I really appreciate the Wikipedia information which follows. Trying to explain Jungian archetypes can be very confusing, I think even for the Jungians, let alone us midwesterners.
However, Carl Jung's work has always resonated with me and I have read a great deal about it over the years, and still follow the developments in that field.
I was really intrigued to discover the early connection between Jung and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It appears that Jung's reference to spontaneous recoveries through spiritual experiences impacted the early direction of AA.
Two of the archetypes which have been very much a part of my life are the initiatory and shadow.
I have been deeply impacted by the initiatory experience through The New Warrior Adventure Weekend which helped me to discover experientially my Shadow as both deadly and golden.
In fact while staffing my first New Warrior Weekend subsequent to my own initiatory weekend, I had a dream which still impacts me emotionally whenever I recall it.
In the dream, I am walking barefoot down the edge of a sword towards the sun, which means that to get to the "light", I must allow the cutting of the "sole" of my feet. As I recall that dream, which happened over 19 years ago, my feet still tingle.
And I am still walking on and balancing on the sword. It is a bit easier to balance now.
The sword is the initiatory experience, and the men at that weekend helped my to link together experientially all the violent episodes in my life and to look inside at my own savagery, and the potential for more savagery. That is the Shadow and its aspects.
Now I am a Dad, looking to create an initiation for my own son, and seeking advice from my ancestors, as Malidoma Some' would counsel.
Please read on about Carl Jung's work. It is a treasure.
Archetypes are, according to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, innate universal psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic themes of human life emerge. Being universal and innate, their influence can be detected in the form of myths, symbols, rituals and instincts of human beings. Archetypes are components of the collective unconscious and serve to organize, direct and inform human thought and behaviour.
According to Jung, archetypes heavily influence the human life cycle, propelling a neurologically hard-wired sequence which he called the stages of life. Each stage is mediated through a new set of archetypal imperatives which seek fulfillment in action. These may include being parented, initiation, courtship, marriage and preparation for death. Virtually alone among the depth psychologists of the twentieth century, Jung rejected the tabula rasa theory of human psychological development, believing instead that evolutionary pressures had dictated the basic structures and functions of the psyche. He believed that human experience was directed by a priori aptitudes. He wrote:
"The whole nature of man presupposes woman, both physically and spiritually. His system is tuned into woman from the start, just as it is prepared for a quite definite world into which he is already inborn in him as a virtual image. Likewise, parents, wife, children, birth and death are inborn in him as virtual images, as psychic aptitudes. These [categories] have individual predestinations. We must therefore, think of these images as lacking in solid content, hence as unconscious. They only acquire solidity, influence, and eventual consciousness in the encounter with empirical facts."
The archetypes form a dynamic substratum common to all humanity, upon the foundation of which each individual builds his own experience of life, developing a unique array of psychological characteristics. Thus, while archetypes themselves may be conceived as a relative few innate nebulous forms, from these may arise innumerable images, symbols and patterns of behavior. While the emerging images and forms are apprehended consciously, the archetypes which inform them are elementary structures which are unconscious and more difficult to apprehend. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behaviour, images, art, myths, etc. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behaviour on interaction with the outside world.
The archetype is a crucial Jungian concept. Its significance to analytical psychology has been likened to that of gravity for Newtonian physics.
The intuition that there was more to the psyche than individual experience could put there began in Jung's childhood. The very first dream he could remember was that of an underground phallic god. His researches in schizophrenia later confirmed his early intuition that universal psychic structures exist which underlie all human experience and behaviour. Jung first referred to these as "primordial images" - a term he borrowed from Jacob Burckhardt. Later in 1917 he called them "dominants of the collective unconscious". It was not until 1919 that he first used the term "archetypes" in an essay titled Instinct and the unconscious.
The origins of the archetypal hypothesis date back as far as Plato. Jung himself compared archetypes to Platonic ideas. Plato's ideas were pure mental forms, that were imprinted in the soul before it was born into the world. They were collective in the sense that they embodied the fundamental characteristics of a thing rather than its specific peculiarities.
Examples and conceptual difficulties
Although the general idea of an archetype is well recognized, there is considerable confusion as regards their exact nature and the way they result in universal experiences. The confusion about the archetypes can partly be attributed to Jung's own evolving ideas about them in his writings and his interchangeable use of the term "archetype" and "primordial image". Strictly speaking, archetypal figures such as the hero, the goddess and the wise man are not archetypes, but archetypal images which have crystallised out of the archetypes-as-such.
Jung described: archetypal events: birth, death, separation from parents, initiation, marriage, the union of opposites etc., archetypal figures: mother, father, child, God, trickster, hero, wise old man, etc., and archetypal motifs: the Apocalypse, the Deluge, the Creation, etc.
However the precise relationships between images such as, for example, "the fish" and its archetype were not adequately explained by Jung. Here the image of the fish is not strictly speaking an archetype. However the "archetype of the fish" points to the ubiquitous existence of an innate "fish archetype" which gives rise to the fish image. In clarifying the contentious statement that fish archetypes are universal, Anthony Stevens explains that the archetype-as-such is at once an innate predisposition to form such an image and a preparation to encounter and respond appropriately to the creature per se. This would explain the existence of snake and spider phobias, for example, in people living in urban environments where they have never encountered either creature.
Jung also proposed the existence of the Self, the anima, the animus and the shadow as psychological structures having an archetypal nature.
For more information about the Jungian theory of counseling, please click the link to Wikipedia below.
Wikipedia-Jungian Theory of Counseling
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.
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