What Are Archetypes?

Mythical stories, their heroes and heroines within, are called archetypes. Archetypes are perennial themes that reside at the level of the collective, universal soul.

These themes are representations of our collective soul’s yearnings, imagination, and deepest desires. These themes have existed forever. We see them in the writings of ancient cultures, in literature throughout the ages. Their shapes shift depending on where we are in history, but their core remains the same.

These archetypes are enacted in modern-day movies, television soap operas, and tabloid newspapers. Anytime a person or character is “bigger than life,” we are seeing the enactment of an archetype. These characters are usually presented as uncomplicated, with purity of intent, regardless of what that intent may be. Divine or diabolical, sacred or profane, the sinner or the saint, the adventurer, the sage, the seeker, the rescuer, the love object, the redeemer – all are exaggerated expressions of the conscious energy of the collective soul. Archetypes are born of the collective soul, but they are enacted by individual souls. Their mythical dramas play out daily in our physical world.

Every human being is attuned to some archetype, or two or three archetypes. Every one of us is hardwired at the level of the soul to enact or model archetypal characteristics. They are seeds sown within us. The activation of an archetype releases its patterning forces that allow us to become more of what we already are destined to be. Our individual archetypes are reflected in our desires or intentions.

Here are a few archetypes from the Vedic tradition:

  • Brahma
  • Ganesha
  • Shakti
  • Shiva
  • Vishnu
  • Vahana
  • Kali

Which archetype(s) speak to you? Share in the comments below.

Adapted from The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press).


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