Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

As to the psychology of our theme I must point out that every statement going beyond the purely phenomenal aspects of an a.rchetype lays itself open to the criticism we have expressed above.

Not for a moment dare we succumb to the illusion that an archetype can be finally explained and disposed of.

Even the best attempts at explanation are only more or less successful translations into another metaphorical language. (Indeed, language itself is only an image.)

The most we can do is to dream the myth onwards and give it a modern dress.

And whatever explanation or interpretation does to it, we do to our own souls as well, with corresponding results for our own well-being.

The archetype-let us never forget this-is a psychic organ present in all of us. A bad explanation means a correspondingly bad attitude to this organ, which may thus be injured.

But the ultimate sufferer is the bad interpreter himself. Hence the “explanation” should always be such that the functional significance of the archetype remains unimpaired, so that an adequate and meaningful connection between the conscious mind and the archetypes is assured.

For the archetype is an element of our psychic structure and thus a vital and necessary component in our psychic economy.

It represents or personifies certain instinctive data of the dark, primitive psyche, the real but invisible roots of consciousness.

Of what elementary importance the connection with these roots is, we see from the preoccupation of the primitive mentality with certain “magic” factors, which are nothing less than what we would call archetypes.

This original form of religio (“linking back”) is the essence, the working basis of all religious life even today, and always will be, whatever future form this life may take. ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 271