What Exactly is an Archetype?

Updated: Sep 21

"From the seed grows a root, then a sprout; from the sprout, the seedling leaves; from the leaves, the stem; around the stem, the branches; at the top, the flower....We cannot say that the seed causes the growth, nor that the soil does. We say that the potentialities for growth lie within the seed, in mysterious life forces, which, when properly fostered, take on certain forms." ~ M. C. Richards



All myths and icons are potential patterns in the psyche of humanity, yet each individual activates these images in their own way. There are archetypal patterns which are universal, and patterns which are personally activated. Archetypes can be called blueprints. These are energies that are contained within the seed of the psyche. How the seed is cultivated determines the way in which the seed grows into its actual form.


Several energies may be present or one major archetype may blossom at any given stage in an individual’s life. Stages of life determine new elements that may be forming within the psyche, and these new potentials give rise to different patterns and visions of one's true nature.


We might call it our psychological landscape. It is what goes on beneath the surface. This becomes our individual expression of the cultural archetypes reflected in our culture. Our past is etched in stone, so to speak, as aspects of the collective Mind and the Divine Images we hold as a Mass Logos.


Archetypal Consciousness has two ways of manifesting. It manifests on the personal level and on the collective level. From the view of the personal experience we are able to tune into ourselves. It is here that we access our inner consciousness. We come to understand the under-lining of our dynamic self in action. If we have a deep challenge in our life, the patterns that we identify can help us to respond creatively to the core issue so that we may not have to repeat our pain and mistakes over and over again. Often there is an archetype that is ruling or governing these emotions and impulses, whether we are in harmony or not.


The Tarot, specifically the twenty-two cards in the Major Arcana, reflect powerful archetypal images that guide the individual through various stages of life experience.


Other ways to identify our archetypal patterns are through icons, dreams, visions, song, art, wishes, and passions.