self-destructive behaviours.
This immature energy will go in search of comfort to fulfil the survival needs of your animal nature that is unaware of its divinity.
Thus the trickster’s capacity to ‘deceive’ the conscious mind may draw you towards emotional eating, drugs, alcohol, sex or any other obsessive addiction you have to satisfy your emotional survival.
The Trickster archetype is most dominant in people that are dishonest with themselves. Telling yourself you need something to get you through the day is a defence that shields you from underlying problems you are failing to address.
If you observe what happens and how you feel when the shadow trickster is at play, you can released trapped emotions that are buried deep in your subconscious.
A person that has a dominant trickster archetype will have mental flights of fancy but can often be made to appear like a fool. You will also find yourself caught in two minds, confused by the crossroads you encounter, make jokes in inappropriate moments and feel sexually rampant.
These are symptoms of an immature mind that has not outgrown the childish behaviour which makes the Jester archetype such an adorable character. When permitted to project too often, the trickster can become annoying.
As a teacher, the trickster can warn against the dangers of arrogance or excessive pride. The archetypes will bring people that brag or exaggerate achievements back down to earth with a bang.
If you find yourself being embarrassed on a date, made to look like a fool when trying to impress your friends, miss an important meeting because you had “bad luck” on the way or make irrational claims, you have a trickster possession which can be used to identify inferior qualities of your personality.
Regardless of whether the trickster appears as the inspirational creative force or the self-sabotaging destructive force, this archetype is a catalyst to establish order out of chaos. This is why Jesters historically performed for the King – the Self-ego axis.
Also known as Wise Old Man/Wise Old Woman, The Oracle
The Sage archetype shares practically the same qualities as the magician. Where they differ is that the magician actively uses his skills and tools to manifest the inner-wisdom imparted by the Sage.
Like the “wise old man” in mythology and fairytales, the Sage is a matured version of the magician. One could argue the latter still has naive tendencies which are culpable of creating illusions and making a mess of matters.
This is because, as mentioned earlier, the magician is associated with the feminine principle which stirs your emotions. And emotions – such as cravings – can be misleading illusions. The ability to detach from your emotions, however, is what makes the Sage wise.
That’s not to say Sage energy is entirely masculine. It isn’t. The wise old woman, fairy godmother and mythologies goddesses of wisdom (such as Athena) correspond with Sage energy. This energy is matured, rounded and, therefore, androgenous.
The Sage has dominion over your mind and enables you to see things with clarity and vision. He compels you to go in search of worldly knowledge to develop life strategies the magician is missing. Together they will enable you to achieve your goals, but, like the Sorceror’s Apprentice – there are practical lessons to learn first.
This energy is best known for introspection, the ability to think on a deep level and philosophise about life. You understand that to seek truth and understand the world on a deeper level, you have to look within and determine how you create your own experience of the world.
Your weakness, however, is you think too much rather than acting. All those inspiring moments that spring to mind never manifest in the world if the Sage is not supported by the magician.
To achieve your goals, the energies of the sage need to be combined with the energies of the hero – explorer and warrior. This formidable double-act enables you to develop practical and competent abilities. Like the goddess Athena, you are prepared to face any challenges that lay in your path.
Athena. Of course, is known as the goddess of wisdom. The etymology of philosophy comes from the Greek root – philo (love) and sophia (wisdom). In essence, the Sage embodies the ‘love of wisdom’.
However, you only acquire wisdom when you upgrade your subconscious programs. To do that, you must put new-found knowledge into action, thus the King must draw on the warrior to put the inspiration offered by the Sage into action.
Like the magician archetype, the Sage has the ability to detach from the world. However, as discussed above that can also manifest as negative actions.
If the shadow side of the Sage archetype is a dominant power in the Self-ego axis, it can manifest as energy that inspires the tyrant king. You think you always know best. This can make you obstinate, opinionated and impossible to reason with.
When the shadow Sage appears in the psyche it is usually because your imagination and innovative ideas as a child were never acknowledged by adults. You probably also had parents (usually a father) that did not recognise your intellectual achievements at school. Your intelligence and creativity may have also been overlooked.
People with a sage mentality tend to lack patience with people that cannot match their intellect. Many are driven into becoming loners and even recluse. The ‘mad scientist’ or ‘artistic genius’ that divorce themselves from society are possessed by the Sage archetype.
If you allow the sage too much control and do not develop the magician, you will sever your ties from society but never achieve your goals. On the contrary, you will live in a world of fantasy and probably drive yourself insane.
People with a sage personality live in the head. To counter-balance your energies to make the best use of this powerful archetype, you also need to develop the qualities of the feminine principle that drives action; a balance between heart and mind, thought and feelings, Will and Desire.
If you have a tendency to dismiss people’s opinions or cannot empathise with others, it is a sign the feminine qualities in you are absent.
On the other hand, if these feelings are accompanied with a feeling that you are intellectually inferior – because the Sage has been pushed into the unconscious – you may feel your ideas and knowledge are better than others. This emergence of the previously unconscious sage can make you arrogant. You must learn to accept other people’s opinions whilst having the confidence your opinions have value also.
To develop the Sage in you, it is important to recognise your inner-knowledge but also to avoid unnecessary conflicts and arguments with other intellectuals that are possessed by the Sage. When you meet these people, you will see the shadow side of your own nature.
To fully integrate Sage energy, cultivate higher wisdom by acknowledging all things but not taking a preference for any of them. For the shadow magician in the Sage can create illusions.
As you can see, it is important to understand each of the archetypes and determine which qualities you need to develop. The archetypes can also be used to recognise neurotic behaviours and determine the root cause. I discuss root cause of common complexes that in more depth in content stored in the VIP Members Area and in one-to-one consultations.
Master Mind Content offers a selection of self-development programs. Whether you want to overcome addiction, lose weight, or cure anxiety, our personalised self-help programs show you how to expand conscious awareness and improve your quality of life.
Alternatively, you may be interested in how you can use ancient symbolism to help you better understand archetypal energies.