Archetypes are omnipresent.
They’re within you, they’re within others, and they create the very foundation of human behavior.
Did you know that you can actually work with archetypes and it’s one of the most multi-layered ways of cultivating more love, happiness, and confidence, as well as accessing guidance and a sense of well-being on your spiritual journey?
I work with at least one form of archetype every day. I have also seen countless others work with archetypes with tremendous success. And let me tell you, it’s so worth it.
If this topic has your blood fizzing with excitement or curiosity, keep reading to learn where to start …
Table of contents
Archetypes are patterns of behavior that aid and influence our mental, emotional, and spiritual growth as human beings. You can think of an archetype as quite literally a type of energy.
Just like the many species, genres, breeds, and groups that structure our earthly existence, an archetype is a quality or essence that forms the underlying framework of consensus reality. Like many pieces in the Cosmic puzzle, archetypes are separate and easily definable qualities that compose the Whole.
Just so you know, there are a hell of a lot of archetypes out there.
In fact, there are so many archetypes that it will be impossible to include all of them here. Archetypes have an endless array of nuances and subtleties, so I’ll strive to give you the most prevalent ones currently operating within our collective psyches.
Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of over 100 archetype examples to explore and better acquaint yourself with.
While you’re going through this list, pay attention to any that jump out at you. The ones that intrigue, trigger, disgust, or enrapture you are the archetypes you need to work with the most closely. Write them down, and keep the list handy for the next section on how to work with archetypes.
Download our FREE Printable Archetypes Worksheet!
Go deeper into exploring your archetypes, listing them, finding the light/dark aspects, dialoguing with them and more!
What better place to start than with our old friend Carl Jung?
Jung was a Swiss psychoanalyst who first conceptualized the idea of archetypes. Thanks to Jung, we now have a map of the psyche which defines the main archetypes present in every human being.
These archetypes, which Jung wrote about in Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious are as follows:
- The Anima
- The Animus
- The Child
- The Father
- The Hero
- The Maiden
- The Mother
- The Persona
- The Shadow
- The Trickster
- The Sage
- The Self
While there are many other archetypes in existence, Jung wrote about the above archetypes the most in his work.
The next list of archetypes was created and devised by us (myself and cowriter Sol) here at lonerwolf.
We have been in the spiritual field for many years. The following twelve spiritual archetypes took us an excruciatingly long time to identify, think about, consider, and create. They are as follows:
- The Alchemist
- The Ascetic
- The Cenobite
- The Devotee
- The Disciple
- The Hermit
- The Mystic
- The Prophet
- The Rebel
- The Sage
- The Saint
- The Shaman
You can take our free spiritual archetypes test to see what your dominant archetype is.
The Enneagram is an intricate model of the human psyche. While its origins are debated among many scholars, many people believe this system was developed from the teachings of Oscar Ichazo, Claudio Naranjo, and mystic George Gurdjieff.
The enneagram archetypes are as follows:
- The Perfectionist (type 1)
- The Giver (type 2)
- The Performer (type 3)
- The Individualist (type 4)
- The Observer (type 5)
- The Loyalist (type 6)
- The Idealist (type 7)
- The Boss (type 8)
- The Mediator (type 9)
We created a test that you can take to discover your type. Take our free enneagram test.
The following archetypes are based on the world’s first scientifically validated archetype assessment tool: the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI). Like most archetypal theories and tests, the PMAI is inspired by the works of Carl Jung.
Here are the archetypes:
- The Innocent
- The Orphan
- The Warrior
- The Caregiver
- The Seeker
- The Lover
- The Destroyer
- The Creator
- The Ruler
- The Magician
- The Sage
- The Joker
We see male and female archetypes scattered everywhere. They are found in the secular world as well as in the spiritual world (think of the ‘god’ and ‘goddess’ within paganism for instance).
Please note that it’s possible for females to share male archetypes, and males to share female archetypes.
Here are the dominant archetypes:
These days, one of the best-known archetype researchers out there is Caroline Myss. In her Archetype Cards deck (which I own and recommend by the way), she lists eighty archetypes:
- Child: Orphan
- Child: Wounded
- Child: Magical
- Child: Nature
- Child: Eternal Boy/Girl
- Child: Divine
- Don Juan
- Femme Fatale
- Wounded Healer
In summary, we have a massive list of archetypes for you to explore and work with:
|Child: Orphan||Child: Wounded||Child: Magical|
|Child: Nature||Child: Eternal Boy/Girl||Child: Divine|
Again, this archetypes list is by no means exhaustive. But I hope it gives you a clear idea of the many examples of archetypes out there!
Here we come to the most exciting part of the article: digging into some practical action!
YES, you can work with the archetypes. You can work with any you wish.
But why would someone want to work with the archetypes?
Here are some of the biggest reasons for working with these universal energies:
- You get to explore new, unknown parts of yourself as part of your inner work
- You can experience positive growth in important areas of your life (like your relationships, work, spirituality)
- You can discover long-forgotten gifts that were previously buried within your unconscious and rejected by your ego
- You get to embody empowering (and previously disconnected) parts of yourself
- You become a more whole, mature, and integrated person
- You understand yourself at a deeper level
- You understand others at a deeper level
- You feel more connected to yourself, others, and life in general
- You can develop a more robust understanding of how to love yourself
- You can heal old traumas and wounds
- You get access to universal energies that can help you shift out of dark places like self-doubt, anxiety, rumination, or even the Dark Night of the Soul (aka. spiritual crisis)
- You gain a unique doorway to accessing your Higher Self or Soul
The above benefits are only the tip of the iceberg. But don’t take my word for it, try it out yourself!
Before you proceed to the rest of this article, you might be pondering this common question.
Are archetypes and spirit guides the same? The answer is yes and no.
On the one hand, archetypes can be approached as spirit guides. For example, you may approach the Sage archetype in the form of the Norse god Odin (who may or may not be an objective spirit guide – that’s up to you to decide).
But an archetype itself is a pure type of energy. It is impersonal. It does not respond to prayer, devotion, or worship. An archetype is an objective force – think of it as a building block of existence like atoms and molecules are.
A spirit guide, on the other hand, is a personal metaphysical force. Spirit guides can either arise from one’s own psyche and deep mind or exist in other realms of consciousness.
I hope that clears things up a bit. Can you use archetypes as bridges to spirit guides? Absolutely. But pure archetypes (such as those listed above) are best for psychological (rather than spiritual) inner work.
7 Ways to Work With Archetypes
Here are some of the best ways to work with archetypes (in no particular order):
Choose an archetype that represents a quality you love and wish to embody, and an archetype that you fear (that symbolizes part of your shadow self). Picking a light and shadow archetype is simple – just review the list of archetypes above. Notice which ones call out or jump at you and write them down.
2. Look for the archetypes hidden within your behavior
What are your dominant archetypes? You can always review the archetypes examples above and take one of the recommended tests. By learning about your primary archetypes, you’ll discover your greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses.
Research gods and goddesses of old – these beings are basically personified archetypes. Look through the different pantheons out there and see what gods and goddesses appeal to you.
There are numerous pantheons of characters out there – Egyptian, Indian, Celtic, Nordic, American Indian, Chinese, African … the list goes on.
If you don’t know where to start, think of a quality you would love to evoke/invoke and embody. For example, perhaps you struggle with expressing your anger in a healthy way. Research on google “anger gods/goddesses” and see what you find. This approach may take a little bit of digging, but it’s worth it.
Also, pay attention to any gods or goddesses that keep popping up in your life. If you keep coming across the same god/goddess, this could be a case of synchronicity.
Such an experience of synchronicity happened with Lilith, the ancient Babylonian goddess of power and personal sovereignty (who was the first wife of Adam but refused to be subservient to him). I kept hearing of her, seeing her, and reading mentions of her names in the books I was studying at the time. It was a bizarre but amazing experience!
If you don’t like (or trust) Google, I recommend a great resource called the Encyclopedia Of Spirits, The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses by Judika Illes. There’s a lot of great information in this hefty tome, and it will be something you’ll refer back to over and over again if you enjoy working with archetypes.
Journaling is a core spiritual practice I recommend for all forms of inner work – and that includes working with the archetypes.
For this activity, you’ll need to get into a meditative mindset. Put on some ethereal music (or any sounds that put you into a dreamy state of mind), and do a little bit of meditation for five or ten minutes.
Next, start a conversation with your archetype. Get your journal and think of some questions you’d like to ask (e.g., “What would you like to reveal about yourself/me?” “What can I learn from you?”) – then dialogue back and forth, just as you would with someone across email. You can also try automatic writing with this task if you’re in a mystical mood.
Learn more about how to journal.
My definition of the modern, non-esoteric, version of pathworking is that it’s the act of mentally projecting yourself into a picture.
For this activity, you’ll need a picture of your archetype. For example, if you are working with Trickster energy, you may choose to look online for Trickster images. You might stumble across a picture of Pan, Loki, Anansi, Puck, or other symbolic representations of the Trickster.
You can either stare at the picture on your phone (and disable the screensaver so that you can do your pathworking uninterrupted) or print out a picture.
To pathwork, find a quiet undisturbed place. Put your phone/picture at eye level about an arm’s length away. You want to be able to comfortably stare at your picture. Connect with your breath, ground yourself, then gaze gently at the image in front of you. After a few minutes, your vision will gain a warped or dreamlike quality. Allow that to happen.
Once you feel yourself entering a light altered state of consciousness, imagine walking into the picture and interacting with the being. Alternatively, you could imagine the figure springing to life. You may then choose to ask the figure questions such as, “Who are you exactly?” “What part of me represents you?” “What important lessons can you teach me?” “How can I integrate you into my waking life?” and so forth.
The responses you receive may be symbolic, verbal, or kinesthetic (bodily sensations). Once you’re finished talking with the figure, thank them, then return to normal consciousness. Record your discoveries in your journal.
Active imagination is similar to pathworking except it’s done solely within your mind. Carl Jung (that marvelous fellow) first came up with the idea of ‘active imagination’ for psychological self-discovery and used it in his own work.
Active imagination basically involves going on an unstructured visual journey within your inner landscape. Unlike visualization, nothing is prescribed: it’s all spontaneous.
For example, to work with a specific archetype such as the Monk, you may choose to begin your active imagination within a monastery. Let your imagination go wild and see what happens. Does a monk come into view? Perhaps a wise old owl flies in and then transforms into a mysterious hooded figure who then takes you on a journey? Maybe the floor opens up and you fall into a secret chamber. Virtually anything could happen.
Make sure you ask the archetype questions and thank it once you’re done. Record in your journal everything you’ve experienced for reflection and deepening your self-awareness. Sometimes new layers of insight come when unpacking your archetypal journeys.
Temporarily taking on the behaviors and attributes of your chosen archetype is a great way to integrate them into your personality structure.
For example, if you wish to connect with the Seductress or Don Juan side of your nature, why not pick a sensual perfume, a beautiful piece of jewelry, or an elegant outfit to wear? You don’t necessarily need to go out in public (unless you’d enjoy seeing others’ reactions) – even just experimenting from the comfort of your own home is effective.
You’d be surprised by how profoundly simple changes in our physical appearance impact our moods and emotions. Research ‘enclothed cognition’ for more juicy insight.
Put simply, we are composed of a multitude of archetypes. Archetypes form the many facets of our being.
I hope that the archetype examples and guidance within this article have inspired you.
Working with archetypes is something I do each and every day, and it has added so much richness and depth to my life.
Perhaps most of all, doing this work has helped me to integrate parts of myself that I never even knew existed. The feelings of empowerment and wholeness I’ve experienced thanks to archetype work have been both breathtaking and profound.
Which archetypes attract you the most? Which do you plan to work with? Feel free to comment below!