Think of your earliest memories…
These are usually recalled non-verbal impressions of love, warmth and security. These impressions are generally imparted to us by our mothers – our primary caregiver as babies and very young children. This maternal impression provides us with an indelible template for The Caregiver archetype.
The Caregiver is a powerful archetype because it provides personality and behaviour traits that everyone can relate to, and that we as human beings instinctively respond to.
Sometimes, all we need is unconditional love.
The Caregiver is the person who will offer their heart openly and willingly, and extend whatever energies they can to help the hero succeed in their quest. Quick to forgive and encourage, The Caregiver offers characters weary from a long period of strain a welcome respite, in the form of companionship, health care, or emotional support. Sometimes, it is the presence of The Caregiver, or even the memory of that Caregiver, that keeps those that would otherwise fall from giving up. Because not all is bad in the world, and if nothing else, their love is a certainty.
A History of Caregivers
Examples of Caregivers are dotted through our cultural history. Although Caregivers don’t seek the limelight such is our respect for them that they are elevated and enshrined in our history and culture.
Our culture has many ancient and contemporary references for the Caregiver. Angels are often described as channels of divine healing (the Archangel Raphael for example), pagan ‘Earth mother’ goddesses concerned with nature, fertility and creation exist in most ancient cultures. More recently an animated Grandmother Willow (Pocahontas) gives advice and wise counsel from the natural world, and the modern day saint Mother Teresa has become a touchpoint reference for service and charity.
Caregivers attempt to create a ‘sanctuary of calm and healing’ in which to operate. This can manifest itself as either a refuge from hostile forces or agents or by leveraging a deep connection with the natural environment, benefiting from the natural goodness and healing of ‘Mother Nature’. Although subtle, this dimension of the Caregiver alludes to the latent power of connecting to elemental or prime-evil forces of nature. Importantly, the Caregiver can also be the dependable ‘rock’ that more flamboyant archetypes can fall back on in times of need.
Mothers of Invention:
There are three distinct dimensions of the Caretaker archetype; Samaritan, Nurse and The Earth Mother.
The Samaritan is a voluntary force of positive good in the world. An example of the Samaritan today is Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without borders). MSF is a coordinated global organisation that provides medical and welfare services in instances of humanitarian disaster.
The nurse dimension of the Caregiver archetype relates to the act of caring for and tending the vulnerable who are unable to fend for themselves: the very sick, infants and the aged and infirm. This version of the caretaker is driven by an instinctive empathy, compassion, respect and dignity for life in all of its forms. Brands like Novartis (Pharmaceutical technology) which develop oncology treatments are an example of this Nurse aspect of the Caregiver.
The Earth Mother facet of the Caregiver archetype boasts a deep, instinctive – almost spiritual – connection to nature and ‘mother earth’. This dimension of caring comes not from science but from a patient understanding of the inherent ‘goodness’ of nature. This manifests itself with many offerings such as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ remedies or treatments. An example of the Earth Mother is The Body Shop. The Body Shop’s credo is to combine nature and traditional recipes to products that nurture body, mind and spirit.
Where The Caregivers Gather
Brands with The Caregiver archetype offer care and security. You will likely an over-representation of these in the healthcare, aged care and not-for-profit sectors.