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Jungian Symbols

Carl G. Jung is a psychiatrist and psychologist that lived from 1875-1961. Jung and Freud were of the same generation and where Freud found sexuality being the force behind all things psychological, Jung found after branching off from tutelage of Freud that personalities were based on symbolic archetypes all living in the conscious and unconscious minds of human being, all beginning at the very primordial chord that gave birth to mankind itself.

Carl Jung (left) had a close association with Signmund Freud (right) for many years. Both have had a profound impact of modern psychology, including the interpretation of symbols and dreams.

Jung is responsible for the "discovery", or knowledge remembered if you follow his philosophies, of the introvert and extrovert personality classifications as well as the thinkers and the feelers, intuition and sensation. Well being for the human soul itself is found through the balance and cooperation between the conscious and unconscious minds. There is a global consciousness, or collective consciousness, that all human beings hold within the substrate of their lives, which is simply inherited from each generation, going all the way back to the first man. Archetypes in the Jungian world are the templates of personalities.

Primordial images are handed down through thought which are now closer to motifs. These are now found in our dream state or fantasies; each slightly different according to the culture you may live in. These instinctive ways are seen in such life choices, as an ant needs to build a hill. These urges are based in the senses. The universal myths of god-man, creation, and such other legends found in every culture throughout time in the symbolic images we have seen discovered in ancient art. These are the Jungian archetypes.

Those people we draw close to in our lives have perhaps the same idealist tendencies as we ourselves do. The shadow, or the negative parts of ourselves that we wish to forget sometimes overthrow the positive. Three constants throughout the mythology of our lives are the symbols of stones, animals and circles. No matter what culture you visit, you will find these three there (part of the collective consciousness). Stones are place symbols wherein many gracious, and not so gracious things happen. For instance in the first books of Jewish Tradition (Torah, Old Testament), has Jacob arranging stones in a circle within his dream where God spoke to him; the Stonehenge is symbolic of the ancient Baltic peoples. Circles such as mandalas are sacred to the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Animals are power figures and spirit guides in some ancient Native American languages, as well as in Rome and the United States eagle. Our instincts are depicted here.

Carl Jung saw mandalas as basic patterns for our dream state and fantasy life through "formation, transformation, eternal mind and eternal creation". He discovered that while we walk among the outer circle, the center of the mandala is what holds us captive as we reach harmonious oneness of the universe. The center of a mandala is where the deity lives, and where we in turn live in the Jungian world. Different images are generated as we mentally create our own mandala causing our consciousness to become a "biochemical reactor" as we attain enlightenment, and an end to suffering.

The "Five Buddhas" and "Five Kings" mandalas can combine to form the Mandala of Two Realms. Good health, prosperity and joy are found within Native American mandalas. When looking at a Jungian mandala you may find some of the following symbols within its consciousness to draw you deeper to your own center and to regain the lost knowledge of days of old:

  • The persona is our mask to the world where we can show off what we are good at.
  • Self-realization is given to us through individualization as we hear more of our unconscious as we grow to be different and fulfill a higher source of understanding.
  • Mana symbolizes power and wisdom found within our psyche.
  • Quaternity (four-part) is our Self's representation of wholeness.
  • Hero myths are indicative of our journey from infancy to manhood as our soul grows from one form into another.
Carl Jung was a man deep into the conscious and unconscious minds of mankind, realizing that we have formed a bond throughout time that cannot be broken, that will always be there for us to experience. Our birth, existence, death and resurrection parallel many religious ceremonies, religions and rituals. All of our life is one big symbol that we share, pass on and live again.


A very helpful list of Jungian symbols and terminology

Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung. I believe this was his last book, written for the average person without the technical lingo of his profession.

Wikipedia's entry on Carl Gustov Jung. Very extensive.

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