Archetype

Archetypal images are the imaginal faces of energies from the collective unconscious that every human being in the world recognizes.  There’s the receptive Great Mother archetype in aspects we are all familiar with-both loving and terrible; the Father archetype evidenced as the creative God the Father; the Trickster; The Child; the anima and animus; and archetypal images of the Tarot cards such as The Fool, The Tower, or The World.

Archetypal images carry with them a numinous feeling since they come from the realm of the divine.

Jungian definition:

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 Archetypal image. The form or representation of an archetype in consciousness. (See also collective unconscious.)

[The archetype is] a dynamism which makes itself felt in the numinosity and fascinating power of the archetypal image.[“On the Nature of the Psyche,” CW 8, par. 414.]

Archetypal images, as universal patterns or motifs which come from the collective unconscious, are the basic content of religions, mythologies, legends and fairy tales.

An archetypal content expresses itself, first and foremost, in metaphors. If such a content should speak of the sun and identify with it the lion, the king, the hoard of gold guarded by the dragon, or the power that makes for the life and health of man, it is neither the one thing nor the other, but the unknown third thing that finds more or less adequate expression in all these similes, yet-to the perpetual vexation of the intellect-remains unknown and not to be fitted into a formula.[“The Psychology of the Child Archetype,” CW 9i, par. 267]

On a personal level, archetypal motifs are patterns of thought or behavior that are common to humanity at all times and in all places.

For years I have been observing and investigating the products of the unconscious in the widest sense of the word, namely dreams, fantasies, visions, and delusions of the insane. I have not been able to avoid recognizing certain regularities, that is, types. There are types of situations and types of figures that repeat themselves frequently and have a corresponding meaning. I therefore employ the term “motif” to designate these repetitions. Thus there are not only typical dreams but typical motifs in dreams. . . . [These] can be arranged under a series of archetypes, the chief of them being . . . the shadow, the wise old man, the child (including the child hero), the mother (“Primordial Mother” and “Earth Mother”) as a supraordinate personality (“daemonic” because supraordinate), and her counterpart the maiden, and lastly the anima in man and the animus in woman.[“The Psychological Aspects of the Kore,” ibid., par. 309.]

 

Author: Katherine Brittain

Writer/Cultural Anthropologist

One thought on “Archetype”

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