An archetype is a symbol that captures the essence of particular talents, temperaments, characteristics and behaviour patterns inherent to each person.
An archetype is a facet of our personality.
Mythology of archetypes
For millennia, every civilization on every continent has perpetuated great myths and legends.
The myth that resonates the most in us is undoubtedly that of the Hero. We find, in all great mythical heroes, a journey that takes place in a determined sequence: it begins with an “adventure call” pushing the hero to abandon his country and family.
During his journey, he will have to overcome a first obstacle, often helped by a master or spiritual guide – a test from which he will emerge that much stronger.
He will then be challenged with additional tests that he must overcome successfully, gradually freeing himself from his mentor’s help, to finally achieve his quest: to reach an apotheosis that symbolically represents his emancipation.
The hero finally returns to his country, completely transformed by the initiation experience of his epic journey and can therefore be involved in the transformation of the kingdom he had left behind.
All the mythical heroes, from whatever time or culture, follow these schematic outlines.
Contemporary works are no exception : Star Wars, Matrix, Lord of the Rings and Avatar are all based on the same archetype.
For each of us, the true heroic quest is to say “YES” to who we truly are and, in the process, to become fully alive and effective in the world we are living in.
Therefore, the first step of this journey is to discover the hidden treasure of our true self. The quest itself is full of dangers and pitfalls, but it offers great rewards: the opportunity to find and express the unique gifts we possess, to better understand human nature, achieve prosperity and live in harmony with others in our community.
In this search for “who we really are”, we are helped by our inner guides: the Archetypes.
The Archetypes and us
As with both physical and physiological characteristics of the DNA human beings carry and which characterize each of us as individuals, the human species also has universal psychological contents which will shape our self-development and human relationships.
We all have an idea as to the meaning of various archetypes: Mother, Sage, Warrior, Clown and so on. It’s as if our psyche is populated with many characters who have a greater or lesser capacity to influence us during the different phases of our lives.
All these archetypal characters are found in humans, across ages and in all cultures. They tell us about our characteristics and the way we move in this world.
In a nutshell, an archetype is a symbol capturing the essence of the particular talents, skills, temperaments, characteristics and behavior patterns inherent to each person.
Archetypes are immediately recognizable. For example, both Mother and Father are archetypes. Like the Adventurer or the Hermit, you already have an idea of these archetypes and many more in your mind.
In fact, you probably know people who have these archetypes in them. You can probably apply one or more of them to yourself.
Each of us already knows these archetypes intuitively.
Understanding them helps us to clarify why we and others act in a particular way. We understand it in an innate way, and that’s what makes the archetypes so fascinating.
For example, you don’t expect an Explorer or a Mother to behave the same way with an angry child. Likewise, a Hermit or an Adventurer will have a different presence when asked to speak in front of a large crowd.
On another note, if the Warrior is dominant within us, we search for battles to fight and win. If the Clown is dominant, we seek laughter by amusing others.
The way we see the world is defined by the archetype(s) that are dominant in our thoughts and actions.
Archetypes are basically characterized by the fact that they combine a symbol with an emotion. As a result, they are potential sources of psychic energy, comprised of human activity. Hence the interest and importance of identifying and recognizing those who are dominant within us.
To help us in this task, several tools and processes have been made available in recent years and can be found in books and writings on the subject, including the remarkable Sacred Contracts written by Caroline Myss, a successful American author.
Although their value and usefulness are undeniable, they may seem difficult to grasp. This led to the creation of Identity Pursuit as a game, which guides each player in a fun and friendly manner on their path to archetypal discovery.
Definitions and texts above come from several sources and archetypes experts such as Caroline Myss, Carole Pearson and Robert Moore.