Which Feminine Archetypes Are Strongest In You?


If you haven’t read last week’s post, you might want to go there first to hear my thoughts about the basic masculine archetypes.  This time I want to highlight the feminine ones.  Please remember that these energies and qualities, so-called “masculine” and “feminine,” are part of the psychological inheritance of everyone, regardless of gender. It’s only society that assigns some of them to men and others to women, and these associations can very from culture to culture.  Unfortunately, this limits all of us to only a portion of our fullest potential.

In my system, the feminine archetypes are the Queen, Mother, Wisewoman and Beloved. These images of our basic instincts serve our “feminine” drive for species-preservation and relationship. The ways we see and use their energies are transformed over time as our egos mature through three “feminine” phases: the innocent Maiden, the life-giving Mother, and the wise Crone.

In the first phase we unconsciously serve the drive to preserve our species by emphasizing relationships, conforming to tribal/cultural standards, and sexual activity; in the second, the cycles of life force us us to become more aware of our individual needs; and in the third, attending to our inner, spiritual selves becomes as important as meeting the needs of others.

Our Queen is a culture mother and the feminine sovereign of the psyche. Like the goddess Hera, a Queen in the Maiden phase automatically honors her duty to society without reflection. Her growth is usually instigated by some sort of crisis —rape or love, parenthood, illness, divorce, or loss of a loved one—which destroys the Maiden’s virgin innocence and instigates the Mother’s suffering. If she develops a conscience and learns moral responsibility she becomes a caring Crone/Queen of personal sovereignty, moral virtue, respect for individual differences, and social leadership.

The Mother archetype represents our instinct for physically serving the birth/death/rebirth life cycle.  In our unreflective Maiden phase our Mother is, like the warrior goddess Artemis and Mother Nature herself, as capable of destroying life as mothering it, simply because she is not very aware of the significance of otherness and puts her own needs first. In our Mother phase our Mother archetype struggles to understand and serve the needs of individuals as much as her own and the activity of the impersonal Great Mother who gives and takes all  life. As our egos mature, the Crone Mother helps us value the life in our bodies and souls as much as life outside ourselves.

The Wisewoman is diffusely aware of, and deeply sensitive to, the maternal depths of the unconscious.  In our unreflective phase she is like Greece’s Persephone, Stephen King’s Carrie, and Walt Disnery’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Because we lack the experience and logical thought to handle the vast unknown, our Maiden can get us into trouble with archetypal powers we don’t understand and can’t control. Our transformation into the Mother phase begins when our mistakes force us to distinguish between objective facts and subjective symbols in the inner and outer worlds. Our Crone Wisewoman integrates logos with mythos to see the big picture, understands how the parts connect, and creates personal psychological and spiritual meaning.

The Beloved is the magnetic principle in relationships. Our Maiden Beloved is like Aphrodite: an innocent, unconscious seductress driven to attract sexual, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment by attracting and pleasing others. Our Mother phase begins when we suffer the conflict between wanting to please our lovers and wanting to discard them when they no longer please us. Our Crone Beloved is like a hospitable, emotionally authentic hostess who lives in beauty, inspires others, and gives what we could only hint at in our youthful phase: full sensory and emotional intimacy with fully respected and loved otherness.

12246976_1115151578525043_7102838831078503786_nWhereas shadow masculinity destroys otherness, shadow femininity is self-destructive. A compulsive Queen can burn us out if we give too much of ourselves. Our Mother can sabotage our relationships by being too receptive or smothering. An obsessive Wisewoman can cause us to be depressed and overwhelmed by the unconscious. And if our egos obsess over the outer appearance of beauty, our Beloved can compel us to sacrifice the true beauty of our souls. But as we accept our feminine sides and partner them with our masculine sides, their union can give birth to a Spirit Warrior of perfected selfhood and completed relationships.

What does your attitude toward the feminine archetypes say about your ego’s maturity and your acceptance of the feminine side of your psyche? How are your relationships and service to our species evolving in ways that benefit all?

I wish you all a happy and love-filled Thanksgiving Holiday.  I am so very thankful for you, my internet community. You have enriched my life immeasurably.

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.

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16 Responses

  1. Thank you Jeanie … I know I’ll be reading this again. The shadow is always there individually and collectively. Sometimes it seems overwhelming trying to keep individual opposing energies in balance with that of the collective. Whoever said it would be easy is living in la-la land. But we have to try as much as possible to bring light into the dark and not veer from the darkness in which the treasure can be found. I do not know in what tangible way I am in service to self or mankind .. I do what I can I guess. I try to be kind and compassionate, and try to see the unity in life. I purchase as wisely as possible, not buying goods that do a disservice to mother nature or the workers who produce. I give daily thanks to all that I have.
    A blessed Thanksgiving to you Jeanie and family.

    1. You’re welcome Susan, and thank you for your response. Yes, the dark shadow is always and ever in the equation for psychological and spiritual growth, but then, so is the light, or bright shadow—a composite of all our unknown positive strengths, gifts, talents, qualities, and so on. Like you, I do what I can. I believe that the best way I can be of service to self or mankind is to grow ever more conscious and loving and to keep exploring the dark so as to bring more light to myself and those with whom I have any contact. I think if we can stay mindful enough to do this day in and day out, we are giving the world the very best offering we have to give.
      Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving too, Susan. I am thankful for knowing you.

  2. Another excellent post Jeanie. I love how you so willingly share your deep knowledge and insights on these spiritual themes, enlightening us all so much further! For myself I recognise that right now in my life I am slowly moving out of the second stage of ‘Mother’ and (hopefully) moving towards the last ‘Crone’ phase although my ‘mothering’ days are not quite done yet. I sense that I will be lingering here, in this transformational place, the ‘in-between’ I call it, for some time to come. I feel somewhere between here and there. Ever waiting, ever bumping up against the Shadow, ever hopeful to move on.
    Some days I feel her, the Crone, awakening within and know in those moments how entirely changed she is from my present day Mother and Maiden. Her nature and ways, absolutely not the same. Whilst reading your article I noticed that my heart fluttered as I read the portrayals of both Wisewoman and Beloved … I wonder, are they the ‘feminine’ partners of the ‘masculine’ archetypes of Magician and Lover? If so, that would make a lot of sense to me as those were the masculine energies that I felt are presently, and strongly dominant within myself.
    Your descriptions are spot on (as always!) and easily recognisable. Not that long ago I remembered myself almost burning out, from ‘giving’ too much to others, most especially within my work life … giving too much to others until I became exhausted, which wasn’t helpful or in the least healthy. Something had to give and I’m pleased to say that I no longer work in this damaging way after becoming aware and attending to my individual mind-body-spirit needs … something changed, from within, and it’s not changing back! I absolutely loved your book ‘Healing the Sacred Divide’ and can feel a re-read coming on. Blessings, Deborah.

    1. Thank you, Deborah, for sharing your insights about your journey here. I really appreciate them and know they are of enormous value to others as well.
      Your question is wonderful, and I wish I’d answered in in these articles. Yes, I see the masculine and feminine archetypes as partners and manifestations of the masculine and feminine foundations of every soul. So the King and Queen are images of how we use our instinct for nurturance, the Warrior and Mother for our instinct for activity, our Scholar/Magician for our instinct for reflection, and our Lover and Beloved for our instinct for sex. The final instinct….for creativity….becomes activated and empowered as we activate and develop the other four pairs. The result is a more conscious and integrated inner Couple, which has hopes of someday attaining the hieros gamos, or Sacred Marriage, which is the ultimate goal of alchemy, psychology, and spirituality. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this in a previous post or two, but if not, I’ll try to address it one day soon.
      Yes, burnout is a particularly self-destructive consequence of obsessing over the feminine principle and not matching it with an equally strong and healthy masculine side. Growing toward balance and partnership between the two is what makes individuation and wholeness possibilities for those of this who seek them. I, too, have found ‘giving too much’ to be problematic. Yet the same time, there’s also been a shadow part of my personality that is unwilling to give enough in certain areas of my life. Perhaps we all tend to give only what we want to give, and withhold what we don’t without even realizing it. And this surely has much to to with which archetypes we’ve developed more fully and which we have not. As you know, the same is true of our MBTI personality profiles: our weakest functions contain our shadow. Fortunately, my inner work has helped me see my shadow a bit more clearly with every passing year, and I’ve slowly felt an inner change toward more balance as a result. Still not there, but still working at it.
      I’m so glad you loved Healing the Sacred Divide and that it made sense to you.
      Wishing you love and Thanksgiving blessings,

      1. Thank you so much Jeanie for going into more detail about these archetypal energies, much appreciated. I love the notion of bringing about the ‘Sacred Marriage’ which I’m sure would look completely different to my previous ego’s perspective. With the help of your articles I now recognise more clearly the work I am required to undertake, in order to further develop my inferior function and meet the challenges that the work will bring.
        Giving too much, not giving enough … I see we are forever brought back to remembering to hold ‘the tension of the opposites.’ The work, I fully grasp, will be rich and life-long. For myself, I offer others a two-way relationship. Many have been surprised that this therapist refuses to do all of her client’s psychological work alone … the result of which has been remarkable as I watch clients and loved ones finally becoming the authors of their own lives.
        Since starting my poetry blog, a little over three months ago, I have been fortunate to meet a small handful of wonderful, like-minded souls. Such treasure in one’s life … and on the subject of social media, I’ve just read on Twitter that you’ve uploaded a new YouTube video so am off to watch that now! I hope the day finds you well. Blessings, Deborah.

        1. Dear Deborah,
          I love your dedication to understanding and developing your inner life, and to helping your clients take responsibility for doing the same for themselves. This is surely our only hope for healing in this broken world.
          Yes, the first video in a five part series about the Dream Theatres of the Soul was posted on YouTube yesterday and now the other four are up too. Here’s the link to my playlist:
          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMS7ZEV9HgLz1wuOVOCkDrLx6YR7ZfQSU. I hope you enjoy them.
          Interacting with you and the other like-minded souls who comment here is a treasure for which I am especially grateful , not just during this Thanksgiving holiday, but every day. These dialogues present such enriching and affirming experiences.
          Blessings, Jeanie

  3. Wonderful, Jeanie. As usual you make me think. It’s been interesting to return to feminine archetypes and myths I studied many years ago. First, Inanna and Ereshkigal. First time around about a dozen years ago, I identified with Inanna. Now I value and see new resonances with the Dark Feminine. She calls me.
    My mythology class began more than 25 years ago with Greek mythology. We first studied Eros and Psyche and then all the Olympian goddesses, plus Hecate and Hestia. This grounded us as we explored Goddesses from Mesopotamia, Turkey, Eastern Europe, and Egypt. We are slow and thorough, combining study with Jung, painting, movement, dream, and ritual. As we’ve return to Artemis in recent months, I find her to be the very goddess I need as a Crone. She is sometimes called Artemis-Hecate. I didn’t understand why when I was younger. Now I see she stands with Hecate at the wild gate between the upper world and the great unknown. A mature Artemis energy knows the Dark Powers, such as wrath and death, and uses them wisely.
    So which do I most identify with? It depends entirely on what time in my life? At the moment, I’m linked to Hecate, Artemis, and Ereshkigal.

    1. Thank you, Elaine,
      Your mythology class sounds just amazingly wonderful. What a rich mine you’ve been exploring! I read Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book on Artemis this summer and once again find that she speaks strongly to me too. And yes, especially in her Artemis-Hecate mode. I like her fierce truth-telling and passion to be who she is and give the best of what she has. I like her strength. Her determination. Her perseverence……… So much to admire about her.

    1. Hi Julie, Yes, my work is strongly influenced by Jean Shinoda Bolen, Carol Pearson, and Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette’s books. But there are a lot of other Jungian influences as well: Marion Woodman, Robert Johnson, etc. My hope for my new book,The Soul’s Twins, is that it will help people realize that all the archetypes, especially those associated with the feminine and masculine principles, universal: in every psyche regardless of gender. Seems like if we can get that into our heads maybe we can make a dent in harmful gender stereotypes! Thanks so much for writing. Best, Jeanie

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