“Archetypes are governing principles in the recesses of the psyche. They perform like manifolds that reorient, distribute and archive all energy, thought, and impulse that is absorbed into the collective unconscious. Unfathomable knowledge is hidden within the code of the archetypes, available to us if we can render and decipher the appropriate images to crack open the code.
This is purpose of the archetype in myth.
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Archetypes are numinous centers of energy that abide in the collective unconscious. Imagine condensed fields of energy manifesting within the psyche, from which a multitude of symbols arise. The imagination renders images and symbols that strive to point the way toward deeply seeded instincts, encrypted into our psyche.
As instinct is undetectable until a chosen action manifests itself in emotion, archetypes elude our fields of the senses. Potent images represent an aspect or essence of a chosen archetype. They provide a recognizable face to an otherwise formless concept.
Willi Paul and I shared, over lunch, an exchange as to what the archetypes are and how new manifestations can be drawn out of their inchoate fields of energy to speak to the arenas of permaculture and sustainability. As result I took my investigation a little deeper.
Carl Jung’s theories on the form and definition of an archetype took twenty-seven years to evolve. Among his exposition on the matter he states:
“The archetype is a formal element, empty in itself, which is nothing more than a facultas praeformandi, a priori possibility of the form in which the idea appears. It is not our ideas themselves that are inherited but merely their forms, which, in this respect, are the exact equivalents of the equally formally determined instincts. Nor can the archetypes, any more than the instincts, be shown to be present as such, until they are brought to concrete manifestation.”
All living beings derive from the collective unconscious; a repository of archetypes that hold within their veiled meanings all of human experience: beginning at the dawn of humankind. According to Jung, it is not the specific idea that is transmitted via symbol, and archetypal imagery through the ages, but base instincts that drive behaviors and responses.
Jung describes there are two stages of the archetype. The “archetype such as” is the formless version, beyond definition or description. A stored potentiality of possibility, energy, and destructive power is contained in an archetype. Being empty in nature, before an image is assigned to it in metaphor, there are vast amounts of stored energy within an archetype. A carefully rendered image focuses the conscious mind to see an aspect of the archetype. It then transmits the potential energy from the unconscious domain into the conscious realm.
Archetypes are governing principles in the recesses of the psyche. They perform like manifolds that reorient, distribute and archive all energy, thought, and impulse that is absorbed into the collective unconscious. Unfathomable knowledge is hidden within the code of the archetypes, available to us if we can render and decipher the appropriate images to crack open the code. This is purpose of the archetype in myth.
Let’s take the highly recognizable symbol for Mars. This archetype is commonly associated with the impulse for aggression, assertion, will, and action. But the potent astrological sign for Mars focuses on only a fraction of the archetype’s total field. For centuries, generations have accepted and identified with the enumerated characteristics of Mars. From ancient Rome to current-day San Francisco, Mars is, was, and will forever be the God of War. The symbol, while famously recognized, is nearly impotent.
This is a detriment to any symbol . The unlimited stored potential of a formless “archetype as such” is dramatically restricted when a single symbol or image is so universally recognized. This is the equivalent of a song composed of three notes. The limitless potential of an archetype must flow through a restrictor plate the size of a pinhead to reach the conscious mind. Consider all that is lost in the process.
Humanity needs to cultivate a new path that returns us to the collective unconscious. We need to forge new networks, connecting points in the formless world to points in the world of form. New symbol matrixes should be constructed that release the stored energy within the archetypes. New mythology and the return to the archetypes through any medium (books, film, music, and visual art) will introduce new dynamics and operate with a sincere intention to build a bridge between the psyche and the cosmos.
The real conundrum is that there is no separation between the psyche and the cosmos. They are completely interrelated, integrated, and interdependent. The nature of the relationship between the macrocosm and the microcosm is similar to ecological permaculture. We must view the relationship between the archetypal image and the formless and empty “archetype as such.”
The landscape of the collective unconscious is permaculture. It is a limitless and completely interdependent holistic ecology; where every being, all energy, and everything with form and without is interconnected: not separate.
No single individual or group can lead or sustain the unconscious. This ecology is organic and kinetic. Imagine every soul as a flowing tributary, feeding the universal ocean (nirvana). Churning in the currents is the totality of human experience, with billions of voices contributing in concert, articulating individual emotions, thoughts, experiences, pain, suffering, joy, and everything in between. Without the recognition of the interdependent nature of all things, the ecology of the self, the mind, the psyche will ultimately begin to break down, collapsing in a domino effect.
Building myths and creating images that express conscious and unconscious ideas is something we are all intrinsically able to do. There is no correct technique. Our mind is hardwired to do this. The process is an egalitarian one, that depends on the total contributions of all beings, not just a few, or the “gifted.”
The practice of sustainability is an internal effort as much as it’s an external one. Cultivating the mind to see the true world. Cultivating speech to define a new world. Cultivating the spirit to be in the here and now, and cultivating the spirit to serve others.
The rote cliché “change comes from within” is true. Sustainability (the intent) arises out of the will (fire), taking form in grounded action (earth), and communicating and sharing the knowledge with others (air), and feeling the experience of living in accordance with everything (water).
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About Sean –
Sean is currently writing a novel tentatively entitled The Calling, a fantasy fiction constructed with Joseph Campbell hero architecture based on Medieval Chinese Philosophy, Central Asian history, and Buddhism. He is also writing music for a documentary about the healing powers of the holistic ecosystem of the mind, body, and spirit called The Cure. Music for the film is composed in the progression of the keys related to the chakra system.
Sean Abreu at Suite101.com
Seabreu at sbcglobal.net