An archetype can be broadly defined as a type of person or behaviour; they can be further divided into two sub categories. The first, stereotypes, refer to one type of personality or behaviour being observed many times and routinely applied (this tends to happen with teenagers and young people), and the second, epitomes, refer to the exemplification of a personality or behaviour.
By applying archetypes to the cards of the Major Arcana (the first 22 cards of the Tarot pack), Jung believed they could aid in finding solutions to the situation being discussed.
Brief History of the Tarot
In legend, the Tarot is the oldest book known to mankind. Originally, each card comprised chapters in the Book of Thoth (the ancient Egyptian God of wisdom and knowledge). When Egypt began to crumble, Thoth transferred the knowledge onto a set of 22 tablets using symbols instead of words.
The tablets were discovered by a band of gypsies who transferred the information from them onto 22 cards, which became the Major Arcana.
Archetypes of the Tarot
The following is a list of archetypes that can be applied to the Tarot:
Symbolism: Innocence and wonder.
Archetype: The Child.
Symbolism: Magic and power.
Archetype: The Trickster.
The High Priestess
Archetype: The Anima — the unconscious female element of the male.
The Empress, with her swollen belly and nature imagery is easily identified as The Mother.
Symbolism: Nature and fertility.
Archetype: The Mother.
The Emperor is a stern, authoritarian father.
Symbolism: Masculine authority and power.
Archetype: The Father and the Hero.
The Hierophant can simultaneously be identified as a Wise Men as he relates to wisdom and knowledge.
Symbolism: Guidance or a teacher.
Archetype: The Wise Old Man.
Symbolism: Lover and union of opposites.
Archetypes: The Soul or both the Anima and Animus (the male element of the female).
Symbolism: Hard work and victory.
Archetype: The Warrior.
Symbolism: Balance and justice.
The Hermit can simultaneously be identified as a Wise Men as he relates to wisdom and knowledge.
Archetype: Another Wise Old Man!
The Wheel of Fortune
Symbolism: Change, moving in circles.
Archetype: Fate and Destiny.
The Hanged Man
Symbolism: Necessary sacrifice.
Symbolism: Change, transition.
Archetype: The Union of Opposites.
Symbolism: Being trapped.
Archetype: The Trickster, or sexual energy.
Symbolism: Chaos, unwanted change.
Symbolism: Hope and the spirit.
Archetype: The Star.
Archetype: The Moon — linked with dreams.
Archetype: The Sun.
Symbolism: Judgement and completion.
Archetype: Evaluation and reward.
Archetype: Satisfaction, wholeness.
For a more comprehensive explanation of Jung’s Archetypes in the Tarot, read Jung and tarot: An archetypal journey by S. Nichols.