Symbols of Transformation

The instincts operate most smoothly when there is no consciousness to conflict with them, or when what consciousness there is remains firmly attached to instinct.

This condition no longer applies even to primitive man, for everywhere we find psychic systems at work which are in some measure opposed to pure instinctuality.

And if a primitive tribe shows even the smallest traces of culture, we find that creative fantasy is continually engaged in producing analogies to instinctual processes in order to free the libido from sheer instinctuality by guiding it towards analogical ideas.

These systems have to be constituted in such a way that they offer the libido a kind of natural gradient.

For the libido does not incline to anything, otherwise it would be possible to turn it in any direction one chose.

But that is the case only with voluntary processes, and then only to a limited degree.

The libido has, as it were, a natural penchant: it is like water, which must have a gradient if it is to flow.

The nature of these analogies is therefore a serious problem because, as we have said, they must be ideas which attract the libido.

Their special character is, I believe, to be discerned in the fact that they are archetypes, that Is, universal and inherited patterns which, taken together, constitute the structure of the unconscious.

When Christ, for instance, speaks to Nicodemus of spirit and water, these are not just random ideas, but typical ones which have always exerted a powerful fascination on the mind.

Christ is here touching on the archetype, and that, if anything, will convince Nicodemus, for the archetypes are the forms or river-beds along which the current of psychic life has always flowed.  ~Carl Jung, CW 5, Para 337