What is the Mother archetype?
What are its defining characteristics?
Does this archetype originate from Carl Jung?
Carl Jung came up with the idea of the Mother archetype originally. It is not, however, on his list of the 12 main archetypes. Nevertheless, he was the first to pinpoint the Mother archetype and to specify its place among the collective unconscious.
The Mother archetype is usually reserved for real-life women and female fictional characters. However, in a modern sense, it is possible for male or masculine characters and people to challenge gender roles and fit more into a Mother archetype than they would potentially fit into a Father one.
The Mother is more than just a woman who has a child. This archetype is all about the personality, beliefs, and feelings of the individual in question. To identify as a mother is one thing; to identify as a Mother archetype is something else entirely.
A Mother doesn’t necessarily have to be related to anyone else in order to fulfill this role. If you think you may be a Mother archetype, take a look at the information listed below to find out more.
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There are many facets to the Mother archetype. Some of these are positive, while others showcase what happens when the Shadow takes over the Self in someone with a Mother archetype.
- Virgin Mother: The Virgin Mother is an innocent, sweet, and caring mother who fulfills her role as a Mother first and foremost in her life.
- Adopted Mother: The Adopted Mother is part of the “found family” archetype; she is not the biological mother, but she takes care of (and sometimes bosses around) those within her care.
- Mother Nature: Mother Nature is an archetype that revolves around nature being perceived as a feminine entity. It may also encompass the Earth Mother, which is a Mother archetype with natural gifts.
- Neglectful Mother: This Mother is a negative, Shadow variant. She does not take care of her charge and in fact may purposefully cause them harm.
- The Mother archetype strives, more than anything else, to be a good caregiver to someone or something under her care. This archetype has skills and talents that make it easier for her to do this if she is willing to listen to them.
- The Mother wants to do everything she can to take care of others. She cares about their wellbeing, their physical and mental state, and their ability to thrive.
- The Mother also gets something personally fulfilling out of this care, and so, it is a mutually beneficial situation for both of the people involved.
- This archetype wants to be responsible and wants to be respected as such. She likes knowing she is in control of different situations, and she appreciates knowing that others can come to her when they have a problem, question, or just need a little compassion or advice.
- This archetype is very caring and kind, and tends to reach out to others when she thinks they are in need of her help. This can come across as overbearing to some, but most respond well to her willingness and her push to help out even when she isn’t asked.
- The Mother archetype hopes to be remembered in her role as a Mother by those she cares for even after she is gone. Her goal is to do a good job as a Mother so that this can occur.
- The Mother longs to be nurturing and wants to share her love and affection for others. She strives to reach those who need her and hopes to provide useful assistance to them.
- The Mother wants her advice to be heeded and wants those in her care to listen to her. Whether or not it’s always true, she feels she is right more often than not.
- The most important strength the Mother archetype showcases is her ability to nurture and help things and people grow. Whether this is showcased in her relationship with the people in her care or she simply uses it to grow plants and animals, the Mother is always nurturing. In some instances, this may even mean she helps situations to thrive and flourish.
- The Mother is also very persistent and capable of making things happen the way she wants them to. While this can sometimes be a negative aspect of this archetype, for the most part, the Mother uses it for good and ensures that those she is in charge of will remain safe, healthy, and cared for.
- The Mother can be very stubborn and may be extremely unwilling to listen to anyone else’s ideas. Her version of reality can be skewed because of this stubbornness.
- This archetype may also have a hard time letting those she cares for make their own decisions. She may not easily be able to let them live their own lives, even if they are grown adults.
- Because of her overabundance of compassion and care for others, the Mother may have trouble taking care of herself. She may ignore parts of herself that need attention.
- This archetype is a caring one that puts others before herself.
- The Mother may be easily prone to becoming corrupt because of her power over others. It takes a very strong Mother archetype to resist this corruption and continue to do good throughout her time in this role.
- The Mother have secret desires or longings that she doesn’t speak about very much, and because of this, she may feel neglected even as she doesn’t give anyone else an opportunity to see her true self.
- The Mother is compassionate and finds value in all forms of life.
Understanding what makes a Mother archetype can help you pinpoint whether or not this archetype is prevalent in your own life, or in the life of someone you’re close to. In order to better grasp this concept, you may want to take a look at some of the more prominent fictional Mothers that fit into the category.
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Consider this list of Mother archetype examples:
- Fairy Godmothers from Sleeping Beauty: These Mother archetypes took care of Sleeping Beauty and did their best to make the right decisions for her.
- Wicked Stepmother from Cinderella: This is an example of a negative Mother archetype who only wants to destroy the person she is in charge of.
- Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz: Although not Dorothy’s biological mother, Glinda is a prime example of an Adopted Mother.
- Demeter of myth: Demeter is an overprotective Mother type who insists that her daughter is returned to her by Hades. She insists so much, in fact, that she won’t let crops grow until her demands are met.
- Mother Gothel from Tangled: Another harmful and cruel Mother, Mother Gothel is emotionally abusive and only wants to use her daughter for her own benefit.
There are so many different takes on the Mother archetype in fiction that it can be difficult to list them all or to find examples of each one. The next time you find yourself wondering whether or not the Mother archetype suits you, remember these fictional Mothers to help guide you toward your solution.