Carl Jung defined archetypes as the first original model upon which all other similar persons, objects or concepts are derived, copied, patterned or emulated.
The word is derived from two Greek words, “arche” which means the first principle and “tupos” that translates as impression.
Archetypes are universal, primordial patterns that form part of the collective unconscious. For more information on this Jungian concept I recommend the following video by the Academy of Ideas.
These universal motifs are expressed not only through the psyche, but also in character traits in literature and mythology. Shakespeare's plays contain many examples of this, including Falstaff, who exhibits all the main features of the comic/fool stereotype. Romeo and Juliet are also excellent examples of Lover archetype.
In this website my aim is to explore the most popular Goddesses from around the world. By looking at the myths, symbolism and rituals that surround them, I am seeking to discover their individual behaviours and motivating factors. This information is then used to decide which archetypes are the most relevant to this Goddess.
The archetypal energies I have attributed to each Goddess was influenced by the work of author, Caroline Myss.
This section contains a listing of the main archetypes, listed alphabetically from A-M and an exploration of their shadow aspects. There is also an indication of what each of the archetypes may represent in your life today.
Lastly you will find links to Goddesses that best embody this stereotype.
The Child of Nature
This Goddess typically feels most at home in the outside, bonding and communicating with the forces of nature. The child of nature is often emotionally very sensitive and prefers solace and the company of animals to being with people.
They are often independent and physically fit.
The shadow aspect abuses animals and destroys the environment around them.
To have this particular stereotype you need more than a love of nature. Your health and well-being is affected if you are unable to spend time outside working with animals, plants and other nature spirits. Your idea of hell is likely to be working in a busy office in the centre of town.
People who possess the shadow aspect are cruel to animals and have no interest in preserving the natural world.
The Goddess Diana is an example of this archetype.
This type of Goddess is loyal, tenacious and unselfish in their service to a more authoritative figure. In this relationship she provides all the emotional and practical support, enabling her partner to concentrate on his life mission. This was long considered the traditional role of the wife.
Shadow companion manifests as betrayal, breaking confidences and identity loss through constantly suppressing her own needs.
This stereotype asks do you have a long history of playing the loyal companion to other people? Are you happy with this role or do you feel that the partnership is unequal? Do you resent the fact that your needs are not being met?
The shadow aspect of the companion suggests you look at ways of achieving a better balance. Begin to rediscover who you are and what you want in life. Allow time to follow your own interests.
Hera is a classic example of a companion, as she is the Greek Goddess of marriage
In the Pagan tradition the Goddess is often split into three to depict the different stages of a woman's life: mother, maiden and crone.
The crone represents the wise old woman whose child bearing days are behind her. Other associations with this stereotype include: compassion, transformation, healing, bawdiness, death and endings. She is the respected older woman or grand-parent figure. This Goddess is the matriarch, at the heart of family, sharing her knowledge and life experience.
Unfortunately the word crone or hag often has negative connotations as many wise woman and midwives were persecuted as witches in the middle ages.
Shadow crone is the bitter, old woman who has failed to learn from her life. She blames all her failings and unhappiness on a society that no longer respects the elders. As a result she becomes increasingly isolated and fearful.
The crone may resonate with you if you have gained wisdom, learning from your mistakes and show a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.
You are experiencing the crone's shadow if you have become rigid in your beliefs. You may have become stuck in a rut, having lost all ability to let those areas of your life go that no longer serve you.
There are many goddesses associated with this wise old woman figure, including Hekate.
The positive aspect of the destroyer is that that they highlight aspects of personality and life that no longer serve an individual. They destroy illusions and help people reach their full potential.
They are often unpopular as they do not take the gentle approach of the diplomat but tell it as is.
In it's shadow form the destroyer uses their power to trample over others feelings and destroys dreams to feed their own ego.
You may show positive aspects of the destroyer if you are supporting others letting go of trauma and unhelpful habits.
In it's negative aspects you would be pointing out other people's weaknesses and failings to make yourself feel superior.
Kali is perhaps the personification of a destroyer goddess.
The diplomat is able to mediate between different groups as they are able to quickly assess the situation. They understand both sides point of view and are able to help the parties involved find a middle ground upon which they can both agree.
Shadow diplomat manipulates both sides to achieve their own personal agenda.
To have the diplomat as one of you main stereotypes you do not have to be a diplomat by profession. However you must have a life-long commitment to resolving disputes and bringing people together. This can often occur within families where one member of the family is constantly trying to keep the peace and the family together.
Don't forget to ask yourself who will most benefit from the peace you are trying to achieve, to check you are not stepping into this archetype's shadow.
It might surprise to know Athena fits this description. Although she was a war Goddess, she also knew when negotiating was a better option.
The Femme Fatale
This stereotype represents the seductress and enchantress who manipulate men for sex, status or money. The complete lack of emotional involvement with their victims can result in the symbolic killing or getting rid of her lover when he has served his purpose.
On the more positive note rejection by the male can result in the fatal opening her heart.
The femme fatale reminds you to be honest and look at why you are staying in a relationship? Is it the money, the house and status or are you emotionally connected to your lover.
If on the other hand you are looking for a new partner ask yourself how importantly you rank his earnings potential and status in your list of desirable qualities. Are you looking for love or a bank balance and security?
Myths contain many examples of goddesses that used mortal men for their own entertainment. Abandoning them to their fate, when they no longer served their purpose.
The Goddess is a recognized archetype in itself, she embodies wisdom, nurturing, guidance, physical grace, athletic prowess, sensuality and power.
The shadow aspects of the Goddess manifest as extreme self-indulgence and vanity.
Do any of these elements resonate with you? Are you using your feminine energies in a positive way, to empower and nurture yourself and others?
The heroine awakens her inner strength and power so she can overcome great obstacles. These acts of bravery often benefit not just the heroine but her family or group.
Shadow heroine's victory in her quest is only achieved by using unfair tactics, that disempowered her opponents.
This is one of your stereotypes if you have been able to rise above the numerous difficulties to become a stronger and better person using this knowledge to help others in similar circumstances.
The shadow heroine asks whether your victories have been at someone else's expense.
Nike is associated with victory but is she really a heroine?
The judge's role is to balance justice with compassion. They ensure an even distribution of power, setting realistic and fair boundaries and encouraging people to take responsibility for their actions.
Shadow judge misuses his power to enforce rules over others by manipulating laws. They are over critical and very judgmental of others, the sort of tyrant that makes you feel you are tip toeing round on eggshells trying not to draw their wrath.
The judge is one of your stereotypes if you work in roles where you are often called upon to mediate between different sides. You may also have high standards and ideals which you encourage others to adopt.
This archetype is an excellent one to work with if you are facing any legal proceedings or other situations in your life where you want justice to be done.
Judge should only be invoked if you wish to work with the universal laws of harmony and justice. If you are trying to enforce your own standards or seek revenge for perceived wrong doings you will be working with the shadow aspect of the judge.
Ma’at is associated with judgement, weighing the deeds of the dead and deciding how they would spend their afterlife.
The lover represents passion and selfless devotion to another. It also extends to the things that make our hearts sing, like music, art or nature.
The shadow aspect is obsessive passion that completely takes over and negatively impacts on your health and self-esteem.
You may be drawn to this stereotype if you are looking to attract a new lover or to re-ignite the fire in an existing relationship. The lover can also be a useful tool to discover what you are passionate about in life.
On the shadow side you need to ask, whether the amount of energy and time you are putting into relationships or enthusiasm for projects is excessive? If this continues for too long you are likely to suffer from stress and physical ill health.
Many goddesses have been associated with this personality type.
The maiden represents purity and the innocence, where the soul’s dreams, magic and make believe still prevail. She is also linked to spring and fertility.
The Maiden forms one of the triad of Goddesses in Paganism where she is linked with fertility and springtime. She is also an aspect of the triple Goddess, together with the Mother and the crone they represents the cycles of the moon and the different stages of a woman’s life.
Shadow maiden is very self-centred all, her dreams and energy is expended on achieving her own personal needs and goals.
The maiden is one of your stereotypes if you are life still in touch with your childhood intuition and fantasies and have used these to fulfil your dreams. Hence you can still have this Archetype at any time of life.
The maiden reminds you to look after the magical child that lies within us all and to remember the simple joys in life.
Shadow maiden asks you to look at whether your dreams and aspirations are selfish and take no account of the needs of others.
The mother is a life-giver and the source of nurturing, devotion, patience and unconditional love. The ability to forgive and provide for her children and put them before herself is the essence of a good mother.
In its shadow aspect the mother can be devouring, abusive and abandoning. The shadow mother can also make her children feel guilty about becoming independent and leaving her.
It is not necessary to be a biological mother to have this stereotype. It can refer to anyone who has a lifelong pattern of nurturing and devotion to living things.
You are exhibiting the features of the shadow mother if you smother your children and are over protective. Encourage independence and allow children to make mistakes but be available to give care and advice when it's needed.
The other shadow mother is the one that abandons her children, or is so busy that she has no time for nurturing her young.
There are also goddesses linked to the personification of the Earth as a mother figure. Gaia is an example of this univeral archetypes.
Here you will find information on the following archetypes: The Prostitute, Queen, Rescuer, Scribe, Servant, Shape-shifter, Teacher, Virgin, Visionary, Warrior and the Witch.