Archetypes Present Themselves Through Images
“Archetypes [are] typical forms of behaviour which, once they become conscious, naturally present themselves as ideas and images, like everything else that becomes a content of consciousness” [Jung, CW 8, paragraph 435]
It takes a lot of energy to look beneath the surface of things, especially beneath the surface of the person each of us calls “self.” We have to get through huge barriers which we have put into place since almost the dawn of our personal lives. We begin as an infant, slowly separating ourselves from the unconscious identification with our mothering parent upon whom we each depend on for life and continuing life. She stops feeding us, sheltering us, protecting us – we die. The process of separation which allows us to being carving out our own identity, our own consciousness is painful but necessary. That pain which is unconsciously aided and abetted by our personal mother (and not necessarily biological mother) results in psychic shocks that are traumatic to some degree, of course dependent upon life circumstances of each individual mother and each individual child.
I have talked earlier about how this process sets in place in each of us, a mother complex. We all have one whether we realise it or not, whether we will admit it or not. While in Mexico, two weeks ago, on the Feast of the Three Wise Men – the Twelfth Day of Christmas – I took this photo. It is an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, another name for Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. This image in statues, paintings and other media is found all over Mexico and serves as a representation of the ultimate idea of what it is to be “Mother.”
I think back to the ten commandments when we are told to honour the father and the mother. I have struggled for so many years with this commandment as both parents visited too much trauma on their first child (and their other children to be honest) to be honoured. But perhaps it isn’t just the personal mother and father and the complexes that they engendered, but the archetypal mother and father that must be honoured. With that thought, one can re-approach a personal mother and father and find ways to accept one’s experience under their watch as that messiness that real life gifts us. We (I) need to move past the woundings knowing that our parents themselves were themselves equally wounded, a wounding that travels back in time to the first child with the first parents.
All of our complexes are rooted in their archetypal representation, their archetypal image. These archetypes allow us to move from being victims to being humans with choice, choice based on the white and dark faces of every archetype, seeking our own needed balance for sanity. With the awareness and presence of archetypes, we are able to heal and find the middle passage, the middle way, that then becomes our journey.