The female archetypes hold a world of wisdom for us as women, so I’m bringing you a series of in-depth articles on each one. In this article, we’ll explore the Maiden archetype: who she is, the energy and qualities she embodies, her light and shadow side, how to bring her into being, and more.
She is commonly known as one of three archetypes (but I believe there are four) that represent the phases of the moon cycle, the menstrual cycle, and the seasons.
What is the Maiden archetype?
Also known as: The Virgin
The Maiden is young, innocent, and playful at heart. You can think of this phase as the transition a girl makes to womanhood. Before she has figured out her calling in life, before she settles down and starts a family of her own (if she wants to). Her lack of responsibilities and commitments means she can experiment, take risks, and have incredible adventures. Although she is yet to find herself, she’s enjoying every moment of this wild, unpredictable journey.
The Maiden archetype is bursting with life, passion, and excitement. Her outlook is eternally optimistic because she’s yet to meet some of the heavier challenges we experience through age.
She is confident and comfortable in her own skin and has an unapologetic, rebellious streak. She isn’t afraid to show the world who she is, and equally, she is not afraid to bend and break some rules along the way while she explores herself and the world. Every day she uncovers a new facet of herself and grows.
This archetype is dominant for young women in their teens and early twenties. But we can experience the Maiden archetype any time by reclaiming that youthful, playful, adventurous spirit. We are never too old to embody her.
The Maiden archetype in her light side
Divine feminine archetypes always have both a light side and a shadow side. All archetypes do.
The light side is the whole, balanced, positive aspect. When we embody the light side of the Maiden in her truest form, we experience many positive qualities and traits.
So, which qualities can be associated with the positive Maiden archetype?
The Maiden in her light side is:
The Maiden archetype in her shadow side
All archetypes have a shadow side, or several shadow aspects, which show up when it’s out of balance. The shadow side of the Maiden can lead to undesirable, negative behaviors and traits.
The Maiden in her shadow side is:
- Overly innocent
- Controlled by her inner Patriarch
- Lacks boundaries
- Lacks a sense of self/identity
- Disconnected from her menstrual cycle
- Rejects femininity
- Lives in the shadow of other women in her life
As you can see, the Maiden in her shadow side will be more susceptible to being taken advantage of, entering into (and staying in) abusive, controlling relationships. She hasn’t set personal boundaries and is often influenced by her inner Patriarch (which encourages her to shun the feminine).
If you find yourself stuck in the shadow side of the Maiden archetype (or any other archetype), you can try shadow work. This will expose the shadows and bring them to the light so you can heal them and move forwards.
My experience with the Maiden
I lived most of my teens and early twenties in the shadow side of the Maiden archetype, blissfully unaware.
My parents often restricted my freedom and were over-protective. My mother is still stuck in the shadow side of the Mother archetype, where she cannot let go of her children. Fashion was one of the main ways I learned to express myself and my feminine side, but my mother would also frequently shame me for the clothes I chose to wear, calling me “easy” and “cheap.”
There was a weird culture when it came to relationships, which led to me being an incredibly late bloomer with boys, kissing, relationships and sex. When I finally entered into a relationship, I didn’t know how to communicate my boundaries and quickly became codependent.
There was a strong sense of Patriarchy in my entire family’s words, actions, and beliefs, which I took on as my own for so many years—until it dawned on me that these were learned, and not my beliefs at all.
The feminine was not valued in my house. Women were not valued. And so, I learned not to value myself and shun my inner feminine.
Maiden archetype examples
In books, TV shows, and movies, the Maiden archetype is often portrayed as the “damsel in distress.” A young, kind, helpless female character who requires rescuing. And who comes to her aid? Usually a strong, handsome male hero.
We see this story play out time and time again in Disney movies. A young, innocent “good” girl is often imprisoned physically (in a tower or dungeon) or mentally (bound by a curse) by the villain of the story. The hero is motivated to right the wrong for her and swoops in to save her.
What do young girls learn?
That they are helpless and need saving.
They don’t possess the strength to overcome challenges and obstacles and conflicts that will inevitably be thrown their way.
And instead of thinking or fighting for themselves, they should submit and wait to be rescued by a man.
Unfortunately, this is a one-dimensional portrayal of the Maiden and focuses primarily on the shadow version of the archetype. It’s not surprising that young women are frequently portrayed this way because this feeds the unbalanced Patriarchal society that we live in, where women must submit so men can dominate.
Fortunately, as more women publish books and write TV shows and movies, we see a welcome shift away from the damsel in distress to strong, independent female characters who are challenging gender norms.
9 ways to embody the Maiden archetype
1. Set boundaries
I’ve heard from so many women that they lacked boundaries when they were younger, which presented itself when they finally got into relationships with men. They were controlled, abused, or manipulated, and sometimes this lasts for years without them realizing they deserve so much more.
So if you want to embody the positive aspects of the Maiden archetype, set boundaries for yourself—in all areas of your life. Your personal life, work, friendships, romantic relationships, family relationships, etc. Know what’s okay and what’s not. What are you willing to tolerate, and when will you walk away?
2. Be assertive
Society will frequently try to tell you you’re bossy or rude for speaking up, setting boundaries, and communicating what you want. Meanwhile, men are praised for the same behavior and labeled strong leaders. Do not let society beat the strength and power out of you and resign you to submit. Speak up calmly but firmly. If there’s something you’re not okay with, presence it. It’s not your job as a woman to be quiet and accommodating and let people treat you like a doormat.
You are not here to please people.
Start pleasing yourself.
3. Stand up for what you believe in
One of my personal favorite qualities of the Maiden archetype is her rebellious nature. As Miki Agrawal would say, she’s a disrupt-her. She is not afraid to stand up and fight for what she believes in. She is no stranger to bending and breaking the rules if she thinks they’re outdated and broken.
So the next time you witness something that does not sit well with you and riles you up, take action. Do something about it. No matter how small of an action you take, trust that it matters more than you think.
4. Adorn yourself
If you’re naturally a tomboy, don’t be afraid to buy something pretty and adorn yourself in fabrics, colors, and makeup that makes you feel sensual and feminine.
Wear a flamboyant dress or a large jangly set of earrings or even a pair of heels. If you usually lounge around in shapeless sweatpants or oversized shirts, opt for something more figure-hugging for a change. Play dress-up, shop for some new clothes and find something that feels both comfortable and feminine.
5. Meet the Divine feminine within you
In her shadow side, the Maiden archetype leans far too much into her masculine and ignores her feminine (because she has learned to).
So, it’s time to embrace your inner feminine. Learn about feminine energy and how you can embrace more of this in your life. Focus on acts of self-love and self-care, connect to your body, let yourself receive, strengthen and listen to your intuition. There are many ways to tap into your inner feminine, and she’s desperate to be seen and nurtured.
You can learn more about this here: What Is The Divine Feminine & How To Awaken Her Power Within
6. Reconnect with your menstrual cycle
Too many of us develop a toxic relationship with our menstrual cycle because we’re taught to see it as a hindrance, something that we should not speak about, or something dirty.
This is bullshit.
Your menstrual cycle is one of your greatest gifts as a woman, and connecting to it on a deep, intimate level will change your life.
Learn more about the phases of your cycle and how your energy shifts over the 28 days or so. Start planning your calendar in sync with your cycle. Look to the moon and how her cycle mirrors our own. Celebrate the new and full moon with ritual.
7. Have a growth mindset
Take a look around at the people, ideas, and energy you surround yourself with. Are they helping you become the woman you desire to be, or are they holding you back and keeping you small?
Start surrounding yourself with books, movies, people, and ideas that inspire and empower you and lift you up. Invest your resources in developing yourself. Focus on growing every day and doing the inner work to get there. Don’t be afraid to walk away from anyone or anything that no longer serves you.
8. Go your own way
It’s natural to want to copy your friends and follow the crowd to fit in. But you are a unique, one-of-a-kind, cosmic miracle. You have your own gifts, strengths, and quirks. You have your own path to walk on in this lifetime. Your magic and beauty can be found in what makes you different and sets you apart from the crowd.
9. Remember, you will be your own savior
Don’t wait around for someone to save you. Don’t wish your life away, waiting for a man to whisk you off your feet and give you the life you’ve always dreamed of.
You don’t need saving. You don’t need a hero. Assume the starring role of your own life. When encountering an obstacle, remind yourself that you are bigger than your problems. Whatever it is, you can deal with it. And when you do, you grow.
Whatever you want is possible. You can manifest all of your wildest dreams. Your life is in your hands.
Hungry to learn more about the feminine archetypes?
You can read more about the 4 female archetypes (Maiden, Mother, Wild Woman & Crone) here:
These archetypes correlate with the four main phases of the moon cycle and our menstrual cycle.
And you can read about the 11 feminine archetypes I’ve identified here:
These are the archetypes we cycle through in a lifetime.
How are you embodying the Maiden archetype in your life today? Let me know in the comments below!