It is no surprise that the seeker archetype is one of the most difficult to define. Pinning down this roving icon becomes even more complicated the longer one spends following her this way and that. She’s like the seed of a dandelion cast on the wind.

The Seeker Archetype Searches for Truth

The seeker archetype is looking 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. Concrete physical facts or data that satisfy scientists and engineers are a bore for the seeker.

The answers she is looking for are not concerned with 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 seeker archetype is motivated by a continual wandering to find something undefined. Whereas the student archetype likes to have a syllabus and a course schedule.

A lot of times someone with the seeker archetype isn’t even sure what the truth is that she seeking. She does know that she is after something, but asking her to commit to what that something is can prove treacherous. 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 is. 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 light aspect 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 for the answer. Experience is a key element of the seeker archetype. She prizes life experience.

Astronomers as seekers use highly evolved telescopes to look and listen farther and farther out in the universe because they are trying to find out, “What life is out there?” Think of how many astronomers have looked for how many decades and have 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.

“This is the way of Zen, not to say things to their completion… Not to say everything means to give an opportunity to the listener to complete it. All answers are incomplete. The master has only given you a direction… It is not an answer to the question but something more than the answer. It is indicating the very reality.” – Osho in Osho Zen Tarot

Moving from Earthly Roving to Inner Adventures

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 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 finds that by turning inward that travel beyond the senses and beyond this world is limitless. She finds a terrain vast enough to match her enormous questions.

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 forgetting the important truth that valuable life experience can be gained through connection and staying. 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

The shadow side of the seeker is someone who doesn’t know when she’s arrived. It is hard to know when she has arrived because she is often looking for this thing that may be unanswerable. Not being able to let go of what could be, never was, might be and won’t can cause anguish for the seeker. Suffering may likewise come when the shadow seeker longs to be like everyone else, wishing she could be content with the simple life and feeling discontent with her continual, unjustifiable hunt. This is not an archetype meant for fitting in with the crowd, although friends and community may be exactly what the seeker needs to keep from becoming a lost soul.

The light aspect of the seeker archetype is the brilliant opening up to the universe. The expansion that occurs for all of humanity when just one person begins to question creates a ripple, then a storm in consciousness that helps the whole wake up. The seeker’s questions have the same effect of the flapping of the butterflies wings. Being willing to stand out from the crowd and be comfortable in one’s own skin is an element of the light side of the seeker. The seeker can also bring solace in the aloneness that sometimes comes along the path. The tie to something larger than oneself brings incredible faith and courage to those with the seeker archetype.

The seeker archetype’s comfort with the unknown allows her to be with and pursue the challenging questions. Her discomfort with not knowing the outcome drives her to find the answers helping her pick up priceless life experience along the way.

Seeker archetype examples in movies: Eat, Pray, Love; 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


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About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. Couch, Certified Archetypal Consultant through Caroline Myss’s CMED Institute, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as sources of guidance and healing. Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of symbolism and archetypes easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.