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What is an archetype?

Updated: Apr 17

I guide my clients through multiple lenses and systems, one of which is archetypal rites of passage, guiding women from archetypal maiden to archetypal mother. So it feels very important to share the definition with you in detail.

The symbolism of an archetype is its manifestation in specific psychic images, which are perceived by consciousness and which are different for each archetype.

The different aspects of an archetype are also manifested in different images.

The structure of an archetype is the complex network of psychic organisation, which includes dynamism, symbolism, and sense content, and whose centre and intangible unifier is the archetype itself.

An archetype is a dynamic invisible force, which consists of signs, symbols, and sense content that can be felt and sensed by an individual or collective. And it is also that very felt unifying experience that is the archetype itself.

The archetype is manifested principally in the fact that it determines human behaviour unconsciously but in accordance with laws and independently of the experience of the individual.

Whilst an archetype can be felt by all, it operates on its own script, which is separate from the individual’s narratives. It may meet an individual at a unique moment in time, but if we were to sit and share our stories and experiences, we would discover that there is a unifying thread or theme. This is the archetype.

And so when we look at an archetype through an analytical psychological lens, such as the Great Mother, we are looking at a primordial energy and image.

An archetype is not made up of one single source or image, but rather we are invited to look towards an inner image, one buried in the human psyche. An energy made up of a multitude of images, myths, dreams, signs and symbols. An energy that is felt and played out in our everyday lives without us being able to put an exact finger on it.

Illusive by nature, but an undeniable force that is working in us and through us. It is an energetic process that takes place in both the unconscious and conscious realm of our existence.

Archetypes can impact our emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

However, when we are able to bring the unconscious to the conscious, interacting with the archetypal energies through the lens of embodied practise, we can meet the way they are here to guide and support us.

When I talk about the way our world is crying out for the (Great) Mother, it can be seen and felt on numerous levels.

We can see the way we have destroyed and dishonoured the Mother in our relationship to the earth. Mother Nature being an aspect of the archetype of the Great Mother.

We can feel our relationship to our bodies, especially women, as an extension of the earth. The human form being another expression of the archetype of the Great Mother.

We can feel our relationship to the archetype of the Great Mother in our primary experience of her, our biological mothers, or our female caretakers.

These three examples are primary portals, in which we can begin to explore our unique relationship to the Great Mother. When a woman wants to become a private client, we will explore not only the Great Mother, but also the energy of the Dark Mother, Death Mother and Cherishing Mother.

We will also explore the archetype that unconsciously leads most women to this work - the Maiden, or more specifically the wounded, unintegrated Maiden.

When I combine the embodied lens with the wisdom of the feminine and the archetypes, I guide my clients beyond the surface of the current symptoms, and move to the depths of their wound. This process is what creates a sense of flow, trust and faith in the woman they are and gives them the confidence to move through life with ease.

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