For a detailed description of over 70 archetypes, click here.
To help you understand and fulfill the terms of your Sacred Contract, you have been encoded with a set of 12 primary archetypes. Four of these are universal archetypes related to survival: the Child, Victim, Prostitute, and Saboteur. We all have these because they are vital to our growth and functioning as adults. The other eight are drawn from the vast storehouse of archetypes dating back to the dawn of human history. They play valuable roles that relate to our work, our relationships with individuals and society, as well as to our spirituality, finances, values, and our highest potential.
Awareness of archetypes dates back at least to the time of Plato, who called them Forms. Plato believed that these eternal Forms were reflected in material objects. The Form of Beauty, for example, is abstract and applies to all beautiful things; as different as the individual manifestations of Beauty may be–a beautiful person, horse, or flower–the Form itself never changes. The great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung developed this idea further. For Jung, archetypes comprised psychological patterns derived from historical roles in life, such as the Mother, Child, Trickster, and Servant, as well as universal events or situations, including Initiation or Death and Rebirth. Along with our individual personal unconscious, which is unique to each of us, Jung asserted, “there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature that is identical in all individuals.” This collective unconscious, he believed, was inherited rather than developed, and was composed mainly of archetypes.
Although archetypes are impersonal patterns of influence that are both ancient and universal, they become personalized when they are a part of your individual psyche. Since your Sacred Contract is embodied in a support system of twelve archetypes, it is best to think of them as intimate companions. They provide the foundation for your personality, drives, feelings, beliefs, motivations, and actions. But archetypes are not passive entities floating around in the psyche like old family portraits hanging in a dusty corridor of your ancestral castle. They take an active role as guardians and inner allies, alerting you when you are in danger of falling into destructive or “shadow” behavior. The Saboteur, for instance, warns you when you are in a situation in which you tend to sabotage your own best interests. Once you learn to recognize such a pattern, instead of ignoring it or denying its presence, it becomes your friend and can help you avoid selling out.
All archetypes have “shadow” manifestations as well as positive aspects. The shadow has power precisely because it remains in the dark; we tend to deny its presence in us because we consider it unacceptable. Only when we face and acknowledge the shadow’s presence can we neutralize its potential negative impact on us. The Rebel archetype, for instance, can be a powerful force leading us to reject illegitimate authority and strike out on a bold new path of action. (Samuel Adams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., all had powerful Rebel archetypes.) But if we let our awareness lapse, the archetype’s shadow aspect can induce us to rebel against legitimate leaders, or to fall in love with the image and trappings of rebellion (think of the rebellious angels in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim lore).
Likewise, the Queen archetype can help you assert your power, take charge of situations, delegate authority, and act with benevolence. But the shadow Queen may run around barking out orders, making impossible demands, and cutting off heads! Once you learn to recognize the difference between the two responses — and their common source — you can harness the Queen’s constructive power while mitigating her shadow wrath.
The first step in learning to work with your archetypes to interpret your Sacred Contract is to determine which 12 archetypes make up your support team.