My Life as an Archetype

Researching topics on the web is kinda like shopping: you leave the house with a list – and you come home with twice the number of items on that list!

While fleshing-out areas herein I became über fascinated with W-O-R-D-S. Researching definitions, antonyms, synonyms, and etymology drove me to all sorts of related AND unrelated information. Interesting stuff. For instance, while researching the word “anima” I stumbled upon Carl Jung’s concept of  Analytical Psychology  (also called “Jungian Psychology”) in which “Anima” was one of four major ARCHETYPES.

(“Archetype…what’s an ‘Archetype’?” I was intrigued.)

n. (Jungian) a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors,
supposed to be present in the collective unconscious
n. a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology
n. very typical example of a certain person or thing

“Archetypes are essentially quasi-autonomous functions which give rise to specific motifs, as common in all mythology as in any individual’s life. They are often discussed in terms of personifications which appear in dreams, but they can also be seen in themes of stories, mythological or lived. They are very potent as patterns of action.” – Eric Pettifor

I found references to Archetypes in literature, astrology, mythology, business (especially branding/marketing), art, film, math, behavior (Myers-Briggs Personality Test), science, programming, and psychology. Wow. How is it I’d never heard of the word? Since I was unfamiliar with both analytical psychology (or the realm of psychological theories) and Carl Jung, I thought that’d be a great place to start this journey; although I didn’t think it’d take me weeks of research before I could begin writing…

“Jung noted that within the collective unconscious there exist a number of archetypes which we can all recognise. An archetype is the model image of a person or role and includes the mother figure, father, wise old man and clown/joker, amongst others. The mother figure, for example, has caring qualities; she is dependable and compassionate. We all hold similar ideas of the mother figure and we see her across cultures and in our language – such as the term ‘mother nature’.” – E.P.

The four major Archetypes according to Jung were: Self, Anima/Animus, Persona, and The Shadow.
Eric Pettifor refers to them as “functions”, as each has a specific role or quality.

In Jungian theory, the SELF is one of several Archetypes. It signifies the coherent whole, unifying both the consciousness and unconscious mind of a person. The Self, according to Jung, is realized as the product of individuation – which is defined as the process of integrating one’s personality.

ANIMA(in men)/ANIMUS(in women) represents our true self (the Soul) and is the source of our creativity. Jung saw men as having one dominant Anima, contributed to by female members of his family, while women have a more complex, variable Animus – perhaps made of several parts. Furthermore, the Anima/Animus may appear as someone exotic or unusual in some way, perhaps with amazing skills and powers.  (hmmm…)

“The ‘soul’…has a feminine character in the man
and a masculine character in a woman.
His Anima wants to reconcile and unite;
her Animus tries to discern and discriminate.”
Carl Jung (“The Psychology of the Transference”)

“You are a slave of what you need in your soul” – C. Jung

“You’ve been developing a distinctly feminine anima
and I do not like it.” – Atia to her son, Octavian
Rome, S1 “Stealing from Saturn”

The PERSONA (Latin for “mask”) is how we present ourselves to the world. It is not a literal mask, however, the Persona represents all of the different social masks that we wear among various groups and situations. It acts to shield the ego from negative images. According to Jung, the Persona may appear in dreams and take different forms.

The SHADOW is a very common Archetype that reflects deeper elements of our psyche, where ‘latent dispositions’ (which are common to us all) arise. It embodies chaos and wildness of character. The Shadow thus tends not to obey rules and in doing so may discover new lands or plunge things into chaos and battle. It has a sense of the exotic and can be disturbingly fascinating.

The Shadow can also have a life of its own as the Other. The Other helps us to understand, create and define ourselves. Others can be imagined people. Thus we may define an ideal prototype personality to which we aspire and use this as a comparison.

Objects can be Others too, as we see ourselves in relation to and reflected in the things around us.

“The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.” – C. Jung

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Anais Nin

“I thought I was the Warrior and Cersei was the Maid, but all the time she was the Stranger, hiding her true face from my gaze.”
Jaimie Lannister

It was during this research – maybe sometime before (I got so deeply mired in all this I can’t remember which came first) – characters from my childhood bubbled-up from my psyche. “Jung said that synchronicity is more likely to occur when we are in a highly charged state of emotional and mental awareness – when, in his words, the Archetypes (universal images or themes underlying human behavior) are activated.” link

n. the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible
causal connection

These images created a lasting influence on the kind of woman I wanted to be, how I wanted to look, and the effect I wanted to have on people; and none of these “role models” were real (in the sense they were people in my life) – they were all creations of literature/film/tv. So, of course, I immersed myself in researching Archetypes in literature, film, astrology, mythology, etc. I’d walked into another world entirely! (Much to digest – I will connect the dots as I construct this narrative.) Comparing mine with the literary types, I found all were eerily similar. So much so, I had a difficult time “categorizing” them for inclusion here. However, one thought kept nagging at me:

Where did these female ‘Personas’ come from? I mean, why them?
Why not my Mom or Aunt or neighbor – or a teacher at school?


Did I experience something early on that formed the root of this attraction
– or was my attraction to these Archetypes inherent in me?

Jung felt that people are born with a blueprint already in them that will determine the course of their lives – something which, while controversial at the time, is fairly widely-supported today (owing to the amount of evidence there is in the animal kingdom for various species being born with a repertoire of behaviors uniquely adapted to their environments).

Anima, Animus and the Magical Other
Desire, Fascination, and The Other
Illuminating the Shadow
Shadow Work
The Jungian Shadow
Transpersonal Pioneers: Carl Jung
The Jungian Model of the Psyche
Category: Carl Jung (wiki)
Understanding Synchronicity
Hosting the Shadow

There it is – the answer to that nagging question (somehow I knew it all along…) If you’re interested in discovering what YOUR Archetype(s) may be, there’ll be a Pot o’ Gold for you at the end of this journey – so stay with me.

Without any further ado, let
me introduce you to my first Archetype: