The Great Mother Archetype: Archetype Of The Great Mother


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The Great Mother Archetype is a powerful archetype that represents the mother figure in mythology, religion and Jungian psychology. This archetype is often seen as a goddess or deity, and is associated with characteristics such as nurturing, caring, protection and fertility. She is believed to be a central figure in the human psyche, and can be seen as an idealized version of the mother figure. Erich Neumann, a leading expert on archetypes, described the Great Mother as the matrix of all life, and it is clear that this archetype plays a significant role in our lives. The archetype of the great mother is a symbol of the unconscious mind, and is said to be the source of all archetypal energy. The great mother goddess is often seen as a devouring dragon or a destructive force, but she is also a figure of transformation. In some cultures, the great mother is represented by a figurine called “the loving and terrible mother”, Kali. In others, she is known as Demeter.

The Great Mother is a female archetype that came from the original Jung concept of archetypes, but branched off and grew beyond these confines as well. It was thoroughly explored in a book titled The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype that was written by Erich Neumann with reference to Jung’s concept of this Mother aspect.

The Great Mother is one of the variations of the Mother archetype. Although it falls within the general figure of the Mother, this archetype has more layers that are worth diving into as well. It’s different from the other types of Mothers in the world of archetypes, and those who fall into this category are special people.

In this article, you’ll find information about the Great Mother that can help you determine whether or not you know someone who fits this archetype. You may even realize that you yourself are a Great Mother. If so, you may want to use those natural gifts and abilities in new and refreshing ways for yourself and those around you.

Read on to learn more.

Great Mother Details

Learn all about this character by reading through the information below. With this, you’ll be able to determine just how this archetype affects your life, as well as whether or not you know (or have ever known) someone who can be called a Great Mother.


Note that these feminine archetypes are not variations on the Great Mother archetype. These are, however, other Mother archetypes that may fall within the overarching category. There are no variants of the Great Mother, but these other Mother types may help put the Great Mother into perspective through closer examination.

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  • Virgin Mother: This Mother is closer to the Great Mother than the others. She is perfect, pure, and innocent in all that she does.
  • Adopted Mother: This Mother may not be the biological mother of her child or charge, but she fills the role, especially along with a Found Family archetype.
  • Mother Nature: Mother Nature is the world around us and the forces that keep nature moving on.
  • Terrible Mother: The Terrible Mother is the foil of the Great Mother. She is toxic and dark, and she causes harm rather than offering a nurturing and kind personality.


  • Since the Great Mother is a universal concept of what it means to be a successful and good mother figure, the objective can be a little more difficult to pinpoint. This archetype comes from the mind of a child—or from someone who was once a child, which of course can be anyone—and is therefore based around the “child’s” perception of the archetype. With that said, however, it can be argued that the Great Mother’s ultimate objective is to be caring, to give of herself to her child or to those she takes care of, and to raise a child who contributes something to the world.


  • One of the most important desires of the Great Mother is simply to fill her role as a mother. Although her charge may not be her actual, physical child (in the case of Adopted Mothers, Found Families, and situations in which the individual in question cares for animals or plants instead of human beings), she longs to be needed and to do her part in caring for those who need her.
  • The Great Mother wants to matter. She may not always make a difference on a grand scale, but if she can change the life of someone she loves for the better, she feels she has fulfilled her purpose.


  • The Great Mother is a force of creativity, and of creation. Her goal is to create life and then to help maintain that life. Whether she is a literal mother or not, she does everything she can to ensure life thrives around her.
  • The Great Mother is nurturing, caring, and kind. She does not want to cause harm or injury to others. Although she may practice tough love when it’s necessary, she never has the intention of doing harm to those she cares about and loves.
  • The Great Mother always strives to show her love to those who receive it.


  • The Great Mother’s most common strength is her love. She loves unconditionally and is never going to let anything stand in the way of loving, caring, and proving those feelings to the people around her.
  • The Great Mother is also understanding and calm. Even when she rises to anger—as we all do, sometimes—she is able to calm herself once again and to stay strong in the love she has for those who may have angered her.
  • The Great Mother is good at dispensing advice and guidance when she’s asked. She may not always go out of her way to share this wisdom, but if someone comes to her with a problem, she is going to do what she can to help.


  • In some instances, the Great Mother can become so absorbed by her need to be needed that she falls into guilt-tripping or even lying in order to get the attention of those she loves.
  • Some Great Mothers can become easily frustrated when those they love and care for don’t follow their advice. These Great Mothers may have trouble remembering that they can’t control others all the time, even if they feel like they’re making the right suggestions.
  • Finally, the Great Mother may not take enough time for herself while she’s focused on caring for those around her. Like the others (other than the Shadow variants), this archetype is sometimes too giving.


  • The Great Mother is creative, so much so that she even creates life.
  • The Great Mother shows compassion and is willing to try to be understanding, even when it pushes the boundaries of her own beliefs and morals.
  • The Great Mother loves first and asks questions later.


The Great Mother certainly takes some time to dive into, and you may want to expand your learning and go even further into it by reading Neumann’s book of the same name.

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In the meantime, here are some Great Mother characters to consider:

  • The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella: The Fairy Godmother loves Cinderella when it feels like no one else does. She showers Cinderella in gifts and help her achieve her dreams.
  • Venus of mythology: The goddess of sex, beauty, and fertility, Venus represented many of the elements that make up a Great Mother.
  • Grandmother Willow in Disney’s Pocahontas: Grandmother Willow provides advice and guidance, making sure Pocahontas has someone looking out for her.
  • Frigga from the Marvel Thor movies: Frigga is a powerful mother who loves her children unconditionally, even when she disagrees with what they do.

With some prime examples from fictional sources and mythology to consider, it can be easier to wrap your mind around the idea of this character. Take your time and think about anyone you might know who fits this category, or any other characters you can come up with that suit the archetype, too.


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