Archetypes are energies animated through what Jung called “the collective unconscious.” The collective unconscious is like a virtual public library that stores data of a symbolic nature. As an intuitive counselor, I help my clients access this collective database and most of, if not all of, our “hits” are archetypes.

When I conduct an archetypal analysis, I take intuitively chosen archetypes and “throw” them onto the astrological wheel of houses. I have found that interpreting the results becomes a powerful springboard from which my clients are able to move into goal-setting, further personal work and healing. Since archetypes are such a helpful tool for self-understanding and intuitive development, familiarity with their symbology often makes our lives more meaningful and our decision-making more efficient. Some of the ways I assist my clients in gaining access to archetypical information involve dream analysis, Tarot readings, and Totem exploration. I often start with fairy tales.

Fairy tales are full of archetypal characters, a King, a Queen, a Princess, a Prince and, of course, a Witch or a Troll. There may be a Dunce or Fool as well. If you sit and contemplate each of these, you will surely be able to define them in detail. Other people, especially those who share your cultural background, are likely to generate similar descriptors. Fairy tales, myths, and stories were originally passed down from generation to generation as allegorical explanations about human nature. They also serve to guide those of us willing to venture deeper into the psychic library stacks across the threshold of the collective unconscious.

For example, and very simply, let’s take the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. It could be said that Little Red Riding Hood is an initiation fairy tale. The mother sends her little girl off on a familiar path but, for the first time, has her go alone. Almost immediately, the child’s innocence and light is spotted by a wolf. How often do we find ourselves trying to protect the innocent aspect of our psyches from the predatory aspects of ourselves or others? In the story, the wolf hurries to grandmother’s house, eats the wise old woman whole, disguises itself as the grandmother, and then lays in wait to eat Red Riding Hood. She, however, meets the challenge of identifying it despite its masquerade. The strong mature masculine enters the scene as The Hunter and kills the wolf. The grandmother, still whole and hearty, hops out of the animal’s belly. The three of them eat the goodies Red Riding Hood brought from her mother and they all live happily ever after.

This fairy tale is told in many forms and venues to children all over the globe. On one level, it is ‘just’ a story, but I still remember the first time I heard it. I know my eyes were wide and I remembered being totally immersed in an archetypal experience. I also believe that from the first time I heard this tale, I started to become aware of how it is my responsibility for me to watch for those ‘wolves’ out there in the big, big world.

As I grew up and studied self-awareness and character development, I realized that every character (or archetype) in the tale is a part of myself. I hold each character (Mother, Red Riding Hood as the child on her initiation journey, Wolf, Grandmother and Huntsman) within my own psyche. Once I can grasp this concept, this deceptively simple story, along with any other that happens to hold some personal meaning or animation for me, can deepen from a fairy tale about a bunch of imaginary characters to a complex inner landscape made available to my perusal.

I have found that the interplay, and conflict, between the archetypes in such a story and a client’s actual life experience provides rich ground in which to cultivate an individual’s intuitive landscape. Some archetypal conflicts are particularly compelling. For example: the word “Mother” triggers an instant exchange between the collective unconscious and our personal psyches. “Mother” could be soft, nurturing, or playful. “Mother” could also be strict, punitive, neglectful, or uncaring. Anything that the culture ascribes similar characteristics to becomes animated enough to become an archetype. How often do we hear someone described as having a, “good” mother or a “bad” one? Throughout out my career, I’ve noticed clients most often pull from their personal symbolic library first. A person who had a “bad” mother might impose negative characteristics on all women who have children.

The problems that come from projecting archetypes on another are further complicated by the human tendency to judge traits, feelings, or situations dualistically. As I work with clients, I remind them that archetypes are truly neutral energies, not all-good or all-bad. In The King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, it is suggested that the foundation of the masculine psyche consists of the four archetypes in the title. Instead of labeling any of these as noble, evil, acceptable, or taboo, Moore and Gillette suggest we explore each aspect in terms of how mature or immature it is within a single man. This developmental approach shows us how we can use these archetypes as tools for understanding the hows and whys of the choices men make. Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen offers a similar feminine perspective on this process.

When we practice moving the unconscious into consciousness, we develop the skill set needed to interpret where our judgments come from. This can empower and free us to begin cultivating our own individualized intuitive landscape. Just as we may borrow an intriguing story from a public library and then choose to a buy a copy for our own private collection, we can find ways of bringing the vast energies of the collective unconscious into our own private psyches for personal work and spiritual development. If you are ready to tap into the “collective unconscious” to cultivate your very own personal intuitive symbology, working with an intuitive counselor can be very helpful. How about it? There’s a basket of goodies waiting to be delivered.

Author's Bio: 

Kim Illig is an Intuitive Counselor, distinguished with certification from both Caroline Myss and Norman Shealy. With over 30 years experience in the healing arts working with individuals, groups and organizations, Kim brings extensive knowledge and skills to her practice. She invites all to be “integrating the intuitive everyday.” Please visit