Archetypes were introduced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who suggested that archetypes were archaic forms of innate human knowledge passed down from our ancestors. He also believed that archetypes represent universal patterns and images that are part of the collective unconscious or shared reservoir of unconscious human experience. Although this may sound abstract, consider how ideas and images are shared and repeated across cultures and over the course of human history in art, mythology and ritual.
Jung believed that archetypes are inherited or passed down through the generations in a similar way that instincts are passed down through human evolution.
Several primary female archetypes include:
Several primary male archetypes include:
Jung believed that the archaic and mythic characters present in archetypes are accessible to all of us as part of our shared human history. As a result, there are several ways we can use the theory of architypes to increase self-awareness and promote personal growth.
In terms of self-awareness, we can reflect upon how our behavior may or may not align with various archetypes. We can then decide to move in a different direction or shift toward the positive/ full expression of the architype. A good example of this would involve moving toward the characteristics of courage and fearlessness, central to the Warrior archetype, when faced with adversity or when we experience a loss of passion and motivation.
There are many ways we can connect to the image and characteristics of an architype that we wish to more fully embody. Let’s consider how we might connect with the King or the Mother architype by reviewing the core characteristics or principles of these archetypes.
The characteristics of the King archetype include being centered, decisive, living with integrity, protecting the realm, providing order, and creating or inspiring creativity in others. In the case of the Mother archetype, characteristics include the qualities of persistence, strength, patience, and nurturing. We can reflect on these qualities and bring forth the image of the King or the Mother to support or reinforce these qualities in our lives. It is important to mention that Jung believed we can all access both male and female archetypes regardless of our gender identity or sex. Likewise, Jung believed that we all have both masculine and feminine attributes, characteristics, and archetypes within our psyche.
We can also connect with architypes through images using a process called active imagination. Active imagination is a technique that Jung created for actively evoking images from the unconscious and then engaging those images in a dialogue or other creative process. The basic process involves bringing the image to mind and allowing the image to begin to have a life of its own in our creative minds. The active imagination process can thereby provide a sense of inspiration or meaning as we connect with archetypical images.
In whatever way seems fit, we can access the image and characteristics of basic architypes to promote our self-awareness, live according to our values, and connect with an underlying sense of strength and inspiration as we link up to this archaic form of innate human knowledge passed down from our ancestors.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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