Female archetypes are powerful universal symbols that renowned psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed formed a part of the "collective feminine unconscious."
These 7 character types embody the ideas, values, attributes and fears that have come to symbolize the universal feminine experience. Understanding them is a powerful way to understand yourself and others.
How To Work With Archetypes
Working with archetypes has the power to transform you! In fact, the very process of identifying archetypes at work in yourself can provide a framework for understanding what makes you tick. In essence, they can be a powerful catalyst for self awareness and transformation.
Conversely, working with archetypes can help you understand others. The ability to identify universal patterns in the beliefs and actions of others can empower you to understand and empathize with other women.
Throughout history numerous archetypes have been identified. Pioneering psychoanalyst Carl Jung identified 12 archetypes that formed the basis of much of his work in the field of psychology. I've chosen to focus on the 7 archetypes that are most common to women. I'd like to give credit to Ayesha K. Faines, who's pioneering work in female archetypes set the stage for so many women to explore this fascinating area of psychology.
No conversation about female archetypes would be complete without exploring the shadow. The shadow is the darker side of our human instincts. Within each archetype, there is a moral and just motivation that can turn immoral and unjust if not channeled appropriately. Understanding the shadow is equally important as understanding the archetype itself. If you're interested in learning more about shadow work, I'd encourage you to read 21 Shadow Work Prompts For Growth And Healing.
I feel like I'm a much better person when I'm developing my imagination and my innocence and my vulnerability. I like that version of me better than the version where I'm just working on my analytical mind.Brit Marling
#1. The Innocent Archetype
The Energy Of The Innocent Archetype
The female archetype of the innocent, sometimes known as the maiden, is defined by her eternal optimism and youthful spirit. These women carry an aura of romanticism about them that is refreshingly free of cynicism. They trust others easily, and believe that others act with the same sincerity and purity of intention.
Innocent women draw people to them because they are deeply authentic; their motivations are pure and unselfish. They view life through eyes of child-like wonder. For the innocent, the glass is always half full.
The Shadow Of The Innocent
Because the innocent relies heavily on others for her survival, she can sometimes fall victim to blind obedience that leaves her vulnerable to exploitation.
Instead of taking personal responsibility for her defeats and challenges in life, the innocent woman can develop a victim mentality, preferring to blame others for her hardships than embark on a path of growth and maturation.
Indeed, the innocent in shadow is prone to repeating the same mistakes over and over, without ever understanding the root of the problem.
Mythological Representations Of The Innocent Archetype
The innocent archetype is ruled by Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and the wife of Hades, king of the underworld. Ostara is the Germanic maiden goddess who symbolizes renewal and rebirth.
Modern Day Female Innocent Women
- Dorothy, The Wizard Of Oz
- Holly Go Lightly, Breakfast At Tiffany's
- Snow White
- Shirley Temple
- Dolly Parton
- Josephine Baker
- Lucille Ball, I Love Lucy
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.Mother Theresa
#2. The Caregiver Archetype
The Energy Of The Caregiver Archetype
The caregiver archetype, often referred to as the mother archetype, is characterized by her nurturing, protective, down to earth nature. Having a naturally altruistic nature, she finds fulfillment in putting the needs of others before her own.
The caregiver woman can be found cooking for her friends, listening to their troubles, and giving advice. She's known for being kind, compassionate and giving.
Frequently, a woman first experiences this archetype in herself when she becomes a mother, but this isn't always the case. This archetype can exist in single women, and women who don't have children.
The Caregiver Archetype In Shadow
Due to the fact that this female archetype is motivated by putting the needs of others before her own, she can fall victim to martyrdom. Her natural desire to protect and nourish other can turn to resentment and bitterness as she begins to feel that others are taking advantage of her generous nature.
Mythological Representation Of The Caregiver
The caregiver archetype is represented by Hera, the Greek goddess of women, marriage, childbirth and family.
The Caregiver Archetype In Popular Culture
- Mother Theresa
- Monica, Friends
- Mary Poppins
- Beth March, Little Women
I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.Anais Nin
#3. The Sage Archetype
The Energy Of The Sage Archetype
The sage woman is organized, resourceful and practical. She's ruled by her head, not her heart.
This archetype is driven by the pursuit of knowledge, and is able to use the knowledge she's gained to build empires.
The sage woman is independent. Her top priority is the acquisition of wisdom, but when she does marry she will be the wise council behind a successful partner.
The Sage Archetype In Shadow
The shadow side of the sage woman can manifest in an inability to connect to her body and senses. Because she values the life of the mind, she might have a hard time connecting with her sexuality, rendering her frigid and cold.
Mythological Representation Of The Sage Woman
This female archetype is represented by Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom and Crafts, and Ma'at, the Egyptian goddess of truth, justice and order. Both of the goddesses were noted for their ability to strategize and find practical solutions to problems.
Sage Women In Popular Culture And Media
- Oprah Winfrey
- Michelle Obama
- Amal Clooney
- Martha Stewart
- Ursula von der Leyen
- Jacinda Ardern
You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you're going to live nowJoan Baez
#4. The Lover Archetype
The female archetype of lover is one that is heavily represented in media today. The lover is a slow, sensual woman who is present in everything she does. She's secure and in touch with her body. She invites you to indulge and delight your senses, and to feel comfortable in your own skin while doing so.
The lover woman is in touch with her sexuality and because of this she's magnetic to other people. She's very aware that her magnetism is powerful, and she's able to use this energy to create great thing (including human life!)
The Lover In Shadow
The lover in shadow is the woman who is overly indulgent. She lives for the present, but thinks little of the consequences of her behavior. She might go on "binges", spending too much money, eating too much, drinking too much or indulging in promiscuous behavior to such an extreme that her self esteem and relationships suffer.
Mythological Representation Of The Lover
Athena, the Goddess of Love and Beauty embodies all the characteristics of the lover.
The Lover Archetype In Popular Culture And Media
The lover archetype is represented by these women in popular culture :
- Marilyn Monroe
- Nigella Lawson
- Scarlett Johannson
- Megan Fox
- Samantha, Sex And The City
- Sophia Loren
Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the President's spouse. I wish him well!Barbara Bush, ex - First Lady
#5. The Queen Archetype
The Energy Of The Queen Archetype
The queen archetype, sometimes known as "the ruler", is defined by a regal, confident woman who is often connected to a powerful man. She finds her ultimate fulfillment in partnership, which defines her role as a woman. Matrimonial devotion and loyalty is her calling card. But, make no mistake, she's no backseat driver. The queen can build empires. Many female entrepreneurs are dominant in this archetype.
She's the archetypical matriarch and a natural born leader. Because of her strong leadership skills, the queen is often the center of her social group. She excels at networking and is frequently the driving force behind uniting groups with a common goal. People look up to her extroverted, strong presence.
The Shadow Of The Queen Archetype
In shadow this female archetype can be domineering, vain, vengeful, shallow and overly image conscious. The queen's natural propensity for leadership can transform into a "win at all costs" mentality. Her loyalty can turn to paranoia and jealousy as she fights to maintain her position at the top.
The Queen Female Archetype In Myth
The mythological representation of this archetype is Hera, wife of Zeus and Isis, wife of Osiris.
Queen Women In Popular Culture And Media
This female archetype is represented by women such as:
- Blair Waldorf, Gossip Girl
- Emily, Gilmore Girls
- Nancy Bush, first lady to George Bush
- Gigi Hadid
- Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra
- Kim Kardashian
Reason, you’ll always be half-blind.Marguerite Poret
#6 The Mystic Archetype
The Energy Of The Mystic Archetype
The mystic woman carries the energy of an "old soul." She's introspective, intuitive and believes deeply that life is more than it appears. Because of this, the mystic woman is often drawn to spiritual pursuits such as meditation, yoga, shamanism and prayer.
This woman wants, more than anything, a peaceful life that is free from drama. She can be introverted and private, preferring the company of a few close friends to the acquaintance of many. She values her home, and will make great efforts to ensure that it's a cozy and welcoming refuge for herself and her family.
This female archetype finds her ultimate expression in her spiritual connection to something greater than herself. She is less encumbered by the demands of ego than some of the other archetypes. Because of this, the mystic is frequently drawn to unconventional lifestyles and relationships.
The Shadow Of The Mystic
The shadow side of the mystic is that she can become too introverted and distant. She can live so much through her spirituality that she forgets she lives in a world with deadlines and commitments.
Mythical Representation Of The Mystic Archetype
This female archetype is represented by Hestia, goddess of the hearth.
The Mystic Woman In Popular Culture And Media
This female archetype is represented by women such as:
- Fridha Kahlo
- Angelina Jolie
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Hilma af Klint
- Marina Abramovic
I am a warrior in the time of women warriors; the longing for justice is the sword I carry.Sonia Johnson
#7. The Huntress Archetype
The Energy Of The Huntress Archetype
The huntress archetype, sometimes referred to as the warrior, is an independent woman who lives life on her own terms. She cares much less about what others think of her than the other archetypes.
The huntress woman pursues her goals with laser focus. She's a woman on a mission, and no one is going to stop her. Think freedom, success and dominance, and you'll get a feeling for the energy the huntress embodies.
This woman is frequently an advocate who stands up for marginalized people. Her strong and autonomous nature longs to right the wrongs of the world.
The Huntress In Shadow
In shadow, the huntress woman is deeply afraid of expressing vulnerability. Her desire to dominate, like the Queen archetype, can turn into a "win at all costs" mentality. She can turn to aggression and manipulation in order to maintain her perceived superiority.
Mythological Representations Of The Huntress
This feminine archetype is represented by the Greek Goddess, Artemis. Artemis was Goddess of wild animals, the hunt, vegetation and chastity.
The Huntress In Popular Culture And Media
This female archetype is represented by women such as:
- Billy Jean King
- Katniss Everdean, The Hunger Games
- Wonder Woman
- Serena Williams
- Gertrude Ederley
- Angela Davis
Frequently Asked Questions
Archetypes can help us identify universal patterns in ourselves and others. These patterns can include values and core belief systems that make us who we are. Understanding ourselves is the key to accepting embracing and loving ourselves fully.
The seven female archetypes are the innocent (sometimes referred to as the maiden), the caregiver (sometimes known as the mother), the sage, the huntress, the mystic, the queen and the lover.
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