Archetypes 101

To help you prepare for the Gathering where we will dance our “archetypes” here’s a brief cheat sheet on the archetypes we know (or not!) and love (or not). 

So what is an archetype?  Here is a brief definition to help you think about archetypes. 
Archetypes are universal energy patterns that are common to all human beings, occurring across cultures.  According to psychologist Carl Jung, archetypes refer to inherited unconscious ideas, pattern of thought, images, etc., that are collectively held by all people, and are universally present in our individual psyches. An important point to remember about archetypes is that archetypes are neutral in essence and can manifest with both light and shadow attributes.  We will explore both the positive and shadow aspects of archetypes at the Gathering. 

If you are new to the idea of archetypes, here are a few common ones well known in Western culture:  The Hero, the Maiden, the Wizard, the Mother, the Trickster, and the Eternal Child.  Do you find that you are easily able to call up attributes of each of these?  You can do this because you have a pre-existing pattern of attributes for these labels. 

At the Gathering we will be dancing the Major Arcana  and astrological archetypes.  It is good to remember, however, that there are many ways and manners in which archetypes show up, including in the myths of many cultures, such as the Greek mythology or Celtic traditions of Western culture, or as characters in cultural artifacts like books, movies and television in popular culture, in the roles we play, either consciously or unconsciously. 

Below are a few examples of some well-known archetypes, based on the work of Carl Jung, that you will likely recognize.  Examples of the archetypes are listed from two cultural sources, the movies Star Wars and Harry Potter. 


The Hero:
The Hero archetype’s primary purpose is to separate from the ordinary world and sacrifice himself for the service of the Journey or Quest at hand - to answer the challenge, complete the Quest, and restore balance to the ordinary world. 

Examples:  Harry Potter and Aragorn


The Wise Old Man/Woman

Carl Jung described the Wise Old Man/Woman as a ‘mana personality’. The word mana is Melanesian and means holy or full of power.   What defines the Wise Old Person is a quality of wisdom and deep insight, which leads one to feel a sense of veneration.  The wise old man may appear in many roles such as a king, guru, counselor, hermit; the wise old woman may show up as a grandmother, a crone figure or, an older goddess figure,  guru or healer, among others.

Examples: Dumbledore and Obi Wan Kenobi



The Trickster

Tricksters thrive on the disruption of the status quo, turning the ordinary world into chaos with their quick turns of phrase and physical antics.  Although they may not change during the course of their own journies, their world and its inhabitants are transformed by their action.  The Trickster uses laughter and ridicule to make characters see the absurdity of the situation, and perhaps force a change in them or the situation.

Example:  Hans Solo



The Princess 

The princess archetype, the daughter in the royal family, expects certain entitlements and favors simply because of her status as princess; these need not be “deserved”.  The Princess assumes people will respect and do things for her, especially the men in her life. In the shadow form, the Princess may tend to play dumb and helpless around a man, and have him doing all sorts of things she could easily do herself.

Examples: Arwen and Leia



The Eternal Child (Puer/Puella)
The Eternal Child is a person who prefers not to grow up or embrace the responsible life of an adult, and is determined to remain young in mind, body and spirit forever.  A classic example is Peter Pan. 

Examples:  Hagrid, R2D2 and C30



 Learn More?  Here are a few links to explore:
A Gallery of Archetypes

The Twelve Common Archetpes