The Earth Mother Archetype


The quality of being is shared by all four primary feminine archetypes, but it is a specialty of the Earth Mother. This archetype symbolizes the feminine aspect of our instinct for activity. Her partner is the Warrior. The aim of both is power and success and each uses our energy in different ways: he for doing, she for being. Of everything associated with femininity, being is perhaps most misunderstood. In the Western world we link it with passivity, indolence, powerlessness, and victimization. In an effort to avoid such stigmas, many of us overrule our natural inclinations and force ourselves to stay busy. But alone, neither kind of energy brings full success or empowerment. Only by integrating and balancing both can we attain our goals.

Our Warrior is the part of us that sees power and success in terms of becoming a perfected individual — developing our talents and skills to the highest degree so that we might make the greatest possible impact on the world through our achievements. To that end a healthy Warrior uses focused, self-disciplined energy to do, shape, influence. Since the benefits of this energy are obvious to all, it tends to be the ideal to which the collective ego aspires.

Where his emphasis is on the product, hers is on the process. She defines power and success as becoming completed through developing intimate relationships with our bodies, our unconscious selves, other people, nature, and the cycles of life. Like the fertility goddesses who carry her image, the human mothers who carry out her mission, and the planet Earth which carries life, the Earth Mother archetype creates, nurtures, births and protects new life in us.

She’s the part of us that honors the truths of our souls and our particular way of being, regardless of how different we might be. Her orientation in time is the present where she appreciates each moment and supports the activities of life without guilt about the past or anxiety for the future. She trusts our body and heeds its messages: muscle tension, changes in breathing, tiredness, a tight jaw, clenched fists, chills, sighs, goose bumps.

Her self-awareness and sensory savvy show us where to relax our wills and support otherness, how to relinquish our obsessive doing and busyness, when to let go of our children and other attachments, and when to accept life’s activity upon us instead of forcing it to serve our purposes. Her receptive beingness is actually a creative form of giving that promotes growing and becoming.

To be this receptive does not mean we are always flowing about without an anchor. It just means we have reverence for transcendent powers and uncontrollable natural forces and do not struggle needlessly against them. Earth Mother’s receptivity is as stabilizing as it is free-flowing. As David Rosen, author of The Tao of Jung says, “The Tao (the Way) is both fixed and moving at the same time.” It is fixed in its respect for the sacredness of life; it moves in accordance with the natural evolution of life.

Chu Hsi, a commentator on the Tao Te Ching, said this: “The female is one who receives something and, with it, creates. This creative principle is the most marvelous thing in the universe.” This is true feminine power.


Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

Join 5,846 other subscribers


0 Responses

  1. I just realized the beauty of your blog’s name! Matrignosis. Yes, the ‘mater’ can have access to ‘gnosis’ that us men can hardly imagine. I agree with you that it’s important to rehabilitate the mother. To paraphrase Nietzsche, “I say to you who are possessed by the Devil (The Mother): rear your devil.” I think Jung tought us the importance of not shirking the moral responsiblity of coming to terms with the inner world – itself a life-long dialectic.
    Delightful ideas, Jean, thanks.

  2. Hello Wael,
    Yes, and the point I keep making is that the “mater” within males has the same access to “gnosis” as females. It’s just that the majority of us haven’t learned how to recognize and find her yet (as you know, Jung equated the unconscious self with that old devil, the creative Mother). Hence, the purpose of this blog: to share what I have learned about the journey into our unconscious selves!
    I agree that we must rear and civilize our inner demons if we are to lessen our personal contributions to the evil in the outer world. I make that point again in an upcoming post about a recent dream featuring my shadow.
    Thank you very much for the kind words. My hope is that by making these ideas more accessible to everyone I will contribute to the solution.

  3. Pingback: Tao Te Ching
  4. A great post. Right now I’m residing in the liminal space between being a stay-at-home mum of many years, and starting to feel ready to put feelers out into the wider world again – so it really resonates. Glad to connect with you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts