​The Daughter Archetype

​The Daughter Archetype

I will present my concept ‘the daughter archetype’ and its implications for the gender discussion in analytical psychology. It was first introduced in Danish (Skogemann 1984). While pondering on similar critiques and questions as many other female analysts in my generation, I have chosen another course than they have. I define the daughter archetype as a basic concept for the woman as a subject for herself, a concept for female agency that otherwise is lacking in analytical psychology. The name of the term is also chosen to differentiate it from the mother archetype. The phenomenology of the daughter archetype is represented at all levels of psychic functioning. The images range from ego-representations to goddess-like Self representations. The notion of the daughter archetype addresses the female psyche, but does not define the feminine as such.

Everyday Level

By this I mean the socially recognized gender roles for young women, whose symbolic dimensions are not visible before they are looked at critically and are loosened from their absoluteness in traditional cultures. On the individual level they are often identified equally with the persona or with the projections of the anima from men. With greater social freedom in their upbringing, young women have multiple choices for their style of life, their education and profession, their relations with other women and with men. This makes a great difference from the lack of freedom of choice of earlier generations.

​Developmental Level

​In the normal development of girls one can see the imagery of the daughter archetype unfolding in the plays, dreams and heroines which small girls may indulge in – from the early pink princess fantasy, playing with Barbie dolls, or listening to the story of the Swedish Pippi Longstocking. In the analysis of adults, images of the daughter archetype will often mediate aspects of the Self which should be made conscious and integrated in the female personality to serve the female individuation process. In so far they would tend to support the differentiation from both traditional gender roles and from identification with the anima projections from men, they support the development of ego consciousness and its growing autonomy. The differentiation between the Mother archetype and the Daughter archetype is very important for women, just like the differentiation of the anima from the mother archetype is for men.

The Archetypal Level

The daughter archetype is richly represented in the history of symbols as in mythology and fairy tales. Jung himself did discuss one version of the archetypal daughter in his article ‘The psychological aspects of the Kore’. Jung states that the figure of Kore belongs to the anima archetype when observed in a man and in a woman to the supraordinate personality – meaning the archetype of the Self (Jung 1959, para. 310). The passive, abducted Kore type, however, corresponds to a conservative gender role and/or, in my view, a poorly developed ego. In the Greek myth the entire feminine agency is held by the mother goddess, Demeter.

The Gendered Concepts in Analytical Psychology​

My notion of the daughter archetype does not question our basic concepts but it does question the use of binary-gendered properties as a metaphorical common denominator in the following four theoretical couples:

  • Anima and animus
  • The feeling and thinking function in the psychological typology
  • Eros and Logos
  • Matriarchal and patriarchal consciousness

I see Anima and animus as basically clinical tools. They refer to unconscious phenomenology, as it appears in dreams and projections, while the feeling and thinking function refers to the way the conscious mind works. It is true that a feeling type woman often will have an animus that could be associated with thinking, but for a thinking type woman the reverse will probably be true. In dreams I found the archetype appearing in adult women’s dreams and fantasies in a way which I believe is similar to those making other analysts speak of the anima in women. However, I prefer to keep the terms anima and animus, but reserving the term anima for male fantasies about women and the feminine and animus for female fantasies about men and the masculine. Jung formulated the concept of Eros as psychic relatedness and that of Logos as objective interest (Jung 1964, para. 255) but he nevertheless thought that woman’s psychology was founded on the first and man’s on the second.

This made him identify anima with Eros and animus with Logos (Jung 1959a, para. 33) and so collapse the first three concepts into gender stereotypes. Eric Neumann’s quite popular notion of matriarchal versus patriarchal consciousness implied the idea that the ego is masculine in both sexes. I find it unacceptable as a woman to think of my normal mental functions as masculine. Furthermore, Neumann’s ideas of the historical development of consciousness (1954) are based on outdated archeological and historical theories and findings.


​A presentation of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna will serve as an illustration of a very different archetypal Daughter-figure. Her title in the Sumerian-Akkadian era actually was ‘daughter of the gods’. (Ishtar was her Akkadian name.) She alone among the many Sumerian gods had no divine spouse, but she was for maybe 2000 years the divine maiden, though certainly not in the virginal sense. (Actually, the Sumeric language had no word for virgin.) Only later, in the Babylonian era, she was transformed into a mother goddess. My work on Inanna (Skogemann 2007) is based on The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCS), an internet-based project of Oxford University with the latest scientific translations of about 400 Sumerian texts, among them quite a lot about Inanna. Very few people in this world are specialists in reading and understanding Sumerian clay tablets, and discoveries of new fragments have often altered older translations of a text considerably. Inanna was the daughter of the Moon God Nanna and the Moon Goddess Ningal, and she was sister to the Sun God Utu. She herself in her celestial aspect was Venus. From Venus she borrowed her ever-changing nature; the horn she is associated with does not originate from the Moon, but from the sickle of Venus. Like the Moon, Venus has phases. When Venus is closest to Earth the sickle looks like the new moon, but the light is many times stronger than when Venus is full and further away. During this conjunction Venus changes from Evening to Morning star, separated by few days’ absence from the sky.

This is probably the astronomical background of the myth of Inanna’s descent to the Underworld. Many of Inanna’s attributes were such as we traditionally ascribe to men or to the masculine – she was aggressive, ambitious, assertive, autonomous, and authoritative – but she was always attractive and seen as the essence of femininity, since she was Goddess of love and sexuality . Inanna is the main figure in many love songs, with Dumuzi the Shepherd (some time identified with the priest-king of Uruk) as her chosen spouse. Interestingly, according to Leick (1994) in the ancient Sumerian world ‘the phallus represented fertility [and] the vulva represented sexual potency’ (p. 96), just the opposite of what we are accustomed to. Her lush gardens were a sophisticated meeting place for lovers. The garden’s flowers and vegetables are often used as metaphors for the sexual organs and the erotic play itself, which is a very sophisticated thing compared with so-called primitive fertility rites. She was sexually broadminded, too: prostitutes, homosexuals, hermaphrodites and transsexuals were under her protection. Her power of creativity showed especially in all things belonging to a civilization: language, music and the song of power, in all sophisticated handcraft – and in the art of love. She was also goddess of war. She would rage wildly, if offended and lead the battle against her enemies like a fire-spouting dragon, or a wild leopard and she would lead the king in battle and bring victory to her favorites. Her lust for expanding her power-domains was without boundaries, and as one can see in her myths, she often succeeded. When she travelled to the Underworld it was with the intention of taking the throne of the Underworld from the goddess Ereshkigal in addition to her domains in Heaven and on Earth. But there she finally met her limit.​


The wide range of Inanna’s feminine functions is why she seems to be so fascinatingly ‘modern’.​

I would like to amplify the archetypal imagery with an example of a modern superstar, the American Madonna, who has staged herself in an Inanna-like way, with a typical mixture of sexual and spiritual elements. On this photo she is portrayed as a Venus-like superstar.

In her stage shows Madonna typically sets herself up as a fierce and aggressive dominatrix, and she often uses attributes from strip tease shows. She appeared as a sexual icon – in a book she produced herself, and repeatedly reinvented her persona. My research brought me to her biography entitled: Madonna, Queen of the World, very similar to one of Inanna’s official titles ‘Queen of Heaven and Earth’. Madonna’s crave for fame seems to match Inanna’s ever-expanding lust for power. My point here is that while these images are carrying the notion of female agency to the extreme on the grandiose side it makes no sense to term it masculine or delegate the ambition and aggression to some animus figure.


We are in a position to come closer to a real woman who worshipped Inanna – as another example of female agency. A striking text called the Exaltation of Inanna is authored by Enheduanna who served at the moon god Nanna’s temple in Ur about 2250 BC . It is possible to date this text quite precisely because the narrative in the hymn describes a historical event, namely the rebellion against king Naram-Sin led by a smaller king Lugal-Ane from Uruk.​

Enheduanna’s own historical existence is by chance also well documented, as a relief alabaster stone was found in the ruins of the temple in Ur with her image and a text identifying her as high priestess, wife of Nanna and Daughter of King Sargon, and the declaration that she made this stone as a throne for An (the God of Heaven) in Inanna’s temple in Ur – that is she had a temple for Inanna established inside Nanna’s territory. King Sargon the Great had conquered and united all the Sumerian and Akkadian City States a few decades earlier and he made Inanna a goddess reigning over the whole Empire.

Enheduanna is the earliest known example in history of an individual describing her inner mind and at the same time her Goddess-Self. Enheduanna is not praying for motherly protection or comfort, but conjures the daughterly goddess to take violent action. In the first 65 lines, the fiercest, most warrior-like aspects of Inanna are conjured with the aim of waking her up.

Enheduanna Presents Herself and her Case

I, En-ḫedu-ana the en priestess, entered my holy ĝipar in your service. I carried the ritual basket, and intoned the song of joy. But {funeral offerings were} brought, as if I had never lived there. … My honeyed mouth became scum. My ability to soothe moods vanished. … I, En-ḫedu-ana, will recite a prayer to you. To you, holy Inana, I shall give free vent to my tears like sweet beer! …

Enheduanna goes on to describe her complaint – how the aforementioned Lugal-Ane had destroyed An’s sanctuary:

In connection with the purification rites of holy An, Lugal-Ane has altered everything of his, and has stripped An of the E-ana. He has not stood in awe of the greatest deity. He has turned that temple, whose attractions were inexhaustible, whose beauty was endless, into a destroyed temple. While he entered before me as if he was a partner, really he approached out of envy.

Enheduanna further complains that Nanna – who should have been her primal divine protector – did not take care of her because Lugal-Ane had driven herself out of office and into exile:

My good divine wild cow, drive out the man, capture the man! In the place of divine encouragement, what is my standing now? … My Nanna has {paid no heed to me} … He [Lugal-Ane] stood there in triumph and drove me out of the temple. He made me fly like a swallow from the window; I have exhausted my life-strength. He made me walk through the thorn bushes of the mountains. He stripped me of the rightful {crown} of the en priestess.

The Exaltation of Inanna

Enheduanna wants Inanna’s help to change this situation. According to Zgoll (1997 p. 164), it was a completely new idea that a human being could appeal to a god in this way, and to have faith and hope against all hope. Traditionally, because Nanna had given victory to Lugal-Ane, that would have been the end of the story. But Enheduanna believes that Inanna has a higher power which she shares with An and therefore is able to change fate. To ensure her assistance Enheduanna exalts Inanna above all other divinities in the next section:

It must be known! … Be it known that you are lofty as the heavens! Be it known that you are broad as the earth! Be it known that you destroy the rebel lands! Be it known that you roar at the foreign lands! Be it known that you crush heads! Be it known that you devour corpses like a dog! Be it known that your gaze is terrible! Be it known that you lift your terrible gaze! Be it known that you have flashing eyes! Be it known that you are unshakeable and unyielding! Be it known that you always stand triumphant! …

​The Outcome

​The cultic climax of the hymn takes place at midnight, when Enheduanna heaps up the coals and makes her rites to receive the Goddess or psychologically her transcendent Self. (The E-ešdam-kug shrine was a temple in the city state Lagash, where Enheduanna probably took exile.) Out of this temporary merge between the two, the hymn was born with the cultic power to create what it named, i.e., it influenced reality:

I have heaped up the coals in the censer, and prepared the purification rites. The E-ešdam-kug shrine awaits you. Might your heart not be appeased towards me? Since it was full, too full for me, great exalted lady; I have recited this song for you.

​This hymn is strongly personal, indeed, but though the form is that of an intimate contact between the priestess and her goddess, it is anything but private – it is explicitly intended by Enheduanna to be sung in the temple the next day: May a singer repeat to you at noon that which was recited to you at dead of night.

​This constitutes what RJ Stark (2008) called a mystical enthymeme which involves an author, an audience and a cosmic source – in this case, Inanna herself.

​Only at the very end of the hymn we meet Inanna in her full loveliness as Venus in the Sky:

The light was sweet for her, delight extended over her; she was full of fairest beauty. Like the light of the rising moon, she exuded delight. Nanna came out to gaze at her properly and her mother Ningal blessed her

​According to Zgoll (1997, p. 158), the Sumerians believed that Enheduanna’s address was effective in engaging Inanna and changing the will of the gods because king Naram-Sim managed to strike down the rebellion, and Enheduanna could return to her temple in Ur.

As far as it is possible to evaluate such a thing bridging a historical distance of more than 4000 years, it seems that Enheduanna, at the time a mature, experienced woman, used her feminine agency with integrity, sophistication and courage in order to serve her Goddess in a new era.


I have tried to show that the notion of the daughter archetype is not limited to the postmodern gender discussion as it is also represented in ancient times in ways that transcends the classical binary way of defining feminine and masculine properties.


  • Brøgger, S. & Skogemann, P. (2007). Inanna, Himlens og jordens dronning. Copenhagen: Athene.
  • Jung, C.G. (1959). The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. C W 9i
  • (1959a). Aion. CW 9ii.
  • (1964). Civilization in Transition. CW 10.
  • Leick, G. (1994). Sex & Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature. London/New York: Routledge.
  • Meador, B. (2000). Inanna Lady of Largest Heart. USA: University of Texas Press.
  • Neuman, E. (1954). The Origins and History of Consciousness. London: Routledge and Kegan
  • Paul. Skogemann, P. (1984). Kvindelighed i vækst. Copenhagen: Lindhardt og Ringhof.
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  • Stark, Ryan J. (2008). ‘Some Aspects of Christian Mystical Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Poetry’. Philosophy and Rhetoric , 41, 3, 260-77.
  • The Electronic Text Corpus of the Sumerian Literature (ETCS): http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/
  • Zgoll, A. (1997). Der Rechtsfall der En-hedu-Ana im Lied Nin-me-sara. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag. [An English version of Zgoll’s translation of the Exaltation of Inanna is included in the ETCS.]​