collective unconscious psychology

What is the Collective Unconscious? What it Means in Your Life

The collective unconscious – so far as we can say anything about it at all – appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious… We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual.” – Carl Jung (From The Structure of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 325.)

The term Collective Unconscious was introduced by the psychology pioneer Carl Jung after working with schizophrenia patients and inspired by his own experiences growing up with powerfully vivid dreams. His doctoral dissertation being on the Occult likely played into his beliefs about the collective unconscious. Jung believed that the knowledge of the collective unconscious could not be taught because it was inherent to all beings already from the moment of birth. He described this knowledge to be like a universal library of wisdom underlying the guiding force of humanity.

This wisdom is encoded in symbols and archetypes that can be found among the myths and religions the world over. This wisdom is in the deepest reaches of the unconscious mind regarded as genetic or inherent rather than shaped by personal experience. It is because of these depths that the only way to become aware of their role in your life is through conscious learning about the archetypes and yourself.

Collective Unconscious versus Personal Unconscious

collective vs individual unconsciousThe collective unconscious is different from the personal unconscious in the same way the container is separate from what is contained by it. The personal unconscious is the recorded memories of your personal experiences, and is often the source of the filled in details in dreams not drawn from the archetypes of the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious is where all buried trauma and things we hide from ourselves is held.

A great source of study on universal archetypes is the Tarot. It is a system of divination based on the universal archetypes, and so by studying the archetypes of the Tarot you can benefit from the Tarot without even using them for their divination purpose. Patch Tarot, and the Book of Patch, the Patch Tarot book are an excellent resource for further study on this subject.


Book of Patch – Spirit Studios
The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1) Paperback – August 1, 1981

Other Great Video Sources to study further:
Carl Jung – What are the Archetypes?
Introduction to Carl Jung – The Psyche, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious 
Terence McKenna – Carl Jung & Psychic Archetypes (Lecture)
Alan Watts on Carl Jung
Spirit Science 36_1 ~ The Essence of Tarot
Spirit Science 36_2 ~ The History of Tarot



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