col·lec·tive unconscious(k-lktv)n. In Jungian psychology, a part of the unconscious mind that is shared by a society, a people, or all humankind. The product of ancestral experience, it contains such concepts as science, religion, and morality.
There seems to be many images, a pattern or motif representing the typical human experience. These images or "Archetypes" appear to be universal and recurring in our unconscious minds. They reveal themselves to us in our dreams, myths, fairy tales and fictional stories. These archetypes are primordial images that have been with us (homo sapiens) since the birth of civilization. Archetypes are a part of our psyche and social systems as these universal images are a sort of "dangling carrot" which pushes and pulls each of us along the path of what writer/comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell called "The Hero's Journey".
-- The Hero's Journey
- The Call to Adventure- The unexpected call to action.
- Supernatural Aid - The helper figure that prepares the the hero in some way for the trials to come.
- The Threshold - The point in the story where the hero stands poised to enter a mysterious new world.
- The Trials - The trials and ordeals the hero must endure.
- The Belly of the Whale - Or the abyss where the hero experiences death, rebirth, revelation, transformation and atonement
- The Return - Having completed the trials the hero brings back a boon(gift of the goddess)to his society.
There are different variations in regards to the outline of this "journey" or "quest". Some steps are reordered, skipped or expanded upon.
-- Some Examples of Specific Archetypes
(from New World Encyclopedia) The key archetypes that Jung felt were especially important include: the persona, the shadow, the anima/animus, the mother, the father, the wise old man, and the self. Others include the trickster, the God image, the Syzygy (Divine Couple), the child, the hero and a variety of archetypal symbols.
--Examples of Archetypal Symbols...
- The mandala, a circle, often squared, can also symbolize the wholeness of the Self or the yearning for such wholeness.
- Light/darkness (representing the conscious and the unconscious), water or wetness/dryness or the desert, heaven/hell.
- Birds often symbolize the spirit (e.g., the Holy Spirit as a dove), but may symbolize many other things, including fear and destruction, courage, or wisdom. For many Native Americans, the eagle is a particularly sacred symbol.
- Caves can symbolize the unconscious, as can bodies of water, the forest, night, and the moon. These tend to be feminine symbols, just as anything that encloses or nourishes, depending on the context, can be a feminine symbol.
- In addition to light, the sky, the sun, or the eyes, can symbolize consciousness
These archetypes can be found in all folk-tales, myths, fairy tales and literary fiction. The "mono-myth" as described by Joseph Campbell in his book "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" can be seen in every religious story of creation, every tale of knights, princesses and dragons. This universal pattern can also be observed in comic books, serial television shows and major films.
This article will be the first in a series of articles where we will explore in more depth different myths and philosophies from around the globe..
Part 2 - The very first myth ever recorded in human history which comes from Africa, is a creation story. We'll explore it in order to give ourselves a starting point and something to compare future creation stories/myths to. We'll also attempt to identify specific archetypal imagery. Remember: the symbols are always the same however the names will change in future stories from different people and civilizations (different times and geographical locations).
Part 3 - Sumeria & Babylon is where we find one of the world's most famous mathematical artifacts, The Epic of Gilgamesh, another creation myth and the story of the "Great Flood". The "Hero's Journey" marches on and archetypal imagery is a plenty!
Part 4 - From the middle east we travel mentally to the far east which is the home of Buddhism and Hinduism. We'll get metaphysical and sample some of the myths and teachings from Buddha sitting in a tree to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu & Siva. We'll also see if there are similarities to the original "mono-myth" outline.
Part 5 - Walk like an Egyptian! Need I say more?
Part 6 - We will hit the modern day religious/philosophical trifecta: Judaism/ Christianity/ Islam. We'll do a comparison of the Genesis creation account versus the earliest creation accounts of Africa and ancient Mesopotamia (Egypt, Sumer & Babylon). We'll glean from the comparison as many similarities as possible and also identify any archetypal imagery found within.
Part 7 - The final article in this series covering our collective unconscious as a race of human beings will focus on current events, modern science, the state of organized religion and the return of Gnosis (knowledge). We will tie up any loose ends from the previous installments and ask the question "where do we go from here?"
This will be a learning experience for myself as I have never in my life attempted something like this before. I look forward to what I hope will be a lot of great discussions, debates and idea sharing as we try to link every bit of information that we can muster together into a clear understanding of our connectedness. My goal in the end will be that we all will see within our mind's eye (mentally) that these primordial, original and collective ideas (archetypes) have always existed. Hopefully we'll all have a clearer understanding of how to use them in order to improve ourselves and each other.