Modern psychology was founded on the idea that, besides their conscious stream of
life, human beings also experience another set of subconscious experiences whose role
in their development is just as important to their fulfillment as human beings, if not more
so. This insight was first articulated in 1889 by Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of
Dreams. Freud believed that his patients were expressing neurotic behavior based on
feelings they experienced in infancy. He argued that these emotions survived in an area
of their mind that stored memories, ideas, feelings, fears, and wishes that were
“repressed,” that is, preserved without conscious awareness. Freud felt that, in order to
help his patients deal with neurotic behavior, he must enable them to deal with their
unconscious processes, and that their dreams, which originated from the same source,
could offer signs indicating the content of the unconscious.
Jung, who was a student of Freud, also believed in the
existence and importance of the unconscious, but
explained its function differently from his teacher. Jung felt
that the unconscious contained not only the feelings of the
individual, but also the results of the collective
experience of humankind. He reasoned by analogy with
the other capacities he saw in human beings. That is, a
human baby is born with a range of physical potentialities
that she will develop in the course of maturation: the
ability to walk upright, the power to reason logically, and
the capacity to express herself through a language. Jung
would say that in addition to these “innate” (inborn)
abilities, a human being also is born with the potential to
form archetypal images and express them in dreams and
Jung’s examination of the structure of the psyche led him to divide the mind into three
major sections which he labeled the conscious ego, the personal unconscious, and the
collective unconscious. The conscious ego consists of self-awareness as well as the
impressions made by both internal and external events. The personal unconscious
consists of all of those impressions that have become unconscious because the
conscious mind no longer specifically focuses upon them. Much of the content of the
personal unconscious remains accessible to the conscious mind in the faculty called
memory, but some of the content may be made unavailable to the conscious mind by
the process of repression if the motives, ideas, or impulses it contains are unacceptable
to the controlling ego. Freud believed the unconscious mind dealt mainly with past
experiences, but Jung discovered that many of the elements in the personal
unconscious were prospective or forward looking. This allows the unconscious mind to
compensate for a conscious mind that tends to be directed towards only a single
solution to a problem. Through dreams, Jung theorized, the unconscious mind is able to
present opposite viewpoints and suggest alternate solutions symbolically. The close
association between myths and reams has often been noted; myths may be understood
as the collective dreaming of a culture.
Jung’s theory of the existence of a collective was one of his greatest departures from
Freudian psychology. Jung suggested that the collective unconscious stores images
and ideas common to all members of the human race. These images predispose
mankind to respond to external phenomena in specific ways. Jung called these images
archetypes after a Greek word which may
be translated as the original source, the
prime imprinter, or the basic form for all
Archetypes are the cumulative, inherited
images created by the repeated
experiences of our ancestors. Archetypes
represent the patterns of human life that
are themselves hidden from conscious
perception but which become indirectly
understood through their manifestations in
our conscious mind. In other words, we
can observe the effects of the archetypes
but we cannot directly experience the
archetype itself. Jung believed, therefore,
that the primitive mind did not “invent”
myths but rather it “experienced” them
through the projections of the collective
Theoretically there are no limits to the number of archetypes that may inhabit the
collective unconscious. Through the studies of Jung and his followers and through
examination of the themes in myths, dreams and fantasies, some of the most common
archetypes have been identified.
The great mother archetype, in both its good and evil aspects; the
hero archetype and its opposing and supporting partners; the
shadow, the trickster, the wise old man and the helpful animal; the
divine child; the holy fool; the anima and animus, the female
aspect of a male personality and the male aspect of the female
personality; the persona or public mask behind which we hide our
true selves; and the totality of all of these, the ultimate archetype,
In the following sections we will examine some of the archetypes.
Carl Jung first applied the term archetype to literature. He recognized that there were universal patterns in all stories and mythologies regardless of culture or historical period and hypothesized that part of the human mind contained a collective unconscious shared by all members of the human species, a sort of universal, primal memory. Joseph Campbell took Jung’s ideas and applied them to world mythologies. In A Hero with a Thousand Faces, among other works, he refined the concept of hero and the hero’s journey— George Lucas used Campbell’s writings to formulate the Star Wars saga. Recognizing archetypal patterns in literature brings patterns we all unconsciously respond to in similar ways to a conscious level.
The term archetype can be applied to:
• An image • A theme
• A symbol • An idea
• A character type • A plot pattern
Archetypes can be expressed in
• Myths • Dreams
• Literature • Religions
• Fantasies • Folklore
1. Hero as warrior (Odysseus): A near god-like hero faces physical challenges and external enemies 2. Hero as lover (Prince Charming): A pure love motivate hero to complete his quest 3. Hero as Scapegoat (Jesus): Hero suffers for the sake of others 4. Transcendent Hero: The hero of tragedy whose fatal flaw brings about his downfall, but not
without achieving some kind of transforming realization or wisdom (Greek and Shakespearean tragedies—Oedipus, Hamlet, Macbeth, etc.)
5. Romantic/Gothic Hero: Hero/lover with a decidedly dark side (Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre) 6. Proto-Feminist Hero: Female heroes (The Awakening by Kate Chopin) 7. Apocalyptic Hero: Hero who faces the possible destruction of society 8. Anti-Hero: A non-hero, given the vocation of failure, frequently humorous (Homer Simpson) 9. Defiant Anti-hero: Opposer of society’s definition of heroism/goodness. (Heart of Darkness) 10. Unbalanced Hero: The Protagonist who has (or must pretend to have) mental or emotional
deficiencies (Hamlet, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) 11. The Other—the Denied Hero: The protagonist whose status or essential otherness makes heroism
possible (Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan) 12. The Superheroic: Exaggerates the normal proportions of humanity; frequently has divine or
supernatural origins. In some sense, the superhero is one apart, someone who does not quite belong, but who is nonetheless needed by society. (Mythological heroes, Superman)
Types of Archetypal Journeys
1. The quest for identity 2. The epic journey to find the promised land/to found the good city 3. The quest for vengeance 4. The warrior’s journey to save his people 5. The search for love (to rescue the princess/damsel in distress) 6. The journey in search of knowledge 7. The tragic quest: penance or self-denial 8. The fool’s errand 9. The quest to rid the land of danger 10. The grail quest (the quest for human perfection)
Stages of a Hero’s Journey
Stage 1: Departure: The hero is called to adventure, although he is reluctant to accept. Stage 2: Initiation: The hero crosses a threshold into a new, more dangerous world, gaining a more
mature perspective. Stage 3: The Road of Trials: The hero is given supernatural aid, endures tests of strength,
resourcefulness, and endurance. Stage 4: The Innermost Cave: The hero descends into the innermost cave, an underworld, or some other
place of great trial. Sometimes this place can be within the hero’s own mind. Because of this trial, the hero is reborn in some way—physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Through this experience, the hero changes internally.
Stage 5: Return and Reintegration with Society: The hero uses his new wisdom to restore fertility and order to the land
Characteristics of the Hero’s Journey
• The hero is naïve and inexperienced • The hero meets monsters or monstrous men • The hero has a strange, wise being as a mentor • The hero years for the beautiful lady who is sometimes his guide or inspiration • The hero must go on a journey, learn a lesson, change in some way, and return home • The hero often crosses a body of water or travels on a bridge. • The hero is born and raised in a rural setting away from cities • The origin of the hero is mysterious or the hero losses his/her parents at a young age, being raised by
animals or a wise guardian • The hero returns to the land of his/her birth in disguise or as an unknown • The hero is special, one of a kind. He/she might represent a whole nation or culture • The hero struggles for something valuable and important • The hero has help from divine or supernatural forces • The hero has a guide or guides • The hero goes through a rite of passage or initiation, an event that marks a change from an immature to
a more mature understanding of the world • The hero undergoes some type of ritual or ceremony after his/her initiation • The hero has a loyal band of companions • The hero makes a stirring speech to his/her companions • The hero engages in tests or contests of strength (physical and/or mental) and shows pride in his/her
excellence • The hero suffers an unhealable wound, sometimes an emotional or spiritual wound from which the
hero never completely recovers.
Archetype Description Example
What the Hero must accomplish in order to bring fertility back to the wasteland, usually a search for some talisman, which will restore peace, order, and normalcy to a troubled
The Task The nearly superhuman feat(s) the Hero must perform in
order to accomplish his quest.
The Journey The journey sends the Hero in search of some truth that
will help save his kingdom.
The Initiation The adolescent comes into his maturity with new
awareness and problems.
The Ritual The actual ceremonies the Initiate experiences that will
mark his rite of passage into another state. A clear sign of the character's role in his society
The Fall The descent from a higher to a lower state of being usually as a punishment for transgression. It also involves the loss
Death and Rebirth
The most common of all situational archetypes, this motif grows out of a parallel between the cycle of nature and the cycle of life. Thus morning and springtime represent birth, youth, or rebirth, while evening and winter suggest old age
Battle between Good and Evil
Obviously, a battle between two primal forces. Mankind shows eternal optimism in the continual portrayal of good
triumphing over evil despite great odds.
The Unhealable Wound Either a physical or psychological wound that cannot be fully healed. The wound symbolizes a loss of innocence.
Archetype Description Example
The Hero is a protagonist whose life is a series of well- marked adventures. The circumstances of his birth are unusual, and he is raised by a guardian. He will have to
leave his kingdom, only to return to it upon reaching manhood. Characterized by courage, strength, and
honor, the hero will endure hardship, even risk his life for the good of all. Leaves the familiar to enter an
unfamiliar and challenging world.
Young Man from the Provinces
The Hero returns to his home and heritage where he is a stranger who can see new problems and new
The Initiates The Initiates are young heroes or heroines who must go
through some training and ceremony before undertaking their quest.
The Mentor is an older, wiser teacher to the initiates. He often serves as a father or mother figure. He gives the hero gifts (weapons, food, magic, information),
serves as a role model or as hero’s conscience.
Mentor - Pupil Relationship
In this relationship, the Mentor teaches the Hero/pupil the necessary skills for surviving the quest.
The Threshold Guardian
Tests the hero’s courage and worthiness to begin the journey
Father - Son Conflict In this relationship, the tension is built due to
separation from childhood or some other source when the two meet as men.
Hunting Group of Companions
These are loyal companions willing to face hardship and ordeal in order to stay together.
Loyal Retainers The Retainer's duty is to reflect the nobility and power of the hero.
Friendly Beast An animal companion showing that nature is on the side of the hero
A worthy opponent with whom the hero must struggle in a fight to the end. Must be destroyed or neutralized.
Psychologically can represent the darker side of the hero’s own psyche.
The Devil Figure This character is evil incarnate.
The Evil Figure with Ultimately Good Heart
A devil figure with the potential to be good. This person is usually saved by the love of the hero.
The Creature of Nightmare
A monster usually summoned from the deepest, darkest part of the human psyche to threaten the lives of the
hero/heroine. Often it is a perversion or desecration of the human body.
An animal, or more usually a human, whose death in a public ceremony expiates some taint or sin of a
community. They are often more powerful in death than in life.
The Outcast A character banished from a social group for some real
or imagined crime against his fellow man, usually destined to wander form place to place.
The Platonic Ideal A woman who is a source of inspiration to the hero,
who has an intellectual rather than physical attraction to her
Damsel in Distress A vulnerable woman who needs to be rescued by the
hero. She is often used as a trap to ensnare the unsuspecting hero.
The Earth Mother
Symbolic of fruition, abundance, and fertility, this character traditionally offers spiritual and emotional
nourishment to those with whom she comes in contact. Often depicted in earth colors, has large breasts and
hips symbolic of her childbearing capacities.
The Temptress or Black Goddess
Characterized by sensuous beauty, this woman is one to whom the protagonist is physically attracted and who ultimately brings about his downfall. May appear as a
witch or vampire
White Goddess Good, beautiful maiden, usually blond, may make an
ideal marriage partner; often has religious or intellectual overtones.
The Unfaithful Wife A woman married to a man she sees as dull or distant and is attracted to more virile or interesting men.
Star-Crossed Lovers Two characters engaged in a love affair fated to end tragically for one or both due to the disapproval of society, friends, family, or some tragic situation.
Archetype Description Example
Light vs. Darkness Light usually suggests hope, renewal, or intellectual
illumination; darkness implies the unknown, ignorance, or despair.
Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity
Some characters exhibit wisdom and understanding of situations instinctively as opposed to those supposedly in charge. Loyal retainers often exhibit this wisdom as they
accompany the hero on the journey.
Spiritual beings intervene on the side of the hero or sometimes against him.
Fire and Ice Fire represents knowledge, light, life, and rebirth, while
ice, like the desert, represents ignorance, darkness, sterility, and death.
Nature vs. Mechanistic World Nature is good while technology is evil.
The Threshold Gateway to a new world which the hero must enter to
change and grow
The Underworld A place of death or metaphorically an encounter with the dark side of the self. Entering an underworld is a form of
facing a fear of death.
Haven vs. Wilderness Places of safety contrast sharply against a dangerous
wilderness. Heroes are often sheltered for a time to regain health and resources
Water vs. Desert
Because Water is necessary to life and growth, it commonly appears as a birth symbol, as baptism
symbolizes a spiritual birth. Rain, rivers, oceans, etc. also function the same way. The Desert suggests the opposite.
Heaven vs. Hell
Man has traditionally associated parts of the universe not accessible to him with the dwelling places of the
primordial forces that govern his world. The skies and mountaintops house his gods, the bowels of the earth
contain diabolic forces.
A place or time of decision when a realization is made and change or penance results
The Maze A puzzling dilemma or great uncertainty, search for the
dangerous monster inside of oneself, or a journey into the heart of darkness
The Castle A strong place of safety which holds treasure or princess, may be enchanted or bewitched
The Tower A strong place of evil, represents the isolation of self
The Magic Weapon The weapon the hero needs in order to complete his quest.
The Whirlpool Symbolizes the destructive power of nature or fate.
Fog Symbolizes uncertainty.
Red: blood, sacrifice, passion, disorder Green: growth, hope, fertility
Blue: highly positive, security, tranquility, spiritual purity Black: darkness, chaos, mystery, the unknown, death,
wisdom, evil, melancholy White: light, purity, innocence, timelessness (negatives:
death, horror, supernatural) Yellow: enlightenment, wisdom
3—light, spiritual awareness, unity (holy trinity), male principle
4—associated with the circle, life cycle, four seasons, female principle, earth, nature, elements
7—the most potent of all symbolic numbers signifying the union of three and four, the completion of a cycle, perfect
order, perfect number, religious symbol
The Concept of the Collective Unconscious
Carl G. Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychologist whose principles have been found to be applicable to nearly all academic disciplines from mythology to religion to quantum physics, and to nearly all aspects of modern life. In the following selection, Jung discusses his most well-known (and controversial) concept, the collective uncon- scious, that aspect of the unconscious mind which manifests inherited, universal themes which run through all human life. The contents of the collective unconscious are archetypes, primordial images that reflect basic patterns or common to us all, and which have existed universally since the dawn of time.
PROBABLY NONE OF MY empirical concepts has met with so much misunderstanding as the idea of the collective unconscious. In what follows I shall try to give (1) a definition of the concept, (2) a description of what it means for psychology, (3) an explanation of the method of proof, and (4) an example.
The collective unconscious is a part of the psyche which can be negatively distinguished from a personal unconscious by the fact that it does not, like the latter, owe its existence to personal experi- ence and consequently is not a personal acquisition. While the personal unconscious is made up essentially of contents which have at one time been conscious but which have disappeared from consciousness through having been forgotten or repressed, the contents of the collective uncon- scious have never been in consciousness, and therefore have never been individually acquired, but owe their existence exclusively to heredity. Whereas the personal unconscious consists for the most part of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious is made up essentially of archetypes.
The concept of the archetype, which is an indispensable correlate of the idea of the collective unconscious, indicates the existence of definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere. Mythological research calls them “motifs”; in the psychology of primitives they correspond to Levy-Bruhl’s concept of
“representations collectives,” and in the field of comparative religion they have been defined by Hubert and Mauss as “categories of the imagina- tion.” Adolf Bastian long ago called them “el- ementary” or “primordial thoughts.” From these references it should be clear enough that my idea of the archetype—literally a pre-existent form— does not stand alone but is something that is recognized and named in other fields of knowl- edge.
My thesis, then, is as follows: In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
2. The Psychological Meaning of the Collective Unconscious
Medical psychology, growing as it did out of professional practice, insists on the personal nature of the psyche. By this I mean the views of Freud and Adler. It is a psychology of the person, and its aetiological or causal factors are regarded almost wholly as personal in nature. Nonetheless, even this psychology is based on certain general biological
100 Understanding Dreams
factors, for instance on the sexual instinct or on the urge for self-assertion, which are by no means merely personal peculiarities. It is forced to do this because it lays claim to being an explanatory science. Neither of these views would deny the existence of a priori instincts common to man and animals alike, or that they have a significant influ- ence on personal psychology. Yet instincts are impersonal, universally distributed, hereditary factors of a dynamic or motivating character, which very often fail so completely to reach consciousness that modern psychotherapy is faced with the task of helping the patient to become conscious of them. Moreover, the instincts are not vague and indefinite by nature, but are specifically formed motive forces which, long before there is any consciousness, and in spite of any degree of consciousness later on, pursue their inherent goals. Consequently they form very close analogies to the archetypes, so close, in fact, that there is good reason for supposing that the archetypes are the unconscious images of the instincts themselves, in other words, that they are patterns of instinctual behaviour.
The hypothesis of the collective unconscious is, therefore, no more daring than to assume there are instincts. One admits readily that human activity is influenced to a high degree by instincts, quite apart from the rational motivations of the con- scious mind. So if the assertion is made that our imagination, perception, and thinking are likewise influenced by in-born and universally present formal elements, it seems to me that a normally functioning intelligence can discover in this idea just as much or just as little mysticism as in the theory of instincts. Although this reproach of mysticism has frequently been leveled at my concept, I must emphasize yet again that the concept of the collective unconscious is neither a speculative nor a philosophical but an empirical matter. The question is simply this: are there or are there not uncon- scious, universal forms of this kind? If they exist, then there is a region of the psyche which one can call the collective unconscious. It is true that the diagnosis of the collective unconscious is not always an easy task. It is not sufficient to point out the often obviously archetypal nature of uncon- scious products, for these can just as well be derived from acquisitions through language and
education. Cryptomnesia should also be ruled out, which it is almost impossible to do in certain cases. In spite of all these difficulties, there remain enough individual instances showing the autoch- thonous revival of mythological motifs to put the matter beyond any reasonable doubt. But if such an unconscious exists at all, psychological explana- tion must take account of it and submit certain alleged personal aetiologies to sharper criticism.
What I mean can perhaps best be made clear by a concrete example. You have probably read Freud’s discussion1 of a certain picture by Leonardo da Vinci: St. Anne with the Virgin Mary and the Christ-child. Freud interprets this remark- able picture in terms of the fact that Leonardo himself had two mothers. This causality is per- sonal. We shall not linger over the fact that this picture is far from unique, nor over the minor inaccuracy that St. Anne happens to be the grand- mother of Christ and not, as required by Freud’s interpretation, the mother, but shall simply point out that interwoven with the apparently personal psychology there is an impersonal motif well known to us from other fields. This is the motif of the dual mother, an archetype to be found in many variants in the field of mythology and comparative religion and forming the basis of numerous “representations collectives.” I might mention, for instance, the motif of the dual descent, that is, descent from human and divine parents, as in the case of Heracles, who received immortality through being unwittingly adopted by Hera. What was a myth in Greece was actually a ritual in Egypt: Pharaoh was both human and divine by nature. In the birth chambers of the Egyptian temples Pharaoh’s second, divine conception and birth is depicted on the walls; he is “twice-born.” It is an idea that underlies all rebirth mysteries, Christianity included. Christ himself is “twice- born”: through his baptism in the Jordan he was regenerated and reborn from water and spirit. Consequently, in the Roman liturgy the font is designated the “uterus ecclesiae,” and, as you can read in the Roman missal, it is called this even today, in the “benediction of the font” on Holy Saturday before Easter. Further, according to an early Christian-Gnostic idea, the spirit which appeared in the form of a dove was interpreted as Sophia-Sapientia—Wisdom and the Mother of
Christ. Thanks to this motif of the dual birth, children today, instead of having good and evil fairies who magically “adopt” them at birth with blessings or curses, are given sponsors—a “god- father” and a “godmother.”
The idea of a second birth is found at all times and in all places. In the earliest beginnings of medicine it was a magical means of healing; in many religions it is the central mystical experience; it is the key idea in medieval, occult philosophy, and, last but not least, it is an infantile fantasy occurring in numberless children, large and small, who believe that their parents are not their real parents but merely foster-parents to whom they were handed over. Benvenuto Cellini also had this idea, as he himself relates in his autobiography.
Now it is absolutely out of the question that all the individuals who believe in a dual descent have in reality always had two mothers, or con- versely that those few who shared Leonardo’s fate have infected the rest of humanity with their complex. Rather, one cannot avoid the assumption that the universal occurrence of the dual-birth motif together with the fantasy of the two mothers answers an omnipresent human need which is reflected in these motifs. If Leonardo da Vinci did in fact portray his two mothers in St. Anne and Mary—which I doubt—he nonetheless was only expressing something which countless millions of people before and after him have believed. The vulture symbol (which Freud also discusses in the work mentioned) makes this view all the more plausible. With some justification he quotes as the source of the symbol the Hieroglyphica of Horapollo, a book much in use in Leonardo’s time. There you read that vultures are female only and symbolize the mother. They conceive through the wind (pneuma). This word took on the meaning of “spirit” chiefly under the influence of Christian- ity. Even in the account of the miracle at Pentecost the pneuma still has the double meaning of wind and spirit. This fact, in my opinion, points without doubt to Mary, who, a virgin by nature, conceived through the pneuma, like a vulture. Furthermore, according to Horapollo, the vulture also symbol- izes Athene, who sprang, unbegotten, directly from the head of Zeus, was a virgin, and knew only spiritual motherhood. All this is really an allusion to Mary and the rebirth motif. There is not a shadow
of evidence that Leonardo meant anything else by his picture. Even if it is correct to assume that he identified himself with the Christ-child, he was in all probability representing the mythological dual- mother motif and by no means his own personal prehistory. And what about all the other artists who painted the same theme? Surely not all of them had two mothers?
Let us now transpose Leonardo’s case to the field of the neuroses, and assume that a patient with a mother complex is suffering from the delusion that the cause of his neurosis lies in his having really had two mothers. The personal interpretation would have to admit that he is right—and yet it would be quite wrong. For in reality the cause of his neurosis would lie in the reactivation of the dual-mother archetype, quite regardless of whether he had one mother or two mothers, because, as we have seen, this archetype functions individually and historically without any reference to the relatively rare occurrence of dual motherhood.
In such a case, it is of course tempting to presuppose so simple and personal a cause, yet the hypothesis is not only inexact but totally false. It is admittedly difficult to understand how a dual- mother motif—unknown to a physician trained only in medicine—could have so great a determin- ing power as to produce the effect of a traumatic condition. But if we consider the tremendous powers that lie hidden in the mythological and religious sphere in man, the aetiological significance of the archetype appears less fantastic. In numer- ous cases of neurosis the cause of the disturbance lies in the very fact that the psychic life of the patient lacks the co-operation of these motive forces. Nevertheless a purely personalistic psy- chology, by reducing everything to personal causes, tries its level best to deny the existence of arche- typal motifs and even seeks to destroy them by personal analysis. I consider this a rather dangerous procedure which cannot be justified medically. Today you can judge better than you could twenty years ago the nature of the forces involved. Can we not see how a whole nation is reviving an archaic symbol, yes, even archaic religious forms, and how this mass emotion is influencing and revolutionizing the life of the individual in a catastrophic manner? The man of the past is alive
102 Understanding Dreams
in us today to a degree undreamt of before the war, and in the last analysis what is the fate of great nations but a summation of the psychic changes in individuals?
So far as a neurosis is really only a private affair, having its roots exclusively in personal causes, archetypes play no role at all. But if it is a question of a general incompatibility or an other- wise injurious condition productive of neuroses in relatively large numbers of individuals, then we must assume the presence of constellated arche- types. Since neuroses are in most cases not just private concerns, but social phenomena, we must assume that archetypes are constellated in these cases too. The archetype corresponding to the situation is activated, and as a result those explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall a prey to. If thirty years ago anyone had dared to predict that our psychological development was tending towards a revival of the medieval persecutions of the Jews, that Europe would again tremble before the Roman fasces and the tramp of legions, that people would once more give the Roman salute, as two thousand years ago, and that instead of the Christian Cross an archaic swastika would lure onward millions of warriors ready for death— why, that man would have been hooted at as a mystical fool. And today? Surprising as it may seem, all this absurdity is a horrible reality. Private life, private aetiologies, and private neuroses have become almost a fiction in the world of today. The man of the past who lived in a world of archaic “representations collectives” has risen again into very visible and painfully real life, and this not only in a few unbalanced individuals but in many millions of people.
There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life. Endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic constitution, not in the form of images filled with content, but at first only as forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. When a situation occurs which corresponds to a given archetype, that archetype becomes activated and a compulsiveness appears, which, like an instinctual drive, gains its
way against all reason and will, or else produces a conflict of pathological dimensions, that is to say, a neurosis.
3. Method of Proof
We must now turn to the question of how the existence of archetypes can be proved. Since archetypes are supposed to produce certain psychic forms, we must discuss how and where one can get hold of the material demonstrating these forms. The main source, then, is dreams, which have the advantage of being involuntary, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche and are therefore pure products of nature not falsified by any conscious purpose. By questioning the individual one can ascertain which of the motifs appearing in the dream are known to him. From those which are unknown to him we must naturally exclude all motifs which might be known to him, as for instance—to revert to the case of Leonardo—the vulture symbol. We are not sure whether Leonardo took this symbol from Horapollo or not, although it would have been perfectly possible for an educated person of that time, because in those days artists were distin- guished for their wide knowledge of the humani- ties. Therefore, although the bird motif is an archetype par excellence, its existence in Leonardo’s fantasy would still prove nothing. Consequently, we must look for motifs which could not possibly be known to the dreamer and yet behave functionally in his dream in such a manner as to coincide with the functioning of the archetype known from historical sources.
Another source for the material we need is to he found in “active imagination.” By this I mean a sequence of fantasies produced by deliberate concentration. I have found that the existence of unrealized, unconscious fantasies increases the frequency and intensity of dreams, and that when these fantasies are made conscious the dreams change their character and become weaker and less frequent. From this I have drawn the conclusion that dreams often contain fantasies which “want” to become conscious. The sources of dreams are often repressed instincts which have a natural tendency to influence the conscious mind. In cases of this sort, the patient is simply given the task of contemplating any one fragment of fantasy that
seems significant to him—a chance idea, perhaps, or something he has become conscious of in a dream—until its context becomes visible, that is to say, the relevant associative material in which it is embedded. It is not a question of the “free association” recommended by Freud for the purpose of dream-analysis, but of elaborating the fantasy by observing the further fantasy material that adds itself to the fragment in a natural manner.
This is not the place to enter upon a technical discussion of the method. Suffice it to say that the resultant sequence of fantasies relieves the uncon- scious and produces material rich in archetypal images and associations. Obviously, this is a method that can only be used in certain carefully selected cases. The method is not entirely without danger, because it may carry the patient too far away from reality. A warning against thoughtless application is therefore in place.
Finally, very interesting sources of archetypal material are to be found in the delusions of paranoiacs, the fantasies observed in trance-states, and the dreams of early childhood, from the third to the fifth year. Such material is available in profusion, but it is valueless unless one can adduce convincing mythological parallels. It does not, of course, suffice simply to connect a dream about a snake with the mythological occurrence of snakes, for who is to guarantee that the functional meaning of the snake in the dream is the same as in the mythological setting? In order to draw a valid parallel, it is necessary to know the functional meaning of the individual symbol, and then to find out whether the apparently parallel mythological symbol has a similar context and therefore the same functional meaning. Establishing such facts not only requires lengthy and wearisome re- searches, but is also an ungrateful subject for demonstration. As the symbols must not be torn out of their context, one has to launch forth into exhaustive descriptions, personal as well as symbological, and this is practically impossible in the framework of a lecture. I have repeatedly tried it at the risk of sending one half of my audience to sleep.
4. An Example
I am choosing as an example a case which, though already published, I use again because its
brevity makes it peculiarly suitable for illustration. Moreover, I can add certain remarks which were omitted in the previous publication.2
About 1906 I came across a very curious delusion in a paranoid schizophrenic who had been interned for many years. The patient had suffered since his youth and was incurable. He had been educated at a State school and been em- ployed as a clerk in an office. He had no special gifts, and I myself knew nothing of mythology or archaeology in those days, so the situation was not in any way suspect. One day I found the patient standing at the window, wagging his head and blinking into the sun. He told me to do the same, for then I would see something very interesting. When I asked him what he saw, he was astonished that I could see nothing, and said: “Surely you see the sun’s penis—when I move my head to and fro, it moves too, and that is where the wind comes from.” Naturally I did not under-stand this strange idea in the least, but I made a note of it. Then about four years later, during my mythological studies, I came upon a book by the late Albrecht Dieterich,3 the well-known philologist, which threw light on this fantasy. The work, published in 1910, deals with a Greek papyrus in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. Dieterich believed he had discovered a Mithraic ritual in one part of the text. The text is undoubtedly a religious prescrip- tion for carrying out certain incantations in which Mithras is named. It comes from the Alexandrian school of mysticism and shows affinities with certain passages in the Leiden papyri and the Corpus Hermeticum. In Dieterich’s text we read the following directions:
Draw breath from the rays, draw in three times as strongly as you can and you will feel yourself raised up and walking towards the height, and you will seem to be in the middle of the aerial region. . . . The path of the visible gods will appear through the disc of the sun, who is God my father. Likewise the so-called tube, the origin of the ministering wind. For you will see hanging down from the disc of the sun something that looks like a tube. And towards the regions westward it is as though there were an infinite east wind. But if the other wind should prevail towards the regions of the east, you will in like manner see the vision veering in that directions.4
104 Understanding Dreams
It is obviously the author’s intention to enable the reader to experience the vision which he had, or which at least he believes in. The reader is to be initiated into the inner religious experience either of the author, or—what seems more likely—of one of those mystic communities of which Philo Judaeus gives contemporary accounts. The fire- or sun-god here invoked is a figure which has close historical parallels, for instance with the Christ- figure of the Apocalypse. It is therefore a “representation collective,” as are also the ritual actions described, such as the imitating of animal noises, etc. The vision is embedded in a religious context of a distinctly ecstatic nature and describes a kind of initiation into mystic experience of the Deity.
Our patient was about ten years older than I. In his megalomania, he thought he was God and Christ in one person. His attitude towards me was patronizing; he liked me probably because I was the only person with any sympathy for his abstruse ideas. His delusions were mainly religious, and when he invited me to blink into the sun like he did and waggle my head he obviously wanted to let me share his vision. He played the role of the mystic sage and I was the neophyte. He felt he was the sun-god himself, creating the wind by wagging his head to and fro. The ritual transformation into the Deity is attested by Apuleius in the Isis myster- ies, and moreover in the form of a Helios apo- theosis. The meaning of the “ministering wind” is probably the same as the procreative pneuma, which streams from the sun-god into the soul and fructifies it. The association of sun and wind frequently occurs in ancient symbolism.
It must now be shown that this is not a purely chance coincidence of two isolated cases. We must therefore show that the idea of a wind- tube connected with God or the sun exists inde- pendently of these two testimonies and that it occurs at other times and in other places. Now there are, as a matter of fact, medieval paintings that depict the fructification of Mary with a tube or hose-pipe coming down from the throne of God and passing into her body, and we can see the dove or the Christ-child flying down it. The dove represents the fructifying agent, the wind of the Holy Ghost.
Now it is quite out of the question that the
patient could have had any knowledge whatever of a Greek papyrus published four years later, and it is in the highest degree unlikely that his vision had anything to do with the rare medieval representa- tions of the Conception, even if through some incredibly improbable chance he had ever seen a copy of such a painting. The patient was certified in his early twenties. He had never traveled. And there is no such picture in the public art gallery in Zurich, his native town.
I mention this case not in order to prove that the vision is an archetype but only to show you my method of procedure in the simplest possible form. If we had only such cases, the task of investigation would be relatively easy, but in reality the proof is much more complicated. First of all, certain symbols have to be isolated clearly enough to be recognizable as typical phenomena, not just matters of chance. This is done by examining a series of dreams, say a few hundred, for typical figures, and by observing their development in the series. The same method can be applied to the products of active imagination. In this way it is possible to establish certain continuities or modula- tions of one and the same figure. You can select any figure which gives the impression of being an archetype by its behaviour in the series of dreams or visions. If the material at one’s disposal has been well observed and is sufficiently ample, one can discover interesting facts about the variations undergone by a single type. Not only the type itself but its variants too can be substantiated by evi- dence from comparative mythology and ethnol- ogy. I have described the method of investigation elsewhere5 and have also furnished the necessary case material.
1. Sigmund Freud, Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood, sec. IV.
2. Wandlungen and Symbole der Libido (orig. 1912). [Cf. the revised edition, Symbols of Transfor- mation, pars. 149ff., 223.]
3. Eine Mithrasliturgie. 4. Ibid., pp 6 ff. 5. Psychology and Alchemy, Part II.
Archetypes and Symbols SITUATION ARCHETYPES 1. The Quest – This motif describes the search for someone or some talisman which, when found and brought
back, will restore fertility to a wasted land, the desolation of which is mirrored by a leader’s illness and disability. 2. The Task – This refers to a possibly superhuman feat that must be accomplished in order to fulfill the
ultimate goal. 3. The Journey – The journey sends the hero in search for some truth of information necessary to restore
fertility, justice, and/or harmony to the kingdom. The journey includes the series of trials and tribulations the hero faces along the way. Usually the hero descends into a real or psychological hell and is forced to discover the blackest truths, quite often concerning his faults. Once the hero is at this lowest level, he must accept personal responsibility to return to the world of the living.
4. The Initiation – This situation refers to a moment, usually psychological, in which an individual comes into
maturity. He or she gains a new awareness into the nature of circumstances and problems and understands his or her responsibility for trying to resolve the dilemma. Typically, a hero receives a calling, a message or signal that he or she must make sacrifices and become responsible for getting involved in the problem. Often a hero will deny and question the calling and ultimately, in the initiation, will accept responsibility.
5. The Ritual – Not to be confused with the initiation, the ritual refers to an organized ceremony that involves
honored members of a given community and an Initiate. This situation officially brings the young man or woman into the realm of the community’s adult world.
6. The Fall – Not to be confused with the awareness in the initiation, this archetype describes a descent in action
from a higher to a lower state of being, an experience which might involve defilement, moral imperfection, and/or loss of innocence. This fall is often accompanied by expulsion from a kind of paradise as penalty for disobedience and/or moral transgression.
7. Death and Rebirth – The most common of all situational archetypes, this motif grows out of the parallel
between the cycle of nature and the cycle of life. It refers to those situations in which someone or something, concrete and/or metaphysical dies, yet is accompanied by some sign of birth or rebirth.
8. Nature vs. Mechanistic World – Expressed in its simplest form, this refers to situations which suggest that
nature is good whereas the forces of technology are bad. 9. Battle Between Good and Evil – These situations pit obvious forces which represent good and evil against one
another. Typically, good ultimately triumphs over evil despite great odds. 10. The Unhealable Wound – This wound, physical or psychological, cannot be healed fully. This would also indicate a
loss of innocence or purity. Often the wounds’ pain drives the sufferer to desperate measures of madness. 11. The Magic Weapon – Sometimes connected with the task, this refers to a skilled individual hero’s ability to use
a piece of technology in order to combat evil, continue a journey, or to prove his or her identity as a chosen individual.
12. Father-Son Conflict – Tension often results from separation during childhood or from an external source when
the individuals meet as men and where the mentor often has a higher place in the affections of the hero than the natural parent. Sometimes the conflict is resolved in atonement.
13. Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity – Some characters exhibit wisdom and understanding intuitively as
opposed to those supposedly in charge.
SYMBOLIC ARCHETYPES 1. Light vs. Darkness – Light usually suggests hope, renewal, OR intellectual illumination; darkness implies the
unknown, ignorance, or despair. 2. Water vs. Desert – Because water is necessary to life and growth, it commonly appears as a birth or rebirth
symbol. Water is used in baptism services, which solemnizes spiritual births. Similarly, the appearance of rain in a work of literature can suggest a character’s spiritual birth.
3. Heaven vs. Hell – Humanity has traditionally associated parts of the universe not accessible to it with the
dwelling places of the primordial forces that govern its world. The skies and mountaintops house its gods; the bowels of the earth contain the diabolic forces that inhabit its universe.
4. Haven vs. Wilderness – Places of safety contrast sharply against the dangerous wilderness. Heroes are often
sheltered for a time to regain health and resources. 5. Supernatural Intervention – The gods intervene on the side of the hero or sometimes against him. 6. Fire vs. Ice – Fire represents knowledge, light, life, and rebirth while ice like desert represents ignorance,
darkness, sterility, and death. 7. Colors
A. Black (darkness) – chaos, mystery, the unknown, before existence, death, the unconscious, evil B. Red – blood, sacrifice; violent passion, disorder, sunrise, birth, fire, emotion, wounds, death, sentiment,
mother, Mars, the note C, anger, excitement, heat, physical stimulation C. Green – hope, growth, envy, Earth, fertility, sensation, vegetation, death, water, nature, sympathy,
adaptability, growth, Jupiter and Venus, the note G, envy D. White (light) – purity, peace, innocence, goodness, Spirit, morality, creative force, the direction East,
spiritual thought E. Orange – fire, pride, ambition, egoism, Venus, the note D F. Blue – clear sky, the day, the sea, height, depth, heaven, religious feeling, devotion, innocence, truth,
spirituality, Jupiter, the note F, physical soothing and cooling G. Violet – water, nostalgia, memory, advanced spirituality, Neptune, the note B H. Gold – Majesty, sun, wealth, corn (life dependency), truth I. Silver – Moon, wealth
A. Three – the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost); Mind, Body, Spirit, Birth, Life, Death B. Four – Mankind (four limbs), four elements, four seasons C. Six – devil, evil D. Seven – Divinity (3) + Mankind (4) = relationship between man and God, seven deadly sins, seven days
of week, seven days to create the world, seven stages of civilization, seven colors of the rainbow, seven gifts of Holy Spirit.
A. Oval – woman, passivity B. Triangle – communication, between heaven and earth, fire, the number 3, trinity, aspiration,
movement upward, return to origins, sight, light C. Square – pluralism, earth, firmness, stability, construction, material solidity, the number four D. Rectangle – the most rational, most secure E. Cross – the Tree of life, axis of the world, struggle, martyrdom, orientation in space F. Circle – Heaven, intellect, thought, sun, the number two, unity, perfection, eternity, oneness, celestial
realm, hearing, sound G. Spiral – the evolution of the universe, orbit, growth, deepening, cosmic motion, relationship between
unity and multiplicity, macrocosm, breath, spirit, water
A. Air – activity, creativity, breath, light, freedom (liberty), movement B. Ascent – height, transcendence, inward journey, increasing intensity C. Center – thought, unity, timelessness, spacelessness, paradise, creator, infinity, D. Descent – unconscious, potentialities of being, animal nature E.Duality – Yin-Yang, opposites, complements, positive-negative, male-female, life-death F.Earth – passive, feminine, receptive, solid G. Fire – the ability to transform, love, life, health, control, sun, God, passion, spiritual energy,
regeneration H. Lake – mystery, depth, unconscious I. Crescent moon – change, transition J. Mountain – height, mass, loftiness, center of the world, ambition, goals K. Valley – depression, low-points, evil, unknown L. Sun – Hero, son of Heaven, knowledge, the Divine eye, fire, life force, creative-guiding force, brightness,
splendor, active awakening, healing, resurrection, ultimate wholeness M. Water – passive, feminine N. Rivers/Streams – life force, life cycle O.Stars – guidance P. Wind – Holy Spirit, life, messenger Q. Ice/Snow – coldness, barrenness R. Clouds/Mist – mystery, sacred S. Rain – life giver T. Steam – transformation to the Holy Spirit U. Cave – feminine V. Lightning – intuition, inspiration W. Tree – where we learn, tree of life, tree of knowledge X. Forest – evil, lost, fear
A. Feathers – lightness, speed B. Shadow – our dark side, evil, devil C. Masks – concealment D. Boats/Rafts – safe passage E. Bridge – change, transformation F. Right hand – rectitude, correctness G. Left hand – deviousness H. Feet – stability, freedom I. Skeleton – mortality J. Heart – love, emotions K. Hourglass – the passage of time
CHARACTER ARCHETYPES 1. The Hero – In its simplest form, this character is the one ultimately who may fulfill a necessary task and who
will restore fertility, harmony, and/or justice to a community. The hero character is the one who typically experiences an initiation, who goes the community’s ritual (s), et cetera. Often he or she will embody characteristics of YOUNG PERSON FROM THE PROVINCES, INITIATE, INNATE WISDOM, PUPIL, and SON.
2. Young Person from the Provinces – This hero is taken away as an infant or youth and raised by strangers. He
or she later returns home as a stranger and able to recognize new problems and new solutions. 3. The Initiates – These are young heroes who, prior to the quest, must endure some training and ritual. They
are usually innocent at this stage. 4. Mentors – These individuals serve as teachers or counselors to the initiates. Sometimes they work as role
models and often serve as father or mother figure. They teach by example the skills necessary to survive the journey and quest.
5. Hunting Group of Companions – These loyal companions are willing to face any number of perils in order to be
together. 6. Loyal Retainers – These individuals are like the noble sidekicks to the hero. Their duty is to protect the hero.
Often the retainer reflects the hero’s nobility. 7. Friendly Beast –These animals assist the hero and reflect that nature is on the hero’s side. 8. The Devil Figure – This character represents evil incarnate. He or she may offer worldly goods, fame, or
knowledge to the protagonist in exchange for possession of the soul or integrity. This figure’s main aim is to oppose the hero in his or her quest.
9. The Evil Figure with the Ultimately Good Heart – This redeemable devil figure (or servant to the devil figure)
is saved by the hero’s nobility or good heart. 10. The Scapegoat – An animal or more usually a human whose death, often in a public ceremony, excuses some taint
or sin that has been visited upon the community. This death often makes theme more powerful force to the hero. 11. The Outcast – This figure is banished from a community for some crime (real or imagined). The outcast is
usually destined to become a wanderer. 12. The Earth Mother – This character is symbolic of fulfillment, abundance, and fertility; offers spiritual and
emotional nourishment to those who she contacts; often depicted in earth colors, with large breasts and hips. 13. The Temptress – Characterized by sensuous beauty, she is one whose physical attraction may bring about the
hero’s downfall. 14. The Platonic Ideal – This source of inspiration often is a physical and spiritual ideal for whom the hero has an
intellectual rather than physical attraction. 15. The Unfaithful Wife – This woman, married to a man she sees as dull or distant, is attracted to a more virile or
interesting man. 16. The Damsel in Distress – This vulnerable woman must be rescued by the hero. She also may be used as a trap,
by an evil figure, to ensnare the hero. 17. The Star-Crossed Lovers – These two character are engaged in a love affair that is fated to end in tragedy for
one or both due to the disapproval of society, friends, family, or the gods. 18. The Creature of Nightmare – This monster, physical or abstract, is summoned from the deepest, darkest parts
of the human psyche to threaten the lives of the hero/heroine. Often it is a perversion or desecration of the human body.
Compliments to Lisa Lawrence, English Teacher at Jenks High School, Jenks, Oklahoma
The following list of patterns comes from the book How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster who teaches at the University of Michigan. If you are serious about literary analysis, then I highly recommend buying this book. It goes into detail what I just briefly mention and is written in such a lively, witty voice that it does not read like a textbook at all! It will be well worth your time and effort to read it.
Trips tend to become quests to discover self.
Meals together tend to be acts of communion/community or isolation.
Ghosts, vampires, monsters, and nasty people and sometimes simply the antagonists are not about supernatural brew-ha-ha; they tend to depict some sort of exploitation.
There’s only one story. Look for allusions and archetypes.
Violence and be both literal and figurative.
Symbols can be objects, images, events, and actions.
Sometimes a story is meant to change us, the readers, and through us change society.
Keep an eye out for Christ-figures.
Flying tends to represent freedom. What do you think falling represents?
Getting dunked or just sprinkled in something wet tends to be a baptism.
Geography tends to be a metaphor for the psyche.
Seasons tend to be traditional symbols.
Disabilities, Scars, and Deformities show character and theme.
Heart disease tends to represent problems with character and society.
So do illness and disease.
Read with your imagination.
Irony trumps everything!
Remember the difference between public and private symbols.
The Feminine and Masculine
It is important to remember the difference
between masculine and feminine
principles and masculine and feminine
roles. The roles have been determined
by aspects of the culture: the economic
needs, political development, ethical and
moral progression, social and spiritual
beliefs and, of course, by biology.
Women bear children; men do not. All
the consciousness raising of the modern
feminists cannot alter that fact.
Mythology, however, utilizes masculine
and feminine principles in a Jungian
manner by considering that within every
human there is an energy – the animus
and anima to use Jung’s terms – that
gives impetus to human behavior and understanding. The animus is the masculine
found in both male and female psyche, and the anima is the feminine found in both the
male and female psyche.
Since the moon has obvious connections with the female fertility cycle, primitive cultures
concluded that the moon was feminine and vital to the growth of plants, the fertility of
animals and humans, and, of course, because it appeared only at night, to be
associated with darkness and death. Fertility, birth and death were all given feminine
affiliations. By association the sun, the solar principles, was considered masculine.
There is a recognition in all cultures that both masculine and feminine principles are vital
to creativity: male and female must work in harmony to allow the creative processes of
life to flourish. In many cultures the role of the priest and prophet or shaman is to
mediate between these principles and develop rites and rituals that will enhance the
experiences of human life. Mythologist Joseph Campbell refers to the ultimate merging
of these principles as transcendence, that is, the ability to transcend the limitation of
masculinity and femininity to a consciousness of the unity of all things.
The Feminine Archetypes
According to Jungian psychology the archetypes of
the collective unconscious are manifested in similar
mythological motifs which are universal, that is,
they are similar among all peoples, in all places
and in all times. One of the most universal
experiences of mankind is the relationship with
mother. Being totally dependent for all things on
someone else can create an all-powerful image, so
it is not surprising to find that many of the world’s
prehistoric religions were centered around the
worship of the feminine principle – the “Great
Mother.” She was the life-giving force. She was
the symbol of fertility; she was both revered and
feared. If the “Great Mother” smiled her blessings
upon you, your family, your crops, and your flocks
would prosper. If she frowned, your enterprises
would all fail. Thus the great mother archetype can be beneficent- the nurturing,
protective, loving mother or maleficent – the dangerous mother who can withhold both
food and love and threaten one’s very existence. As Erich Fromm, a twentieth century
psychologist, points out in his book The Art of Loving:
Mother can give life, and she can take life.
She is the one to revive, and the one to destroy.
She can do miracles of love-
And nobody can hurt more than she.