Archetypes as a Helpful Tool

Posted in Archetypes

Archetypes as a Helpful Tool

***Please take a moment to look at the Archetypal Analysis that I offer.***

As an Intuitive Counselor, it is my job to provide my clients with tools and an environment for them to explore how their symbolic or archetypal landscapes translate into something they can understand and use to make their lives more efficient and full of meaning. I do this in many ways. The main tenant I work by is that I give validity to the symbolic and credence to the unseen and un-rational. Some of the tools I use are those I mentioned above. I offer my clients an Archetypal Analysis which consists of using Archetypes intuitively chosen that are ‘thrown’ onto the Astrological wheel of houses. This tool was developed by Caroline Myss and is described in her book Sacred Contracts. The interpretation of this evaluation is a spring board for a deepening into the self and we can follow up with regular visits to enhance the process using conversation, goal setting, and Hellerwork which is a process model that uses structural bodywork, movement and awareness education. It is imperative to include all the systems of the self when exploring the world of the archetypes. Caroline Myss has a saying that has always resonated with me, “Your biography becomes your biology”. It is my experience that any work we do on the Physical translates in some way to the Mental, Emotional or Spiritual and visa versa; in any order. The process is enhanced 100 fold when we acknowledge all of the self.

This article will define archetypes. It has the intention of providing the reader with a working knowledge on how to use archetypal symbology as a tool for self understanding and to start to create a sense of comfort with the language being used in the world of Intuitive Development.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines an archetype as “an original model or type after which other similar things are patterned,” or as a prototype or an ideal. Archetypes can also be defined as energies that get their animation from the collective unconscious. Carl Jung is credited with the concept of the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious consists of a virtual library that stores data of a symbolic nature. This virtual library resides not just in the collective psyche but also in the individual psyche where each individual has access to collective symbols, most of which (if not all) are archetypes. The most well known avenue of the archetype or symbolic that is accepted in our current culture is dreams. Psycho-analysis dives into dream interpretation as a matter of course. In dreams, seeming gibberish can become information that is a language of our subconscious and when someone knows the language, it can be translated into information that serves us in a practical, rational sense. For example; it has become mainstream to interpret water in a dream as something to do with the dreamer’s emotional system.

The collective unconscious holds the concept of archetypes. An example of identifying an archetype could be if I suggested to you the word ‘Mother”. Instantly characteristics of “Mother” come up. Of course the first impression could be of your own mother so that would be one similar characteristic that everyone’s experience of the word ‘mother’ would share. Other shared characteristics of the archetype of mother could be: soft, nurturing, or playful. It is agreed that these characteristics mentioned are in the positive spectrum. Some other collectively shared characteristics more to the negative end of the scale could be: strict, punitive, neglectful or uncaring. The point of this is that anything that the culture identifies similar characteristics to becomes animated enough to become an archetype.

Fairy tales are full of archetypal characters. There are always Kings and/or Queens , a Princess and her Prince Charming, a Dunce or Fool or two, and of course a Witch or a Troll present in fairy tales. If you sit and contemplate each of these characters, you will surely be able to describe each of them with many characteristics. Anyone else would most probably have most of these descriptions, especially if they were from your similar cultural background.

Interestingly, these words that animate into archetypes are truly neutral energies. It is only when we assign characteristics, particularly extreme characteristics, do they become good or bad, acceptable or taboo. It seems to be part of being human to be dualistic in nature. We seem to prefer or have as a default to place judgments on words, feelings or situations. If we understand this propensity of ours to assign a polarized attitude towards definition we can start to be able to accept that our definitions might be able to include more options than those that are polarized. In The King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette it is suggested that the masculine includes the above mentioned four masculine archetypes as the foundation for the masculine psychic makeup. By allowing the polarizing attitudes of mature and immature onto each of these archetypes, we are shown an explanation of how we can use these archetypes as tools for understanding what makes us work and the hows and whys we make the choices we do. This is also a main premise in the book Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen but from a feminine perspective.

Fairy tales, myths, and stories were originally passed down from generation to generation as allegorical explanations about human nature. For example, and very simply, let’s take the tale of Little Red Riding Hood . It could be said that Little Red Riding Hood is an Initiation Fairy Tale where the mother sends the little girl off on a path that is familiar. But it is the first time she goes alone. Her innocence and light is spotted by a wolf (how often do we try to protect the innocent feminine from the masculine that is predatory which we call wolf-like in nature?) The wolf then hurries to the grandmother’s house. The wolf eats the grandmother whole, and then lays in wait to prey on the innocent young girl. Red Riding Hood meets the challenge of identifying the wolf dressed up as the grandmother, (who the collective characterizes as the wisdom bearer) The strong mature masculine as the hunter enters; kills the wolf, the grandmother hops out still whole and very hearty, they all eat the goodies brought by Red Riding Hood from her mother and……they all live happily ever after.

This story is a commonly known fairy tale told in many forms and venues to children all over the globe where there is a European influence. Other cultures surely have initiatory stories that show a similar map of the human journey from childhood to adulthood to anyone willing to listen. On one level, it is ‘just’ a story to capture the child in a listening moment. I remember when I had this tale told to me for the first time. I know my eyes were wide. I was totally immersed in the tale. Those remembered reactions to the storyteller are sure signs of an archetypal experience. On a deeper level, I suggest that from the first time I heard this tale, I started to become aware of the need for me to watch for those ‘wolves’ out there in the big, big world. Later on as I have grown up and studied self awareness and character development, I have realized that every character (or archetype!) in the tale is a part of myself. I hold each character (Mother, Red Riding Hood as the Heroine and youth, Wolf, Grandmother and Huntsman) within my own psyche. This tale, along with all tales that hold such meaning or animation for me, then deepens from a fairy tale about a bunch of imaginary characters to an inner landscape now made available to my perusal.

Stories and dreams are just two venues where we can fish for archetypal information. Our ancestors have provided us with other venues we can use as archetypal tools. Most of us have at least a cursory familiarity with astrology or Tarot cards. Another way of looking at whether you are a Gemini or a Cancer is to recognize these as rich archetypes. For thousands of years, the collective unconscious has assigned characteristics to the Astrological signs, houses and even to the planets and other heavenly bodies like the sun and the moon. Just from the sheer duration of time, these characteristics take on a rich symbolic meaning. These meanings are valid in the psyche, both on individual and collective levels. The same applies with the ancient Tarot deck; each of the cards have had characteristics assigned to them for thousands of years and that gives them a symbolic and very real experience on a psychic level. Another venue that has been very popular in recent years is the honoring we have done of the Native American use of animal characteristics in an archetypal way. Generally known as ‘totems’ these animals and the way they are with nature are translated into ways we can choose to approach the world in a ‘beauty way’ or in a way of integrity….integrity with nature and in integrity with ourselves.

Another venue deserves a place in this article. And that is the Self. I have found in my studies of intuitive development that each individual is rich in symbolic language. This can be interpreting everyday items symbolically like a red light means ‘stop’ or an American flag is interpreted into patriotic feelings or a cross makes us think of (and may experience) Christianity. Those examples we inarguably share with each other. The self is also a dictionary of more personal symbology. That can vary from judgments we place on those everyday items mentioned above to items that stem from a familial archetypal dictionary, or very personal associations that no one else shares the animation that emanates from them for us.

Kim Illig is an Intuitive Counselor, distinguished with certification from both Caroline Myss and Norman Shealy. With over 30 years experience in the healing arts working with individuals, groups and organizations, Kim brings extensive knowledge and skills to her practice. She invites all to be “integrating the intuitive everyday.” Make an appointment with Kim and start transforming your life today!

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2 thoughts on “Archetypes as a Helpful Tool
  1. mitzner says:

    Wow there is so many things for me to figure out still in Tarot reading.
    Where is the most info filled place online to get more info to get better at actually tarot card reading?
    K im Hewitt

    • kimillig says:

      Hi Kim….the best resource I know of is Angeles Arrien’s The Tarot Handbook. Not an online source, I’m afraid. Frankly…:)….the best way to get good at it is practice and to use your own intuitive read first before referring to any other expert advice. Enjoy and Blessings!

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