Archetype of the Beggar

The dreamed of down and out person, alcoholic, homeless or illegal alien might come into this archetype. The fundamental qualities of this archetype are dependence, powerlessness and lack or resources, both personal and material. In some way many of us have something of this archetype influencing our behaviour. We might be impoverished of the ability to love, or of initiative or motivation. We might beg for attention or power. The following dream shows this archetype in full swing in Dennis’s dream below.

Example: I was watching a man who insisted on living in a small stable like room that was foul with his shit and urine. He wouldn’t go out or clean it and his clothes too were filthy. He wouldn’t be helped, but blamed his condition on anything and anyone but himself. As I watched though, he came to the point of accepting responsibility for his condition. He came out, and we then happily asked if we could put his clothes in the washing machine. He started a new life. Dennis.

Dennis had been passing through a period of recognising how fears, guilt and lack of confidence had imprisoned him. He had literally been living in this emotional ‘shit’ for years.

This condition, shown in the dream as a degraded human and living condition, can come about through forms of self judgments. Another of Dennis’s dreams illustrates this.

Example: It was a long dream in which I had left my wife and children to be with a younger woman sexually. She dominated me because of my need, and treated me like a drug addict – “If you don’t do as you’re told you can’t have another fuck. I won’t open my legs for you.” I felt perhaps how an addict feels, deprived, childlike in face of the addictive need, no self-respect, possessed by another will. My body was covered in lice, and sores from their bites. My clothes were dirty and unkempt. I felt I must somehow get away. I managed this by running away and eventually I arrived in a small town, and began to beg for food from door to door. I saw myself doing this all the way home. As I begged I knew that a great change had overtaken me during my imprisonment to the girl. I had lost all the previous regard for myself. I really inwardly now felt like a down and out, without any pride or respect for myself. I was not criminally moved, simply empty of all normal human self regard.

Those feeling had arisen in Dennis because he left his wife and children for a younger woman. He was tortured and made ineffective by them for years until the dream of the washing machine above.

This archetype might seem to be all together negative, but it has a positive side also. This side is to do with the great compassion and wisdom that comes from having lost or let go of everything that gives most people a sense of value, of worth or motivation – as perhaps Dennis did due to his divorce. We see this in the voluntary entry into the life of the sanyassin in Indian society, or the loss of all social connections in some religious vows. This loss, whether voluntary or through events, confronts us with the false pride that may have led us to judge others as inferior or worthless. The poverty leads us to a meeting with the most fundamental core of self from which real life, love and wisdom flow. So the beggar might depict the letting go of all illusions, dreams, worldly ambitions and hopes, opening the freedom and enlightenment that arise from this. See: beggar.


Useful Questions and Hints:

Is this beggar a sign of the poverty and emotional and mental shit in which I live? If so dare I admit that and define what it is?

If my beggar is enlightened what am I learning or gaining from him/her?

Am I entering a phase of my life in which I am dropping away my need for worldly things such as ambition, social acclaim, beliefs that sustain me, etc?

Explore this by using Active Imagination – archetype of outcast and archetype of the shadow.


and Talking As.


-PV 2018-05-09 9:37:51

A beggar girl gets into my car for a ride and then tries to sell me “Puma” shoes.I don’t want them and I refuse.She gets angry.I tell her “that’s uncool,I can’t be forced”.I don’t wear Puma shoes.I usually wear Nikes. Although I feel that I should have have given her 50 bucks or so for her time telling stories,but nothing more.

I have been facing the conflict of ‘meeting the loss of all material support and social standing’ and ‘letting go of all illusions, dreams, worldly ambitions and hopes’

    -Joakim 2018-05-14 8:29:56


    I felt compelled to respond to you because I too am facing the beggar archetype. My begger comes in the form of “Please love me, for I am without love”. Giving all of power up for the prospect of gaining external love.
    It is a powerful archetype in my life which is a dominating force.
    I feel a close bond when I meet beggers on the street.

    I feel that there is great great wisdom in this archetype. In that all we are given comes from the earth, by joining with this force I believe we create the sustainable reality. We look to mother earth to shelter, protect us and feed us. Is this a dependcy I can accept? Because mother earth is also dependent on us to create her vision. I believe so. There can be mutual respect in our dependencies.

      -Tony Crisp 2018-05-15 9:03:53

      Joakim – Remember we are constantly locked in dualism. So Mother Earth needs Father Sun for together they bring life.

      Maybe also we need to open ourselves to this Life –

        -PV 2018-05-15 10:38:44

        Just as the mother needs the father archetype to bring life,the polar opposite of the beggar would maybe be the The King or rich man to bring balance?There is such a fine line between a beggar and a sannyasin but the dropping away of worldly things makes it seem as though being rich is bad and being a beggar is good which is quite lopsided.

        -PV 2018-05-15 13:25:30

        I feel really angry ( like the beggar in my dream) that I spent my whole life seeking enlightenment when I could have have spent my time building material wealth and social acclaim like my peers.I feel like a life time has gone by and I have nothing to show for it making me feel like a beggar.

          -Tony Crisp 2018-05-16 9:18:50

          PV – I too spent years frantically seeking enlightenment. I made myself ill. Fortunately I tried to explore the dreams I experienced and had this one:

          “I told the huge hare we were looking for salvation. He listened and then quietly said, “Turn back. Go back to whence you came.” At this I became irritable and said, who was he to tell us what to do. There were so many so-called authorities telling people how to discover truth, and yet most of them either disagreed or hadn’t found it themselves.

          “The hare looked at me and suddenly disappeared. Then, in a few moments it reappeared. This impressed me tremendously. I felt it was a sign of complete self-mastery, and knew the hare was the master. He then said again, “Go back, and carry on with your accustomed tasks. Do not wildly seek the Kingdom of Heaven, for you already have what you seek within you. Your seeking only hides it.”

          Well I had been wildly seeking, and I found it almost impossible to give up. I came across Jung’s advice – Do nothing but let things happen – which I tried to apply. Also Eliots words:

          I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

          For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love

          For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

          But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

          Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

          So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

          It is a long story if told but the above is the essence of it.


        -PV 2018-05-16 11:13:17

        Thanks Tony.I hugely appreciate your message.
        In the dream the powerlessness of the beggar is compensated by the symbolic power of the Puma.
        In you mention that “In a real sense these enormously potent dream figures, or holy beings are our future self. This is often because they influence us and can change the direction of our living.” I could not figure out how to believe I was the Puma.Thanks for the missing piece.I will have to learn to “let things happen” and learn to “wait” to step into my “Puma shoes” .Thank you very much for sharing your experience <3

          -Tony Crisp 2018-05-16 12:05:38

          PV – I quote from House of the Ancestors:

          We had only gone about ten yards into the dim space stretching before us when a very large puma leapt on me. As I felt its impact on my chest I held it firmly in my arms and realised that I had no intention to kill or hurt it. Its head was close to my face, and with surprise and love I could see that, although it had the face of a big cat, it was the face of Dakota. The puma was, I saw, her beautiful and wild sexual love for me, and an embodiment of her spirit self ready to share the journey into the house of the ancestors. So I put Puma down, and Lurch, Puma and I walked together into the darkness.

          …… I started by imagining myself standing in the shadows of the house with Puma and Lurch. Then we walked together into the darkness. The subjective images took on a life of their own and I saw we were walking in a large underground space like great catacombs. The light was dim but we could see our surroundings, and not very far into the cave like space was a tomb on our right. It had the form of a low wall about a foot high in an oblong, and the wall surrounded a long stone in the centre, which was roughly body shaped. 🙂


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