All over the world, there are universal symbols understood by every culture, religion, class system, race and creed. These symbols are powerful subconscious drivers of our understanding and perception of the world we live in and the forces we interact with, as well as who we are as human individuals. The actual definition of the word “archetype” is an idea or original pattern/model from which all things of the same type are representations or copies. The ancient Greek root of the word is “archein,” meaning “original, old,” and “typos” meaning “pattern, type, model.” Thus, an archetype is an original pattern from which all other similar persons, objects, ideas, concepts and themes are derived, copied, modeled and emulated.
In Jungian psychology, an archetype is an inherent idea or mode of thought derived from the experience of the species/race and present in the individual and collective unconscious. Carl Gustav Jung, the famed psychologist, utilized these symbols as a means for understanding the path to personal enlightenment, the way the world works, the way the human psyche works, and how to empower, heal, or achieve goals and desires. There are human and animal archetypes, in fact, Jung once said there were as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life, and they constructed a type of formula for the functioning of the subconscious, and have the distinct characteristic of showing up throughout human history in the same form, with the same meaning. He defined twelve in particular that played a large role in the development of our psyches and personalities.
It doesn’t matter what culture, religion, geographical boundary or language spoken...an archetype is the same anywhere around the globe, for it represents the language of the collective detached from the intellect and judgment of the conscious mind. Often, we don’t even think about how we got to behave, act and think the way we do, or what molded our personalities, until something happens, usually tragic, that makes us realize we are not happy, fulfilled expressions of our deepest selves. This is where archetypes can be an incredible learning tool.
Common archetypes include:
The Hero – sent on a quest to pursue his/her destiny. Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell spoke and wrote extensively of the “Hero’s Journey” found in many great novels and movies, including “Star Wars.”
The Self – Our individual persona seeking to become completely realized, usually via the Hero’s Journey.
The Shadow Self – Our opposing, amoral, instinctual, primitive side associated with the past.
Mentor – The main guide of the self on its journey.
The Persona – Our masks we wear to show others and hide who we truly are.
Anima/Animus – Our female and male psyches, roles and desires.
God – The perfected Self.
Goddess – Mother Earth.
Trickster – The change agent.
Beast – Our primitive past of humanity.
Sage – The wise ones among us.
Mother – The nurturer.
Father – The protector.
Wizard – The one who knows how to transform, who has hidden knowledge we seek.
The Fool – Our confused, faulty Self.
Scapegoat – The one we assign blame to.
These are just a sampling of the many archetypes we may already be familiar with, including the enemy/adversary/Devil, who often stands in the way of the Hero achieving his/her mission, and thus, destiny. Because Jungian archetypes are often used to help understand a spiritual and hidden dimension to our existence, they can also help to explain layout of that dimension, and give us insight and guidance as to how to overcome any obstacles or blocks we face on our journey. But Jung was not the only person to develop a list of archetypes. We now have so many others to work with that can help empower us in ways even Jung may not have imagined, all existing in the deepest parts of who we are as human beings.
Jung posited that the collective unconscious was akin to a storehouse of information, myths, stories and symbols that all humans have access to, and is a necessary part of the human psyche. Think of the collective unconscious as a universal reservoir that allows all humans to quench their subjective, symbolic thirst for meaning, especially when it comes to those things that are not objective, empirical or direct experiences. Thus, any symbolic theme in that reservoir can ease the thirst of any culture, albeit in different modes of expression on the surface (think of using a blue cup dipped in a sink as opposed to a green cup – you get the same water, but via a different color cup).
This book looks at the history and meaning of archetypes, their use in literature, philosophy and psychology. But it also takes a deeper look at how these shared symbols of the subconscious can play out in our daily lives, for better or worse, and how we have the power to use them to both our detriment and advantage. As millions of people flock to television shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones,” or movies like the “Star Wars” franchise, they may be totally unaware of the powerful attraction these characters have over them, and the book will take several examples our of popular culture to dissect the archetypes present in each character, and why we become such rabid fans. It’s all about what is happening in our subconscious mind as we view these shows, and fall in love, or hate, with these characters!
Understanding the different aspects of our psyche, our persona, is what archetypes allow us to do, empowering us to take control of how we let them manifest in our love relationships, finances, career goals, health and happiness.
Archetypes are indicators of the stories of our lives...and the good news is, once we become aware of them, we can work with them, even change them, to tell a different, more empowering story. The book will offer tips, tools and exercises specifically designed to help the reader create that new story, as well as insights from people in the fields of psychology, recovery and spiritual growth who use archetypes in their own work to help others heal, grow and succeed in life. It also features intriguing glimpses into the minds of writers who create characters often based upon archetypes that resonate with readers, and how we are all influenced by these symbols in our popular culture, our politics, our religious traditions and our relationships with others.
Each of us, by changing and working with our own individual archetypes, can change our own lives. And, by doing that, we begin to add to the collective to create a more loving, empowering, compassionate world and counteract the symbols of evil and greed, power and corruption. It’s all about putting archetypes to use at home and in the world to shift the paradigm. And it all begins...within.
Marie D. Jones is a best-selling author of nonfiction books exploring the paranormal, spiritual, scientific, and metaphysical realms, including 11:11 The Time Prompt Phenomenon and Mind Wars. She is also a novelist, screenwriter, and producer with several projects in development. She has appeared on radio shows across the globe, including Coast to Coast AM, NPR, and the Shirley MacLaine Show; has lectured widely at paranormal and metaphysical events; and has appeared on television’s Ancient Aliens and Nostradamus Effect series. She writes regularly for a number of paranormal/metaphysical blogs and magazines, and lives in San Diego, California. Her website is www.MarieDJones.com.