What are the Archetypes?

July 3, 2018



Those of you who have done courses with me will be familiar with Roberto Assagioli's Psychosynthesis Egg model, or, more correctly, map of the psyche, beautifully illustrated in the diagram below (credit: Institute of Psychosynthesis, London). In my opinion, its a wonderful model that really assists in understanding where I am on my personal journey; so now you have heard it once, if you stick around with me a bit longer, I promise you will hear about it at least another thousand times!


In the centre of the egg, within the field of consciousness (that which we are aware of), you will find the "I", which I interpret as heart centred me. The HeartMath institute speak of the heart brain and Corporates site EQ or emotional intelligence; for me, its all the same concept. At the top of the diagram you will find the "Self", which is the higher, spiritual self. Its not in our field of consciousness, which is why many people are unaware of their spiritual nature or essence. The dotted white line between the "I" and the "Self" indicates that there is a relationship between the two, meaning that we can gain an awareness of our spiritual self through heart centred being. Dotted around all segments of the higher, middle and lower psyche, I have added to this diagram white Xs, these crudely represent Assagioli's "subpersonalities". Subpersonalities are the various different aspects of our psyche, for example the pleaser, the intellectual, the joker, the saboteur. Some of these aspects we are fully aware, or conscious of, these are the aspects sitting within the field of consciousness. There are many more aspects to our psyche which we will be unconscious of and they can sit in all 3 aspects of the egg - higher, middle and lower unconscious.


I find Assagioli's analogy of the psyche as an orchestra particularly helpful. The "I" is the conductor of the orchestra, the subpersonalities are the musicians, and the higher self is the composer of the music. The "I" interprets the meaning of the music written by the composer and directs the subpersonalities to play their part in achieving its most authentic interpretation. Similarly, when I live my life in a heart centred way, I can feel or intuit the direction or action to take (interpretation of the higher self) and call upon strong aspects of my psyche (my subpersonalities) to achieve the best outcome. William Shakespeare's As You Like it, Act II Scene VII comes to mind here, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts".


The picture I have painted of the orchestra is of course on the good days, I'm sure we can all recognise the days where the "I" is not conducting at all and we have sub personalities brawling all over the stage in complete mayhem! Sometimes that's because the feelings are not so pleasant, and sometimes its because we are head or logic centred rather than heart centred possibly resulting in us feeling fragmented, stressed or detached.


So, what about the Archetypes? On the outside of the egg you will see a red dotted line, representing the collective unconscious. Assagioli's theory recognises that we are not separate from each other, indeed we are all connected through consciousness. My felt experience of consciousness is that it is an energetic resonance passed through an energetic grid that we are all connected to. Science is starting to prove this, although much work has still to be done by physicists and neuroscientists, but Albert Einstein's theory of relativity developed in 1905 through 10 equations has contributed significantly in recent years. In 2016 Einstein's 10 equations were proven correct through their application to detect gravitational waves (my felt experience of energetic resonance) from the collision of 2 black holes. Its in the collective unconscious that we will find the archetypes. These are the experiences of our forefathers and humanity as a whole that have shaped the way that we have developed as a human race. The collective unconscious is the location of the esoteric wisdom of the archetypes. So moving away from the science which has much more work to do on this topic, this article now moves into the art of consciousness, how it impacts all of us in our daily lives, and how we can use the archetypes to help us to gain sight of elements of ourselves that are unconscious. In this way our field of consciousness grows, we reclaim lost parts of ourselves, lose distortions, become more authentic and bring more bliss into our lives.


We can observe how consciousness impacts our daily lives in many different ways, for example through meditation, visualisations, monitoring our dreams, self reflecting on our daily lives through journaling, or through engaging a psychosynthesis coach skilled at working with mind-sets. One of the tools that can be used is the major arcana of the tarot, comprising 22 archetypes which influence and impact our lives through the energetic field of consciousness. Journeying with the major arcana archetypes help us to gain sight of elements of ourselves that are unconscious by actively inviting that energy into our daily life one gains sight of our strengths, weaknesses, and even blockages that may be hindering us from moving forward and achieving our goals. Often one finds tight mind-sets at the root of blockages; these mind-sets can be skilfully worked upon and released with time and the right holding environment. The archetypes facilitate growth of the field of consciousness, allowing one to become more authentic and a bigger, newer version of oneself. The archetypes make the invisible visible.


The major arcana of the tarot have two cycles of the fools journey to enlightenment. The first cycle runs from the archetype of the Magician I, to the Wheel of Fortune, archetype X. The second cycle runs from Justice, archetype XI, to The World, archetype XXI, and represents a higher perspective, or wisdom, that comes with maturity. The archetypes of the tarot hold esoteric symbology of consciousness held in the collective unconscious. Through connecting with the archetypes in an energetic resonance way, one starts to connect with consciousness and develop a sensitivity to the symbology and deeper meaning of life. You will find astrological planets, fables, gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome, together with the bible and all spiritual texts within the major arcana.Through the journey of the archetypes, one becomes more intuitive and in tune with ones personal journey and purpose, being able to see a bigger picture and find depth in all aspects of life, be they joyful or sad.


Assagioloi's egg, and indeed his Psychosynthesis Theory is not tightly defined, he wanted it to be both an art and a science, he wanted us to have our own experience of it to learn more about ourselves and yet also be able to apply it in academic research. At Synthesis, I am encouraging you to have your own unique psychosynthesis experience. There is no right or wrong, its a journey of self discovery where one develops trust in ones self and becomes more authentic and whole as the field of consciousness grows. We are more than our mind, we are more than our body, we are more than our emotions, we are also a field of consciousness. At Synthesis, I encourage you to find and integrate all the disparate parts of your whole self, so that you can experience an authentic, harmonious and blissful experience of living your journey, loving your life.


The author of this article, Sarah Howard, is a qualified Psychosynthesis Leadership Coach with unique skillsets applied at the highest levels in both Public and Private sector organisations. What differentiates Sarah is that she is also skilled in the softer, more fluid aspects of transformation and has been working personally and professionally with Psychosynthesis over the past 10 years. Sarah is an Evolutionary Leader, one of less than 1% of the globes population of leaders, identified by Frederick Laloux in his research, now documented in his book Reinventing Organisations. Sarah applies her unique skillset to support other leaders make the transition into evolutionary leadership by supporting them to identify and integrate their own softer skillsets so that they can bring the whole of themselves into everything that they do. In this way Sarah contributes to the much needed evolution of humanity, shifting us all into a new paradigm.


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