Your Elder Leader Archetype


The following is an abbreviated table showing some characteristic traits of the Elder Leader Archetype (composed by Debra Breazzano, MA/ LPC, an archetypal psychologist.) Do you recognize these traits (or Shadow traits) in Elder Leaders you have known and in yourself in certain sorts of situations?

The Elder Leader: Archetype of Structure, Leadership and Authority

Alchemical Correlation: Earth originating; coming into being
Astrological Association: January / Capricorn
Mission/Purpose: To provide structure, leadership and authority for the benefit of the group or community
Emotional expression: Values composure rather than display of emotions

Can detach from emotions or emotional expression

Thinks through emotions; rationalizes

Focuses on feelings of respect (respecting others, being respected)

Emotional satisfaction through discipline (with self, with others)

Values commitment and devotion

Shadow characteristics: Critical and judgmental (of self and others)

Intolerant of others with differing beliefs

Autocratic, dictatorial and often corrupt leadership

Rigid; unforgiving

Brutal with discipline

Interests/Involvements: Politics, legal systems, military, education, government, business…positions of authority or responsibility


What–or who–brings out the Leader, and in what mode, in you? Have you felt inhibited in leadership positions because you have been influenced by Leaders with SHADOW characteristics such as a hypercritical or dominating parent or boss?

The Elder Leader archetype is within each of us, and we have internalized this archetype unconsciously from our experience as a collective, recognizable ‘energy’ or persona mode.  Sometimes we first need to work through our reactions to Shadow Leader influences in order to let our positive leadership strengths develop and shine. I can relate to this quite a bit from my own life experience.  For most of my adult life I shied away from engaging with anger either in others or in myself. In leadership roles, where invariably such emotions might be encountered, I found I had a “flight or fight” response. I would avoid confrontation all the more because if forced into an encounter with an anger-expressing person, I could become overly (though briefly) aggressive myself.

Learning about the Elder Leader archetype and exploring its manifestations in my own life history has helped me come to understand that my imbalance around expressions of anger had to do with the fact that my father had a harsh temper and often expressed himself angrily toward me as a force of domination and control.  After reflecting on some of my interactions with my father I have used ‘archetypal dialogue’ to come to a better understanding of how his behavior influenced my own outbreaks of over-assertiveness in stressful situations in reaction to others’ anger.  This has helped me to relax, to pull back from immediate confrontations in order to LISTEN before continuing or advancing in such an encounter. Now I aim to demonstrate understanding of the other point of view without either responding in like mode.  I aim now to arrive at a win-win situation collaboratively with the other person, as I now realize that anger is a common reaction to real stress and real needs.


images from

I welcome your insights and stories!

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.


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Thank You, Debra!



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.