Archetypes, Signs and Symbols

The Quest

search for someone or some object, which when it is found and brought back will restore life to a wasted land, the desolation of which is shown by a leader's illness.

The Task

to save the kingdom, to win the fair lady, to identify himself so that he may assume his rightful position, the hero must perform some nearly super human deed.

The Initiation

this usually takes the form of an adolescent coming into his/her maturity with new awareness and problems along with a new hope for the community. This awakening is often at the climax of a story.

The Journey

hero goes in search of some truth or info to restore life to the kingdom; he must descend into a real or psychological hell and is forced to discover the blackest truths quite often concerning his own faults; once the hero is at his lowest point, he must

The Fall

a descent from a higher to lower state of being. Experience involves a defilement and/or a loss of innocence and bliss. The fall is often accompanied by expulsion from a kind of paradise as a penalty for disobedience and moral transgression

Death and Rebirth

grows out of parallel between cycle of nature and cycle of life. Morning and springtime represent birth, youth, and rebirth. Evening and Winter represent old age or death.

Nature vs. Mechanized World

Nature is good while technology and society are often evil.

Battle Between Good and Evil

Obviously the battle between two primal forces. Mankind shows eternal optimism in the continual portrayals of good triumphing over evil despite great odds.

The Unhealable Wound

The wound is either physical or psychological and cannot be healed fully. Indicates a loss of innocence. Always aches and drives the sufferer to desperate measures.

The ritual

actual ceremony that initiate experiences that will mark his rite of passage into another state (wedding, funeral)

Light vs. Darkness

Light suggests Hope, Renewal or illumination. Darkness suggests the unknown, ignorance or death

Water vs. Desert

water is necessary to life and growth and so it appears as a birth or rebirth symbol; the appearance of rain in a work that can suggest spiritual birth or rebirth; characters who live in the desert are often "dead" to morals or the "good side

Heaven vs. Hell

Gods live in the sky or mountaintops; Evil forces live in the bowels of the earth.

innate wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity

uneducated characters can often be wise using their common sense while some very educated characters have no common sense.

Supernatural Intervention

the gods most often intervene on the side of the hero to assist him on his quest

Haven vs. Wilderness

for the hero, places of safety are required for time to regain health and resources' the hideouts are often in unusual places

Fire vs. Ice

fire can represent knowledge, life, light, and rebirth while ice represents ignorance, darkness, sterility, and death.

Magic Weapon

some object used to fight the forces of evil that has magical properties

The Hero

mother is sometimes a virgin, circumstances of birth are unusual, some attempt made at birth to kill him; raised by foster parents, returns to kingdom to right the wrongs, marries a princess, becomes King, meets a mysterious death, body is burned rather t

Young Man from the Provinces

Hero is taken away as a young man and raised by strangers. When he returns home, he can view problems objectively and can solve them easier

The initiate

young heroes or heroines who go through training, usually innocent and wear white.


teacher or counselor to the initiate, often are father or mother figures to the hero or heroine

Father-Son Conflict

father and son are separated and do not meet until the son is an adult; often the mentor is loved and respected

friendly beast

a beast on the side of the hero that shows that nature sides most often with the forces of good

Devil Figure

evil incarnate offers worldly goods, fame or knowledge to the hero in exchange for possession of the soul

Evil Figure with Good Heart

redeemable evil figure saved by the nobility or love of the hero


animal or human who is unjustly held responsible for others' sin; sacrificed but they often become more powerful force dead than alive


figure banished from a social group for some crime against his fellow man (could be falsely accused for a crime or could choose to banish himself from guilt)


offers spiritual and emotional nourishment to those she meets; shown in earth colors and has large breasts and hips symbolic of her child-bearing capabilities


sensuous beauty; brings about the hero's downfall because he is physically attracted to her

platonic ideal

female figure who provides intellectual stimulation for the hero; he is not physically attracted to her

Damsel in Distress

female character who needs hero to rescue her from either emotional or physical danger

Star- Crossed Lovers

two lovers forbidden to be together because of rules of society or family; often ends in tragedy

Creature of Nightmare

animal or creature disfigured or mutated; antagonists of story


unity, harmony, cycles of life,


Foundation, Strength


Peace, Unity, Harmony


New beginnings, History, Hope, Inspiration


universal emulations of the collective unconscious that shapes us


something that tells you something, is dedictive


a certain object or thing used in books to symbolize a major theme or value, something abstract, intangible


youth, innocence, naivety


Wise Old Man

Path of No return

no turning back

Dragon of Pendor



to overcome obstacles

travel alone

no one else can make the journey for the hero


unknown, uncertainty

path on the left

temptation, easy way out

path on the right

struggle, dangerous

selects path on the left

takes easy way out

Golden Stone

accomplishment, self-actualization