On The Archetypes: Father & Mother / by Gary B


Mother and Father are the first archetypes of human experience.  There is no more primal connection in our lives; no greater first impression.  We are held.  We are loved and we love.  We see the Other for the first time.  We bond, of fail to bond, with these first faces of our memory.  It is these first figures that form a fundamental axis upon which we are built, and thus it is not surprising that the one of the poles of our archetypal world should exist here.  

However, here we will be using the archetypal titles, Mother and Father, in a different way from what you are used to.  We will be expanding their definition beyond the literal connotation of parenting, to a greater symbolic whole and a broader range of archetypal expressions.  Speaking most generally, Mother and Father is the personal archetype that is predominant for those of us whose unconscious energy goes primarily into people in their collective sense.  


Mother and Father understand who they are through their connections to community.  They find their primary sources of identity in their membership in larger social wholes: bonds to family, work group, school, community, ethnicity, heritage, religion, professional affiliation or nationality provide a basis for their sense of self.  This kinship extends through time and includes our connections to heritage, history, nation and culture. 

Father and Mother’s awareness moves naturally toward the people in their group–their family, their team of coworkers, their community.  Their energy flows to their tribe.  Their priority is the needs and success of their gang.  Their thoughts pop up with the concerns of their peeps.  They will be inspired with good ideas of things for how to have fun as family; work better as a team; play better as a band.  Mother who is a parent may find her children foremost in her awareness.  Father who is a teacher may find his unconsciousness popping with curiosity about little Jimmy is fitting into it grade five.  Mother who is a coach is never happier than during soccer practice.  Their attention flows into the concerns of their collective.

Individual commitment to a group effort -
that is what makes a team work, a company work,
a society work, a civilization work.

– Vince Lombardi


Mother and Father are authentically fascinated by what can be accomplished by people working together.  Whether they are the quiet volunteer who is there every weekend or the community leader in the spotlight, they are on-board.   They find genuine fulfillment in their service and they can excel as leaders because they are genuinely emotionally invested in the group and it’s success.  

Mother and Father take pride in preserving what has been built up.  They perpetuate and safeguard what has been established.  They are the “stewards of the community” (Priestley / Leier).  They are emotionally invested in what has been achieved and have faith in the culture's shared views.  Doing for others can be primary for Mother-Father. 

"Mother and Father encourage their loved ones to excel in ways that accord with the expectations of the community in which they lives; supports all that is growing and developing toward maturity, whether it be child, a spouse in their career, an invalid reaching for for health, or a garden grwing into flower.  They encourage those in their care to expand in their prime, to find their recognized place within society.  They stand as the protectors of the family and even of civlization itself."
Nan Savage Healy - Toni Wolff & C. G. Jung*

Deep inside, Mother and Father need to be needed.  Taking care of and doing for others is their way of being.  They are rooted psychologically in the family (or in another collective whole).

Queen Elizabeth II knighting Sir Patrick Stewart

Queen Elizabeth II knighting Sir Patrick Stewart

Mother and Father draw their identity from the group.  Their public persona matters to them and they invented saving face.  Hot button issues of loyalty, power and control may lie well-hidden from public sight in the dark closets of Mother and Father.  

They know their place in the world because they know where they come from.  They know who the belong to and who belongs to them.  What’s magical and right in the world and in themselves comes through the safety, security, success and rightness of their tribe.

Closely related to the King and Queen archetype, at their best, Mother and Father can bless us, make us feel seen and valued by the tribe.

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*Quote from Healy, Toni Wolff & C. G. Jung paraphrased for both genders.