Four archetypes of the feminine; Mother, Lover, Wise Woman, Queen

“I am the sovereign queen, the treasury of all treasures, whose breathing forth gives birth to all the worlds, and yet extends beyond them – so vast am I in greatness.”

{ Devi Sukta, Rg Veda }

You too, have the power to create and destroy worlds. Can you feel it? That silent power that lies at the bottom of your belly, waiting? It’s the outrage at injustice, the fiery passion of love, the darkness of destruction, the mysterious power that all women naturally inhabit – the intuitive knowing, the fierce protectiveness, the delicious seduction of inhabiting a female body.

We live in a culture where only a very narrow definition of the feminine is accepted and honoured. Through conditioning (we all grew up in the Princess Paradigm), and a lack of ‘whole’ feminine role models, many of us are not even aware of the range of qualities that are available to us as women.

But we sense that there is more.

That we are more, much more than we are currently expressing. Often these subconscious aspects will emerge under circumstances that force us to reach for resources we weren’t aware we had – but what if we had conscious access to them all the time?

The mature feminine is a fully integrated woman.

She owns her power and her vulnerability, her wildness and her wisdom, her sensuality and her sexuality, her darkness and her mystery, her intuition and her vision, her love and her rage.

She is the one who lives turned on, fierce, unashamed. Who has set herself on fire and burns in her truth, awakening in every moment to who she is and in turn, awakening the world.

She is a gift to herself, and to the men and women who encounter her – because by being all that she is, she gives permission for them to embrace themselves in their wholeness as well.

A useful way of exploring feminine qualities is to look at archetypes. Archetypes are ideals that are found across cultures and epochs that have shortcut access to our subconscious minds; they are collectively inherited memes that we resonate with at a pre-verbal and pre-logical level, meaning that we can easily tap into the qualities and energy associated with them without rational analysis.

When we distill the cross-cultural archetypes of the feminine, we come to four core expressions: the Mother, the Lover, the Wise Woman and the Queen.

As you read the descriptions below and go through the questions, notice how your body reacts – if there are any twinges, contractions, excitement, goosebumps, or other sensations. Notice any emotions that come up, and listen for any underlying thoughts and judgments that might be present.

The Mother

Theme: Creation

Being the most acknowledged archetype in Patriarchal society (which, despite the giant advances in women’s liberation, we are still living in and even tacitly enforcing ourselves) the Mother archetype is often the one we have the most and the strongest associations with. She is the nurturer, the care-giver, the protectress, inviting and expansive; she creates a womb of safety around herself and those she loves.

The Mother embodies immense creative energy and can nurture the world through her selfless love.

The two shadow sides of the Mother are the careless and the devouring mother; both exhibiting an imbalance in the strength of the connection to her children. In the former there is too little energy given, in the latter too much given and taken.

She is the female counterpart to the masculine warrior archetype, and has access to fierce Mama Bear energy. In the Hindu tradition the Goddess Kali is one of the dark sides of the Mother archetype, a symbol of destruction in the service of creation; the destructive aspect of this archetype will wreak havoc on anything that threatens the wellbeing of those she cares for – and a well-rooted woman will experience her field of caring as encompassing the whole world.

Positive Aspects: Creativity, fertility, nurture, life, self-sacrifice, beauty, soft, gentle, fierce, protective, warm, supportive, selfless love, encouraging, guiding, giving

Shadow Aspects: Cold, withholding affection, sadist, masochist, careless, abandoning, aloof, controlling, narcissistic. Smothering, overly controlling, hysterical fear, over-attachment, devouring, demanding, manipulative, guilt- inducing

The Lover

Theme: Eros

Western women are in the process of reclaiming the Lover archetype, and are largely being held back by the burden of residual shame and fear. Sensuality and sexuality have long been used interchangeably, and yet they are not the same; the Lover delights in being in a body, and though that connection to herself is also able to delight in the connection with other bodies.

The Lover manifests the energy and fertility of nature.

Lovers are at ease with our own deepest and most central values and visions; they are romantics, idealists who dislike rigid order and sterile knowledge. This archetype is intrinsically bound with the ‘other’, and can manifest shadow sides with obsessiveness, manipulation and revenge. On the other end of the spectrum the Lover can disconnect and be cold and calculating.

Positive Aspects: Love, passion, compassion, seductress, hedonism, sensuality, sexuality, generosity, surrender, fertility, values, longing for unity, playful, uninhibited, embodied, inquisitive, emotional, devotion

Shadow Aspects: Poor boundaries, obsessive, disembodied, body shame, disconnection from own needs, frigid, aloof, emotionally disconnected

The Wise Woman

Theme: Wisdom

The most repressed of them all, the Wise Woman or Witch archetype is strongly connected in the feminine unconscious to severe punishment (the witch burnings of the 17th century left their mark). It is the wild, unpredictable force of the feminine – extrasensory perception, the deep connection to natural (and supernatural) forces, the earth-bound connection to the mysteries of life and death.

The Wise Woman inhabits the shadows and sees the unseen.

She is the prophetess, mediator and communicator of secret knowledge, the healer, the teacher, the shaman, the guide. She is concerned with the mysteries of life and death, fertility and procreation, healing and seeing, and is subsequently feared. The shadow side of this archetype has a tendency to abuse her power, using her skills to achieve her own ends, or, on the other end of the spectrum, to be drowned by her own perceptions and attempt to shut them down, becoming hardened and numb.

Positive Aspects: Spirituality, magic, death, feminine mystery, intuition, vision, prophetess, mediator, healer, counselor, elder, shaman, receptive

Shadow Aspects: Hypersensitivity, hyper vigilance, lack of trust in world, overvaluing the rational, fear of psycho-spiritual energy, self-serving, manipulating, controlling, egoic use of abilities

The Queen

Theme: Power

The Queen is special because in her mature form, she transcends and includes all of the other archetypes of the feminine and combines them with leadership qualities. 

She brings responsible warrior energy together with feminine awareness of the collective, as a leader responsible for the safety and wellbeing of all – as such her potential to shift cultural paradigms is immense.

The shadow sides of the Queen are the tyrant and the weakling, on the one hand abusing her power overtly (tyrant/bully), on the other abusing it covertly (weakling/manipulator). In a patriarchal society, the Queen is rejected and suppressed – as a result women who inhabit their inner Queen often feel lonely, may adopt a cold or defensive attitude, and are often haunted by the fear that others (especially other women) are traitors, rivals, and back-stabbers.

Positive Aspects: Power, leadership, wisdom, dignity, justice, grace, grounded, balanced, protector, semi-divine, responsibility, benevolence

Shadow Aspects: Tyrant, arrogant, controlling, aggressive, destructive, authoritarian, demanding, power-crazed, self-serving

  • Which of the qualities do you identify with most, or feel most comfortable with?
  • Which of the qualities do you identify with least, or feel least comfortable with? How have these been present in your life? What examples of them have you had?
  • What stories do you have around these qualities?
  • Which qualities would you like to integrate more into your way of being and expressing yourself in the world? What would change?
  • Think of one or several ways you can integrate those qualities in a practical way this week
  • Create a mantra or intention to use as an anchor for this practice

We are empowered when we are truly honoring everything that we are.

Empowering ourselves to be fully self-expressed and to bring our biggest dreams into reality requires us to tap into our Queen qualities.

How would your life be different if you showed up as your inner Queen?

Knowing that you are a queen, and that you have the power to rise up and live this role…

What is the BIGGEST VISION you have for your life?

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{ First in a series of 4 excerpts from the upcoming Wild&Free Workbook }