Although Carl Jung is famously attributed to the concept of the archetype, it actually can be traced way back to Plato, with the idea that archetypes can be described as “pure mental forms that were imprinted in the soul before it was born into the world”.
In other words, and in my own personal definition:
An archetype is a roadmap to the pattern of your soul. It’s who you are, underneath the work and the trying and the outward appearances.
If you’ll forgive me for using the movie Labyrinth as an illustration in this 101 series, I’d like to show you how it gives the perfect (if not slightly unconventional) explanation of the power of archetypes:
Sarah is trying to get to the castle to rescue her baby brother. To get to the castle, she has to find her way through the ever-changing, rule-breaking labyrinth. She’s now at breaking point – every time she thinks she’s making progress, she realises she’s right back at the beginning.
She is frustrated.
Just as she thinks all is lost, and is on the verge of giving up hope, she slumps down to the floor…and suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a worm appears.
The worm points out to Sarah that there is, actually, a shortcut in the wall right in front of her very eyes. A shortcut to the castle.