Archetypes in the Tarot
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.