Thursday, September 8, 2011


Before I get into any in-depth discussion about the cards or astrological signs, I want to talk a little bit about archetypes.

Carl Jung, a contemporary of Freud, was the psychiatrist who first explained archetypes. Archetypes are manifestations of the collective unconscious, or, they are certain tropes (metaphoric symbols) we, as human beings, all can identify and share in.

Because that explanation was a tad convoluted, let me use examples.  Let's say you're reading a book of fairy tales (and you should!) and you notice that the Wicked Stepmother is a popular villain. In fact, you take for granted that if a stepmother appears in a fairy tale, she is wicked. All your friends do, as well. That is because the Wicked Stepmother is an archetype. We have subconsciously agreed, as a culture, that the Wicked Stepmother can reappear in various forms in our literature, and we have integrated her into our psychology.

On the other hand, let's think about the Wise Grandmother. What does the Wise Grandmother look like? What does she do? Ask your friends about this. Chances are, there may be slight variations, but your Wise Grandmothers will be very similar.

There's also the Evil Sorcerer, the Wicked Witch, the Good Witch, the Vagabond, the Thief with a Heart of Gold, the Trickster, and the Big Bad Wolf. We could brainstorm for a long time.

A good writer is able to take archetypes and make them fresh, and yet still identifiable to our psyches. One of reasons fairy tales, myths, and legends are so popular and enduring is because of these archetypes. They are such a part of us and our personalities, yet they are flexible enough to be reinterpreted. They are very adaptable to different cultures and epochs.

The reason I bring this up is because Tarot cards, as well as the astrological signs, are shaped, I believe, from these archetypes. These archetypes are a part of us. We know them. For example, one Wicked Stepmother in my life is a former co-worker who was a bully. My Knight is my fiance, J.

Taking over from Jung's legacy are two very cool women, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Caroline Myss. Caroline Myss has greatly shaped my world view. Here is a brief rundown of some of her concepts, from Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential, published in 2002 by Three Rivers Press.
Caroline Myss postulated that our personalities are composed of archetypes such as the Knight in Shining Armor, the Damsel in Distress, etc. In fact, we all have the archetypes of the Child (and it's various forms), the Prostitute, the Victim, and the Saboteur.  All of these archetypes seem quite negative, but we all have them. Think of the times you may have been a Prostitute. Did you have sex to feel better about yourself? Did you stay in a job you hated because of the money? The Prostitute governs our physical security (Myss 118). As for the Victim, have you ever used any personal pain, knowingly, to get people to react a certain way? Have you held on to anger you feel toward people who hurt you, even though the slight took place years ago? The Victim has an important role. It is a protector. It also measures how much you are willing to give up personal responsibility and independence, which are scary things (116).

The Saboteur is evident when you turn down an opportunity out of fear of loss of security (Myss 122). I myself had my Saboteur step in recently. It is quite frustrating.

We all have heard the term "Inner Child," the reflection of our pasts and our attitudes about love and safety (Myss 112).  The Child has several manifestations: the Wounded Child, the Abandoned/Orphan Child, the Nature Child, the Innocent Child, and the Divine Child (112).

There is one last archetype we should discuss: The Shadow. The Shadow came about with Jung. It is the "negative," dark side of all the Archetypes. It is the reversed, or upside down, Tarot card, and the astrological sign out of balance.
As we go through the cards, the astrological signs, and our dreams, we will be confronting archetypes and identifying them.

Recommended Resources:
Jung, Carl Gustav. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious 
---Symbols of Transformation 
---Man and his Symbols 
Jung is where it all began. He is the king.

Myss, Caroline.  Anatomy of the Spirit.
---Sacred Contracts 
---Why People Don't Heal and How They Can 
All of Myss' books are absolutely incredible. They are fascinating reads and anyone interested in archetypes, as well as healing through the chakras, the Catholic Sacraments, and the Jewish Tree of Life, should definitely read them. I've used her work as resources in my paper about the archetypes in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

Pinkola-Estes, Clarissa. Women Who Run with the Wolves.
Oh, this book rocks. It's all about fairy tales and how women can use them to heal. Pinkola-Estes is a top Jungian analyst, but her work is extremely accessible.

See you soon! Next time we will begin our journey, and learn about Virgo, the sign we are in now :)

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