Dancing Archetypes

Gabrielle Roth, the founder of 5Rhythms movement, loved to work with archetypes. In her book "Sweat Your Prayer", she invites us to explore a curated cast of archetypes that correspond to the 5Rhythms, to help us better understand our selves. By integrating and strengthening these archetypes within us, she taught us that we can free ourselves from limiting habits, and expand our expressive vocabularies both on the dance floor, and as we move through our relationships and our lives. 

Which archetypes am I most at home with, and which are most at home in me? Which ones do I least embody? Which archetypes am I repulsed by, and which am I drawn to in others? Which ones rule my roost? Which ones rule my closet?! Which archetypes are relegated to my fantasies, and which ones are made manifest in my flesh and blood? Which qualities come out in my dance, and which come out in my life?

The following are musings born of my personal practice, exploration, reflection, and study of the 5Rhythms archetypes. This is not meant to be an authoritative resource. For deeper literary understanding of Gabrielle Roth's archetypes, please go to the source herself! Start by reading Chapter 3 of her book "Sweat Your Prayers", available HERE. If that whets your appetite, each of the chapters on the 5Rhythms in "Sweat Your Prayers" includes spunky, poetic, irreverent, and inspired teachings and anecdotes about the archetypes that Gabrielle saw in each of the Rhythms. I also encourage you to find your way to a 5Rhythms workshop with Gabrielle's son, Jonathan Horan, called God, Sex & the Body, that delves deeply into the 5Rhythms archetypal teachings.

"Mother Earth and Father Sky" by Susan Seddon-Boulet


The MOTHER is our inner nurturer. This is the part of us that knows instinctively how to lovingly care for ourselves and those around us. The Mother archetype grounds me, and connects me to the earth, the source of all nourishment and life. The Mother in me loves to make soup, soak in a hot bath, hold loved ones in long hugs, and sing soothing songs. 

The MISTRESS is the part of us that embodies sensuality and sexuality with ease and delight. My Mistress is turned on by slow R&B grooves, coconut butter massage, purple satin, and swimming naked. Flirtatious, seductive, spontaneous, juicy, and at home in my body, the Mistress shows me that when she is empowered, flirtation becomes an art, and a sacred invitation to make love to life.

The MADONNA is the contemplative feminine spirit of clear mind. Awakening me to my intuition and to collective wisdom, I can feel my inner Madonna guiding me to bring my most pure inner offerings forward. In a quiet forest cathedral, or by a clear, deep lake, my Madonna is at home in silence, weaving my connection to a web of higher intelligence. 


The FATHER is our inner protector. He is the part of us that provides structures that keep us safe. Archetypal Father energy in me, is strong-willed, disciplined and holds boundaries, teaching me how to actively thrive on the physical plane. My inner Father makes solid decisions, works to deadlines, and commits to paths towards my goals, so I can provide for myself and others.

"Hathor" by Susan Seddon-Boulet

"Hathor" by Susan Seddon-Boulet

The WILD SON is our adventurous and untamed self that busts us out of our own boxes in search of freedom! It's my Wild Son that gets me up onstage to sing protest songs, that loves to rock out on the dance floor, and that craves being met with fierce honesty. My Wild Son rides the wild waves of life with passionate intensity, and embodies a courageous capacity to rock the boat, and live out loud.

The HOLY SPIRIT is that part of us that yearns for wisdom, beyond ego and personality. This is the aspect of me that sees the big picture, that watches over; that witnesses the way Mystery meets me on my walk through life, and that calls me into communion with it. Holy Spirit energy in me is fed by chanting, ceremony, and the scent of sweetgrass, and moves invisibly through sacred song, poetry, and dance.


The ARTIST is born of the marriage of Flowing creative impulse, and Staccato structure that makes art manifest.  The Artist in me, taps into life force and channels it into creative projects. It is the force in me that songwrites and records albums, that collages, knits, and photographs. Open to the unlimited possibilities of creative spark, this archetype reveals my ability to make my world one of dynamic beauty and meaning, and to honour my life as the sacred art that it is.

by Susan Seddon-Boulet

by Susan Seddon-Boulet

The LOVER is born of the union of the Mistress and the Wild Son. The Lover in me yearns to connect deeply with self and others. This archetype comes straight from my heart, bringing passion, vulnerability, and a commitment to presence, to my relationships. The Lover in me knows how to open to the wondrous, chaotic, messy, alive, imperfect, depth of love, with self, friends, family, and lovers.

The SEEKER integrates the Madonna and the Holy Spirit, with an open and intuitive mind, and with a deep-seated faith that wisdom flows through us when we open to it. My inner Seeker speaks to me through dreams, allows me to let go of fixed positions, is drawn to dance in the space between opposites, and expands my awareness, in the spirit of serving something bigger than me.


by Susan Seddon-Boulet

by Susan Seddon-Boulet

The SHAPESHIFTER has no attachment to fixed identity, and is a transformer, able to adapt like a chameleon, to any environment. This is the part of me that will not be confined to narrow definitions of self; that fluidly moves between all the archetypes within. In a state of perpetual becoming, the Shapeshifter trance dances me into my flexible, malleable self, that welcomes the winds of change.

"Psyche's Last Task" by Susan Seddon-Boulet

"Psyche's Last Task" by Susan Seddon-Boulet


The ALCHEMIST transforms lead into gold, dark into light, and our suffering into living art. This archetype turns me toward my shadows, to dance my wounds, letting them become healing teachers, letting them become my medicine. The Alchemist shows me how my pain can become my compassion...How I can commune with life, and open to the transformational nature of the Big dance.






One way we can practice seeing our archetypal tendencies, is to consider which ones are underdeveloped in our every day lives. For example, weak Mother energy shows itself when I neglect to take care of myself, when I forget to eat breakfast, or ignore the fact that my feet are cold, and I was tired 2 hours ago. In a shut down Father moment, I struggle to say "no", I procrastinate making that phone call, and I fall behind in my work. A lack in the Holy Spirit department can lead me to an "automatic pilot"/"going through the motions" kind of day, when I feel completely divorced from a sense of spiritual interconnection, and from the bigger picture. 

photo by Emma-Lee Photography

photo by Emma-Lee Photography

Whether we work with Gabrielle Roth's 5Rhythms archetypes, or another pantheon, coming to understand ourselves through archetypal tendencies, can deeply impact our relationships and how we move through the world. Through them, we can see the conditioning we have received from our upbringing and culture, and we can see new possibilities of being even more of ourselves. Turning to meet ourselves through the archetypes, our learning is infused with the timeless and captivating power of imagination, metaphor, and myth.


Thanks to the powers that be for landing my October 2015 Deep Waves 5Rhythms Dance Gathering on Samhain/Halloween, and inspiring an invitation to dancers to come in a costume that evokes an archetype or character that reveals a hidden part of themselves. This blog post was born of that inspiration and invitation. Acknowledgment and thanks also to Silvija Tomcic for her blog post, to Honor Morningstar for her event invitation, and to this 5Rhythms dancer's blog too, for being food for this writer's thoughts.