Understanding the Truthsayer Archetype

Written by on September 11, 2012 in On Archetypes

The Truthsayer archetype is primarily about living in alignment with truth. But what truth? If you happen to belong to a religion, then you may align yourself completely with the doctrine and tenets of that religion. If you are raised by hippies, gypsies or other fringe groups you will find a need to articulate your truth according to your reality and therefore live by that. The Truthsayer needs something absolute to align themselves with. They are typically not flaky people who flip-flop according to popular opinion. Quite the opposite actually: They prefer to establish their beliefs and then hold to them with the tenacity of an alligator bite. Sometimes this makes them rigid and unyielding and in an argument they are always RIGHT, even if they are wise enough not to state it outright.

Understanding the Shadow Truthsayer

Black or White?

The Shadow Truthsayer is often bound by black and white thinking. In its extreme, this can become a borderline personality disorder known as splitting. Black and white thinking gives the Shadow Truthsayer a false sense of security and a platform from which to preach their truth. Being able to place all events, ideas, motives and behaviors into two camps is not much different than any of the other obsessive disorders such as OCD where the external world needs to be modified so that it can be controlled. The Shadow Truthsayer scrambles to fit all of life into the logical world of light and dark, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable, legal and illegal, moral and immoral. This creates a deep dilemma for the Shadow Truthsayer: What happens when the legal becomes immoral, the unacceptable becomes the good? This torturous dichotomy makes the Shadow Truthsayer deeply conflicted.

Being Right

The Shadow Truthsayer feels compelled to align everyone to the same truth even if this means forcing their truths onto others or more subtly, manipulating others to feel bad about their choices and to see, on their own, the wisdom of the Truthsayer. This can be done on a very minor scale such as correcting someone’s account of events, or reminding them that their time was off by a few minutes, or that they misquoted someone by a word or two. Even though the spirit of their statement was true the Shadow Truthsayer is fixated on the absolute and specific. Living by the letter of the law is a good motto for the Shadow Truthsayer. The Shadow Truthsayer’s good intentions can end up alienating others and causing them to avoid certain topics or engaging in conversation at all. No one likes to be preached to or be constantly corrected. The main focus of the Shadow Truthsayer is being right. They don’t need to bend the rules or manipulate facts, they believe they are more right than others because they don’t bend the rules or manipulate facts. This allows them to maintain a superiority over others and a judgmental nature that they feel is completely justified.

All or Nothing

The Shadow Truthsayer tends toward extremism. They live by an all or nothing rulebook that leaves little room for moderation and open-mindedness. This all or nothing mindset gives the Shadow Truthsayer a tenacity that others find perplexing if not a little admirable. They plunge themselves into whatever they believe is their truth and take it all the way to its limits. They are seeking, not just some truth but the most truth. This is why they end up in extreme behaviors. For example: A Truthsayer in the shadow might be promoting a certain politician. They will not rest until everyone in their immediate circle agrees to vote for that politician and then they move onto influence others further outside their circle. They are an unstoppable force willing to go to whatever ends required as long as it does not infringe upon their other beliefs. If the politician asks them to lie, they would feel compelled to abandon the politician completely and disregard his/her entire message and all the policies involved on account of that one request. They would never consider that they could support the policies without supporting the politician. This kind of extremism shows a lack of critical thinking and mindless obedience to a set of beliefs. Paradox is an impossibility for the Shadow Truthsayer.

Rigid and inflexible

The Shadow Truthsayer is rigid and inflexible. They are rigid and unyielding out of a sense of commitment to their positions or beliefs. A good example of this rigidity and inflexibility is the character of Javert from Les Miserable. Javert is so obsessed with following the law that he never stops to consider whether or not that law is just and worthy of following. The law is the law. This kind of inflexibility is standard procedure for the Shadow Truthsayer. Just as Javert is blind to the nobility and sacrifice of Jean Valjean so the Shadow Truthsayer is blind to the values of others, denying them the freedom to learn and to follow their own path. When Valjean actually has a chance to kill Javert he does not do it, out of sense of principle, and Javert is both startled by Valjean for his mercy and also disgusted with what he deems a lack of commitment to his cause. Javert has single-minded focus on capturing Valjean and bringing him to justice according to the law. Javert cannot reconcile Valjean as both a criminal and noble individual. This kind of paradox is impossible to the Shadow Truthsayer. This causes so much distress that Javert’s only recourse was to commit suicide, thus ending the struggle. This is another example of the extremism associated with the Shadow Truthsayer.

The Need for Authority

The Shadow Truthsayer needs to ally themselves with some authority to which they bind their loyalties. For many, that authority can come in the form of the law, the boss, the religious leader, the guru, etc. This comes from a profound sense of insecurity and the inability to trust themselves and their own inner guidance. Once they gain this false sense of security they will not question the authority or their own beliefs nor do they want others to question it either. This alliance with some kind of authority is a form of survival. Deep down the Shadow Truthsayer longs to be accepted and supported and they fear being abandoned and left alone. This is one reason they are so loyal, because loyalty is the currency which they can buy their security. The authority figure provides the framework for the Shadow Truthsayer to feel supported and ultimately to provide the guidance they feel they lack. Because of this dependence on some external form of authority the Shadow Truthsayer lacks problem solving skills and creative thinking. They tend to repress emotions that are not in alignment with this authority or set of beliefs and deem themselves the problem when things don’t fit in the model of black or white. They really believe that if they try harder, focus more, improve faster, that absolutism can be achieved.

At its worst the Truthsayer is a self-righteous extremist, who can be pushy, insecure, judgmental, narrow minded and inflexible.

Understanding the Enlightened Truthsayer

Sense of Honor

The Enlightened Truthsayer believes in honorable actions as well as honorable motives. Similar to the Knight’s Code of Chivalry the Enlightened Truthsayer follows a personal code of honor that reflects their own deepest truths. They bind themselves to this code of conduct with a kind of blind faith. Because this code is created by the Enlightened Truthsayer and not some outside authority figure or liege lord, the code can be re-examined and modified as needed and it acts as a personal compass for living an honorable life. The Enlightened Truthsayer’s “word is as good as his bond” and forms the law by which they align themselves. The Enlightened Truthsayer, is therefore, careful about what he or she says and is not flippant about commitments. Their sense of duty to themselves and their code of honor can be a source of inspiration and support for others.

Absolute Balance

A common image from the Tarot, the High Priestess, represents the Enlightened Truthsayer. She sits crowned and calm between two pillars, one black and one white with her foot resting on the moon. She represents the power that holds the two polarities of dark and light from colliding. She wears a blue robe representing wisdom and knowledge and wears the solar cross on her breast. This is a symbol of the balance of male and female. She sits in front of a thin veil covered in palm leaves and pomegranates. This is depicting the worlds of awareness and unawareness. She is the guardian of balance and has a connection to the mythic Persephone. In her hands is a book of laws and yet she carries the secret law in her heart. She is connected to the wisdom of both positive and negative energies. The Enlightened Truthsayer is easily connected to intuition and has an innate gift to bring balance to any situation. The Enlightened Truthsayer often acts as a mediator bringing a new perspective to two side of an argument, clarity where there is misunderstanding and guidance to those who feel lost. They can separate truth from fiction, light from darkness and even take the muddled gray and return it to its pristine origins of black and white for the purpose of greater understanding and awareness of the larger reality.

Speaking the Truth

The Enlightened Truthsayer is first and foremost an honest person. Sometimes their honesty can be too much for some people. Trustworthy, loyal, reliable, responsible and committed they are usually the ones everyone relies on and can count on. The Enlightened Truthsayer can see the truth in themselves and are willing to make an honest assessment of their own beliefs. They trust their inner voice and the values that guide their life. The truth is a constant source of strength and a strong motive for correct actions. The pursuit of truth is the goal of the Enlightened Truthsayer. They are so truthful that they become extremely trustworthy and people can depend on them for accurate information. They are gifted with wise and good judgements and can discern the truth from all the lies out there. Some Enlightened Truthsayers are adept at sensing when someone is lying or not being completely forthcoming. They are typically empathic and can sense accurately the emotions in others.

The Clarifier

Whenever there is a conversation the Enlightened Truthsayer is right there to make sure everyone understands and communication is clear. They make it a point to speak clearly and give all the details (sometimes too many) and generally prevent the kinds of misunderstandings that cause arguments and social tension. In a way, they become the balance for the whole room asking questions and prompting further investigation of motives and statements to bring a harmonious element to the conversation. Getting facts right is another important quality to the Enlightened Truthsayer. Look to a Truthsayer when you need to verify information. Truthsayers make excellent historians, archeologists, biographers and anyone dealing with uncovering facts and details. Clarification is an ability to sort things into compartments for understanding but not into camps of right and wrong.

Persephone and the Underworld

Persephone is also a symbol of the Truthsayer archetype. She is kidnapped by Hades and taken to the Underworld (the dark side) where she eats a single pomegranate seed condemning her to spend half of her time in the underworld and the other half in the world above creating a new awareness of both the light and the dark. Persephone is transformed in the Underworld.  She returns to Demeter with new wisdom and awareness of the balance between life and death. She represents the two seasons, spring/summer and fall/winter. The seasons are broken into two halves-light and dark, growth and decay. It is this concept of separating everything into two polarities and holding the balance that is at the heart of the Enlightened Truthsayer.

At its best the Truthsayer is honorable, wise, balanced, truthful and trustworthy.

Questions to better understand the Truthsayer Archetype

1.Do you have a compulsion to tell the truth even if it is to your disadvantage?

2. Do you feel really guilty when you lie, even about meaningless stuff?

3. Is honesty extremely important to you?

4. Do you find yourself being very specific about details and getting facts right?

5. Has it been difficult to trust your inner voice?

6. Have you leaned on some authority figure for guidance sometime in your life?

7. Do you clarify for others when you sense a misunderstanding?

8. Do you relate to the concept of the Knight’s Code of Chivalry?

9. Do you have a strong sense of personal honor?

10. Do find it difficult or dishonorable to live in the “gray zone?”

11. Do you like to put things into black and white compartments?

12. Have you always considered yourself either a “good girl/boy” or a “bad girl/boy?”

To better understand the Truthsayer learn about the # 6 Enneagram which corresponds to many of the qualities of the Truthsayer. Also read more about the Tarot card of the High Priestess and the story of Persephone and Demeter.










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  1. Ruth says:

    Great article! Sounds so much like our Mother. You did a wonderful job showing the light and shadow. Keep them coming!!

  2. Susanna says:

    I will!

  3. Lisa says:

    This article has touched me in a profound way. It describes many of my own behaviors both in the shadow and the light. I’m grateful that someone was able to put words to what I have felt and do feel on a deep level. Thank you so much!

  4. Susanna says:

    Thank you Lisa! Knowing that others can benefit from my articles just makes them that much better. I certainly gain a lot from writing them. Knowing it helps others keeps me writing.