When I write about the Slave Archetype, as with all archetypes that I blog about, I am talking about a pattern of life. I am speaking symbolically. Therefore, the Slave Archetype is presented here in terms of symbolic pattern – not about someone physically forced into bondage. An example might be the military, where the new recruit is indoctrinated from the beginning to surrender their life as an individual into the hands of their superiors.
In 2007 I entered my mother’s home where I heard a strange noise. Three weeks earlier she received a diagnosis of lung cancer and was told she might have 6 months left to live. The noise I heard was her, at the age of 90, on her treadmill.
“Mom! What are you doing!”
“I’m going to keep going for as long as I can,” was her response.
I have no idea of what receiving that diagnosis would feel like personally, but I thought that day that if I were her, I would curl up in bed and wait to die. I thought I would most likely surrender completely and wholly to the disease. I would certainly not be working out. Mom, on the other hand, was not going to be a slave to her illness, but to her higher ideals of life, however long that might be. I think of her when I hear cancer patients say, “I have cancer. Cancer doesn’t have me.”
Those with life-long patterns of complete surrender to a guru, teacher, illness, job, debt, etc. to the point where they are completely dis-empowered might consider the Slave as one of their archetypes. As with all archetypes, there is a light side. When the surrender involves giving yourself over to your Higher Power or ideals, God in whatever form you recognize that deity (think Mother Theresa), you have met the light side of the Slave Archetype.
Slave Archetype Illustration by Lykkell & Richardt