Our Many Storied Selves: Twelve Universal Archetypes


Life Paths, which is a personal growth and development book and self-help handbook, will present readers with an understanding of 12 Universal Archetype character-figures that are derived from the specific archetypal psychology approach of Dr. Charles Bebeau and his consociates including his wife Nin Bebeau and Debra Breazzano (MA, LPC). The Bebeaus founded and taught at the former Avalon Archetype Institute in Boulder, Colorado.  Basing his work on a solid foundation of Jungian Depth or Analytical Psychology and James Hillman’s Archetypal Psychology, and using symbology tracing back as far as ancient Sumerian mythology and astrology, Charles Bebeau recognized a pantheon of Twelve Universal classes of Archetypes from which all other idiosynchratic and culture-specific archetypal forms can be derived.

The Twelve represent energetic archetypal character forms that represent the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) and the three energetic phases of Process (origination, maintenance, dissolution). Robertson has noted that Jung himself drew attention to the “quaternity” and the “trinity” as intersecting dimensions of archetypal energy, precisely in accordance with Bebeau’s insightful system. Also check out this excellent post about HermesTrismegistus from the blog Symbol Reader, which references the Alchemical relevance of the conjunction of elements and process.

giant wheel

Here then, are a primordial set of Twelve Universal Archetypes :







On Friday I will reblog an excellent post from the Ptero website, a brilliant Archetypal Psychology venue.  The Ptero posting (from 8/10/14), speaks evocatively of the ‘storied’ lives we all lead, and expresses how we personify our lives and Psyche with archetypal energies and forms; some collective, others of a more personal resonance.


On Sunday I will further develop this thread with a special Guest Blog to this site from Debra Breazzano (MA, LPC), a prime proponent of the Bebeau/ Avalon archetypal system who is a practicing Archetypal Psychotherapist. Her post will answer many questions about the history of this approach and its value and significance from a psychotherapeutic perspective. I first encountered this approach synchronistically, as Breazzano’s therapy client over several years; and gradually I began recognizing its significance and incorporating aspects of this approach into my own emerging study of the Life Maps Process, so that archetypal psychology now appears to me to be vital for anyone truly aiming to “know thyself” and to advance in a balanced way to the pursuit of their dreams.

Carnival Venetian mask

But let’s go back to a more hands-on introduction for today:

This week’s technique of identifying character modes, or “guises” and traits associated with your SOCIAL ROLES in life, can go pretty far in helping you begin to recognize some of your own dominant archetypal impulses or influences. As a quick sample from my own life–which I invite you to try on and apply to your own life experience–I find the following archetypal influences operating within my presentation of self in various roles (You can refer to the table of 12 archetype names listed above):

Roles         Archetypes     Traits

Teacher     TEACHER        organized presentation, authoritative delivery, enthusiasm for student          learning

Pet Mom    NURTURER     caregiving, Motherese

DESCENDER   (grief over loss)

Friend        COMMUNICATOR   empathy, listening skills, loyalty

Spirituality   MYSTIC        contemplative, visionary, patient

Traveler      IDEALIST      adventurous, love of new horizons

So you can begin to understand all this in terms of an Archetypal Assemblage (or, as I prefer, Assembly or Council). This is like a constellation of your regularly activated archetypal viewpoints or persona guises in your life.

Alien world   in blue


Using this method of reflecting on archetypal qualities associated with your roles in relation to your Life Themes will not identify ALL of the archetypal impulses that might personify your personal unconscious (in Hillman’s terms) or that reflect the collective unconscious archetypes like Shadow, Anima and Animus that Jung described. Your Psyche is much more fertile and dynamic than that! However, this approach of identifying SITUATIONAL or Role and Life Theme related archetypal impulses can help you recognize a set of your “dominant situational archetypes.” This can be helpful because these are sources of Strength as well as sources of recurring lessons and challenging perspectives within your Psyche or what I like to call your Total Self System.



These dominant archetypal influences can be among your greatest Allies, especially when properly “aligned” in an integrated manner. (Think, Wizard of Oz.)This is what I aim to help people put into practice with techniques I will further present and develop for you in Life Paths.

So please, stay tuned!

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As always, I WELCOME your comments and stories.