Archetypes of Life

INTRO: Back in 2014, my young adult daughter gave me a birthday card with a picture of a Queen on the front cover with the caption ‘You Totally Rule’. I was surprised that she chose that picture, as I did not see myself as a ‘Queen’ but she did, in a nice way! I had previously read about Archetypes and receiving this card prompted me to write this poem.

I want to take a moment to briefly explain Archetypes to help you understand the context of this poem. Archetypes are symbols used in literature, art and mythology and refer to the recurrence of characters or ideas sharing similar traits throughout history. For example, a Queen is a female ruler of a country or province, a queen is the most powerful chess piece in a game of chess, or a queen is a woman who possesses a status of importance or success e.g., ‘queen of the pops.’ 

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Another example of an Archetype is a Thief. When we see a picture of a figure in black hooded clothes with a mask and a torch tiptoeing away, we identify that image as a Thief; or we may call someone a Thief in an emotional sense because he/she “stole my heart” (positive) or “stole my reputation or an opportunity” (negative). Some other Archetypes include a Clown, Don Juan, Father, King.

The general theory is that Archetypes have a character identity, which spans throughout history and crosses cultures, and they also have a behaviour characteristic that is commonly associated with them. For example, a teacher is found at a school or college; or we may say to someone “You’re not my teacher” if they are always lecturing us and telling us what to do! A Rescuer is a Surf Life Saver and someone who rescues people from physical danger; or someone who rescues people or their partner emotionally).

This poem shares my thoughts as I lightly pondered over some Archetypes that I have recognized throughout my life.  Beverley Joy.


PODCAST – Archetypes of Life

Primitive mental images

Represent throughout the ages

Themes and character

Patterns of human nature.


From the beginning of humanity

Unchanged throughout history

They are still recognizable

And present in all people.


Preconceived ideas and stereotypes

Of character traits that typify

A person or situation

An attitude or presumption.


Archetypes show two perspectives

The physical and symbolic

The physical we can touch and see

The symbolic, we think and feel.


Now let’s look at some Archetypes

The image our mind recalls

Characters long familiar to all

How they continue to play a role.


The Warrior in us awakens

To rise to certain occasions

Though timid, we will stand to protect

When danger, we detect.


The Damsel in Distress

Beautiful and vulnerable

Weak and helpless

Waiting for her Hero.


Afraid to go it alone

The Damsel is rescued by

Her Knight in Shining Armour

Who fights her battles for her.


Devoted to her Prince

Safe within the castle walls

The Princess lives in isolation

As her Prince goes to work to battle dragons.


The Engineer is hands-on

Devoted to making things work

Grounded, strategic, and orderly

Converting the creative to practicality.


The Lover show passion and devotion

A lover of the arts, nature, or religion

Deep affection for someone or something

Driven by emotions and understanding.


The Mother is a life-giver

Unselfish patient devotion

Giving birth to an idea, a book, a song

Nurturing until it has fully grown.


The Poet, the Author, or the Artist

Sharing expressions of people, life, and scenes

By method of words, paint, and melody

Telling stories through creative imagery.


The Servant hired by money or time

Serving the needs of another’s life

Often unnoticed and taken for granted

 Can lose the value of one’s own existence.


The Storyteller shares life stories

Of love and hate, success, and mistakes

 Sometimes fictitious and exaggerated

Mostly heart-warming entertainment.


The student is constantly learning

In the hope of advancing their earnings

They must stop long enough to apply to their life

What they’ve learnt so far, to master the art.


The Wounded Healer has suffered

An injury, illness, or loss

Of someone or something dear

With no conventional cure.


Healing must come first to feed

A desire to help others heal

Healing can shape a career path

Giving purpose to a troubled past.


There are hundreds of Archetypes for us to explore

To google and research, to find out more

Their impact throughout world history

Their presence in character, time, and themes.

Beverley Joy © 2019 of Simply Story Poetry All Rights Reserved.

You can listen to all my poems on several podcast platforms here

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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