Reading this book after reading and studying about Jungian archetypes for years is like going back to basics. Jung lays down the foundation for his theory of archetypes and describes in detail the most important areas in the beginning chapters: anima, mother, child, rebirth, spirit, and the trickster. The word archetype comes from the Greek phrase for primordial light, archetypon phos. Jung reserves the word for concepts that bridge time and space without any known means of communication. These concepts emerge in fairy tales, myths, songs, poems, paintings, decorations, and dreams in cultures as far flung as the Tinglit eskimos, the rain forest Indians, and the Australian aborigines. They also appear in the children's stories we read our own children and in the lives of pop culture heros.
Especially interesting is the chapter on the mother archetype in which Jung explores the various types of the mother complexes. With each type I could identify a female acquaintance that matched the type in most particulars. The hypertrophy, the overdevelopment of eros, identity with mother types he elaborates on with insight and wit.
In the middle of the book he analyzes mandalas. First comes a beautiful series of 24 color plates of mandalas drawn by a patient of Jung's. In this series we can trace her development into individuation from the early struggle among the rocks to the final blooming of the lotus. After this series come various individuals mandalas from a variety of people. Jung intersperses the mandalas with his analyzes of them and an occasional museum photo of a similar structure from a distant cultural milieu.
Volume 9, Part I of his collected works are contained in this paperback edition and will well repay the time of earnest scholars who venture herein. If you have studied archetypes but have yet to read the original work, you have only read the prologue. Here is the body of the work.
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