Working With Archetypes

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Posted on January 25, 2021

For most of us on this spiritual path, there comes a day when you are gifted or you purchase an Oracle or Tarot Deck. You may be attracted to it for the imagery or the words that give you inspiration and guidance. But over time, as your energy starts to enliven the cards and you start to build a relationship with them, the guidance starts to become more profound and you are able to glean deeper meaning.

This is exactly how I come to write about archetypes in this blog post. For the past couple of years, I have bought and gifted decks and a daily card pull is part of my practice. The two decks that I work most closely with are built on archetypes (The Goddess Guidance Oracle Deck and The Wild Unknown Archetypes Deck) and I am feeling called to talk about how this plays out in my practice.  

And before I continue, I want to be clear in stating that I have not deeply studied Carl Jung’s teachings or associated theories and therapies and that this is an account of my own understanding and spiritual practice, which is my own.


What Are Archetypes?

It is said that Plato was the first to talk about Forms that exist in the physical and non-physical realms. But it was Carl Gustav Jung that coined the term Archetype and described them as the living system of reactions and aptitudes that determine the individual’s life in invisible ways. “Arche” meaning first, and “type” meaning kind -- implying that archetypes have been in existence since the beginning of time and are being expressed through us in our human existence.

One of our fundamental tasks in our human experience is to get closer to the Self and we do this through relationships and interactions with others and ourselves. We are on a journey of uncovering and befriending all parts of ourselves. You may just call them parts or you may call them archetype, but fact is that these “parts” are what influence our relationship with self and others, most often subconsciously.

Archetypes really unite us in our experience as being human. Archetypes are universal, timeless and infinite – meaning that they exist in all of us, they have existed since the beginning of time, and since we as humans only get glimpses of what is consciousness, the possible archetypes are endless.

Archetypes are very often expressed through creativity and in art such as movies, plays and paintings. They penetrate every part of our existence, are everywhere and timeless. The only difference may be in the many ways in which an archetype may express itself throughout time. The mother archetype for example has always existed and will always exist, it is universal, it is within all of us, yet the expression of this archetype may differ over time, influenced by social and cultural ideals.


What Are the Intentions of Archetypes?

Archetypes reside in our subconscious and influence human behavior. Think of them as a set pattern of behavior shared by all of humanity. On our journey inward to discover the Self, they inspire us to grow through the deeper and more creative experience of life. Hence, why the imagery of Oracle Decks is so powerful. Archetypes and their creative power move us from the rational egoic mind to the imaginary, emotional and mythical – to access the deeper essence of our soul.

Archetypes tap into the emotions of our inner world and give life a sense of personal meaning. Archetypes and their meaning are inside and outside as well as light and dark – as within so without, as above so below. They ask us to expand our sense of self, to get to know and accept even the rejected or unlovable parts and to move from rejection to inclusion. Through this process of accepting and loving the Self, they ask us to expand our perception and bring us back to the collective. We can only love and accept in others that which we love and accept in ourselves. Archetypes are the energy of potential; forever expanding into the unknown allowing us to go deeper and deeper and become ever more fully expressed.


How to Work with Archetypes

How can we then use the imagery and essence of an archetype to elevate our consciousness and support our development? The answer is that we may trust and open to the image of an archetype that emerges for us or calls to us. When we can observe an archetype operating within us by becoming more self-aware, then we can more consciously guide its essence so as to prevent it from influencing our behavior in negative ways. On the flip side, we can also work with the image and essence of an archetype that we want to embody because all archetypes already exist within all of us.

Archetypes are a doorway to getting to know ourselves and to create balance between the unconscious and conscious mind. Creating balance in our mind cannot happen by using our mind, rather requires being able to align to our center /our higher self and by accessing emotions and imagination. Therefore, before working with archetypes, try grounding and quieting the mind

Kim Krans, the creator of The Wild Unknown Archetype Deck, says that “it is possible that archetypes have their own agendas, their own work to do on us. When an image calls you, may you trust it. Within it, eventually, circuitously, wondrously, you may discover another deeper image…”

This is exactly how I have used the imagery and guidance of the Oracle decks as part of my daily spiritual practice. Most recently, I have felt called to embody and call in the essence of The High Priestess. The High Priestess is a representation of the Divine Feminine, Intuition, Mystery, Spirituality and Wisdom. As the prophetess and female spiritual teacher, she receives sacred wisdom from the divine through her intuitive senses and teaches and heals through her feminine, mother-like qualities. She is a representation of spiritual awakening and she shows us how to develop our psychic abilities and how to be of service.

The energies that the High Priestess embodies are within all of us – male, female or however you identify. I am very much drawn to the powers of the High Priestess for obvious reasons -- I am on my own path of cultivating divine feminine wisdom within myself so I can share with others on their path to spiritual awakening.

Your Spiritual Practice Is Your Own 

The way in which you work with archetypes in your spiritual practice, such as placing an image of the archetype on your altar or journaling about its essence, is personal and you will know intuitively what feels right. Your spiritual practice is definitely different from more traditional forms of therapy that help you get to know the many different parts of yourself and for me I have found that they have been complimentary. 

References: Kim Krans, The Wild Unknown Archetype; Scott Jeffrey, How to Expand Your Consciousness Using Archetypes