By: Susan Cambigue Tracey

November 19, 2021


Why do so many people love costumes and masks?  On Halloween or during Mardi Gras, people feel permission to dress in costumes. But, what about in their everyday lives? Perhaps we sometimes hide behind a mask we have fashioned for our natural face – a smile, a frown, a blank stare, a look that will frighten, or an expression that shows we don’t care (even when we really do).


From earliest times, people told stories around their evening fires – tales of the hunt, of great danger and bravery, the adventures of a journey.  They added masks, animal skins and costumes to deepen the mystery and increase the impact of the story for their audience. Even now, life is still a mystery with unanswered questions.


It’s interesting that even though we have different beliefs and customs – the foundational elements for all humans are the same.  Shaped into a variety of body structures, colors, sizes, textures, and personalities, our stories feature the same, or similar archetypes. According to early Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, there are various types of people. Writer, Kendra Cherry, says, “Archetypes are universal, inborn models of people, behaviors, or personalities that play a role in influencing human behavior. Here are just a few from Carl Jung:


  • The father: Authority figure; stern; powerful
  • The motherNurturing; comforting
  • The childLonging for innocence; rebirth; salvation
  • The wise old manGuidance; knowledge; wisdom
  • The hero: Champion; defender; rescuer
  • The maiden: Innocence, desire; purity
  • The tricksterDeceiver; liar; trouble-maker


The mythic characters that represent these archetypes are found world-wide, and in all cultures.  Each of us leans toward one or more of these types, which is determined by such things as culture, religiion, dreams, art and personality. As children, we each learn what to do and how to behave in order to fit into the world. Thus, we often create “masks” that we wear as we interact with others in our world.


Jung divided them into four major archetypal groups.  The first is “The Persona, which in Latin means “mask.” It is the way in which we present ourselves to the world. The others are, “The Shadow,” “The Anima or Animus,” and The Self.” For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on The Persona and The Self.


When we are young, we make certain decisions about ourselves, partially because of our innate personalities – and partially because of the order of our birth and our circumstances.  We learn how to role play early on as we study people to see how to get what we want. There are also people we admire or fear, and we often choose to take traits of people who seem to have the most power. We construct a mask for our face and body, acting this character out in life, as a substitute for our True Self. We try constructing the trickster, the heroine, the father, or the mother.


What archetype are you?  What role do you like to play? Are you this persona when you are alone? What mask do you wear to family gatherings? To work? Who are you when you spend time with friends? How is your persona different than the person you secretly know yourself to be? Think about it!