Friday, July 10, 2009

Defining Archetypes

On Sunday’s blog radio interview and in the previous post, I talked about Michael Jackson and the archetype of the boy that never grows up. This week I was riveted by the archetypal drama and pageantry of Michael Jackson’s funeral, (as I was with Princess Diana’s). Funerals bring up all kinds of archetypal associations because they are rites of passage. Also, just as last year I wrote about the “feng shui of Halloween,” that is the energizing movement of masked people through a community, there is another type of feng shui motion associated with the funeral procession, whether that be people in a motorcade or walking behind a coffin, as, for a short while, they accompany the body of the loved one who is beginning his or her Journey to the World Beyond.

To better clarify what I mean when I use the term “archetype,” here is the definition I provided in the glossary of my book, “Tarot For a New Generation.”

“Archetypes are regarded as patterns within the mind that correspond to important human instincts and experiences; the Tarot is a collection of archetypal images: for example, the Hermit is an image designed to portray the archetype of the search for wisdom, the Empress is an archetype of loving nurturance, and so on. Archetypes such as Love, Wisdom, Justice, and the like tend to be almost universal, appearing in different cultures in recognizable--though culturally relevant--forms. Archetypes are especially significant to us when they operate through our personalities. For example, the High Priestess card relates to the facet of your personality that yearns to explore the mysteries of the universe, while the Emperor corresponds to the part of you that wants to build stable foundations and create order around you. In other words, you have a ‘priestess within’ and a ‘king within,’ as well as a wise elder, a fool, a magician, and many other characters inside of you that correspond to the main Tarot cards. Of course, some of these archetypes may be more active than others, or at different phases of your life.”


  1. Hi Janina,

    I'm interested in which archetypes are reflected by all the people around MJ in the time before his death - most notably the doctor who was feeding him massive amounts of drugs. And what are the children of the "boy who won't grow up"?

    Best Regards,


  2. Gee, I haven't thought about whether there are specific archetypes or Tarot characters relating to sycophants, though they are certainly stock characters in a lot of tragic dramas. MJ was very complex, of course, as he also embodied the archetype of the King, (among others), and as Robert Bly has written up in his book "Iron John," (which is about archetypes), everyone wants to be in the presence of the King, because a type of blessing energy is transferred. However, in this case, the King had his flaws, so the energy transfer would have been problematic. MJ himself was the King Of Pop, but was overly preoccupied with the King archetype, surroundeding himself with a lot of the trappings and symbolism of royalty. Also, MJ was the Eternal Child and often acting from the Child ego state. When we do or say things that signal to other people that we are in a Child state, some people will think, "He [or she] is a child, I can take advantage of him." It's too bad MJ didn't have someone who could have shown him how to become a mature King rather than a Child-King. As for the doctors, again I can't offhand think of a specific archetype, but I'm reminded of Herodotus, who wrote of seeing a tombstone with the inscription, "I was killed by a gang of doctors." I think Michael's devoted attention to his children, however, was very genuine, but there might have been ego-separation problems when they got older.