Myths-Dreams-Symbols
exploring the unconscious world of Dreams through Myth, Symbols & Metaphor
the psychology of dreams....a Jungian perspective

Major Archetypes
Next: Metaphor & Symbols

Adolf Bastian recognized throughout the mythological and religious systems of the world, the same images, the same themes are constantly recurring. He called these "Elementary Ideas". They are universal symbols, Jung's archetypes
Archetypes in Film
The Psychology Behind Star Wars: Archetypes in Action


The Hero Archetype

The hero is an archetypal figure recorded in literature and other art forms throughout history in cultures from all around the world. Some of these figures take fantastic journeys that test their heroic strengths and worth. Other figures undergo tremendous suffering for some greater, heroic purpose. Some suffering figures reach a level of heroic transcendence in a victory over adversity and their own limitations. The nature of the figure may receive a different emphasis in different cultures, and in some cultures, at some times, the anti-heroic figure may defiantly be proclaimed as the dominant archetype. Another common archetype is the superheroic figure, who has exceptional strengths to balance against exceptional monsters and fears.

Examples of the Hero Archetype
The Sword and the Grail: Forgotten Archetype in Arthurian Myth
Star Wars: Joseph Campbell's Hero Archetype



Archetype of the Self

Jung's formulation of the concept of the archetype he called the `Archetype of Wholeness', or the Self, is fundamental to Jungian or analytical psychology. The self has to be distinguished from the ego. The ego is the conscious mind. The self is the total, fully integrated psyche, in which all opposing or conflicting elements are united and co-ordinated. Bear in mind what Jung says about the relationship between the conscious and unconscious, the unconscious contains the opposite characteristics or capabilities to those that are evident at the conscious level of the personality (e.g. if you are the extrovert type your unconscious will be introvert). At this final stage of individuation conscious and unconscious become so thoroughly integrated into one harmonious whole that those things that were previously opposites and therefore - potentially, at least - in conflict are transformed.
Jung described this state of self-realization as follows:

This widened consciousness is no longer that touchy, egotistical bundle of personal wishes, fears, hopes and ambitions which has always to be compensated or corrected by unconscious counter-tendencies; instead, it is a .... relationship to the world of objects, bringing the individual into absolute, binding and indissoluble communion with the world at large

Examples of the Archetype of Self
Christ a Symbol of the Self
Ego, The Archetype of Self
The Individuation Process



The Wise Old Man {or Woman}

A symbol of primal source of growth and potential that can heal or destroy. In dreams they can appear as a magician, doctor, priest, father, teacher, guru or any other authority figure. Jung called this archetype 'mana' personalities. They can lead us to higher levels of awareness, or away from them.

Examples of the Wise Old Man/Woman Archetype
Gandalf as Archetype in The Lord of the Rings
Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars
King Arthur's Merlin
The Fairy Godmother in myth



The Trickster Archetype

The trickster is a very important archetype in the history of man. He is a god, yet he is not. He is the wise-fool. It is he, through his creations that destroy, points out the flaws in carefully constructed societies of man. He rebels against authority, pokes fun at the overly serious, creates convaluted schemes - that may or may not work - plays with the Laws of the Universe and is sometimes his own worst enemy. He exists to question, to cause us to question & not accept things blindly. He appears when a way of thinking becomes outmoded needs to be torn down built anew. He is the Destroyer of Worlds at the same time the savior of us all. In dreams {and myth} the trickster can be seen as
  • The Fool
  • The Magician
  • The Clown
  • The Jester
  • The Villian
  • The Destroyer

  • Examples of the Trickster Archetype
    The Feminine Trickster Hero in Cinema
    Coyote/Trickster {Native American Myth}
    Loki in Norse mythology
    Hermes in Greek mythology



    The Shadow

    The Shadow, is a psychological term introduced by Carl G. Jung. It is everything in us that is unconscious, repressed, undeveloped and denied. These are dark rejected aspects of our being as well as light, so there is positive undeveloped potential in the Shadow that we don’t know about because anything that is unconscious, we don’t know about.
    The shadow is often depicted as: A shadowy figure, often the same sex as dreamer but inferior; a zombie or walking dead; a dark shape; an unseen ‘Thing’; someone or something we feel uneasy about or in some measure repelled by; drug addict; pervert; what is behind one in a dream; anything dark or threatening; sometimes a younger brother or sister; a junior colleague; a foreigner; a servant; a gypsy; a prostitute; a burglar; a sinister figure in the dark.

    Examples of the Shadow Archetype
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as Shadow
    The Shadow in Men's Dreams
    The Shadow in Women's Dreams



    The Anima/Animus

    The Anima represents the 'feminine' qualities of moods, re-actions and impulses in men, and the Animus represents the 'masculine' qualities of commitments, beliefs and inspirations in women.

    Every man has a feminine component in his psyche; every woman has a masculine component in hers. Unfortunately, for centuries, and particularily in the western world, it has been considered a virtue - 'the done thing' - for men to suppress their femininity; and until very recently women have been socially conditioned to think it unbecoming to show their masculinity. One result of this has been man's bad treatment of women. Man's fear nad neglect of his own femininity have had dire consequences. Not only has he repressed the femininity in himself; but also, being frightened of women - who are 'the feminine' par excellence - he has suppressed them, kept them subordinate and powerless.

    Some symbols of the anima are the cow, a cat, a tiger, a cave and a ship. All of those are more or less female figures. Ships are associated with the sea, which is a common symbol for the feminine, and are womb-like insofar as they are hollow. (At a launching we still say, 'Bless all who sail her".) Caves are hollow and womb-like. Sometimes they are filled with water, which - as we have seen - is a symbol of the feminine, and are the womb of the Mother Earth or vaginal entrances to her womb.

    With the exception of the mother figure, the dream symbols that represent the soul-image are always of the opposite sex to the dreamer. Thus, a man's anima may be represented in his dreams by his sister; a woman's animus by her brother. Some other symbols of the animus are an eagle, a bull, a lion, and a phallus (erect penis) or other phallic figure such as a tower or spear. The eagle is associated with high altitudes and in mythology the sky is usually (ancient Egyptian mythology is the exception) regarded as a male and symbolizes pure reason or spirituality The earth is seen as female (Mother Earth) and symbolizes sensous existence - that is, existence confined within the limits of the senses - plus intuition.

    Examples of the Anima/Animus Archetype
    The Aphrodite Archetype {anima} in “Enchanted April”
    Anima Meets Animus: The 7 Dwarfs as Animus Archetypes in Snow White


    The Great Mother

    The Great Mother manifests itself in myth as a host of archaic images, as divine, ethereal and virginal. Commonly conceived of as a nature goddess, the recurrent theme of nature and motherly care go hand in hand. As the prominent feature of almost all early Indo-European societies, the mother archetype manifests itself in a host of deities and symbolism.
    Always ambivalent, the Great Mother is an archetype of feminine mystery and power who appears in forms as diverse as the queen of heaven and the witches prevalent in myth and folktale.

    Examples of the Great Mother Archetype
    ISIS - Child of Earth and Sky


    The Divine Child

    The Divine Child is the archetype of the regenerative force that leads us toward wholeness. 'Becoming as a little child' as expressed in the Gospels. It is a symbol of the true self, of the totality of our being, as opposed to the limited and limiting ego.
    In dreams the Divine Child usually appears as a baby or infant. It is both vulnerable, yet at the same time inviolate and possessing great transforming power.
    Assess your involvement with this archetype by asking whether you see life through the eyes of a benevolent, trusting God/Goddess, or whether you tend to respond initially with fear of being hurt or with a desire to hurt others first.

    Examples of the Great Mother Archetype
    The Four Archetypes of Survival


    The Persona

    The persona represents your public image. The word is, obviously, related to the word person and personality, and comes from a Latin word for mask. So the persona is the mask you put on before you show yourself to the outside world. Although it begins as an archetype, by the time we are finished realizing it, it is the part of us most distant from the collective unconscious.
    At its best, it is just the "good impression" we all wish to present as we fill the roles society requires of us. But, of course, it can also be the "false impression" we use to manipulate people's opinions and behaviors. And, at its worst, it can be mistaken, even by ourselves, for our true nature: Sometimes we believe we really are what we pretend to be!
    The persona can appear in dreams as a scarecrow or tramp, or as a desolate landscape, or as a social outcast. To be naked in a dream would symbolize a loss of persona.

    Examples of the Persona as Archetype
    Persona: The Archetypal Mask
    TS Eliot's poem The Wasteland as desolate landscape archetype


    Other Archetypes


    The Child Archetype

    Represented in mythology and art by children, infants most especially, as well as other small creatures. The Christ child celebrated at Christmas is a manifestation of the child archetype, and represents the future, becoming, rebirth, and salvation. Curiously, Christmas falls during the winter solstice, which in northern primitive cultures also represents the future and rebirth. The child archetype often blends with other archetypes to form the child-god, or the child-hero.




    The Victim Archetype

    Blames others and circumstances for her physical conditions. Even though she knows that dairy products often lead to sinus infections, she blames atmospheric conditions instead of the half-pound of cheese she ate at a party.




    The Prostitute Archetype

    Prostitution takes many forms we prostitute ourselves when we sell our bodies or minds for money, or when we compromise our morals and ethics for financial gain. We prostitute ourselves when we remain in circumstances that endanger our well-being because we have put power before honor. All of these are forms of prostitution, aside from its conventional meaning.




    The Saboteur Archetype

    This may be the most difficult of all the archetypes to understand by virtue of its name--saboteur--a name associated with betrayal. But, in truth, the purpose of this archetype is not to sabotage you, but to help you learn the many ways in which you sabotage yourself--and there are so many ways we do this to ourselves.




    The Hermaphrodite Archetype

    The hermaphrodite, both male and female, represents the union of opposites, an important idea in Jung's theory. In some religious art, Jesus is presented as a rather feminine man. Likewise, in China, the character Kuan Yin began as a male saint (the bodhisattva Avalokiteshwara), but was portrayed in such a feminine manner that he is more often thought of as the female goddess of compassion.


    The Animal Archetype

    There is also the animal archetype, representing humanity's relationships with the animal world. The hero's faithful horse would be an example. Snakes are often symbolic of the animal archetype, and are thought to be particularly wise.


    The God Archetype

    The God archetype represents our need to comprehend the universe, to give a meaning to all that happens, to see it all as having some purpose and direction.


    The maiden archetype represents purity, innocence, and, in all likelihood, naivete.

    The "dark father" is the shadow and the master of the dark side.

    Another archetype is the original man, represented in western religion by Adam.


    7-18-04

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