Using Archetypes to Help Navigate Life’s Journey

When you’re on a journey (like life), it helps to know where you are and where you are going. Carl Jung’s archetypes is a great tool for this! Archetypes are unconscious energy that is present in all people. One energy tends to dominate; however, as we move through life, different energies move to the forefront. If you understand these archetypes, you can more easily understand yourself and move more gracefully through life.

Stages of Life’s Journey

There are three stages of life’s journey: preparation, journey, and return. Preparation focuses on the Ego and development of the Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, and Caregiver archetypes. The Journey deals the Soul and development of the Seeker, Destroyer, Creator, and Lover archetypes. The Return targets the energy of the Self and the development of the Ruler, Magician, Fool, and Sage archetypes.

Perhaps because of the work of Freud, many people want to annihilate the Ego. They see it as a bad thing. This isn’t true. The Ego, Soul, and Self are all necessary parts of the whole. The Ego is the container of life. It’s creates the boundary between self, other, and the rest of the world. It is what separates us as beings. The Ego is where we find authenticity, power, and freedom. You can think of this as your foundation. If you don’t have a healthy Ego, it will be hard to know who you are. Your journey through life will feel like it’s being constantly sabotaged by fears. The role of the Ego is to protect the inner child.

The Soul is where the unconscious lies. It is the part of us that holds the potential for everything that could be. The Soul connects us to all that is eternal and provides us with a sense of meaning and value. The Soul’s role is to enter into the mystery. As the Soul does this, we are able to experience self knowledge, intimacy with others, and pave the way for the Self to manifest itself in tangible ways in the material world.

The Self is wholeness, integrity, and authenticity. The work is to find ways to express this in the world. The journey never ends, but spirals. As the Self strives for renewal, it enters back into the journey of the Ego to morph into a new phase of being.

The Ego Archetypes


Core Desire: to remain in safety
Fear: Abandonment, punishment for being bad or wrong
Strategy: doing things right, denies problems or seeks to rescue
Weakness: being boring
Strength: trust, optimism, faith
Lesson: fidelity, discernment

Orphan/Regular Guy

Core Desire: regain safety, belonging
Fear: exploitation, to be left out
Strategy: to be down to earth, to have solid virtues, becomes a victim
Weakness: losing oneself to blend in, sacrifices intimacy for superficiality
Strength: empathy, lack of pretense
Lesson: Interdependence, realism


Core Desire: to win, to prove one’s worth through courage
Fear: weakness, losing, vulnerability
Strategy: slay, dominate, confrontation, to be as strong and competent as possible
Weakness: arrogance, always needing another battle to fight
Strength: courage, discipline, competence
Lesson: to fight only for what matters, vulnerability, compassion


Core Desire: to help and protect others
Fear: selfishness, ingratitude
Strategy: doing for others
Weakness: gives until it hurts, manipulation, martyrdom
Strength: compassion, generosity
Lesson: to give without hurting oneself

The Soul Archetypes


Core Desire: to search for a better life, adventure
Fear: conformity, being trapped, inner emptiness
Strategy: experiencing novelty, flee from problems
Weakness: aimless wandering, becoming a misfit
Strength: autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul
Lesson: to be true to a deeper self (spiritual?)


Core Desire: bliss, intimacy
Fear: loss of love, being alone, being unwanted
Strategy: to become more and more physically and emotionally desirable
Weakness: people pleasing
Strength: passion, commitment, appreciation, gratitude
Lesson: self love, love of Creation


Core Desire: metamorphosis
Fear: annihilation
Strategy: disrupt, destroy, shock
Weakness: crossing over to the dark side, crime
Strength: outrageousness, radical freedom
Lesson: humility


Core Desire: identity, to create things of enduring value
Fear: inauthenticity, mediocrity
Strategy: develop artistic skill
Weakness: perfectionism, ineffective solutions
Strength: individuality, creativity, imagination
Lesson: enjoy on the process rather than the end goal

The Self Archetypes


Core Desire: order, control, creating a strong, prosperous realm
Fear: chaos, being overthrown
Strategy: exercising power,
Weakness: unable to delegate, being authoritarian
Strength: leadership, responsibility
Lesson: utilizing human and other resources in harmonious ways while sharing power


Core Desire: transformation
Fear: sorcery, unintended negative consequences
Strategy: develop a vision and live by it, find constructive uses for the problem
Weakness: becoming manipulative
Strength: personal power
Lesson: align oneself with the cosmos; changing the physical by first mastering the emotional, mental and spiritual realms


Core Desire: finding truth
Fear: deception, ignorance
Strategy: seeking information, transform the problem
Weakness: paralysis by analysis
Strength: wisdom, intelligence, skepticism, nonattachment
Lesson: attain enlightenment through detachment


Core Desire: enjoyment, being present
Fear: dullness, not feeling alive
Strategy: play, make jokes, be funny,
Weakness: frivolity, wasting time, not serious
Strength: joy, freedom
Lesson: trust in the process, enjoy things for their own sake

I will write about each one of these in depth so be sure to check back for more information on the archetypes.

Note: Some switch the placement of the Ruler and Fool. It makes more sense to me to put the Fool at the end because of the spiral nature of cycles and growth.

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