What are Archetypes?

Jung defined archetypes as" identified identical, primordial, inherited images, or modes of perception in the collective unconscious".

The archetypes can be conscious or unconscious. Unconscious archetypes, if they are of the same sex, are called shadow. An archetype, conscious or unconscious, of the opposite sex is called animus if it is a womans inner male, anima if it is a mans inner female.

The structures manifest strikingly similar in dreams from people of different creed, sex, religion and culture, and are images or ideas which regulate perception itself.
These images also appear in world mythology, and Jung concluded that these archetypes represented absolutes in the human psyche.
The archetypes are both linked to the instincts and to spirituality; they are charged with intensity and works automatically from the unconscious.
Archetypes can be the father, the mother, the wise old woman, the magician, the fool, the devil, the trickster, the lover etc.

Edited from Jes Bertelsen Course notes

Jung says: The starry vault of Heaven is in truth the open books of cosmic projection in which are myths and archetypes. In this vision, astrology and alchemy, the two classic functionaries of the psychology of the collective unconscious, join hands

As Jung says: There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life, the endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic condition
[…] archetypes does not represent anything external, non-psychic, although they do, of course, owe the concreteness of their imagery to impressions received from without. Rather, independently of, and sometimes in direct contrast to, the outward forms they may take, they represent the life and essence of a non-individual psyche.

C. G. Jung

The specific cards in the various Tarot decks are different artist`s approxomate illustrations of the common collective structures imbedded in our psyche, traditionally called the "archetypes". An archetype is a resonance figure, a "chord", formed in the long course of human evolution through resonance from repetetive, typical themes of existence, to a degree and intensity, so that it has become "standing waves" in the unconscious depths of the psyche and has almost generated a life of its own.
A detailed theory of how archetypes interact is formulated by the scientist Rubert Sheldrake. Talking about how the different fields influence formation, he says: "similar things influence similar things over time an space. In this understanding, growing organisms are shaped by fields which are both within and around them, fields which contains, as it were, the form of the organism".

As these "chords" in the psyche, the archetypes, are common ground shared by all, they contain the total sum of the collective human experrience, all the way from the darkest instinctual drives and up to the most brilliant spiritual qualities.
The welknown psychiatrist, C.G.Jung, says that these archetypes represent "absolutes" in the human psyche. "The archetypes are both linked to the instincts and to spirituality; they are charged with intensity and works automatically from the unconscious", he says. "[…] They have existed from the earliest record of human history. […] There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life, the endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic condition […].Archetypes can be the father, the mother, the wise old woman, the magician, the hermit, the fool, the devil, the trickster, the lover, and so on." - And constantly new "archetypes" are being created from typical situations in our modern life and added to the list, such as ", "Santa Claus" "the mother in law", "the aliens", the terrorist", and so on.


Befriend your archetypes

The archetypes, in their totality and with their often conflicting characters, are the "bedrocks" in the psyche, they are lying beyond the conscious level and they are therefore not directly accessible - and particularly not accessible from an intellectual approach alone.
Their existence can sometimes be recognized in dreams, where they make their powerful presence be felt, in in guided imagery or in meditation, but the archetypes themselves are practically speaking beyond our reach.
It is important to remember that the archetypes can be modified by the use of different approaches, such as the following guided contemplations. But the archetypes can only be transformed through the fire of kundalini; such a radical process happens only rarely and is far beyond the reach of the ego.

So when we are working with these archetypes by for example contemplating the major arcana cards, the zodiac, or the Path of Dharma symbols, all available as meditations on this site, even if we may not immediately feel the power of individual pictures, their adjusting impact can still be with us some time ahead.
By contemplating the cards and by allowing the vibratory power between the illustrations
and ourselves to work, at best without too much interference of the mind, we can gradually become more familiar with the pool of our own archetypical characteristics, and the wholeness, dynamic and tension between these inner forces. One can say, that all conflict, internal or external, is a result of opposing forces, of archetypes that are incompatible. Therefore, progress and healing is dependent on reconciliation with the archetypes.

Working contemplatively with the cards, whether it is with single cards, or in the two different lay-out options of the cards we present in the following, or in other lay-outs not presented here - this work may facilitate more self-knowledge, more balance and more integrity, and thus help us to stay more objective in the case of conflict and difficult times.

"The 22 Greater Arcana cards [..]. have always been used to help people relate not only to the mind, but instinctively through the feelings evoked by their colours and designs," says
Elizabeth Haich .

Apart from the inspirational insight the text to the tarot cards is offering - with all their richness in detail and symbolism, the contemplations help us to "reconcile" the opposing forces within ourselves, to become more balanced and well integrated, and to stay more objective.

Read on in Tarot contemplations

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