The Self Archetype – a journey of Individuation

Archetypal energies influence the process of individuation in the psyche much like our biology influences our body as we develop. What I’ve learned from this weeks reading in my class, The Expressive Power of Archetypes, is that the unconscious is full of infinite potential. Imagining just one archetypal thought pattern, a container of opposites, is much like imagining the vastness of just one universe. With our minds we can dream and explore the infinite, however we are eventually brought back to our own bodies and the individual reality of our personal existence on a human scale.

The Self is the governing archetype that influences the individual and the process of individuation over a lifetime as a person develops through their specific life experience. In one sense the governing Self archetype has a God like infinite scale that contains the vastness and the ego is the specific and personal individual. There is a danger when the ego identifies with the Self on, a personal or collective scale, as this imbalance in the psyche results in destructive behaviors or limited understanding of others and self. With the guidance of the Self archetype we can remain in balance with our shadow, anima, and animus both personally and collectively.


Archetypal energies are like seeds in the psyche. In the seed form there is infinite potential. The seeds planted in our psyche are waiting for the right moment to sprout, grow, change, and/or die. It is our life experience, specific and individual, that gives the seeds the opportunity to develop into their specific and individuated form.

One image that I’ve been visualizing is a big old tree growing near an alter. It’s from a story where a man, who criticizes the huge tree for it’s uselessness, is later visited in a dream by this tree. In the dream he learns that the uselessness of the tree to others is why it’s been able to grow into it’s mature state – ultimately fulfilling it’s life’s purpose. (Image from Man and His Symbols by Jung)