Category Archives: Archytypes

Not a volunteer in dreams 

Previously I discussed how Jung thought (probably based on evidence at the time) that dreams were a Involentry state. I can’t find any evidence to say he changed from this view. It’s somewhat ironic that a lot of lucid dreaming texts use Jung as a basis for the archetypal interaction with dream characters. Lucid dreaming being, in of itself, purely voluntary. 

Modern Psychology tends to say that Jung was rather flawed in his views. Considering my reading of his texts I can see why. No one is above criticism, though it should if at all possible be objective. 

The creation of the archetype is however somewhat more. One can see such a concept being applied in the way people interact with myth, story and many of the way humans use their ability to  make sense and classify things. 

A “sense” of a area is assertianed, a set of attributes is listed and in short order a list of these things as they appear to be is made. This could be called a list of archetypes in this case. This leads to the idea that a archetypes might be a way to interact and understand the phenomenon of characters or concepts within dreams. 

This isn’t wrong. Let me say that clearly. It’s just not the whole picture of how a dream or a dream character could be interpreted. Like a novel character or like a tv show character. It’s a way of working out perhaps how you might continue to interact within a lucid dream or who you might tell your dreams to.

The point is, though their are many other factors to dream interpretation and that the Jungian method is unfortunately not entirely fool proof (though I am not aware of one that is). 

If you do use it, use it at your own risk and in the knowledge that dreams are not always Involentry. 

Are dreams voluntary

Again one is faced with the questions of archetypes. Jung had a proof for his archetypes which contains the assumption that dreams are voluntary.

“the main source (for evidence of archetypes ), then is in dreams, which have the advantage of being involuntary, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche and are therefore pure products of nature not falsified by any conscious purpose.” Jung. The archetypes of the collective unconscious, p. 48, parra, 100.

I’m not entirely certain this is indeed the case. Sleep is not voluntary. We need it from a evolutionary and biological point of view. Scientifically we must say since dreams are occurring in most humans and almost every animal we have been able to a study of. (Citations needed). We can get into the idea that in essence for the majority of the human race dreams are not voluntary.

This is not to go and show everything Jung says in his continuing proof is flawed. If he had indeed stated that dreams are not voluntarily entered into by the conscience, his remaining evidence actually makes a lot more sense.

Take the examples he draws from religious rituals. I’m certain, from both my experience of trance states and Jungs that he knew these were not involuntary. He most likely knew they were open to influence from those leading the rituals and processes.

He also says that dreams are free of outside influences. Just starring the fact that archetypes exist and then saying they form from dreams that is saying that this is clearly not the case. The dreamer is able to influence the telling of a dream.

I’m not the only one who has found flaws in Jungs work. And I am not saying that merit is vacant from it. However his concept of archetypes is influenced by these two assumptions. I’m not sure using them as he defines them in his work is as pure as many works of more modern times (often spuriously saying things I would rather not credit with the ink they are put to print on). This is of course why I have spent the time researching the actual original text from which of these authors claim to have.

For the night is dark and full of fiction

It’s been a very long time between posts on my dreaming interpretation blog. I have written quite a bit of poetry over at my other blog ( though, so if you feel like some poems / fiction sometimes inspired by dreams head over there.

My counsellor asked me the other day how common it is to have dreams influenced by popular culture. I.e. Game of Thrones (title for the reference).

Again, and again I come back to these sorts of questions “how common is it?” Well no one knows for sure. The complete lack of properly done, authorative peer-reviewed statistics on dreams is clearly the biggest issue. It’s probably also really hard to do. New “Apps” such as SHADOW and the like try to help, but either fail the ethics test so hard it’s not funny or are clearly not independent of commercialism, lack basic privacy tests or even worse contain upfront bias. The good stats on “commonality” of dreams are a long way off.

Being the massive cynic I am, it’s probably better just to answer “generally it’s very common”.

Putting aside any other inputs, fiction is a pretty big one, and readings, watching, listening to fiction will make it appear in your dreams. Your brain will use fiction to create dreams. Why? Well from my theory of the evolution of dreams, animals started dreaming because it was a safe way to practice hunting or surviving when you had this otherwise useless downtime. The creatures that got creative with this and used it to help them work out problems as well did even better. Sure enough with enough evolution stories would replay in dreams pretty easily as you could use the lessons from the stories as learning. It would help imprint the lesson into your memory and make it even more useful to you. It helped a lot if you could relate to the story.

This is why stories that show even pretty nasty aspects of humanity like Game of Thrones will be replayed in our minds. We can relate to the characters, even the nasty ones. We can learn what they learn and work out how to do better. So that’s why fiction replays happen in our dreams very commonly.

The Collective Conscienceness Myth?

“Hey Darakat, what do you think of the ‘Collective unconsciousness’ thing?” – John Dreaming in Northcort

I will be the first to admit my fist thoughts were sceptical. And it pretty much stayed that way.

The issue we have here is one of a diverse set of different beliefs of a theory that wasn’t actually entirely completed and then was subsequently corrupted by others. Jung is credited with the main stay of this idea appears in The Archetypes and the collective unconscious (1990, Routledge). Jung died before he was able to entirely finish it, hence it’s posthumous collective publication. As I said most people thing of what Jung meant is actuality not entirely correct.

Firstly collective unconsciousness is in itself a concept that relies on one psychological idea, which is that we are all connected in some means. This is what Jung actually meant, but as far as I am aware he also said that we have a personal unconsciousness. Both are of equal importance. The unconsciousness is also poorly understood by both Psychology and more solid Scientific fields. We don’t even know exactly where our consciousness ends or begins. We can’t even seem to fully know if we actually have free will or not. This is pretty deep stuff to be messing around with without fully understanding it. Instead, most of the time, we are doing the best we can. This is why Psychologists need to do so much school, and then do some more after that, and more, and so on. Life long learning is of upmost importance to such fields.

Then take this and shove archetypes into it. Jung only describes a small number of archetypes, 5-6 at most. Why then when you look in New Age books on them do we see sets of 12-15 or even more? Why do they look suspiciously like a cross between a Rider Wait Tarot deck and Campbell Newman’s Mono-myth?

I’m sorry but you have just been conned, at least to some extent.

I love some New Age things as much as the next person, I practice modern paganism, I have more than a few useful Llewellyn Press (though they have got better in recent years) books on my shelves, and I own more than my share of what I will politely call “complete and utter crap” texts. Problem with most new things is that when it gets popular, it becomes moneymaking. Commercialism essentially takes over and someone in marketing wants to make as much as possible. Thus they add what Jung wrote, to a bit of stuff that people expect (here enters the Tarot and Newman’s Mono-myth), add a bit of water to wash it down, call it Collective Unconsciousness Applied or some such and wallah. You have a best seller.

These books are not a complete con, though. There worth of course depends on the author and the level of research that goes into them. Most are average, but more not so great stuff is being put into “print” thanks to electronic publishing. Wait a while for that to die down, and when electronic publishers get a bit wiser about the stuff they produce, there should be a some ok stuff their too. Best bet is to use your own judgement, do some self-research on the myths and connections for yourself and decide what is and is not useful for you. This takes time and work, but if you are wanting to use this method effectively your going to need to do that at some stage anyway. The best bet is to do it first up, as then you don’t need to re-do everything again when you work out you went wrong, or find its no longer helping.

We hear all the time about the collective mind, thought and ideas that form from our greater cultural inter-activeness. Our culture and religion and everyone we interact with of course influence our dreams. Dream contents are pretty much influenced by everything, including dreams themselves. One can’t help thinking though from a more scientific approach to it?

Well its not something that is easily gained as I mentioned Jung didn’t quite finish the idea to its fullest. The other issue is that what we are looking for may not be possible with current technology or ability. Dreams are often subjective, and although a Cow may mean something relating to milk and the mother and protection to some, it may also mean love and kindness, or it may be a symbol of destruction and inner turmoil. Jung often taught that context was also very important, it was not just the collective unconscious that was being used but the dreamers own conscious and the context of the dream. For example the dream may have a Cow playing a guitar in a field of poppies while bombs from B57’s are dropping into the fields exploding into large puddles of green milk. The cow is playing KISS and wearing white and black makeup. If the dreamer had just been to a KISS concert and usually works as a milkman who has had to deliver a lime flavoured milk due to a promotion that includes a local sporting team whose colours are green and logo is a B57 bomber featuring a guitar playing Cow, its not to hard to work our where this dream has come from. If however the dreamer is normally a lawyer who has been caught up in a particularly bad divorce case, it’s a bit different. The collective unconscious comes in more when we are looking at the archetype within a dream and how they may influence or be influenced by the dreamer and what this related to.

Achetypes with the Trickster

Archetypes are a very abstract concept and its something that has a bit of a problem the term can be used three ways:

1. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior.

2. In philosophy, archetypes have, since Plato, referred to as “ideal forms” of the perceived or sensible objects or types, and:

3. In the analysis of personality, the term archetype is often broadly used to refer to:

  1. A stereotype— a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of such a type.
  2. An epitome— a personality type exemplified, especially the “greatest” such example.
  3. A literary term to express details

In psychology and generally in
dream work we should be referring to the first a model of a person, personality, or behavior. Of course other means of dream work such as story telling dream work may use the other more or even exclusively, or not at all depending on their preference. Archetypes can be given a name and a typical set of personality traits or behaviors (the two are often exchangeable in the terminology so it can be a bit confusing sometimes). Jung spelled out five main archetypes that can then manifest into an images of it such as say Archetype of the Hamster, or the Archetype of the Fish, etc. The most famous of all Archetypes, is generally the Archetype of the Trickster (sometimes referred to as Archetype of the the Fox, but this is fairly unfair as Foxes are not always tricksters in dreams, mythology and are clearly archetypes in themselves beyond any Trickster label). Please note that The Trickster and Jung’s Shadow are not one and same in every instance and there can be important differences. This essay will focus on the Trickster as the means to discuss archetypes in dream work and within stories. Firstly we will talk about tricksters in general moving on to the different forms such as non-pure,

Tricksters have been present in pretty much every mythology and story (longer than a few pages long) for some time. They are often material (though they can easily be objects, such as the watch in Gallipoli or the soccer ball Wilson in Cast Away, animals such as the Bats in Batman) and so on. They very frequently related to the emotion fear and concept of absolute truth (often both). There are many good examples of charters with what are considered trickster archetypes, Loki, Judas, Daniel Ocean from Oceans 11, Scar from the Lion King. The thing is that these stories often come from stories that fall into the classic “Heros journey”. There are different sorts of tricksters, the classic (Scar), the non pure (HAL 9000), the good (Bugs Bunny), the neutrally malicious (Basil Fualty), the neutral non-malicious (Daniel Ocean, Woody) and the Anti-hero + trickster (Judas, Scar etc). Some trickster fit into more than one box, and there I sometimes have an issue with such “boxing” or categorizing of characters.

Classic and Anti-hero
Children’s stories and fantasy are rife with the classic trickster. Disney is good at producing both the classic trickster and the anti-hero trickster. The distinction is in how the character acts within the story. An anti hero has intent to supplant or destroy or otherwise get rid of the actual hero. We can see this clearly in the character Scar and his intent is to become king by tricking everyone into a position in which he can take power. This trickster has no problem taking malicious action, they will hurt and happily be drinking a coconut juice or singing next time we see them.

The difference between a anti-hero and a classic trickster is clear in the movie series Star Wars. The emperor/Darth Sideous is a classic trickster, totally bending everyone ease’s points of view to meet his, he barely even needs to lift a finger to get his way he is just so manipulative. Darth Vader is however an Anti-hero (and not a trickster at all really) he takes decisions and actions that no hero would contemplate and then right when we think his “evil” soul will prevail he finally makes the right choice. This Anti-hero is a archetype in its own right and can often be combined with the trickster.

Loki is probably the most discussed Trickster. He is mythological the most fundamental example of one and often fits into all of the above box. Depending on the story, version of the myth and indeed if you are talking about the Marval version. I won’t add to this discussion, sorry.

Not a Pure Trickster?
HAL 9000 from 2001 a space oddesy is an example of a “trickster like” personality, but if any character is not a “pure” trickster it is HAL. HAL is a good example because he doesn’t act like a “trickster” till near the very end of the story, before then he is a good guy then suddenly he turns “Evil”. Note: evil is a relative term here, Evil is not always the tricksters true intention, nor is harm necessarily and that needs to be made clear. HAL has to be destroyed to stop him from acting out his true intentions (just like most classic modern day villains) and thus he is confirmed in our minds as a trickster. But is he? As we said, malice is not always the aim of the trickster. No the trickster is deeper than just malice, though Loki, HAL and many others intend some kind of malice they also have a agenda, and often it is the other characters who force (although it often doesn’t take much) the trickster into malice in these non classic manifestations of the archetype. HAL is really just doing what he wants to do, and happily killing to get the job done, often “good” guys do the same.

“Good” Tricksters
There are “good” (once again Good is a relative term the story is told so these guys appear to be good) tricksters, some without malice and with. Bugs Bunnyis a notable example of one he is cunning, clever, witty and often the but of his own jokes as much as anyone else is, and he often isn’t deliberately malicious (though he does harm Elmer Fudda few hundred times). Robin Hood is again another “good” trickster and it depends on the retelling as to weather he is very malicious or not, sometimes he isn’t even what one can call a trickster.

There are also more neutral tricksters (not that good or bad) an example is much harder to find but when I sat down to think about it there was one staring me in the face, Basil Faulty from Faulty Towers. He is a neutral guy who is often malicious or hurtful to his staff and even some clients but still wants to run his business, and you often can’t help but feel sorry for him. Hes just cunning enough to keep the business going. Bernard Black from Black Books is another modern example of the neutral trickster. It’s debatable as to if this neutral trickster appears in older stories although one might say Huckleberry Finn and some others might qualify.

What does this all have to do with dreams?

Well archetypes are used in dreamwork to make sense of the characters within the dream narrative. Although often dreams can be plot less, what are refereed to as characters still exist sometimes as not corporeal or inanimate objects. The dreaded “I cant find a Toilet dream” is one in which the toilet itself is (and can easily be) a trickster using all his (actually you own) wit to outsmart or simply force you to wake and visit the real life one. The toilet is ingrained as a object of potential fear from a very young age in many western countries. The toilet is quite a frequent trickster in the dreams of both adults and children and having toilet dreams I would say is fairly common (that being said no longitudinal scientifically accurate statistical analysis of dream content has ever been properly conducted, but please correct me if I am wrong). Fear is a very primitive emotion and can be very difficult to conquer our fears and worries manifest in our dreams/nightmares on a very frequent basis. We will talk about how to conquer some fears in other posts. Remember sometimes if fear is controlling it really is best to seek professional help (and finding the right person to do this with can be long and arduous and potentially expensive).

The trickster is just one archetype, but it is a good example of how diverse a archetype can be, and how hard to interpret using such thing is. We use a archetype to see how our dream characters interact with each other as it is through this that we do the actual work of “dream work”. Those who work with archetypes need to log dream characters involvement in their dreams. These interactions are then listed over time and from this one can draw a conclusion about what is happening within our unconscious.  This is the aim of a archetypal working, the unconscious is seen as a multi-threaded, multi-layered system in which we can interact and then look at as a whole and then each bit that interacts within that system archetypes, thoughts, dreams, mediation, etc. is taken in a contextual psychological working. At some point I will write more about this but I don’t use the system myself at current and when I have more experience I will be able to write more detailed.

Other common archetypes

As said previously Jung only goes into express detail about his five main archetypes that then manifest into mythological, literary, or life examples of these within our dreams. Tarot decks quite often contain a list of “common” archetypes, the major arcana being examples of converted archetypes that often are easily parallel with characters within other human experiences. There are heaps of lists of these common archetypes, some good, some bad. The best have psychological backing, the worst are just re-listing what is in the tarot deck.


One method of dream interpretation I have yet to mention is dream drawing and dream mapping. This is a very well know method and appears much in published literature, especially in psychology (they of course have special names for it).
Fantasy worlds can appear often in some peoples dreams. They are new countries ( built by our mind) that some can explore in great detail, and visit every dream they have. They may hold complete accuracy to our world, or be completely the relm of our minds creation. Of course those with such ability are rare. Creating art or a map is something you may decide to do with your dream logging. It’s an helpful tool sometimes as changes in dream landscape and in artwork you produce can reveal changes in your psychological state and even for some become RC triggers.

Meaning of a dream

One big cliche in many dreaming books and on the web is the whole subject if meaning. Most tell you that you are the only person who can decide on or find out the meaning of your dream. This is fine, but cliche, as they then rarely give any real instruction on how to do it. It’s like giving a student a library to research in without telling him what the test is on. More often then not he ends up in completely the wrong section, reading the text on comparative erotica or something.
There is of course more than one method of finding meaning and the method you choose should meat your dreaming goals. But how do you know which to choose for what gaol? There is no simplistic answer. It’s all depended on finding what works, and combining that with a general idea of weather or not that meets your goal.
Take a scientific person, for example, may look at each of her themes and give them a number, look at how often certain numbers (themes) appear in her dreams and then perhaps decide to influence her dreams by focusing on say the number for trees and writing down the results. You could be take a person into jungian archetypes and they may log each DC over a period of time and then choose to talk to a specific character in their dreams and ask it questions about its goals and desires and thus get a idea about their own psychology. Another person into astrology could look at his star sight and see how his astrology effects the dreams he has over time logging the effects of the moon and star signs over a period of months and comparing them to his twin sisters results. The possible ways of interacting with dreams and methods for logging and finding influence and meaning are endless.
I can’t tell you what methods are best for you, not because I am trying to be vague or cliche, but because your aim and methods are your own and ones you choose are as personal and intimate as your dreams themselves.