Recognizing Your Archetypes

Transformation Tarot

Archetypes are universal psychic images that structure all human mental functioning. They are energies, patterns of thought that the mind uses to frame perceptions, experiences and meanings.

Archetypes can be defined as blueprints that we use to project certain behavioral patterns. According to Carl G. Jung, archetypes are outside of space and time and form part of the so-called collective unconscious. As such, they constellate and manifest in us individually as organizers of the psyche and give meaning to our life's experiences.

Most archetypes and myths are lived and experienced at a subconscious or unconscious level. We usually don't even know that the roles we play in life and that the persona we assume in our daily interchange with others are just our own individual reflections and interpretations of universal energies and modalities of conduct. Every person we meet, every situation we encounter, tends to be categorized or compartmentalized according to preset notions that we have learned to accept through the socio cultural environment or frame of reference that defines us.

We react instinctively to people and circumstances in our surroundings. Like attracts Like.
We are like radars and we have feelers that transmit and receive. Some of us are more receptive and intuitive than others, and we build our lives around archetypes with special language and vibratory levels that attract similar patterns. Tarot can help us identify these behavioral patterns, as well as the myths that shape our daily life. Both Majors and Minors display images, situations, landscapes, and stories that open new doors of communication with our Higher Self. All that is required of us is to be still and receptive; and open our hearts and minds to the incredible wealth of information embedded in the images and wisdom of Tarot.

Hermetic and alchemical principles, vices and virtues, modes of behavior, states of mind, mythic stories that we weave and live and breathe. This is the world of Tarot. And as we try to unravel the core of our own Self at any given moment, we need to start by identifying our personal archetypes and understanding why they have been with us and how they are reflected in our actions and reactions. All archetypes have positive and negative qualities and we don't need to start judging these energies in any way, but rather greet them humbly and learn to work with them. Some of these energies are very complex and might take months or years to fully understand them. This is not an easy task. In fact, throughout a lifetime we will be usually discarding one archetype and embracing another, depending on our age, our changing priorities, our spiritual maturation, and many other factors.

At any given moment, we might have a retinue of at least six or ten basic roles that we play almost unconsciously, such as being a daughter or son, father, mother, spouse, teacher, student, judge, sage, hermit, martyr, victim, king of household (or worse, king of the road). So many roles we multitask ourselves with that often hide who we really are. Often the roles we play are those expected of us from society and we seem to accept willingly this cast of characters. However, when we analyze each energy or modality in full light we realize how one role can serve as an excuse for behavior we would otherwise reject, and another as a pattern of conduct that helps us get through the day at work or at home, or that helps us hide our own sense of fear or lack of worth.

"Meet and Greet" Exercise:

Transformation Tarot

Meet your archetypes one by one; greet them and ask them when or why they came to play such a role in your life, and get to know them. We can use Tarot very effectively for this purpose because it is not a threatening process. You can even use more than one deck with the same question at different times, to add layers of meaning and to develop a deeper sense of the complexities involved with every single archetypal energy that has embraced you and that has constellated in your life for whatever the reason.


Sit quietly and breathe deeply. As you exhale, be aware of the energies flowing through your body and try to harmonize the breathing with the tingling and various sensations that will be pouring around your energy field.

Start surrounding yourself with white light as you call and invoke your Guides and Teachers to help build a Sacred Space all around you. Command your subconscious to only follow guidance from your Higher Self.

Transformation Tarot

As you continue inhaling and exhaling, a rhythm will develop. Now it's time to either pick a period in your past life that needs further clarification or a present situation that is asking for resolution. You could also ask for clarity as you examine closer a specific pattern of behavior recurring in your present life.

Take as long as you need breathing slowly and placing your intention inside the question or situation. Keep a perspective, a distance that allows emotions to stay at bay and not overwhelm the visualization. Imagine yourself floating on top of the question or issue. Be as detached as you can be while still in control of the images and reactions.

Pick your deck, shuffle slowly as your question comes up clearly and purposely. Place the deck in front of you and fan it. As you fan the deck ask Spirit the question. Some examples:

What archetype(s) serve(s) me now to tackle the present situation?

What archetype(s) was I embodying when ..............?

What archetypes were or are involved in my relationship with ........?

What archetype do I play at home? In the office: with my colleagues, with my boss? With my parents? With my husband/wife/children?

What archetypal energy can serve me now in this situation?

Framing a question is pivotal in seeking clarity and we need to be as humble as possible.

Pick a card with your less dominant hand and meditate on the answer received. Don't discard the card if at first it makes no sense to you or if it makes you uncomfortable. Allow the energies of the card to weave themselves into your mind without words, without having to frame the answer. "Entertain" the images with an open heart. After a while, write on your jounal your feelings and thoughts. Now, if you still feel the need for clarification or expansion, pick another card to amplify the energy, but try to limit the number of cards and allow your mind to wander, because these answers usually take time to make any real connection with your subconscious.

Get to know your behavioral patterns and propensities through the cards that come up for you more frequently. After about six months, you should be able to map the blueprint of archetypes that most often constellate in your daily life.

Get to know your archetypes, feel comfortable in their presence as you acknowledge them and greet them. They are your friends. They reflect states of mind as well as energies that have been integrated or constellated to help you with specific situations or challenges. Meet them half way and understand their usefulness. Then, you can start sifting and prioritizing and even discarding, replacing or improving their usefulness to you.

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Fey Tarot, Ricardo Minetti; Mara Aghem illustrator
copyright © 2010 ymrobinson