It is no surprise that the seeker archetype is one of the most difficult to define. Pinning down this roving icon becomes more complicated the longer you spend following her this way and that. She’s like the seed of a dandelion cast on the wind.
The Lost Seeker Archetype
When she starts out, the seeker archetype continually wanders to find something undefined. The unevolved, shadow seeker isn’t sure what she is seeking. She knows that she is after something, but committing to what that something is can prove tricky. This results in her feeling like something is lost. That something may be her. She becomes the consummate lost soul.
Typically the seeker is certain that the search has something to do with learning about the way life, the world, and maybe even the cosmos. She may refuse to get more specific than that for fear of pigeonholing her quest. The seeker realizes that by framing the question, she is already determining the answer.
This ambiguity does not water down the confidence of the people influenced by the seeker. The seeker carries at her core an intense inner drive to continue on regardless. This is part of the gift of this archetype.
The Seeker’s Quest for Answers
The seeker has a habit of asking unanswerable questions and not allowing them to rest. The seeker wants to know why life is the way it is not just for humans, but often for the entire universe. The questions that the seeker asks are not necessarily questions that can be answered such as “Why are we here?” and “How did life begin?” and “What other life is out there?”
Just because we can’t answer these questions, doesn’t mean they are is not worth seeking after. These inquiries bring a deep sense of meaning for all of humanity, calling us to something greater than ourselves and bringing us out of our day-to-day existence. The seeker archetype serves us all in this way.
Asking about the meaning of life brings meaning via the search. This is the classic, “the journey is the destination.”
Astronomers as seekers use highly evolved telescopes to look and listen far out into the universe. They are trying to find out, “Is there more life out there?” Think of how many astronomers looked for many decades and died without ever coming to the answer. That doesn’t mean that their search was fruitless. They gained so much along the way – wonder, immersion, discovery, bliss, anticipation, and more.
Literal to Symbolic Search for Truth
The seeker often starts out her journey expecting to find truth and answers some where; that is to say in some physical location. She moves about the earthly plane hoping truth will be found under a rock, in the heart of a city, swept up in romance, bowing at the feet of a guru, following the road to a holy site, gazing at a wonder of the world, or laying in a field of sunflowers. The truth she seeks is personal truth.
The maturation of those with the seeker archetype brings the realization that the search is not an outward search. The ends of the earth can be reached. The seeker turns inward to travel beyond the senses and beyond this world. She finds a limitless terrain vast enough to match her enormous questions.
As she evolves, the seeker archetype looks for a thing, a feeling, a knowing, an experience called truth. This is not truth with a lowercase t mind you, but Truth with a capital T. She goes beyond personal truth to universal Truth. Concrete physical facts or data that satisfy scientists and engineers are a bore for the seeker. She is different than the student archetype in that she doesn’t like a syllabus and a course schedule.
The answers she seeks leave concern for tangible things. The seeker wants to know what she cannot touch with the five senses, and this desire ultimately leads her beyond this earthly plane.
The Wanderer Archetype
One of the variations of the seeker archetype is the wanderer. The wanderer archetype has less fire for an outcome than the seeker. She is lulled into a quiet, comfort that comes via endless travel be it outward or inward travel. The wanderer is more comfortable with uncertainty than certainty, which is both a blessing and a curse. The wanderer can abandon loved ones and commitments. She forgets the important truth that connection and community bring wisdom too.
The comfort with uncertainty helps those with the wanderer archetype to practice the spiritual grace of detachment, embracing the present moment. As long as the wanderer stays intent on not being attached to being detached, gifts of the now flow freely.
The Seeker’s Light & Shadow
Suffering comes when the shadow seeker longs to be like everyone else, wishing she could be content with the simple, stationary life. This is not an archetype meant for putting down roots, although friends and community may be exactly what the seeker needs to keep from becoming a lost soul.
The shadow side of the seeker is also someone who doesn’t let go of the answer she expects. If she sets out to find a treasure chest full of gold and instead finds self-love, she misses the opportunity. When she thinks the answer is “out there” and refuses to return home, she misses the cosmic Truth that what she is searching for was under her feet the whole time. She keeps trying to find the person she thinks she should be instead of who the journey has made her into.
The light aspect of the seeker archetype is the brilliant opening up to the universe. An expansion occurs for all of humanity when just one person begins to question. This creates a ripple, then a storm of cosmic Truth that helps the whole wake up.
Detachment and openness are the light side of the seeker. The seeker brings solace in the aloneness that sometimes comes along the path. The tie to something larger than herself brings faith and courage to the seeker archetype.
Seeker archetype examples in movies: The Way; Contact; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Seven Years in Tibet.
Seeker archetype in books: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Conference of the Birds by Attar, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Explore your relationship with the
“The Learners” Online Class
In this four-part audio course, “The Learners,” Stacey Couch goes in-depth into the student, dilettante, and seeker archetypes. These archetypes share a perpetual love of learning, driven to know about the nature of life. The student converts experience into knowledge and wise action. The dilettante turns information overload into the grace of awe. The seeker transforms ambiguous questions into universal truth.
About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch
Stacey L. L. Couch is a Spiritual Director who teaches about archetypes and symbolism. Her speciality is working with soul pioneers - those of you who are making it up as you go along the spiritual path. She works with beginner and life-long spiritual seekers. Through working with Stacey, lost seekers find their way home and professional spiritual guides receive mentorship. Stacey empowers people with the ability to explore their purpose and calling. Wisdom found in story, mysticism, and nature provide guidance and healing in her work. She is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.