“Who am I?” “How do I understand what drives me at my deepest and most authentic level?”
These soul-level inquiries are often woven through the questions that draw people to psychics and the study of astrology, tarot, numerology, metaphysics, and personal self-development. But such questions are not limited to the realm of spirituality and metaphysics. Psychology, and Jungian psychology in particular, has had lots to say about the workings of the psyche, especially those subconscious and unconscious parts of our personality that exist below the more familiar conscious layer. And this intersection of psychic arts and psychology makes for very interesting study.
Who is Carl Jung?
As spiritual practitioners, the unconscious realm is where we tread most. Carl Gustav Jung (1842-1896) the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, chose to look deeper into the realms of the unconscious than his mentor, Sigmund Freud. Jung’s theories have proven to be an effective tool to inform traditional forms of divination.
Jung did not only examine the unconscious, but he also divided the unconscious into two sections - the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious develops from our personal experience and interactions with the world and others. The collective unconscious is a layer of our mind we came into the world that connects us all to the history of thoughts and behaviors of all of humanity.
Archetypes and the Tarot
One of the most notable extensions of the collective unconscious is the identification of psychological archetypes to organize personality types to categorize their personal experience in the context of their environment. The archetypes contain concrete images and characteristics that represent specific roles in society that we identify with or can identify in each other.
As a tarot reader and a trained psychologist, it is natural for me to compare the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious with court cards and major arcana. The tarot offers a richly symbolic system for describing personality types and patterns in individuals and society, much in the same way Jung’s system of archetypes categories psychological information into archetypes.
Common Archetypes in the Media
Our common understanding of archetypes can be identified by the symbols and concepts used in a culture. They are often perpetuated in how one expresses themselves in clothing, speech, and life choices. The most recognizable archetypes are media generated terms to describe particular populations. In America, one common archetype is a “soccer mom” which describes women with young children in a certain socioeconomic status and who have certain needs. Marketing efforts often use archetypes to target particular populations to sell products or encourage a lifestyle. Another common archetype is the “rock star” that has been adapted to numerous contexts to represent a high energy performer or charismatic person who stands out in a crowd. While such personas may serve a useful purpose in business or as a way of understanding culture, the real value of working with archetypes is to delver deeper into the stories that lie below the surface.
Jungian archetypes are therefore both more broad and more rigid. These archetypes were created and dissected to describe the characteristics of each personality and the personal journeys each archetype is likely to follow. Like any system for understanding personality, each archetype has at its core an essence, motivations and struggles that are common to that type and seem to transcend all the variations that come from an individual’s unique life experience.
Jung also identified four cardinal orientations which further categorizes the archetypes by their directional orientation.
The 12 Jungian Archetypes are broken into:
- Ego Types: The Innocent, The Everyman, The Hero, The Caregiver.
- Soul Types: The Explorer, The Rebel, The Lover, The Creator/Artist.
- The Self Types: The Jester, The Sage, The Magician, The Ruler.
The Jungian Archetypes are often represented as above in a wheel. This format is popular for its practical applications. It has been an inspiration for many popular graphics which show the relationship between well-known brands, people, or characters and their values, journey, or other identifiable characteristics.
Here’s a fun way to see which archetypes guide your life. Take the quiz to see if you find yourself in the resulting type.
Archetypes and The Zodiac
The similarities in structure between the archetypes and zodiac signs is not a coincidence. Jung famously said, “Astrology represents the sum of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity.” Modern psychological studies show that people turn to astrology to counter stress and anxiety. Jung, however believed that the constellations are a result of the collective unconscious.
The 12 zodiac signs are also commonly referred to as archetypes and each has its own symbols. In everyday life, zodiac archetypes are used to identify certain qualities in people. The common use of zodiac archetypes based on the sun’s placement at the time and location of a person’s birth only scratches the surface. The placement of the other planets in the natal chart is also important. There are also modalities that determine the underlying patterns that each zodiac will approach life; cardinal, fixed and mutable. All of the zodiac signs are based on the constellations. According to Jung, the constellations are also a result of the collective unconscious.
Like the zodiac, Jungian archetypes can be used to summarize personality types and give clues to a person’s basic motivations. Jung’s archetypes are based on characteristics assumed by the collective unconscious.
The cardinal orientations determine what each archetype strives for:
1. Ego orientation wants to leave a mark on the world.
2. Order orientation wants to provide structure in the world.
3. Social orientation wants to connect to others.
4. Freedom orientation yearns for paradise.
Knowing your own orientation and archetype can be useful in identifying your behavior patterns and finding the most effective way to direct your energy. Being aware of other archetypes could also prove helpful in interacting with others and building more productive relationships.
The Four Main Archetypes
The most practical aspects of Jungian Archetypes are called the Four Main Archetypes. Using this version of the Jungian Archetypes allows you to isolate the aspect of your personality that you would like to examine and set goals for how you would like to present that aspect in the future.
1. The Persona is how we present ourselves in a social context.
2. The Shadow represents the repressed aspects of our personality.
3. Anima/Animus is how we represent our culture and how we fit into the world.
4. The Self represents our common understanding of conscious and unconscious.
Jung also found numbers to be powerful in making order out of mental chaos and give direction in times of uncertainty. He acknowledged the usefulness of numbers in synchronicities and dreams and laid some of the groundwork that would lead to the development of Life Path numbers. Life path numbers are a single or double digit result from a calculation using your birthday.
Like astrology, your life path number is used to describe your unique qualities and how they influence your decision making. Further study shows how your personality might fit into a certain career or how compatible you are with other life path numbers for relationships. You can read more about numerical archetypes in our Numerology Guide and use this Life Path Calculator to determine your life path number.
Why We Work with Archetypes
For our clients, we are a resource to examine the inner workings of someone they know and many times themselves. Exploring archetypes is a helpful and non-threatening way to examine your own personality because it allows you to step outside your own story and view the archetype from a more objective perspective. As you evolve in your understanding of your identity and what drives you, you can focus on any aspect of your personality and make adjustments to become more self-fulfilled. This work can take a very practical focus, such as setting benchmarks measured by changes in behavior, or a more spiritual or therapeutic focus, for example, interpreting dreams and visions and relating them to one’s values and experiences.
Doing Shadow Work with clients to dive into parts of the personality that are easily hidden are everyday tasks for spiritual practitioners and light workers. One basic but very effective exercise in shadow work is to make a list of your most positive qualities. Then, make a list of the opposite qualities. The list of opposite qualities represents your shadow side. Often, the things that you despise in another person are the very things that we dislike in ourselves. How else could we recognize a quality that we find unattractive unless we have full knowledge of its origins and workings?
Whether you chose to do this work on your own, with a psychic life coach or a therapist, you’ll find that each profession brings its own set of skills and perspectives to bear, as these Psychic Source Advisors explain. Choose the advisor and approach that works for you.
Care for the Psyche, Insights for Life
It is not unusual for spiritual practitioners to get calls from clients who describe themselves as “going crazy.” Feeling out of control or like nothing makes sense can be a result of not having enough about a situation. More often that feeling of “going crazy” is a result of not having enough self-awareness. What is your motivation? Why is your reaction so strong?
There is no force outside of yourself that can control your mind. Self-care begins with understanding and accepting what makes you feel safe, stable, and happy. There are endless external messages from the media and people that will make you believe that their product or presence is crucial to your happiness. Those messages are untrue. Only you know what makes you feel whole and only you can make sure that it is provided. Even more important, it is up to you to release the things that do not serve you. As a psychologist, I encourage self-mastery and finding what brings you peace and allows you to cope in difficult circumstances. As a spiritual practitioner, I remind you that there are spirits, angels, ancestors, and the power of God to assist you in navigating the many circumstances that you cannot control.
According to Caroline Myss, “Power is the fundamental ingredient of the human experience – of life itself. The spiritual journey is essentially a journey of discovering again how powerful every choice we make in life is and growing in awareness about how and why we make the choices we do. Archetypal patterns are cosmic, psychic forces that unite us to each other.” The study of archetypes can be an empowering and insightful addition to our inner work. It allows us to view what we have in common with one another, with compassion and with empathy. By deepening our understanding of the cosmic archetypal energies which drive us, we can learn to direct our power in ways which enhance the quality of our lives.