Archetypes in the Tarot
Tags archetypes, tarot-analysis, anima, animus, child, trickster, spirit, senex, shadow, father, mother, hero, persona, maiden
Carl Jung proposed the concept that much of human experience originates in what he calls the "Collective Unconscious." He described the collective unconscious as functioning much like a part of the human mind. One of the features of the collective unconscious is its tendency to organize people and situations in familiar terms — so much so that it forms well-formed character-like figures that the human mind associates with a set similar qualities. These figures are called "Archetypes," and they appear frequently in art, fiction, film, and dreams. They also appear in the tarot.
The following is a selection of archetypes that can be identified in the tarot. Finding a card that represents an archetype in a tarot reading may be more easily interpreted by bearing in mind the nature of the figure described by the archetype.
- Anima / Animus
The gender-opposing version of one's self.
The young one who has not yet achieved maturity. The true innocent.
A young woman, still making her way in the world.
A tricksy and often foolish character who is always trying to shake things up.
Our better selves, as well as those who guide us to act with our better selves.
- Wise Old Man / Senex
The wise elder who appears to offer counsel and sage advice.
The negative aspects of human nature.
- Father / Mother
Our parents, and those who nurtured us as we were growing.
The figures we look up to and admire.
The version of ourselves that we present to the world.