Archetypes are patterning forces deep in the psyche that you’re born with, blueprints for behaviors, thought patterns, attitudes, and feelings that form the foundation of who and what you are and how you live your life.
Throughout life they govern the development of major areas such as love, leadership, intellect, skill, self-preservation, mating, parenting, motivation, and discipline.
In dreams, archetypes can personify as unusually magnetic or important dream-characters that evoke strong responses.
They can appear as something right out of myth and legend: king, queen, magician, prophetess, hero, knight, saint, sage, artist, trickster, shaman. Or as modern expressions of these universal roles.
Dozens of parallels can be made between archetypal roles as depicted in myths and legends and roles we play today under different names.
And it can be tremendously helpful for you to see these parallels in your life, and think of yourself as more than a cog in the machine or just another person.
Your life has drama and importance simply because you’re alive, here and now, and part of a huge story we’re all acting out together.
Thinking of yourself as a knight or magician or queen helps you access the energy of the archetypal layer of the mind, which is the most potent personal energy. It’s the other royal road to the unconscious mind. And your dreams lead the way by putting you into stories where you can play these roles.
Archetypes appear in the dreams and myths of people around the world, with roughly the same meaning. They tend to act more independently when portrayed as dream-characters, with an intelligence and perspective of their own, and their behavior can be deeply revealing of underlying dynamics of the psyche, especially patterns.
Dream-characters that represent archetypes often come in pairs, representing the two “poles” of the archetype, called positive and negative in the sense of being active or passive.
For example, the bully (active) and the coward (passive) are two sides of the same coin, both being immature expressions of the Warrior archetype.
The tyrant and the weakling are the two sides of the king/queen archetype. In fact, the tyrant acts as he or she does as a way of denying the weakling inside, and the weakling, in turn, undermines and opposes the tyrant but secretly wants to be him.
The bully is secretly a coward, and inside every coward lurks a bully. The goal is to transcend the conflict between opposites by rising above it and seeing from a better-informed perspective.
Archetypes, according to Carl Jung, are timeless and hereditary, inherited from family and society. He proposed that they might even exist outside space-time, in line with Einstein’s theory of nonlocality.
However, for our purpose, the central point is that through archetypes, outside forces can influence the individual through dreams – and not just influence, but compel.