Who Came Up With Archetype and Why?

who came up with archetype and why

This article is the third of the series about Jung and “shadow work” with Özgür Önal.

I have been following Özgür for a long time and got inspired by his interest in Jung’s work and his synthesis of Jung and Sufi mystic thinking. So, we came together one night, with many questions in my head. The intention was one article which resulted in 6 articles around the topic of Jung and shadow work as you can see in the titles below.

What Jung really said?

Are archetypes real?

Who came up with the archetype and why?

What is a Jungian shadow?

How do you do shadow work on yourself?

Can shadow work help with depression?

Bio of Özgür

Who made the archetypes?

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) has a work in which he defined archetypes very clearly 900 years before Jung defined the term “archetype”.

Another example is Greek mythology which is full of characters that symbolize spiritual forces. Dionysus, the pleasure and tasteful side of life, is the god of wine for example. In all the stories, we see Dionysus in the form of tastefulness, harmony, and enjoying life.

Poseidon, the god of the stormy seas, creates great floods and shakes the seas to react to the people who deserve in the mythic flow of the story.

All are aspects of life and spiritual strengths in one way or another. Sometimes we feel weak and powerless and lose our ability to draw boundaries to others. It is because simply we lose the Poseidon within us, symbolically speaking. And mythic stories remind us of our true nature and mature potential.

Because sometimes you must be a Poseidon. But when you become too much Poseidon, then you should mix Poseidon with a little bit of Dionysus remembering the compassionate side of human nature. Archetypes are like cocktail ingredients representing complementary life forces and tension inside us not to cross the line of mature behavior. Mature behavior is the most delicious cocktail ever with just-sufficient amounts of each ingredient inside. 

In this sense, Jung did not make an invention. He just realized the big picture and named the already existing concepts that were somehow missed to be integrated into early 20th-century science. And He connected the dots, of course, not only by theoretical knowledge but also by his personal experiences with his unconscious. You can read his inner work in his book called “Red Book” by the way.

How to identify your Jungian archetype and shadow?

For example, the magician is the storyteller and musician inside us. “The king” energy is another one that organizes, authorizes, and coordinates the life around us. They are living forces of our total being which is functioning constantly each and every moment.

That’s why we’re not just one archetype. If we’re just one archetype, that would mean that we are stuck being a king who has lost his inner lover. A king who loses his inner explorer and inner lover may turn into a tyrant. Likewise, an explorer who loses his inner king may turn into a purposeless hobo.

Life is trying to teach us to balance ourselves with these opposite poles and complementary qualities. For that very reason, it is not a very correct approach to say that I am Jung’s this or that archetype. Asking the question of how I can integrate different archetypes maturely would be the best question to ask.

Archetypes show how free we are, how rich we are, and what potentials we can develop. We are not complete yet, no matter how old we are. It shows what’s inside of us and how it can extend more towards a more mature way. It shows the endless possibilities of the ocean within us just like the cocktail metaphor I have given above. There are endless ways to make a delicious cocktail with given ingredients. Likewise, there are endless ways to behave in conflict situations, for example. And there is always just another elegant behavior that you can choose to take than the other.

Some people call Jung with the term “Objective shaman of the soul”. That’s exactly what he achieved in his life work which is kind of like uniting the two seas. Remember the story of two seas from the previous article. I mean the duality of Objectiveness and being shaman at the same time. It sounds contradictory, right?

Because shaman is the person who connects to the invisible world which has nothing to do with objectiveness in one way. Having a shaman experience is a purely personal experience and always open to controversy for people who prefer not to believe in the existence of such an invisible world since they are looking for a controllable experimentation environment and concrete proof.

And yet another question: What if the field of unconsciousness is not a controllable experimentation field? what if we are just part of it and not authorized to own and control it. That’s the real challenge and hardship behind it. That’s the point we must admire Jung a lot. Because he worked with the invisible world and yet tried to communicate his findings in the scientific communities with a structural language, methods, and also practice. And he initiated a lineage of a powerful psychology Ecole to bring the work to the service of humanity in the academic domain with many methods and tools to be used by the next generation of psychotherapists. 

The place where two seas meet is the place where we are not extremely excluding something and, at the same time, we are not extremely glorifying another thing. There is this point where we can be at an equal distance so that we can keep our sincere objectivity and curiosity alive without any arrogance that might be awakened by our one-sidedness. Nobody or nothing has a monopoly over the truth. We arrived already at another Jungian concept called “projection”. 

What is Carl Jung’s projection?

There are some people we idolize so much that we lose our balance and inner power when we are with them. Actually, on the surface, we love them so much but we can’t be with them anyway in an equal relationship. On the other hand, there are some other people we cannot stand and find irritating. We are being attracted toward the most extreme edges of love and hate polarity by one psychological dynamic that we call projection.

If we look at the Jungian concept of projection, There is this divine energy within me. If I don’t name it and direct it consciously to a meaningful address, it is gonna miss the target and deviate towards the first possible address where I’ll find my unintegrated potential at. And then I unconsciously idolize those people so much that I just don’t consciously realize I am craving similar qualities for my own life. This is a very dangerous dynamic. Because depending on the size of the hole which represents my unintegrated potential, this crash could be so powerful that I can even be an extremist or fundamentalist of anything. I mean literally “anything”. You can name it just by watching the world news on TV. 

This divine energy is very powerful and very difficult to contain in our psychic structure. If we just ignore it, It begins to operate unconsciously. Let me give a metaphorical example of “Nuclear Energy”. You just can’t keep it in the refrigerator at home to do a weekend DIY project with it. Right? Nuclear energy harms you and others if you use it unconsciously. But with the proper conditions and hardware, you can benefit a lot.

If I am not conscious and aware of my tremendous divine potential, I tend to project it onto a person, a team, a leader, an ideology, or any subject which feeds my little inner monster living in the darkest corners of my inner world. In the adolescent years, it’s very normal and acceptable to create heroes, heroines, or rock stars to fall in love with. Because It’s a period and ends naturally at some point when we begin finding similar forces inside us during our psychic development. 

If I have unresolved issues with my father or I have difficulty developing the father-like side of my character, I’ll probably idolize some leaders unconsciously. Leaders are archetypically fathers. and probably I’ll follow them to the death without noticing my inner journey, probably I am gonna be a figurant of someone else’s journey. And I might not even know how true and legitimate I follow.

Of course, It is not easy and not right to formulate different unique stories and tell the truth for everyone. I don’t underestimate the endless way of being human. I am just giving examples to be able to draw a rough picture for you to understand what the projection is. 

We project its opposite to others as hatred. Whoever or whatever it is. If you idolize Real Madrid, you will be irritated by Barca. The more you glorify something, the more you are irritated by the other. The more you glorify one political wing, the more you are irritated by the other wing.

The meaningful thing to do is to hear the voice of your call knowing that you have the force inside and step on your journey.

Let’s remember a famous Jedi saying here : )

 “May the force be with you” 

Probably the Jedi’ already knew the secrets of inner forces : )

Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

I already mentioned finding inner forces inside me. Now I have to tell you about the second trap we are facing: “inflation”.

In the beginning, you projected your potential to others. Because you were alienated from your potential. You followed the others, idolized some figures. You felt strong as long as you were accepted and appreciated by your figures.

One day, you said OK! Enough! “this energy is already inside me, I will use it.”

Well done! Now you are a Jedi 🙂

This time, You arrived at their position. you are a manager now, a leader, or in any position of authority…

Now, you are in danger of getting inflated. Because this inner power doesn’t belong to you and can inflate you to the point where you can misuse this power if you are not conscious enough about the source of that power. Confusing? Actually, no! Ask yourself or remember some possible examples of power misuse around you. Many stories you’ll remember. 

That’s why this great potential was specifically highlighted as “divine” if you remember from the “projection” section of the article. I mean It just does not belong to us. We are just in relation to it to serve the life around us.

The only way to relate to this archetypal energy neither being alienated nor inflated is to understand our nafs

All the saints of the world always said similar things to warn us with statements like “be alert” “always be careful” “be awakened” etc. 

It reminded me of the story of Bayazid Bastami and the devil. One day, Bastami is doing his peregrine service in Mecca, and he leaves the sacred area and just outside he sees the devil with many halters in hand. Bastami is surprised and asks what are you doing here? The devil answers, ‘I am waiting for my people while they are praying. Once they leave, I’ll put on their halter and ride on them’. Bastami asks ‘Am I also among these people that you are waiting for?’ Then the devil comes closer to Bastami and whispers to his ear saying, ‘I ride you without a halter, even.’ 

Then days pass and Bastami finishes his service and leaves Haj and starts his trip. He comes to a place just near a river. There he sees an old man sitting there. He comes closer to the man and the man says, ‘I am coming from the Haj. I am old and I do not see. How can I pass this river?’ Bastami feels sorry for this old man, and he takes him on his back and starts to cross. When he is just in the middle of the river with the old man on his back, the old man whispers to his ear saying, ‘Did not I say to you that I ride you without a halter?’

For example, shahada “la ilahe illallah” means roughly that “There is no ilah (to be worshipped and glorified), But only Allah”

For me, this phrase tells a lot about the fine relation with this divine archetypal energy that we are fine-tuning ourselves to a certain distance with. I mean using the force without claiming ownership and also remembering the meaning of it and why and how it should be used by us. I mean the meaning and purpose and rightful use of it.

You see the divine power in your neighbor, you see it in your teacher, you make them your idol. This means that you forgot the source where they received their power from. After giving the correct address, I am directly related to that power.

There is a famous saying you know

 “King is dead! Long live the new king!” 

What is attributed here is not the specific person but the “kingdom” itself. King is just a representation of the need for a regulating power function which is necessary for an order in the kingdom. So if we unfold those meanings, we can say that the kingdom is a kind of sacred symbol. Even the king as a symbol can have a sacred meaning, but not the person himself. I don’t mean we should not respect or be rebellious or something. There is a very fine line here to give attention that idolizing (putlaştırma) is a different thing than anything else. 

Kingship is a very important role. Whenever we play the “king” role symbolically in our daily life as a boss, as a chairman, as a father, you name it… We face this challenge. 

The question is, 

Am I mature enough to use the power and authority vested in me rightly, truly, and justly?

In Ibn Arabi’s work, he mentions, in one of his books, that man is tested by three things. The first one is the authority (chair and position). Second, material possessions (property, money, etc.). Third, loved ones (wife, husband, children, etc)

All three are very easy to love excessively, right? you can ask what’s wrong with loving excessively? very simply let me say excessiveness is the point that we lose our balance, just and truthfulness in life.

There is this story I like very much. There was a wali. He was a shipowner, he was rich. The young boy working with him came running. “Sir”, he said, “your ships were sunk in the sea”. For a moment he brought his hand to his heart. He said “Alhamdulillah”. Then half an hour passed. The boy came back. “Sir,” said, “that burning ship was not yours”. He brought his hand to his heart again. He said “Alhamdulillah”. The boy asked. “Sir, you have been saying Alhamdulillah for both cases which are opposite, what happened?” “At first, I looked at my heart, there was no movement, I was glad, I said Alhamdulillah. The second time, I looked into my heart again, and when I heard that there was no movement, I was thankful.”

This story inspires me a lot. Our elders gave us some guidelines on how to recognize the Al-Insān al-Kāmil*. As they say, Al-Insān al-Kāmil* wouldn’t be extra happy if we gave him/her the world. He/she wouldn’t be upset if you took the world away from him/her.

Al-Insān al-Kāmil wouldn’t hurt if you insulted or tried to hurt him nor would be happy even if you praised, took him to the skies, and applauded.

So, not the tiniest bit of doubt. Isn’t this a beautiful guideline?

If they bring me such news, I will do a backflip. Sometimes I forget where I put my wallet. What a fuss. Hands are rattling. These are human references. It’s an opportunity for us to notice how mature we are.

Making these people a touchstone, putting them before our eyes is a touchstone for us.

Jung or his peers…These are all stories. The question is, where am I today, where was I, and where will I be tomorrow in the journey of transforming into an Al-Insān al-Kāmil*.

Archetype examples

There are even some mythological figures for those possible projection attractors. One example is “Karun” for wealth and the other is “pharaoh” as the symbol of the chair and position. Similarly, Nimrod, ruler of the biggest empires, dies with a mosquito escaping from his nose. He throws Abraham into the fire. Abraham does not burn in the fire when he takes refuge in Allah. We might pass through the fire at some point in our lives, and we do not burn. Those are all archetypes that represent spiritual strengths like a variety of colors of life. As the white light passing through a prism splits into many spectrum colors, archetypes are the spectrum of the soul. Their unity makes the white light.

This is a very good metaphor that explains it perfectly.

The important thing is the white light, the sun. The colors there don’t matter.


Maybe Jung did not invent the archetypes, but definitely, he accomplished a not easy role to speak about all unspeakable of his time in academics.

Each time there is more union between spirituality and scientist way of thinking. We can listen to each other from the heart and learn, and explore and wonder. Jung did a big job to be closer to this union.

As I have already mentioned, this article is part of an interview series about Jung and shadow work with Özgür Önal. 

You can also be interested in these articles below,

What Jung really said? 

Are archetypes real?

What is a Jungian shadow?

How do you do shadow work on yourself?

Can shadow work help with depression?

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so, you can pin it to your Jung and Shadow Work Board!

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