Archetypes and Elixirs: A Jungian Perspective on Life as We Know It.

Image of flaming red liquid in a cocktail glass

Returning with the Elixir of Knowledge and Wisdom

One of the key themes in Jungian psychology is that of individuation, which is an expansive process involving realisation and manifestation of the archetypes within. Archetypal aspects refer to many different facets of the self’s potential, such as the Shadow, the Animus or Anima, the Wise Elder or the Trickster / Magician. Many of these inner selves are unconscious or undeveloped and only emerge when we are able to unearth their existence through various channels such as encounters, dreams and active imagination.

All cultures have notions of human personality and self, made up of multiple aspects, many of which are oppositional or paradoxical and often these various traits are personified into panthea of gods and goddesses or other equally varied groups of characters. Take, for instance, the ways in which each of the Graeco-Roman deities encapsulates a set of particular human strengths and weaknesses. For instance Athena is wise and just but also warlike and ruthless in certain circumstances. Apollo likewise brings illness but also healing in the form of the arts and muses.

 

Individuation – Incorporating the Archetypes

At the start of every human life there is a diffusion of experience, expression and personality. That complex cloud of embodied sensations in the world gradually becomes organised into patterns of thought, feeling and memory and infused into a sense of the individual self. While all these phenomena are shaped and informed by the physical and social environments around us, variously named and operationalised through culture, certain broad categories of experience and expression can be identified across humanity and according to Jungian thought, these constitute the archetypes. Archetypes are universal potentials for broad human drives, yet as potentials for patterning, they are manifest in ways unique to individuals and cultures, rather like the ways in which each snowflake is structured through certain rules of construction, yet no two snowflakes are the same.

Jung stressed that this individuation was not a materialistic ‘individualism’ but a spiritual quest, a journey, and one which required a certain amount of courage and determination to overcome fear and resistance within the self. It also involves the withdrawal of projections, in other words the taking of responsibility for our own lives and recognising the fact that our own growth is in our own hands. To incorporate the archetypes successively through the sequence of Shadow first, then Anima/Animus and beyond, entails as well a kind of accumulated knowledge or insight – the elixir of life, the wisdom of the ages. And that wisdom and insight is most beneficially directed at ourselves, as The Oracle reminded Neo in the very archetypal movie ‘The Matrix’.

We have helpers along the way, though, such as family, friends, inspirational leaders and authors, as well as examples to follow in the guise of totems, god-like and saintly figures and characters from myth and legend. We also have negative influences, sometimes within the established society and canons of accepted ideas and practices around us, sometimes within our circle of relationships, and sometimes within ourselves as internalised negative attitudes and inner critical voices.

The Hero’s Journey

Archetypes and Elixirs form the raw material of the hero’s journey, our journey. Our internal responses to events, characters and relationships in the world around us shape the person we become. Whether that is contracted, frozen and bitter or expanded, empathic and wise, is largely up to us.  The Archetypes are always there, waiting for us to awaken them, the Elixirs are ever-present and calling to be consumed. Taking the plunge can be the most difficult first move but also the most exhilarating. Starting with some dream delving is one way in, creative journaling another. Both of these techniques helped to jump-start my own journey, informed and motivated by reading the works of Dr Carl Jung and inspirational blogs such as Jean Raffa’s here on wordpress. Individuation is an act of self-creation and the creative potential is inherent in all humans. Any creative activity can get your individuating juices flowing, indeed creativity has been identified as a significant booster of mental health promotion and recovery.

 

Thanks for dropping by,

Enjoy the Journey 🙂

 

Flaming Elixir Image source Guest of a Guest website, New York  http://guestofaguest.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/red-snapper-210×300.jpg

Advertisements

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sandra Harriette
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 16:34:25

    Just before this, I was reading a newsletter from Pam Younghams (www.northpointastrology.com) and she was talking about how this week (June 2nd – June 8th) would be characteristically marked by many of the aspects involved with individualization as you discussed here.

    The universe has its way, I tell you…

    Like

    Reply

  2. Skip Conover
    May 27, 2014 @ 22:37:47

    I would like to share this piece on http://archetypeinaction.com with your permission. You can write to me at skip@archetypeinaction.com.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. jeanraffa
    May 27, 2014 @ 21:08:00

    Hi Roberta. A gem of an article! We need all the explanations of archetypes we can get! It’s a very important concept and if we don’t understand it we’ll never understand ourselves well enough to take the authentic Hero’s journey. And thanks for the kind mention!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Roberta McDonnell
      May 28, 2014 @ 06:20:03

      Thanks so much Jean, it’s always a pleasure to catch up with you and a privilege to cite your work. I have always found the archetypes concept exciting and profound – it seems to me to be a very real and practical way of understanding life. Thinking about archetypes brings everything into perspective and imposes a tremendous clarity onto the complexities of experience. Thanks so much for your vital and very true comments too, Jean, much appreciated 🙂

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Letters From Lady Nakatomi

on writing poetry & other projects

Irish in the American Civil War

Exploring Irish Emigration in the 19th Century United States

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Fiction that's Lovely, Dark and Deep

Create a Life you Love

It's those who prioritise enjoying life, that enjoy life!

The Boiler

a journal of new literature

Emma Geen

Author, Lecturer & PhD Student

Big Cheshire Grin

Video Game Experiences Worth Writing About

Deep Down Arts and Wellbeing

Supporting Artists, Transforming Lives.

The Floating Thoughts

thoughts of yours & thoughts of ours...would create an unforgettable memoir !!!

Staffan Nöteberg's blog

Brainmoda | Same brain - more astute usage

Sea sores

Nick J Wood— Brightonian writer. My book is entitled Sea sores.

Urban Antenna

Broadcasting New Music

Frank Solanki

If you want to be a hero well just follow me

James Meredith

short stories : poetry : theatre : journalism

mistakenforarealpoet

odd posts from an occasional poet (or vice versa)

The Cabinet of Heed

literary journal

A Thousand Days and Nights in...

Brief notes on everyday encounters with culture

SKYLIGHT 47 poetry

possibly Ireland's most interesting poetry publication

Poethead

by Christine Murray

The Galway Review

A literary magazine committed to excellence in the extraordinary art of the written word

Rant, with occasional music

Blog of writer/musician Derek Flynn

Creator 2018

Documenting creative processes through photography. #creator2018

Bennett's Babblings

Descended from a long line of tall tales

Crossways

An Online Literary Magazine

The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog

Longitudes

A blog discussing the macro forces shaping the global economy today and over the horizon. Popular topics include Globalization, Trade, Sustainability, Innovation, Technology, Healthcare and Supply Chain Logistics.

BRIDGET WHELAN writer

for writers and readers....

LittleBurch

Work, eat, sleep, play, repeat - in Belfast

Michael Ehrhardt

Permanenter Ausstellungsraum

Religious Naturalism

A religious worldview grounded in the sciences, the humanities, and the arts

Recover Life

My Journey Through Eating Disorder Recovery

Ian Nathan, Author

A film critic who went long

800 Recovery Hub Blog

Written by people in recovery for people in recovery

Aston kamunde

Embrace your unrestricted nature and surrender your soul to the power of the invincible…

Deadline

Hollywood Entertainment Breaking News

A New Ulster

A literary and social awareness blog by the the editor of A New Ulster

Seanín Hughes

Poet and Writer

mlewisredford

almost indefatigable and quietly militant naïveté ...

anseo

inken thought

The Poetry Practice

Just another WordPress.com site

Poetic mind

Pen down your words in lines and rhymes

Sara in LaLaLand

Welcome to my world.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

%d bloggers like this: