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Dreams and Archetypes

Dreams and Archetypes

Emanating from the Collective Unconscious, as first postulated by Carl Jung, an Archetype is representative of humanity’s symbols which are universal. Perhaps the most common within humanity’s psyche are the Mother and the Father, as everyone on the planet has parental beginnings. Also common is the Child, a good balance of playfulness and innocence for the seriousness of most adults. The quote from Christ is appropriate here… “Unless ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

These primordial images are always imprinted on our personal psyche and go back to the beginning of time, subsequently handed down to humanity’s continuing evolution. They appear to all races, cultures, colours and creeds, and are reflected in myths, fairytales, stories of the past, and of course dreams. Each of them have an aspect which may be positive or negative, they being presented in our dreams according to what we are experiencing in life at the time.

As well as our born sex, we can dream of the opposite sex aspect of ourselves, as each individual has male/female characteristics as determined by chromosomes. The Anima, as coined by Jung, is to a male, the feminine symbol, and may come to us to balance out our nature if the male aspect is too dominant. This would be vice versa if the female has too much of an overbearing quality in her personality. The Animus is the male equivalent for a female person. The positive and negative in us can be recognized in the symbols as indicative of our role in a dualistic mindset, to be ultimately synchronized as the ideal.

The Archetype may manifest in a number of different guises or variations of character, some of which may be representative from our own family life. In these cases, the distinction between literal or symbolic may have a fine line, especially with precognitive dreams. According to Jung, dreams which portray true Archetypal images are not that common. They are paralleled by major changes in the dreamer’s waking life, such as in adolescence, puberty, a mid-life crisis, death etc. Although they may be difficult to unravel, except with an experienced analyst, they stand out as if a signpost in the life of the dreamer. Some common Archetypes are as follows: MOTHER, FATHER, CHILD, SHADOW, ANIMA, ANIMUS, PERSONA, HERO. All dream figures are Archetypes, most being aspects of ourselves disguised as other people that we know.


The Mother Archetype is not limited to the normal form, but can appear as an inanimate object, or be non-human. The association with the dreamer is the key, and meditation may be needed to “plumb the depths” of understanding. With a positive view, the Mother may be the normal image of caring mother, Aunt, or Grandmother, or be a cave, place of worship, or growing garden. Jung associated these with connotations of maternal comfort and sympathy, growth, nourishment, and fertility. The negative forms can be of a witch, hag, dragon, or bitch, as well as the moon, or anything with connotations with darkness, secret, hidden, destructive, manipulative etc. Also, anything which poisons, seduces, or devours. They may be feelings you project onto a Mother figure.


Jung believed that this Archetype reflected the dreamer’s role of success or destiny in life, and is important psychologically. It can represent protector, lawgiver, ruler, king, elder, or heavenly father. Other forms may be phallic, the sun, weapon, or heaven. The negative side can be destructive, violent, consuming, or dominance.


Often this is a signpost for a significant change in the personality of the dreamer’s life. A return to innocence and being able to be less serious and more playful are indicated. Things forgotten or dismissed from childhood may need to be re-integrated to effect balance in life, and the happy, carefree child is the positive Archetypal symbol for this. The negative may be demonic, lost etc.


For a male, this is the female aspect of the psyche or unconscious and when these receptive, maternal, intuitive type qualities are to be addressed in some way, this Archetype will manifest. Both ANIMA/ANIMUS terms mean “soul” in Latin. Some forms may be as a mermaid, elf, Greek Goddess, or perfect partner. Taking up the positive qualities of the Anima may enable a man to have a more balanced and spiritual life. If the Anima appears negatively, Jung suggests that adverse qualities of being irritable, moody, inferiority, over-sensitivity may be dominant with the dreamer.


This Archetype is representative of the male energy attributes for a woman. The positive aspect lends itself to endearing male qualities of strength without domination, rationale, will etc. Attributes of negativity for a woman are considered to be controlling, manipulation, rigidity, argumentative, and over opinionated.


This Archetype may manifest during the early part of a dreamer’s life…(adolescence to adulthood), but may emerge much later in life if an individual is “stuck” and not evolving maturely. This may have a parallel with older cultures such as the American red Indian and their ritual “vision quest”. A western “Hero” may be doing superhuman feats, be an Olympic champion, be awarded for brave deeds, all done within the dream.


Being sexually the same as the dreamer, this Archetype is of the repressed “dark side” of the psyche. The Shadow of beauty is the beast. Being opposite the PERSONA, it is not generally acknowledged or accepted by the dreamer, but integrated can be very useful to the individual in seeing or realizing the full aspect of the inner self. This energy can be re-directed positively into waking life. A positive side of the Shadow is to provide strength to an intimidated person.


This Archetype is the projected part of ourselves we prefer other people to see and acknowledge. It is in fact our ego image, and may reflect our consistency with what we believe that to be.