During the Master/slave Conference 2019, I met people in a variety of dynamics, all under the wide umbrella of Master/slave. While walking through the hotel, I met a woman and her companions. The woman had a strong presence and was dressed to the nines with a beautiful vintage updo and gown. Her companions, a man and a woman, both wore button-up shirts and slacks. After speaking with them, I discovered that this woman was Queen to her companions, her devoted knights.
Many years earlier, I was exposed to the word ‘archetype’ in a college-level psychology class, but I was familiar with archetypes before I had a word for them. For example, think of a thief. What are they wearing? What personality traits do they have? How do they move through a room? What motivates them? In this context, archetypes are characters that recur so often in movies and other storytelling that the word itself provokes detailed imagery in the reader’s mind.
In Lee Harrington’s Sacred Kink, the chapter on ritual discusses archetypes that may inspire kink practices: “Perhaps you are drawn to roles inspired by literature or history such as Gorean/Kajira, Vampire/Thrall, Muse/Artist, or Lady/Knight/Vassal….[N]o matter the archetype chosen (if any is chosen at all), it is what one does with that archetype that matters.” Lee goes on to elaborate on ways that different archetypes can create unique rituals that shape a relationship.
Let’s consider two relationships. Both are nominally Master/slave relationships, yet one is based on the roles of a Knight and his page, while the other is a Vampire and her thrall.
A Knight/page relationship might be very values-based. For example, feedback on the page’s demeanor may include aspects of representing the honor of his Knight while in public. Rituals may include actual or symbolic armor, swords, shields, or other items of close or mounted combat. If service is an aspect of the relationship, it might be framed as a training regime. The main goal of relationships may be mentorship in exchange for service, as with the idealized Knight.
In contrast, a Vampire/thrall relationship may be very hedonistic and focused on energy transfer from the thrall to the Vampire. Rituals could integrate actual or symbolic bloodletting, biting, or hypnotism. There also might be aspects of animals related to vampirism involved, such as bats and hounds. From a higher level, the purpose of the relationship could be sacrifice and devotion in the name of the Vampire’s pleasure.
Again, these are both Master/slave relationships, yet having an archetypical foundation provides so much imagery that the participants and their community can play with!
When I started talking with a friend about archetypes, they asked if there was a comprehensive list. Barring that, at least someplace to begin. I couldn’t find anything to that effect, so I decided to write down every archetype I could think of that might be useful as the foundation of a power exchange relationship. I’ve decided to keep them separate because they could be paired together in many ways.
Before I start on the list though, I want to speak a little about a related project of mine. The Kinky Butler is focused on exploring and integrating the butler archetype in kinky service. If this archetype discussion has interested you, I ask that you read the landing page of the website and see what you think.
Archetypes for Higher Hierarchical Relationships
Big Brother/Big Sister/Big Sibling
Master of the House/Mistress of the House
Spoiled Boy/Spoiled Girl/Spoiler Child
Archetypes for Lower Hierarchical Relationships
Head of Staff
Little Brother/Little Sister/Little Sibling
Permissive Daddy/Permissive Mommy/Permissive Parent
Roles for Roughly Equal Hierarchical Relationships