The Archetype Universe: Is It Real?

Before I get into a fuller discussion of The Archetype Universe, I first want to clarify where I am coming from in presenting this realm.  Many would look at the idea of The Archetype Universe and assume that it is pure fantasy.  I, for my part, do not.  From my perspective it is real and the Archetypes that reside there are living beings.  It may sound crazy, especially in this current age of rampant materialism.  But I firmly hold this to be the case in light of my own experiences, and in that light, I am not alone.

In regards to the reality of the Tarot and the Archetypes as living beings, there were two geniuses who approached this question from a positive perspective.  The first was British Occultist Aleister Crowley who wrote concerning the Tarot in his 1944 work The Book of Thoth, “Each card is, in a sense, a living being; and it’s relations with it’s neighbors are what one might call diplomatic.  It is for the student to build these living stones into his living Temple.”  (Crowley pp. 47-48).  And he further clarifies towards the end of the same work, “It being now established, at the conclusion of the Essay, that the cards of the Tarot are living individuals, it is proper to consider the relations which obtain between them and the student.”  (Crowley p. 249).  Agree or disagree with his perspective, it seems clear to me that Crowley considered the Tarot and the Archetypes behind the cards as living beings who could commune with one another, and with the initiated student who understood this esoteric truth.

Another who considered the Archetypes as being living beings who dwelt in the realm of the Collective Unconscious was Carl Jung.  Jung was a Swiss psychologist who lived from 1875 to 1961.  And in his work Liber Novus (The Red Book), Jung speaks very poetically about his communion with the Archetypes and the often strange messages and insights he received while connecting with these ethereal forms.  While I have only just begun reading this book, I feel it is clear to me (at this point anyway) that Jung considered the Archetypes with which he worked to be living beings.  This is the perspective that I share, as it matches my experiences with the inhabitants of this realm as well.

So from the insights of these two great minds who lived at around the same time, we can see that considering the Tarot and the Archetypes behind them as living beings is nothing new.  But there is another school of thought that goes a bit deeper in explaining how these beings might be considered living entities.

In the book The Kybalion a great deal of consideration is given to the construction of The Universe and how a Divine Mind (The All) could possibly have brought it all into being.  In The Kybalion the writer states something that now seems obvious to all; that matter is made of energy.  But, what kind of energy is the Universe composed of?  The answer given in The Kybalion is Thought Energy.  Matter and all that exists is made up of the Thought Energy emanating from The Mind of The All (or God).  Now if this is true, I think we can begin to see how all that is (not just the Tarot or the Archetypes) might be considered to be, in a very real sense, alive.  If all that exists, both in realms seen and unseen, is made up of the living Thought Energy emanating from the Divine Mind of The All, then all things might be considered to be alive in a very deep and real sense.  We, the Archetypes, plants, animals, even rocks and minerals are all composed of Living Energy coming from the same Living Divine or Metaphysical Source.  So, if one accepts this point of view, it can be seen that all “things” are alive.  Remember that notion the next time you slam a door or pound your fist on a table.  Deeply considered, this point of view is a real game changer.

So, with all that said, I think you can see how a few nuts such as Aleister Crowley, and myself, can run around saying that the Tarot Archetypes are “alive.”  For, indeed, to me they are.  But, don’t just take my word for it.  Take some time in meditation to reach out to The Archetype Universe and connect with some of the inhabitants there.  After a few years of practice, you may well come to the same conclusion.  “It’s true…All of it.”

Stan Lee and The Archetype Universe.

What does Stan Lee, Tarot, and the Archetypes have in common?  Probably a lot more than most would realize.

The late Stan Lee was an incredible and humble genius whose influence on our world was greater than what he would ever admit to.  The characters he created influenced and inspired countless millions around the globe.  Where did the ideas for these characters come from?  His Marvel Comics super hero’s came from his rich and fertile imagination, that is for certain.  But what is overlooked is that they also came from another realm which I will discuss briefly here;  the realm of the Collective Unconscious.

Writers and artists and Tarot readers alike are influenced by forms in the Collective Unconscious called Archetypes.  Archetypes are the universal representations of common personality types found the world over.  Personality types like The Hero, The Sage, The Innocent, The Warrior, and many others exist in many different places in many different ways.  A writer may dream up a hero like Captain America, and that hero is partially the product of that writer’s imagination.  But the main form of The Hero exists independently of the writer and independently of Captain America.  The main archetype of The Hero lives and moves and has it’s being in the realm of the Collective Unconscious; a place we all have access to, but which exists independently of any one person. Writers and artists delve deeply into this realm for inspiration, and from it draw ideas and information which they then use in their various arts.  To illustrate, lets have a closer look at one of Stan Lee’s creations; Peter Parker (AKA Spider-man).

The character of Peter Parker can be seen as two-fold.  To start off with, he is a shy and innocent kid who is also kind of a nerd.  He’s smart when it comes to science, but foolish and insecure when it comes to girls.  And, when it comes to bullies, he can’t even fight his way out of a paper bag.  But, after being bitten by a radioactive spider, he becomes a super hero who no longer suffers bullies, but who instead makes the bullies suffer.  Peter Parker/Spider-Man is one of my favorite Stan Lee characters.

But, while the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man is the work of Stan Lee and Marvel Comics, there are other parts of Peter Parker/Spider-Man which are common and universal to all.  The first can be seen as being the Archetype of The Innocent or The Regular Guy.  The Innocent and The Regular Guy Archetypes are what makes Peter Parker so lovable to so many around the globe.  He is the average guy that so many of us can relate to.  He does not want to be a hero.  He just wants to be himself and maybe sit next to Mary Jane in biology class.  But, his sweet and innocent nature gets the better of him as he is bullied and shown up by more ambitious and aggressive personalities.  His story is one that has been told and lived many times over by so many people throughout the ages.  Why?  Because this personality that has found expression in our world in so many ways preexists our world and probably even our species.  He lives among the Archetypes in the realm of the Collective Unconscious.

The other side of Peter Parker/Spider-Man follows the Archetype of The Hero.  This is the personality that is on a quest to bring justice to the world and to fight evil.  Like the Archetypes of The Innocent and The Regular Guy, The Hero is also common to all who have access to the Collective Unconscious.  Although the particulars of hero’s around the world vary, they all have a few basic points in common.  Those commonalities go back to the primal Archetype of The Hero residing in the Collective Unconscious.

So now, what is the Collective Unconscious?  This is a realm (spoken of in the works of Carl Jung) that we all have access to, but not all are aware of.  When we sleep and dream, our dreams connect us to this realm of the Collective Unconscious.  In this realm we are given thoughts, information and ideas that may seem to be our own, but which also can be seen as coming from a place beyond us.  For example, how many times have you had a dream about a future event that later came true?  This kind of thing is actually more common than most believe.  Where did that information come from?  Your own mind?  How could you know what was going to happen before it happened? According to Jung’s theory, that information came to you from the realm of the Collective Unconscious.  It is here that we find wisdom that seems to transcend us and inspiration that propels and motivates us.  In a sense it comes from within us, but it also transcends us.  It is a realm of Consciousness that is deep and mysterious.  And it is a realm (a Universe if you like) that houses the many different Archetypes spoken of by Carl Jung and known to readers of the Tarot.  In memory of Stan Lee, I’m just going to call this realm The Archetype Universe!

The Archetype Universe can be thought of as a place in the imagination of people, but I see it as transcending humanity.  The Archetype Universe is something we all have access to, but it is far bigger than any one individual or even the whole of humanity combined.  It is like another dimension of reality, but a dimension of reality that closely interrelates to and interacts with our own rock solid sense of reality here in the physical world.  It is a deeply mystical realm that we can touch in dreams or in deep meditative states.  And it is a realm that not all are aware of or that all can accept.  To some The Archetype Universe is a place of pure imagination, nothing more.  To me it is real.  More real, in fact, than what most call reality.  It is the home of the Archetypes and the Gods and Goddesses of both the modern day and of extreme antiquity.  When we learn to touch this Universe, we tread where mystics and shaman of countless millennia past have gone before.  And, it is in this realm where the secrets of ages past still live awaiting to be rediscovered.  It is a land beyond lands in a time beyond times where we can go to meet the Archetypes for ourselves.  In upcoming posts I will discuss some of these Archetypes from my own perspective and the perspective of the Tarot.  Keep an open mind.  I think you will find it fun.

Until later, keep moving onward and upward.  Or, as Stan Lee put it…Excelsior!