What are 12 Archetypes, and how do they help my writing?

What are 12 Archetypes, and how do they help my writing?

Apr 13, 2023 | Articles, Latest

With our LegendFiction quiz, and the 12 parts to the Wheel of Legends, members have been asking about the Archetypes. What are they?

Archetypes are a structure underneath your thinking. Like most personality tests, they are starting points into your journey of growth.

Every archetype has its own goals and wants in life. An archetype is a story already in motion, and when you’re born, that story already begins. Like Frodo gifted the ring and cast into adventure, you were gifted life, and now have to figure out who you are.

Here’s an overview of why these are incredibly helpful to your writing, your characterization, and even to your life.

On the post about the Wheel of Legends Quiz, here’s what I shared:

The archetypes tap into deep story-based themes of human identity, such as the Royal, the Outlaw, the Sage, the Innocent, the Lover, the Magician, and more. While most other tests are analytical, and give a snapshot of your current identity patterns, the archetypes are imaginal, like mythic characters.

Humans exist within a story that frames our identity. We act the way we do because see ourselves as a kind of person. This helps us get somewhere, do something, or be someone we want. Stories have an end, a goal, a purpose. It’s those endings that give meaning to our choices now. And its for those endings that we construct our personality.

That’s a key reason why we’ve chosen these archetypes as our personality tool.

This is one of the big reasons we call ourselves ‘Legend‘ Fiction – because we are walking legends, and stories are the legends we thrive or die by.

Archetypes were popularized by Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell in the 20th century, but what they did was study and observe these patterns within human storytelling and behavior. It is intensely human to be narrative.

Jung observed 4 primary roles within the human  spirit – Royal, Magician, Lover, Warrior. These apply to men and women together. A fully balanced and integrated person would be equally strong in each role. We used these as our basis for the Legend Houses in LegendFiction. Here are my thumbnail thoughts on them:

  • Royal: focus on awareness, order, structure, dominance, and caretaking
  • Magician: focus on imagination, learning, meaning, development, and spirituality
  • Lover: focus on intuition, the value of self, others, and things, relationship, friendship, intimacy
  • Warrior: focus on attention, resilience, boundaries, resisting chaos, transforming violence

Each one of these divide up into 3, which gives us the 12 archetypes.

Light & Shadow

Every archetype is like a story. It has it’s own goals, it’s own vision of the future, and it’s own way of getting there. Each archetype is moved and attracted to different things. Warriors do not want the same thing out of life that a Rebel, or a Sage does.

Merely knowing that, and allowing people the ascendent archetype within them, gives us freedom to respect that their solutions and ideas will be different to ours, because they see differently than we do.

Every archetype has it’s own light side, and a shadow side, like the yin-yang symbol. When you live each archetype purely as itself, I think you will tend toward your shadow. The shadow is the compulsive, self-focused parts of ourselves that we don’t pay attention do. It stays just outside our field of vision.

Let’s be clear. We are not talking about demons, or an evil part of ourselves that needs to be rooted out. Your shadow is you – but it’s the parts you’re not paying attention to. We resolve our shadow through ‘shadow work’ – feeding it, bringing it into the light, practicing attention and care. It’s like bringing a diamond fully into the light so that clarity beams through every facet. That’s the goal of human living.

But, for many reasons, we like to keep only a part of ourselves in light, and part of ourselves stays in darkness. The part in the dark generates  ideas, influences, and needs that act on us without realizing.

A warrior who stays a warrior forever destroys everything. But a warrior who knows when is the right time to be a rebel is vital. A king who isn’t a good learner or lover becomes a dictator. A lover or a magician who never learns to fight for their beliefs becomes a simp.

An archetype – on its own – will prioritize it’s telos (end goal) and it’s answers above everyone and everything else. That’s why in reality, we need to understand that an archetype is a facet of a full human being. It’s the starting point for us that feels obvious. We may even be several at the same time.

Archetypes vs Stereotypes?

Archetypes are not stereotypes. A stereotype shuts down action, puts people in boxes, gives them a label so we can dismiss them. But an archetype is a story pattern, and all humans fall into them. (If you disagree and don’t want be categorized, that’s awesome. You’re the rebel type.)

The Face of God

Like with MBTI, or 4 Temperaments, or Enneagram, archetypes are spiritual starting points. Each one is part of the face of God, as the Sufi mystics would describe it. The whole wheel is the Complete Face of God, and each node is like an eye, a specific way of seeing.

We all default to being one of these archetypes. The goal of mature living is to become intentional about things. To become intentional about the light and the shadow within ourselves. The only way that we become more fully human is to bring in more of the other roles. Which other roles interest us, or already also play a part?

Get conscious about that. Why?

  • The more fully human you are, the more alive you are.
  • The more alive, the more God is moving and exhaling through you into the world.
  • The more God inhales and exhales through you, the more you deepen his presence and activity in you.

You are one of the million billion faces of God, and you were born to this age for a mission. This mission might not be grand and public, it might be delightfully private and personal, or it might be for a small group of homes and friends. But you are a mission to a time and a place.

Jordan Petersen talks about the hierarchy of archetypes, like an ordering structure, or a tree: the primary hero archetype fractals out into innumerable individual heroes. But they are intensely powerful ideas that humanity finds important.

Self-study, spirituality, and prayer routines help every human to ‘wake up’ to themselves, and how God moves in them.

Creative writers engage in imagination, intuition, and inspiration, the building blocks of the angelic and imaginal realm. We have been gifted an opportunity to delight in storytelling. But this also works the other way. Storytelling delights to be alive and in a state of play within us.

Storytelling is an imaginal thing. It is more than human, not less. We participate in it, because it comes from a deeper level of creation.

Learning about the archetypes puts us on a wheel, like the medieval wheel of fortune. As it spins, fortunes and problems change again and again.

Those who can come off the rim and see closer from the center, learn to be influenced by every archetype. They can practice better detachment from outcomes and interests. They are able to be less possessed by things and people, and can instead share in them and enjoy them.

When we can be more attentive (warrior), ordered (King), intuitive (lover), and imaginative (magician), our lives can begin to see more completely. This growth in grace is one God has already begun in you, and in every human being.

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Dominic Vera

Founder of LegendFiction, and a total Wandery. Geeks over epics, mystics, science, the angelic, & Netflix. A young, Catholic dad and novelist passionate about worldbuilding and faith-inspired fiction. A graduate from the Writer’s Institute for Children’s Literature, self-published a children’s novel, and works as a full time marketer and graphic designer. Married, with a small girl and a smaller corgi. Website | See more of Dominic's posts

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