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The Structure of the Self (Archetypal Psychology)

Today I'd like to expand on the topic of Archetypal Psychology, also known as "depth psychology", in the evolutionary thought of Carl Jung and his associates.

This discussion may be of interest to those of you who intuit that there are forces deeper than the ego which are creatively engaged in the process of life's evolution. I'm going to jump right in.

According to Jungian thought, each human being possesses the same basic "hardwiring" influencing their psychological, emotional, mental, and spiritual expression. This hardwiring is like the genetic and physiological encoding which provide a basis for the structure of the Self. When we refer to "Self", we refer to the totality of an individual -- the very core of their being, out of which all things emanate and have life. A phrase that describes this central Self, what some call "the Center beyond the center", is the axis mundi: the axis of the World.

As we develop through adolescence into young adults, our psychological and spiritual development largely occurs due to our environment. Eventually there comes a time where a person "awakens" to the realization that there is a two-way street between themselves and life, and thus begins the spiritual quest to locate the "Center beyond the center". This awakening to the two-way street between the individual and life as a Whole is the awakening that the ego is not the center of the Universe. In order for this to occur, a person must first establish some sense of identity or persona -- in other words, and ego -- which is the responsibility of the parents and environment. However, as a person comes into the understanding that who they think they are is not Who they really are, the search to locate the actual Center of the Universe begins. They embark upon the age-old journey of Self-Realization.

There are stages to this awakening, but the mission is the same -- "Who Am I?"

Gradually, bit by bit, the person on this journey starts to locate pieces of the cosmic puzzle. What happens is that the pieces of the puzzle serve as resources to aid the individual in the manifestation of their fullest life and their highest expression. This person has successfully separated their ego's understanding from the embodied process of wisdom development. They are discovering the Archetypal energies of the Self -- the "hardwiring" or blueprint within.

In Jungian thought, these Archetypal energies come in four fundamental forms, and are closely related to the neurophysiology of each human organism. These four forms are also related to the Four Directions (cuatro vientos) in the Native American traditions, or the four primal elements in Greek cosmogony. To weave in the Tantric understanding of FIVE (not four) Great Elements (panca mahabhutas) requires further investigation & interpretation, which we will be doing at the Keepers of the Earth Yoga Teacher Training.

The four forms, when they are adequately & effectively constellated in an individual's psyche, give rise to the manifestation of the Self in the person. If one is optimized in this development of Selfhood, they will experience an ego that is more like a window through which the Self (and therefore, Spirit) operates. This is because their ego has sufficiently "individuated" itself from the Greater Whole, and has subsequently made its way BACK to the cosmic womb (axis mundi) to complete its life's journey. In these scenarios, the person has experienced that the ego is NOT the center of the Universe, and that by locating the true "Center beyond the center" they have understood the two-way street between the "I" and subjective experience of life, and the objective consciousness. A person who has done this before discarding the body at death will have experienced and lived a life in alignment with the totality of the Self. What this may look like, practically, is a person who has gained mastery over their ego, and is able to access to the energies beyond the ego in order to generate the best possible outcomes for All. This is a Self-Realization process and it has far-reaching benefits not only for ourselves, but for our relationships, our communities, and the world as a whole.

So, then, what are the four forms? What are the "Archetypal Energies" we are talking about? Allow these theories to be clues for you in your process of the development of the Self and the optimization of the personality.

King/ Queen

Inside of each person is the potential for establishing order in their lives. We all possess a propensity to "put things in their places" and to organize life in a meaningful way. There is a stability to this process, a centering, a grounding; it requires us to have a vision for what we actually want in life. The stronger and clearer our vision is, the more we can mobilize our resources to effectively establish the structures necessary for that vision to come to life. If we are not clear, then our capacity for organization is shunted. This is because we organize around what we find meaningful and purposeful. Our behaviors and motivations are driven by deeper impulses. These deeper impulses are connected to our intention, which is driven by the vision we create in our mind's eye. The King or Queen archetypal energy is the meta-program within that, when accessed properly, contains the life-force and resources necessary to establish this vision. When we engage with our King/Queen energy, we may feel a flood of life-force moving as a result of us getting clear about the life we want to life. The inspiration that comes with our clarity of vision mobilizes the energy necessary to complete the mission ahead. Without proper access to our King/Queen energy, we remain ungrounded, unrooted, and un-established. We are like a ship drifting in the wind. Our feet are not fully connected to the ground, because we don't know in which direction to walk. This is why I associate the King/Queen energy to the Earth element; this energy represents stability, steadiness, groundedness, containment. An adequately constellated King/Queen in the psyche of an individual will provide them with a clear line of action. They will know what to say "yes" to, and what to say "no" to. However, this is not the whole story, as the King/Queen relies upon the other archetypal pillars in the human psyche to complete the task.


The King without the Warrior is like a visionary CEO without an adequate team. The Warrior is the Fire energy. He/she is the energy that can create the boundaries necessary to do the job envisioned by the King/Queen. Our inner Warrior is related to the capacity we have for healthy expressions of anger and aggression. An inappropriately accessed Warrior results in temper tantrums, whereas an appropriately accessed Warrior leads us to firmness & consistency in our boundaries which prevent outbursts of emotional energy. When we locate and access this fiery energy, we can be shocked at how much power is there. Oftentimes we fear it, and deny it or suppress it. This is true for all of the Archetypal Energies. As it was mentioned above, these are energies that are beyond the ego. They are meta-programs -- programs shared across the board for all human psyches -- which is why they are archetypes. The mythologies of old tell stories to help us understand these deeper primal forces, and the technology embedded in the story-telling is designed in such a way to help us connect to them and utilize these tremendous resources. The Kingdom/Queendom -- the vision we have for life and what is possible -- can only be driven forward by the energy of the Warrior. And the Warrior is needed to defend and protect our territory from the forces which attempt to destroy us. These forces include forces from within our own psyche: self-sabotage, doubt, fear, laziness etc. An adequately accessed Warrior gives us the fuel necessary, the courage, and the willpower to be effective in our work. However, if the Warrior is missing the other pieces of the puzzle, it becomes destructive. Which is why we need the...


The Lover is the part of our psyche which is enraptured by the beauty of life. She is the source for all passion and enjoyment. The juiciness of life is squeezed when we are accessing Her. With the Lover, we find emotional attunement to ourselves and to each other. Without Her, we are like a piece of dry technology. Our biocomputer has been equipped with highly sensitive emotions and thus capacities for love, friendship, and intimacy, that are unparalleled in the animal world. These energies are driven by the archetype of the Lover. When we engage in the process of "world-building", which is the journey to the Center beyond the center so we can receive information and wisdom about how to live our best life, we require Lover energy to fuel the mission. She ensures that life is not dry as we pursue the goals and ambitions of our Creator. Without Her, we may be effective in our task, but there is no joy in it. This defeats the whole purpose! To locate Her in the psyche is to locate the part of us that is capable of loving for the sake of loving. This love energy gives us a critical ingredient to bring the fullness of life online. I associate the element of Water with the Lover, as water has long been known to be the carrier of emotions in the body. When our Lover is fully realized, we are connected to our emotions and the emotions of others. However, when our Lover is missing Her Warrior or King, our emotions (or the emotions of others) can get the best of us. We can get lost in the throes of passion without a steady ground beneath us. We may fall in love easily but just as easily get our hearts broken. Perhaps we feel for the suffering of the world and are paralyzed with what to do about it. This is Lover energy. We need Her, but as you can so far tell, we need the other Archetypes to work together ...


The final of the four Archetypal Energies is the Magician. Magician relates to the element of Air, which connects to the themes of transformation. The Magician is the part of our psyche that is analytical, thoughtful, and detached. In order to properly, objectively analyze a situation we must remain aloof from it. By engaging the Magician in this way, She is able to see from "higher" perspectives. She is the Air -- she rises above and swirls around to get the complete picture. The inner Magician is the part of us that is able to think critically, to evaluate, and to inform the King/Queen energy. She is a bit like the high priest or priestess of the royal court, who provides counsel to the King/Queen on matters of the Spirit. With our Magician online, we can understand the ritual processes and transmutations necessary to fully manifest the vision of the King/Queen. The Magician understands magic; She understands how things change. She is detached because in order to facilitate transformation within oneself, one must be able to let go and "flow". If or when the Magician is accessed without the accompaniment of Her archetypal partners, She is TOO detached or aloof. She hides Herself in our knowledge of things. Cognitive and intellectual processes are driven by this Archetypal Energy. However, it is not enough to just "know", we must do. Our doing is driven by the previous mentioned archetypal forces. Oftentimes the Magician will come online without the accompaniment of the Others, and we separate ourselves from life or "float above" it. We block ourselves from truly feeling (Lover), from doing something effective (Warrior), or re-directing our attention towards a better vision (King/Queen). However, if the Magician is there with Her counterparts, the Four Pillars uplift and uphold the Self, which is the totality and sum total of the parts. The Magician then serves Her role optimally as do the other three forces.

Self-Realization and the Manifestation of the Soul & Spirit

King/Queen, Warrior, Lover, Magician all come together to produce the final result of Self-Realization. The Earth, the Fire, the Water, and the Air are the building blocks of the "world". The final ingredient is the Soul (or akasha aka space if we are intersecting Tantric cosmology). Our Soul could be described here as the result of the previous four Archetypal Energies being optimized and constellated correctly. Soul is the impulse of light within us that wants to become in the world. Soul is always present, but without the building blocks before, the Soul has difficulty coming into form through us. And Soul is what connects us to Spirit. Spirit, or the ultimate Light of Life, descends when these five elements have been effectively constellated in a person's psyche and neurophysiology. There is a purification component to this. In Tantra, the methodology of bhuta shuddhi, or "purification of the elements" is the process of locating within oneself, accessing, and drawing from the resources of the archetypal energies. We "purify" our relationship to them by removing all the psychic debris and shadow material that are obstructing their flow through us. As the Earth Element is stabilized -- our physical body is strong, our bones are aligned, our feet are planted -- the King/Queen energy is the psychic, psychological and physiological result. As the Water Element is allowed -- our emotional body is tuned, our sensitivity is heightened, our blood & lymph is circulating optimally -- the Lover energy is apparent. When Fire is channeled -- our pranic body is awakened, our metabolism is optimized, our willpower is steady, our boundaries are clear -- the Warrior energy is standing by with His sword. When the Air is contained -- our psychological body is sharp, our intuition is activated, the breath is moving smoothly through us, our nervous system is balanced -- the Magician is there with Her wand. When Soul has space to manifest, we experience our lives in their totality. Nothing is off limits. No part of ourselves is denied. We feel and respond to everything. We are clear about where we are going, about what we need to get there, and we are enjoying the process. Soul is fully alive in us. When and if this happens, Spirit has a landing pad to descend onto Earth. Here, we experience the ultimate bliss of merging with our Beloved. Our lives are lived in co-creative ecstasy with the Great Mystery, the Force beyond all forces.

This journey of accessing the dormant parts of our psyche, bringing them online, bringing them together under the single umbrella of Soul and Spirit IS the spiritual journey of the human being. This requires tremendous courage to face what is unseen and unfelt in our psyche, to integrate the parts of us that lie in the shadow, and to access the resources needed from within ourselves to move in the direction of our highest expression.

This is Yoga and Tantra explained in the terms of Archetypal Psychology.


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