What is an archetype?
An archetype is a set of characteristics, patterns and ideas thought to be derived from collective universal experiences. Said another way, archetypes represent distinctly different ways of being in and experiencing the world. Archetypes represent brand universal characteristics that define the cycles and experiences of life. They are often personified using human emotions and behaviors.
These specific sets of behaviors are found in the stories humans tell based on the cycles and journeys of life. So, for example, an archetype from myths and stories might be the Trickster. An archetype found in ancient Greek, Norse, Slavic, and American Indigenous folklore.
Although the specifics vary between the folklore of different cultures, the Trickster is always an entity who breaks the rules for good. For example, Prometheus in the Greek myth about Pandora’s box is a version of the Trickster archetype. He steals fire from the god Zeus in order to help humankind. Like all archetypes, the Trickster is characterized by particular behaviors, psychological motivations, and plot lines.
An archetype is thought to exist in a great energetic sea of the collective psyche — both planetary and human. Therefore, all beings have access to these shared ideas. When a person embodies an archetype, they are tapping into a particular and universal pattern of behavior.
Unlike spirit possession where a person channels another being, when a person embodies an archetype, they are tapping into deeper levels of the psyche.
Some archetypal ways of being characterize you for your entire life. Other archetypes may serve you for a time and then you might outgrow them. For example, someone who is especially nurturing may draw inspiration from the Mother archetype for their entire lives. That same person might go through a particularly challenging event and channel the Hero archetype for just a short time.
Understanding archetypes can help you connect to different and hidden parts of yourself, help you better understand your personal journey, and can reveal the interconnection between all beings and existence.
Psychology: Carl G. Jung’s work on archetypes
Carl G. Jung was a pioneer in archetypal psychology in the late 19th to early 20th century. His work, with the help of his patient and eventual colleague, Sabina Spierlein, allowed him to dive into the world of human consciousness.
He produced writings that spoke to shared human experiences and encounters. Jung created a lens through which the natural patterns of existence were mirrored through a set of characteristics, symbology and behaviors. These are called archetypes.
Jung, and other early psychoanalysts such as Sabina Spierlein, focused on the unseen spiritual ocean of human knowledge that would come to be named the collective unconscious.
This is a shared pool of wisdom, outside of consensus reality’s known space-time; available for all to draw inspiration and meaning from. Here records for all of existence are stored energetically through symbols and thought forms, like a spiritual library of sorts. Compare it to your imagination, which isn’t a physical space but a place you can still visit and “travel” to in your mind.
One way into this archetypal and spiritual ocean is by getting to know yourself. You can grow to understand who you are in light of the archetypes as symbols and representations of your life’s journey, path and purpose.
Archetypes exist all over the world: in media, stories, music and art. You have the opportunity to understand yourself better through these archetypal patterns. Even if this library of knowledge is called the collective unconscious, it can be viewed consciously in the physical world by what is manifested here. You can see the stories playing out in nature, societies, governments, and individual lives.
The way life unfolds can be matched with a particular current of energy, or archetypal pattern from the sea of the unseen mind of the collective. For example, a spiritual mentor in your life, might be playing out the Teacher archetype storyline, while you are in the Student archetype role. Seen from a bird’s eye view and everyone is playing some archetypal roles, or several roles, in the universal story.
Archetypal knowing can extend into the process of individuation. This is the process through which you deepen your understanding of yourself as an individual within the collective.
For example, you may decide to move out on your own from your parents house or a partner’s house. Maybe you didn’t think you could do it, but you took a risk, and now you are happier and more self-aware of your needs, strengths, and challenges. You might gain a better understanding of your past self and be able to integrate lessons learned into your conscious mind. These are all steps on the individuation process.
You are a unique bloom on the tree of life, your empath archetype can assist you in diving into the deeper layers of your individual existence and your personal storyline — your epic life’s journey as you unfurl into your truest and best self through self-realization.
What is an empath archetype then?
The empath archetypes are the different experiences and patterns found among empaths. The individual empath archetypes further emphasize the nuances and variety of this general experience.
Some characteristics that are considered universal to all empaths are: high emotional sensitivity, higher emotional intelligence, and the ability to feel what others are feeling. These traits, however, can manifest in a multitude of ways, which is why the empath archetypes are helpful in defining your specific experience across the spectrum of empaths.
For example, some empaths are more absorbent of the energies of animals as opposed to people. Some empaths’ experiences of empathy are determined by their tendency towards either introversion or extroversion These distinguishing characteristics are refined by the empath archetypes.
Each empath archetype is approached with the understanding that you are an empath first with general characteristics, followed by more specific traits for your specific archetype.