Friday, June 18, 2010

Send in the Archetypes

Do any of you remember that Leonard Cohen song, "Send in the Clowns"  Judy Collins sang in the mid seventies?  It began to play in my ear last week for no reason that I could think of.  I used to listen to Judy Collins as a teenager, but I thought Clowns a mournful, depressing song. What to make of this?

After several days of hearing this soundtrack in my head, I was in the shower (my modern equivalent of a cave in the Himalayas) when I remembered a SoulCollage® class I had taught the previous week on archetypes.

For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, archetype is a word that has been around for a long time, but was popularized by psychologist Carl Jung. He wrote about the muses, guides, challengers and gods who dwell in the realm of the invisible. Present across time and culture, they originate in our collective unconscious.
The best way to give form to these presences is through images-which is what I was telling the class when all of a sudden, mid-sentence, I looked up, towards the "EXIT" sign posted above the door. I could have sworn there were half a dozen invisible presences swooshing through the entrance.

Call me crazy, and I'm sure several students thought that, but I had the idea that we were about to have visitors and I confess, I was very curious to see who might turn up. Have you ever wondered who is dwelling in your inner abode?

Pat B. Allen, in her excellent book Art Is A Spiritual Path, notes that:
Guiding images are waiting for us if we choose to receive them...These images may at first feel unfamiliar and startle us. In fact they come to restore balance...Our task is to learn to dance with, to flow with, these images...The images all arise from the place of infinite possibility, and that place is the core and basic home of every person. 

I asked everyone to browse our collection of magazine images and the thick, fat magazines we'd collected and to let the images choose them rather than the other way around. By holding the simple intention of wanting to discover our internal guides, an amazing thing happened. 

Six distinct archetypes emerged on the cards over the next hour and a half. I was delighted to meet my own Alchemist Buddha (pictured above). As I looked at the others' images and listened to their descriptions, I had the feeling that the class was somewhat shocked. It was a bit like the tale of Aladdin and the Genie. They had no idea that something so powerful would emerge when they glued images to matte board.

One student, Jeanette, who had imaged the Indian goddess Durga, discovered after googling her over and over (just to make sure), that the qualities ascribed to Durga were exactly the qualities that had sent Jeanette back to graduate school and straight into her new career. As I watched Jeanette grab her hair and repeat "WEeeiiirrd..." I had the feeling I was witnessing the beginning of a great new relationship.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with archetypes.

Pictured above: 
Alchemist Buddha, ©2010, Hannah K. Hunter
Mom Goddess, ©2005, Hannah K. Hunter
Seer, ©2008, Hannah K. Hunter


  1. Oh Hannah...these are glorious collages...and your information is lovely and powerful. I have an ongoing love affair with the Archetypes and find life so much more imbued with synchronicity and seredipity because they are such guiding forces.
    Of course you know of James Wanless and his exceptional Voyager Tarot, no?

    For me your pieces here have a comparable mystical depth...simply stunning.

  2. Hannah this post gave me goosepimples and made me feel emotional .....this is JUST what I need at the moment ....going through some changes and emotional times at work.......we loose sight of whats real sometimes and need to be reminded what is important...thanks for this post....Lorna xx

  3. Thank you Iona, I wanted the info to be accurate with regard to Jung's understanding--and yet have the class experience shine through. I love the Voyager Tarot & have a copy of the deck that I use regularly. For anyone who hasn't seen his work, it is an extraordinary use of collage.

  4. Lorna, I'm glad the post was a remembrance of what's real--I need regular reminders that things are not always the way they seem!

  5. lovely collages. I had made some of this type of collage but not sure I have ever made an archetype. But all very interesting.

  6. Thank you Suki, its definitely an amazing process!

  7. Such a powerful process, unveiling those invisible dwellers!! but given the space and honoring you provided, I'm not surprised by all that emerged. This is an exciting and inspiring post Hannah! thank you, K

  8. wow. Looking up archetype has given me a new sense of the word. Your use of Jung, Plato's use of the word as an ideal. This had me thinking since I read the post a few days ago. I have certainly seen my unconscious unfold in collages. Things I never could verbalize appear with that collecting of images. My other guides however are limited to my religious beliefs. Great thoughtful post. You really had me thinking on this.

  9. Karin,

    I love the idea of archetypes as the "invisible dwellers"! Somehow an image of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde come up in my mind when I read that. (I'll have to chase that connection down.) Thank you for your thoughts on this.


    Wow too. I'll continue my "re-search" on archetypes by looking up Plato's ideal. What a wonderful way of digging deeper into this subject.

  10. one should welcome anything or anyone that can restore balance and enlightenment-- even invisible dwellers or archetypes..

  11. Absolutely Donna--I'm full agreement with you. I find that the trick is to remember to look for them--the post gave me that opportunity.