How do you relate to the Family group of Archetypes?

We have already explored the four shared survival archetypes – Child, Victim, Saboteur and Prostitute – in the hidden world of the Unconscious Mind, so now let us look at some possibilities for the rest so that we can more easily understand our and others’ behaviour and learn how to deal with it appropriately.

Let us begin with the group known as the Family. The Family consists in the main of Child, Brother, Sister, Mother, Father, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, Grandmother and Grandfather. Each of these archetypes are related but subtly different. It is important to remember that each archetype has a light and shadow aspect, both of which help us to raise our consciousness. The shadow is not bad, but merely the part that we have not yet integrated.

The Mother can be worked through by women who are not physical mothers, as well as men. Light aspects of the Mother Archetype include such abilities as life-giving, nurturing, unconditional love, patience, devotion, caring, unselfish acts, compassion and forgiveness. Other variants are Working Mother, Foster Mother, Mother-in-Law and Step Mother. The shadow aspects include the Devouring Mother who consumes her children psychologically and emotionally, makes them feel guilty at leaving her or becoming independent. The Abusive Mother and the Abandoning Mother speak for themselves.

Likewise, the Father can be worked through by anyone irrespective of gender or physical fatherhood. The Light side of the Father archetype instils such qualities as courage, protectiveness, guiding and advice, and self-sacrifice. Again, there are variants: Godfather, Step Father, Patriarch and Father God. The shadow aspects show up when caring guidance and protection turns into dictatorial control, tyranny, dominance or abuse of authority.

Archetypes are laden with historical and cultural meanings as is exemplified by the Grandmother. In these days of worshipping youth, the Grandmother can be a frightening archetype to own since it suggests getting old. Even the language is fraught with difficulty. The word Crone, another word for grandmother, actually comes from the word Crown, alluding to the halo of wisdom around the head. Another variant is the Hag, which comes from the word hagio, meaning holy. Despite the beauty of these original meanings, both Crone and Hag have negative connotations for us today. Indeed, female wisdom has been so feared over many centuries that the shadow of the Grandmother archetype has become frighteningly famous with the millions of women who were burned at the stake for being witches. Because we still hold the ancestral knowledge of this horror deep inside our memories, most of us are scared of owning this powerful archetype. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful archetype and imbues qualities such as wisdom, the keeper of stories, the seer, healer and midwife.

Most of us come to know that the family can be a complex and challenging group to belong to and it is no less so with its archetypes. Over the next month, try exploring some of these archetypes within yourself and observe if they come to play in your behaviour.

Next month we will continue the journey by looking at the Power Family. If you want a deeper understanding that these newsletters can give you, or you can’t wait for the next instalments, then I run workshops on archetypes as well as private sessions in person or on Skype and would be delighted to help you discover what you were born to do and who you were born to be.

Enjoy observing yourself and others, and have a happy October!

Love Laurelle