Archetypes are traditionally said to live in the unconscious and were mapped out by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, in his epic breakthroughs on human consciousness. He defined archetypes as the first original model upon which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are derived, copied, patterned, or emulated. The word “archetype” is derived from two Greek words: “arche” which means the first principle and “tupos” which translates as impression.
Archetypes can be found throughout literature with writers such as Shakespeare, for example, coining characters like Juliet who is an excellent example of the lover archetype. However, archetypes can also be linked back to mythological goddesses. Here is a deeper look into some of the most prominent goddess archetypes: The Child of Nature, The Crone, The Lover, The Mother, The Maiden, and The Warrior.
The Child of Nature
The child of nature feels most at home when outside, so she can bond with the forces of nature. She’s often very sensitive, preferring solace and the company of animals to being with people. Being independent and physically fit is vital to her.
To be a child of nature, you need more than a love of nature and the environment around you. If you possess this archetype, you’ll likely feel as though your health and well-being is affected if you’re unable to spend time outside working with animals, plants, and other spirits of nature. You also loathe the idea of a job that requires you to be away from nature the majority of your day.
Greatest Strengths: Self-reliance, courage, goal-orientedness, leadership
Challenges: Can be aloof, emotionally unavailable, potentially cruel
Contemporary examples of people and characters with the Child of Nature archetype:
- Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) in Harry Potter
- Isabela Madrigal (Diane Guerrero) in Encanto
- Juli Baker (Morgan Lily) in Flipped
- Bindi Irwin
- Snow White
Goddesses With the Child Of Nature Archetype
Greek Goddess Artemis
Known to be the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, vegetation, chastity, and childbirth; Artemis was identified by the Romans with the name Diana. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. She possessed perfect aim with a bow, the ability to change herself and others into animals, and control disease and healing. Artemis was regarded as the goddess of wild nature, who danced, usually accompanied by nymphs, in mountains, forests, and marshes. She embodied the sportsman’s ideology, so besides killing game, she also protected it, especially the young.
Roman Goddess Diana
Although primarily associated with hunting, Diana, much like her counterpart Artemis, was also revered as the goddess of the woods, children and childbirth, fertility, chastity, the moon, and wild animals. She was the daughter of Latona and Jupiter. Her worshippers believed she had the power to talk to woodland animals and even control their movements and behavior. Diana was the patron of slaves, who could find sanctuary in her temples, and of women seeking to conceive healthy children. Interestingly, Diana and Artemis’ temple in Ephesus was one of the wonders of the ancient world.
Buddhist Divine Being Tara
Widely popular in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia, Tara was the protectress of navigation and earthly travel, as well as of spiritual travel along the path to enlightenment. She was the feminine counterpart of the bodhisattva (“buddha-to-be”) Avalokiteshvara. According to popular belief, she came into existence from a tear of Avalokiteshvara, which fell to the ground and formed a lake. Out of its waters rose up a lotus, which, upon opening, revealed her. Like Avalokiteshvara, she was known to be a compassionate, succoring deity who helped men “cross to the other shore.”
The crone goddess represents the wise old woman whose childbearing days are behind her. Other associations with her include compassion, transformation, healing, bawdiness, death, and endings. She is the respected older woman or grand-parent figure and is commonly at the heart of the family, sharing her knowledge and life experience.
The crone archetype may resonate with you if you have gained wisdom, learned from your mistakes, and shown a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. If you are a crone, then you enjoy spending time with your family and friends. Spreading knowledge and empowerment is important to you, and you always look for ways to further the wisdom of those around you.
Greatest Strengths: Wisdom, deep concentration, creativity, captivating soulful quality
Challenges: Deep introversion, emotional frigidity
Contemporary examples of people and characters with the Crone archetype:
- Oprah Winfrey
- Martha Stewart
- Grandmother Willow (Linda Hunt) in Pocahontas
- Glinda (Billie Burke) in The Wizard of Oz
- Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) in Mary Poppins
Goddesses With the Crone Archetype
Norse Goddess Hela
Also known as Hel, she was often referred to as the “Two-Faced Terror.” Hela was an ancient goddess of the dead within Norse mythology who presided over the realm Niflheim which served as a basis for the Christian concept of Hell, where she received a portion of the dead. She had deep wisdom and possessed superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes,
and durability at levels far surpassing other gods and humans.
Welsh Goddess Ceridwen
Ceridwen’s name is derived from the Celtic word “cerru,” meaning cauldron. Like the Goddess herself, the cauldron symbolizes the transformative power of magic, wisdom, rebirth and creative inspiration. For these reasons, she was seen as a patron goddess of witches and wizards. Ceridwen was also associated with the moon, fertility, science, prophecy, and poetry. Other spellings of her name include Ceridwen, Cereduin, Keridwen, and Kerridwen.
Mesopotamian Goddess Ereshkigal
Also known as Irkalla and Allatu, Ereshkigal was the Mesopotamian queen of the dead who ruled the underworld. Her name translates as ‘Queen of the Great Below’ or ‘Lady of the Great Place.’ She was responsible for both keeping the dead within her realm and preventing the living from entering and learning the truth of the afterlife. Her deep wisdom allowed her to not fear the other gods and goddesses.
The lover represents passion and selfless devotion to others. Her love also extends to music, art, and nature. She strives to create relationships and evoke emotions, while always looking for ways to make others feel special. More than anything, the lover wants to achieve intimacy through close relationships. She encapsulates all types of love including parental, friendships, familial, spiritual, and of course, romantic.
If you’re drawn to the lover archetype, you may be looking to attract a new lover or to re-ignite the fire in an existing relationship. If you possess this archetype, it can also be a useful tool to discover what you are passionate about in life. Lovers want to be around those they care deeply about as often as possible; they hate being alone and fear loneliness.
Greatest Strengths: Naturally magnetic, incites arousal and passion in others, creative, independent, pleasure-oriented
Challenges: Vanity, lack of focus, fragile self-esteem
Contemporary examples of people and characters with the Lover archetype:
- Jennifer Lopez
- Kim Kardashian
- Suzanne Sugarbaker (Delta Burke) in Designing Women
- Maggie Pollitt (Elizabeth Taylor) in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
- Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) in Sex in the City
Goddesses With the Lover Archetype
Greek Goddess Aphrodite
While there are many differing versions pertaining to Aphrodite’s parents, it’s widely regarded that she was born from Zeus and Dione, the Titaness. Aphrodite was the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, desire, and all aspects of sexuality. She could entice both gods and men into illicit affairs with her beauty and whispered sweet nothings. Additionally, Aphrodite was widely worshiped as a goddess of the sea and of seafaring; she was also honored as a goddess of war, especially at Sparta, Thebes, and Cyprus.
Roman Goddess Venus
Known as Venus, she came to symbolize Rome’s imperial power. Like her Greek counterpart Aphrodite, Venus was intimately associated with love and beauty, yet other elements were distinctive to the Roman goddess, such as victory, fertility, and even prostitution. Venus was the mother of Cupid who was associated with desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. As a native Italian deity, Venus had no myths of her own. She therefore took over those of Aphrodite and, through her, became identified with various foreign goddesses.
Norse Goddess Freyja
As the most renowned of the Norse goddesses, Freyja was in charge of love, fertility, battle, and death. Her father was Njǫrd, the sea god. Pigs were sacred to her, and she rode a boar with golden bristles. Additionally, she was sometimes pictured as riding a chariot drawn by cats. It was Freyja’s privilege to choose one-half of the heroes slain in battle for her great hall in the Fólkvangar, while the other half went with Odin to Valhalla.
The mother is a life-giver and the source of nurturing, devotion, patience, and unconditional love. She has the ability to forgive and provide for her children, while also putting them before herself at all times. The mother personifies the essence of a true, loving maternal figure.
The mother can refer to anyone who has a lifelong pattern of nurturing and devotion to living things. Even if you’re not a biological mother, you can still possess this archetype. As a mother archetype, you adore being around those you can nurture and care for and you despise the idea of being alone.
Greatest Strengths: Nurturing, persistent, compassionate, grounded
Challenges: Self-neglect, stubbornness, difficulty letting go of caretaking role, lack of boundaries
Contemporary examples of people and characters with the Mother archetype:
- Ayesha Curry
- Kris Jenner
- Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) in The Brady Bunch
- Mother Teresa
- Julia Child
Goddesses With the Mother Archetype
Buddhist Divine Being Guanyin
As the deity of mercy and compassion, Guanyin (also Guan Yim, Kuan Yim, Kwan Im, Kwan Yen, or Kuan Yin) was known to observe all sounds of suffering in the world to offer protection against pain and fear. She was often said to give special attention to women and children and could even grant children to childless parents. According to the twenty-fifth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most popular sacred texts in the Buddhist canon, Guanyin had thirty-three manifestations that she could assume to assist other beings seeking salvation.
Egyptian Goddess Isis
Although initially an obscure goddess, Isis came to fulfill a variety of roles, primarily as wife and mother, mourner, and magical healer. She was a role model for women, a principal deity in rites for the dead, and cured the sick. She also had strong links with the kingship and pharaohs. Isis was worshiped not only for her protective, healing, nutritive, loving, and compassionate qualities, but for her strength, initiative, independence, and rational approach to life and its vagaries.
Greek Goddess Gaea
As the goddess of the Earth, Gaea (also Gaia) was one of the primordial elemental deities born at the dawn of creation. Gaea was the great mother of all creation – the heavenly gods were descended from her through her union with Ouranos (Uranus), the sea-gods from her union with Pontos, the Gigantes from her mating with Tartaros, and mortal creatures born directly from her earthy flesh. She represented Earth, femininity, fertility, agriculture, motherhood, and environmental consciousness.
As a Maiden archetype, she represents purity and innocence, where the soul’s dreams, magic, and make-believe still prevail. She reminds you to stay in touch with your inner child. Together with the crone archetype and others, they represent the cycles of the moon and the different stages of a woman’s life.
If you’re a Maiden archetype, you’re still in touch with your childhood intuition and fantasies. You’ve also most likely used these traits to fulfill your dreams. As a warrior archetype, you flourish when you can use your imagination to create and entertain others.
Greatest Strengths: Empathy, creativity, receptiveness
Challenges: Emotional co-dependency, diffidence, lack of autonomy, may be drawn to dangerous relationships
Contemporary examples of the Maiden archetype:
- Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) in Pulp Fiction
- Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Princess Diana
- Diana Ross
Goddesses With the Maiden Archetype
Greek Goddess Hebe
As the goddess of youth, Hebe personified the beautiful maiden and everlasting life. Hebe was the cupbearer who served nectar to the Olympian gods to give them immortality. Additionally, she was one of Hera’s handmaidens and was known to regularly prepare the royal chariot. Hebe also prepared Ares’ baths for him after battles. In one myth, Hebe is said to have granted a man named Lolaus his youth back for one day so he could fight his enemy Eurystheus.
Norse Goddess Idun
Also known as Idunn or Iduna, in Norse mythology, Idun was the goddess of spring and rejuvenation and the wife of Bragi, the god of poetry. She was the keeper of the magic apples of immortality, which the gods ate to preserve their youth. When, through the cunning of Loki, the trickster god, she and her apples were seized by the giant Thiassi and taken to the realm of the giants, the gods quickly began to grow old. They then forced Loki to rescue Idun, which he did by taking the form of a falcon, changing Idun into a nut, and flying off with her in his claws for a safe return.
Hindu Goddess Lakshmi
Also commonly called Lokamata, ‘Mother of the World’ and Lola, meaning “fickle”, Lakshmi was the Hindu goddess of wealth, good fortune, youth, and beauty. Lakshmi held the promise of material fulfillment and contentment. She was described as restless, whimsical yet maternal, with her arms raised to bless and to grant. The wife of Vishnu, one of the principal Hindu deities, she was said to have taken different forms in order to be with him in each of his incarnations, such as when he was the dwarf Vamana, she appeared from a lotus and was known as Padma, or Kamala; when he was the ax-wielding Parashurama, the destroyer of the warrior class, she was his wife Dharani.
The warrior represents physical strength and the ability to protect and fight for her rights and those of others. She possesses an outstanding amount of courage and composure. In the midst of the worst imaginable circumstances, she remains calm and rational. The power to face and triumph over one’s inner demons is also a trait that the warrior wields, paired with a deep appreciation for the sanctity of all life.
You may be a warrior archetype if you have a strong sense of self and are proud of the victories you’ve achieved. You reconcile with the warring nature of humans by cultivating compassion in peacetime, while also defending the innocent and being a champion for good. As a warrior archetype, you enjoy being a leader and standing up for what you believe in.
Greatest Strengths: Loyalty, leadership, courage
Challenges: Pride, overly-competitiveness, aggressiveness
Contemporary examples of the warrior goddess archetype:
- Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) in Vikings
- Wonder Woman
- Serena Williams
- Gloria Steinem
- Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) in Mulan
Goddesses With the Warrior Archetype
Greek Goddess Athena
As the Olympian goddess of wisdom and war, Athena was the adored patroness of the city of Athens. Athena’s special powers included the ability to invent useful items and crafts. She invented the ship, chariot, plow, and rake, along with many of the skills used by women in Ancient Greece such as weaving and pottery. Majestic and stern, Athena surpassed everybody in both of her main domains. Even Ares feared her, and all Greek heroes asked her for help and advice.
Roman Goddess Minerva
In Rome, Minerva was the goddess of handicrafts, the professions, the arts, and, later, war; she was commonly identified with the Greek Athena. Some scholars believe that her cult was that of Athena introduced to Rome from Etruria. As the Goddess of Wisdom, she was accredited with inventing spinning, weaving, numbers, and music. Her attributes were so numerous that Ovid, a prominent Roman poet, described her as the “Goddess of a thousand works.”
Hindu Goddess Kali
Also referred to as “She Who Is Black” or “She Who Is Death,” Kali’s origins can be traced to the deities of the village, tribal, and mountain cultures of South Asia who were gradually appropriated and transformed, if never quite tamed, by the Sanskritic traditions. Kali was famous for fighting Raktabīja, the head of an army of demons. According to legend, she couldn’t wound him with her weapons, so she killed him by drinking all of his blood. Because of this story, Kali is commonly portrayed as having a bright red tongue that protrudes down her chin.
“Each goddess archetype is a unique expression of feminine energy, to which we all have access.” -Unknown
All women have different modes of expression, but each woman carries the universal expressions of the goddess archetypes that embody the feminine essence. For example, you may be the wise woman in your social circle, the maiden in your love relationship, the child of nature in your career, and the mother when you’re gardening or with your children.
You can also be all of these archetypes, considering that our expressions shift many times a day, influenced by our environment, tasks, activities, and experiences. Like you, many of the goddesses throughout history have embodied multiple archetypes, as well.
Want to explore the archetypes you most relate to? Take this quiz for some insight. Let us know your results, and if you received an archetype that wasn’t mentioned in this article, tell us about it in the comments.