The Archetypal Twelve, by Debra Breazzano


{Today’s post (through Monday) is an Invited Guest Blog from Debra J. Breazzano, MA/LPC, Archetypal Psychotherapist and Gifted Children Program Director.

I invited Debra to answer some questions readers might have about the “Twelve Universal Archetypes” that I am featuring in Life Paths and here at our Better Endings blog. Debra has co-authored articles and chapters with me before on this subject and has written an Appendix about “The Twelve Universal Archetypes” for Life Paths.  I sent Debra a set of questions in an interview sort of format, and here below is her reply.- Linda}

from Debra Breazzano:

The late Dr. Charles Bebeau (1944-2008) was the Founder and Director of several graduate Psychology training programs in Boulder, CO beginning with the Colorado Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in the early 80s, and ending with the Avalon Institute from which his wife, Nin, continued teaching his system of Archetypal Diagnosis under her directorship in Archetypal Academy until 2010.  I was privileged to learn from and teach with Dr. Bebeau and Nin for over 10 years and continue to incorporate many of the Universal Twelve concepts into my own work as educator and licensed counselor in the Boulder and Colorado Springs areas.  Traditional archetypal psychology has generally used dream images, poetic images and mythic-images in its efforts to “provide soul with an adequate account of itself (Hillman: 1983).”

Dr. Bebeau’s unique contribution to archetypal psychology, supported by years of research, concluded with the Twelve Universal Archetypes as a basis for his Archetypal Diagnostic approach.  This pioneering work synthesized the psychology of Carl Jung and other archetypal theorists such as James Hillman with the psychotherapeutic techniques from Wilhelm Reich, Fritz Perls, Carl Rogers and many other profound theoreticians.  From an archetypal perspective Dr. Bebeau explored the unfolding process of the soul and was able to empirically show through numerous case studies the unfolding cyclical processes relating to the Twelve moving through mind, body, spirit, soul, nature, dreams and personal events at one time.  Continuing this work, I also have discovered how powerful using the Twelve Universal Archetypes is, to equip people to meet life directly as they move through the challenges that are inherent to personal growth.


The question arises:  Why Twelve?

As we know, archetypes are universal principles governing the order of the manifest world. Long ago ancient mysticism and hermetic sciences explored and documented the world of archetypal patterns.  These universal principles are very elusive. In conceptualizing the inconceivable, some of these systems chose to anthropormorphize the archetypes, bestowing upon them the form of angels or gods.  As internal deities or underlying archetypes, these Greater Powers instigate the dramas of our lives.   In archetypal psychotherapy, the archetypes are identified by names which characterize the way they appear in human personality.   The following names are used to describe the Twelve Archetypes that appear in human personality:

Originating             Maintaining     Dissolving





These principles are not only metaphysical theories but are a series of structural patterns which underlie all existence and can be understood in practical terms.  On the most elemental level, the individual characteristics of each archetype are based on the interplay of two factors—the four primary elements that are naturally found in the physical world:  earth, air, fire, and water; in combination with the three natural states of universal movement: all manifestation is either coalescing into form, maintaining the form it already has; or dissolving its old form.  The frequency of this interplay is the signature of each of the Twelve Archetypes.  When the knowledge and wisdom of these twelve states of awareness is acquired, consciousness moves from the mundane to the sublime.  The essential pattern of each archetype never changes because it is dictated by a particular vibrational frequency.  However, the possible combinations for manifestations are endless. There are many possible ways the Twelve continue to be combined to produce a great variety of human personalities.  However, the characteristics always echo the same network of relationships unique to that archetype.



The process of becoming whole is one by which the psyche strives to incorporate all Twelve faces of consciousness into a harmonious blend.  Through grappling with the issues, challenges and personal talents inherent in each personality type, the individual expresses some of the divine force of the archetype.

Are the Twelve the absolute truth of the number of core patterns found at the base of life manifesting?  Possibly.  Or possibly not.   Dr. Bebeau believed and was able to demonstrate that these were the building blocks of the Universe.  However, that answer isn’t relevant if the purpose for archetypal diagnosis is to provide a powerful and useful tool for communicating and understanding each of our own unique personalities on the soulful journey we wish to engage.  For myself, and in my work with others, this system has provided an empowering structure that heals.  The multiple combinations of the Twelve are unending, and each individual is the authority of their own mythic evolution and its meaning.


In addition, each archetypal pattern has qualities that can be considered “Feminine” and “Masculine” although all archetypes are inherently androgynous for they are embodied by both men and women. When energies expand outward they are designated as Masculine, while inward, contracting movements are considered Feminine.  However, these are not to be confused with gender; nor, does a man or a woman necessarily embody one correlating aspect more easily than the counterpart.  However, due to societal bias, masculine expression of an archetype may be more accepted in a man with their energies focused externally out into the world, and the feminine more socially accepted in a woman with her focus drawn towards an inward awareness.  A truly integrated being has equal access to both poles of consciousness and can express in either in accord with the demands of the moment.

Gold Yin-Yang, symbol of harmony.

Carl Jung’s idea of the Shadow—or inferior function– shows up in a particular wound physically, emotionally, or transpersonally as the  energy manifests in repressed or exaggerated aspects of an archetype. If the wound is addressed with archetypal awareness this shadowy aspect can transform into the healthy expression and the individual aligns themselves again with the awesome life generating power of the energetic force.

Open Door Sky Background

I have discovered over and over again, that when people consciously align their state of consciousness with these natural cycles of life, they accelerate their psychological growth.  The Twelve Archetypes provide the foundational tool for understanding the soul’s evolving process.  Combining this understanding with Dr. Linda Watts’ Life Path Mapping process, the sense of empowerment for an individual as they navigate their journey through life, is truly profound.


******   ******

Thank You, Debra!



Archetype Dialogue


“For every typical situation in life,

There is an archetype corresponding to that situation.”

– Carl G. Jung (Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious)

Can you think of an issue about which you are conflicted or undecided, for which you can express “two sides” of the situation? E.G. whether to move or to stay with a job or to change a relationship? Or do you have a “personal conflict” over some area of your life that persists through the years without clear resolution?

When you have opposing viewpoints within yourself around an issue that is important to you, it’s as though you are two or more people about that. Here, we are talking about what Carl Jung and many others since have called Archetypes. These are submerged viewpoints, your ‘inner voices’ that might feel at odds with each other about how you should approach something.  James Hillman would say these various archetypal aspects of your Self are in your “Personal Unconscious”, and Jung would say we have even deeper sorts of archetypes in our “Collective Unconscious” that are universal.

As an anthropologist I take a practical approach as well as a “depth psychology” approach to archetypal character guises and traits. We all take on various ROLES in our lives that are associated with various STATUSES. These can include kinship statuses and roles (like Mother or Child, husband and wife) as well as occupational and recreational roles, like Doctor and Golfer. Each of these personal ROLES is associated with specific kinds of SITUATIONS we engage in regularly. And each of these brings out deep archetypal—not just formal ‘status’—aspects. Considering various Themes, or KINDS of situations in our lives, each Life Theme may be associated with archetypal character dispositions.  For example, ROMANCE might bring out the Lover in You, whereas EDUCATION may bring forth your Teacher and/or Student “parts of Self”, and SPORTS or MILITARY SERVICE might bring forth the Warrior. Each of these “situational archetype” parts-of-self has their own ‘character’ presence in your unique assemblage of archetypal outlooks. Some are deeply buried or suppressed (e.g. some may be in “Shadow” mode), while others may be more actively integrated within your conscious personality.

The Life Mapping activity for this week’s topic about Attitudes asks you to write or to imagine a DIALOGUE with two opposing viewpoints—both your own—around a topic you may feel conflicted or “dual” about. It can help to get these divergent sides talking to one another about a situation you are trying to better understand or resolve, especially if leaving it unresolved keeps you “stuck” about that issue.

Let me share an example from my Life Mapping cases. Mindy was a woman who had been experiencing a persistent dilemma for many years. In the course of life mapping she identified two Archetypal outlooks that she associated with a spiritual aspect—she called this her inner Warrior—and a Physical-life side of self, which she called her Descender. Around some of the same issues in her life, her Warrior-mystic and her Descender modes were at odds. Her Warrior wanted to follow inner spiritual nudges: make a move, take or end a job, accept a relationship. Her Descender, though, hated to be pinned to any decision.  Mindy journaled a dialogue between these two archetypal parts of self.  She found that one value was important to both of them: Freedom. But they each defined freedom in diametrically opposite ways! The Mystic thought freedom was about following inner nudges of spirit; it was “Spiritual Freedom”. The Descender wanted Freedom from commitments! So, for many years, Mystic-Mindy would boldly step forth and change locations, jobs or relationships. But almost immediately thereafter, Descender-Mindy would want to bolt; to leave that location, job or relationship. When Mindy put the two to talking with each other over a couple of weeks in her journal, they/she came to recognize how these opposing, archetype-driven points of view were interfering with her ever establishing a STABLE set of conditions. So she started asking them about their goals and she found some they shared. She needed a job, for instance, with built in variety and flexibility. Now Mindy has become a successful public speaker for a health supplements company she believes in. She gives workshops on various products and travels around the country. Both her Mystic and her Descender selves are happy, for once! Mindy has embraced and ‘integrated’ more of her total Self.


Writing an archetype dialogue allows you to tap into aspects of yourself you might otherwise suppress. Offer a “safe space” to these feelings and viewpoints, knowing that your core Self will remain strong and centered throughout the exchange. Just as an example to get you started, let me illustrate briefly. I call this approach: “Open Mike”. Just set a topic about which you have dual or multiple ‘attitudes’, and invite your various situational selves to speak. If you’re not sure what topic to introduce, ask ‘them’ to suggest one for you!

Open MikeTopic: My currently overburdened schedule

This is crazy! How can we keep this up? You are going to collapse at this rate.

(Self in italics) Who are you?

Someone who wishes you would lighten up a bit…

A Nurturer, I believe.

Yes. You do need to give yourself some time to relax, dear. Breathe. Go to the gym. Read a Maeve Binchy novel; I want to!

I know but there is just so much to do. I have bitten off so much this semester…

This Life, don’t you mean? I am with you and want to see you reach your goals, too, Lindy, but she is right; you need to add some balance. Trust that you will get what you need to get done even better when you accept your time limitations.

Are you an Elder Leader?

No, a Communicator.

Thanks for all you contribute; all of you, too.

Nurturer: So what are you going to do to ease up a bit?

I will do what I can…feel free to nudge me when you see an opportunity for me to open a novel or take Sophie for a walk.

[This is just an example of how to begin an Archetypal “Open Mike” dialogue. It is helpful to have a journal dedicated to this exchange. Explore many topics; get to know these ‘parts’ of yourself that are always within you and can help you reach your Dreams! Use whatever names you want for these; in Life Paths I will be introducing a specific ‘pantheon’ of 12 universal archetype figures based on Jung and on the works of a lesser known archetypal psychologist, Dr. Charles Bebeau-LW]


I invite your comments and stories of your own.


Thanks for reading and for those who are “Liking,” Thank You!

Happy Valentines Day