The Archetypes

Please note that these segments are meant to give Jung's definitions of certain concepts. These are not the only definitions of these words, nor necessarily the best. Since these words are used in other ways by other people, I felt it necessary to begin with what Jung means by them. Otherwise, what he has to say when we get to the heart of the matter would be readily misunderstood.

This is going to be a longer post, for two reasons. First, it is all of one piece; I don't see a natural break. Second, with this out of the way we get past the definitions and into the material on the process of individuation.

***** Psychic existence can be recognized only by the presence of contents that are capable of consciousness. We can therefore speak of an unconscious only in so far as we are able to demonstrate its contents. The contents of the personal unconsciousness are chiefly the feeling-toned complexes, as they are called; they constitute the personal and private side of psychic life. The contents of the collective unconscious, on the other hand, are known as archetypes.

Primitive tribal lore is concerned with archetypes that have been modified in a special way. They are no longer contents of the unconscious, but have already been changed into conscious formulae taught according to tradition, generally in the form of esoteric teaching. This last is a typical means of expression for the transmission of collective contents originally derived from the unconscious. Another well-known expression of the archetypes is myth and fairytale. But here too we are dealing with forms that have received a specific stamp and have been handed down through long periods of time.*****

(Ed.) Here we see the important idea that the archetypes are NOT their expressions. For instance, we commonly speak of the archetype of the Earth Mother. This is one of those culturally determined expressions, taught according to tradition, spoken of above. The rule CGJ is proposing here is, once it is capable of conscious expression, it's no longer an archetype, but an artifact of the archetype. The archetypes always remain unknowable, out there in the beyond of Beyond. He clarifies further:

***** There is a considerable difference between the archetype and the historical formula that has evolved. Especially on the higher levels of esoteric teaching the archetypes appear in a form that reveals quite unmistakably the critical and evaluating influence of conscious elaboration. Their immediate manifestation, as we encounter it in dreams and visions, is much more individual, less understandable, and more naive than in myths, for example. The archetype is essentially an unconscious content that is altered by becoming conscious and by being perceived, and it takes its color from the individual consciousness in which it happens to appear.*****

(Ed.) I wonder -- for those of us who work consciously with material like the Keys, so clearly archetypal in origin, if our dreams would have less of the naive element mentioned above, and more of the conscious elaboration, thereby making them more readily apparent. This seems to be true for me; how about you?

***** Primitive man impresses us so strongly with his subjectivity that we really should have guessed long ago that myths refer to something psychic. His knowledge of nature is essentially the language and outer dress of an unconscious psychic process. But the very fact that this process is unconscious gives us the reason why man has thought of everything except the psyche in his attempts to explain myths. He simply didn't know that the psyche contains all the images that have ever given rise to myths, and that our unconscious is an acting and suffering subject with an inner drama which primitive man rediscovers, by means of analogy, in the processes of nature both great and small.*****

(Ed.) Here CGJ introduces his idea that the unconscious has a nature and character of its own, independent of our personal selves. The word "subject" in the last sentence above is used in the grammatical sense -- remembering diagramming sentences? Do they still do that? -- the subject is the doer of action, the verb is the action done, the object is that which is acted upon, right?

***** "The stars of thine own fate lie in thy breast," says Seni to Wallenstein - a dictum that should satisfy all astrologers if we knew even a little about the secrets of the heart. *****

(Ed.) Does this sound familiar or what?

In these sentences, Jung establishes his idea of "personal unconscious" as
meaning exactly what we mean by subconsciousness; and his "collective
unconscious" as meaning exactly what we mean by superconsciousness.
As indicated before, I appreciate Jung's foundational work in this, and
consider anything in superconsciousness as "personal," in the usual sense of the
word, I think, on the other hand, that there is a pronounced "collective
subconsciousness" as well as a "collective superconsciousness." The closest
thing to a "personal superconsciousness" I presently can conceive would be
found more in the distinctive personal channels of access to
superconsciousness, if that makes any sense.
Regardless of this -- as Bruce said, it's important to have Jung's sense
of these words and usage, before going ahead to discuss his employment of the words.
Have you read "Cloud Upon the Sanctuary" -- the definitive (IMVHO)
discussion of the nature and existence of the Inner School? The foregoing is
expressing exactly the same idea as the central thesis of C.U.t.S., that the
real Instruction (real Truth) is interior, within the Hidden Place; but (as
C.U.t.S. puts it -- going from memory here) due to human weakness, it became
necessary to "incarnate" these truths in exterior doctrines and outer forms of worship.
If archetypes are "the capacity to produce symbols," then symbols are their
individual expression. But symbols are the language of subconsciousness.
Jung has been discussing a further "handing down," where the language of
subconsciousness has been translated further into the language of
self-consciousness, i.e., words and labels.
Even as there is considerable difference between the One Truth, and the
outer forms of worship that, historically, have evolved.
Hence the necessity for earlier levels of evolution to find God outside
oneself rather than within. Intra Nobis Regnum Dei; or Deus est Homo.

I had to give some thought to his "feeling-toned complexes". What does he
mean? Since the subconscious (here I am using Jim's definition of
unconscious = sub + superconscious) thinks in images, and images are
definitely colored with feelings, I assume this is the meaning here.

That is correct.

Bruce wrote, "Here we see the important idea that the archetypes are NOT their
expressions. For instance, we commonly speak of the archetype of the Earth
Mother. This is one of those culturally determined expressions, taught
according to tradition, spoken of above. The rule CGJ is proposing here is,
once it is capable of conscious expression, it's no longer an archetype, but
an artifact of the archetype. The archetypes always remain unknowable, out
there in the beyond of Beyond."

Yes, I am beginning to get this picture. The contents of the Collective
Unconscious are forever unknowable. However, these contents leak through in
various images which are culture-dependent. The Earth Mother is a
leak-through of some archetype which we can't know. This is a very
interesting concept. To connect to Kabbalah, the Sephiroth of the Supernal
Triangle are unknowable. For example, we have images we ascribe to Binah:
The Great Mother, The Great Sea, The 50 Gates. These are leak-throughs. We
really can never know Binah, not while embodied. (Okay, maybe a few adepts
can, but they generally don't tell.)

All these leak-throughs have to be handled somehow. So they get colored by
cultural images, local beliefs, and personal unconscious material. And myths are
tribal attempts to handle these leak-throughs. I'm not sure I agree that dreams and visions
contain less understandable material. My dream symbols are usually
reasonably accessible to me.

So does this intimate that there was no Great Flood, that this is a myth
arising from an Archetype? Or did some minor flood here and there get
connected with an Archetype that gets translated as Great Flood?
I note that some of the visions and dreams of various mystics that Jung
described herein seem to be very different and frightening images arising from
some Archetypes that have very different images for most of that culture.

Therefore the part of ourselves that is the I-part, the frontal lobe that makes
us survive by simulating the future based on past experience, is an archetype, the part of us that
overcomes our shadows is an archetype, and our shadows themselves are archetypes.

You are using the term archetype in a very different sense than any other I am familiar with. For instance, most would consider the shadow as part of the personal unconscious, rather than being an archetype or even a symbol of an archetype.

Been following the Jung thread with much interest.
The point I am getting from this, the one that Jung was using ALL
these words to express, is that the existence of an Archetypal Life
points directly to a "scientifically undiscovered" intelligence. Be it
called a language, or regarded as another dimension of expression, it
transcends the personal field of expression.
To put it simply, we all think it, therefore it is.
Again, he traces it back to the primitive man, and with good
reason. This demonstrates the Archetypal intelligence is, for all human
purposes, continual/perpetual.
So far as the emotions of the individual coloring the perception
of the Archetype, this is quite clearly the case even with self-conscious
awareness. One of the first exercises we learn is to shut down the
continual ego driven dialog in our heads and pay attention.
I am interested in learning if these Archetypes are treated as
separate living expression, or the language utilized by a singular
intelligence. Personally, I think it is simply a matter of where we choose
to draw the line.

It is not that the emotions of the individual color the perception of the archetype. The archetype has a feeling-tone (as CGJ calls it) which is prior to human emotion. You might say that we learn how to be emotional from the archetypes. They are a kind of template for our entire psychological experience, including thoughts, feelings, and symbols.
CGJ was very clear that the archetypes had an existence all their own, not dependent on ours. From our human point of view, in any case.

Following further meditation on the meaning of archetypes as existent on
both subconscious and superconscious levels, I had the following realizations:
1. Archetypes are structures which exist in the minds of all humans. They
exist on all levels of the collective unconscious, both subconscious and
superconscious levels, are deeply imbedded and not readily available to contact.
2. Archetypes are not themselves symbols, but are producers of symbols
which vary according to the cultural matrix, experience of the person,
familiar myths, and a few other variables.
3. Symbols may change due to the particular needs for growth of the person
or group at the time the symbol appears.
4. Archetypes are related (per CG Jung)to Alchemical pictures, Tarot symbols
and the Chakra system. Jung left the relationship quite amorphous in the article I was reading.
5. Archetypes are largely inaccessible to self-consciousness, although some
gifted people may contact bits and pieces of them.
Conclusion: Dr. Jung is talking about the Sephiroth. He had some awareness
of Kabbalah, and may have made this connection, but I haven't read any such
conclusion by him. However, it seems clear to me that this is what he is trying to describe.

Great short summary of the material so far. I am not aware that Jung did any special study of Qabala. He mentions it from time to time, but does not seem to recognize a connection between it and alchemy. He was somewhat more aware of Tarot, and did recognize the connection with alchemy. 'Course, I haven't read all of the thousands of pages of his writings, so I could be wrong...

Bruce, Jung was a member of the Hermetic Society in Zurich, a kabbalistic
offshoot order from the Golden Dawn. I have talked to the Chief there who
knew him well. His psychology is definitely Hermetic.

Thanks for the information. I wasn't sure he was versed in Qabala. This indicates that he would have been.


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