Queen of Tarot

The ancient wisdom of the cards

Archetypes in the Tarot

Tags archetypes, tarot-analysis, anima, animus, child, trickster, spirit, senex, shadow, father, mother, hero, persona, maiden

Carl Jung proposed the concept that much of human experience originates in what he calls the "Collective Unconscious." He described the collective unconscious as functioning much like a part of the human mind. One of the features of the collective unconscious is its tendency to organize people and situations in familiar terms — so much so that it forms well-formed character-like figures that the human mind associates with a set similar qualities. These figures are called "Archetypes," and they appear frequently in art, fiction, film, and dreams. They also appear in the tarot.

The following is a selection of archetypes that can be identified in the tarot. Finding a card that represents an archetype in a tarot reading may be more easily interpreted by bearing in mind the nature of the figure described by the archetype.

  • Anima / Animus
    The gender-opposing version of one's self.
  • Child
    The young one who has not yet achieved maturity. The true innocent.
  • Maiden
    A young woman, still making her way in the world.
  • Trickster
    A tricksy and often foolish character who is always trying to shake things up.
  • Spirit
    Our better selves, as well as those who guide us to act with our better selves.
  • Wise Old Man / Senex
    The wise elder who appears to offer counsel and sage advice.
  • Shadow
    The negative aspects of human nature.
  • Father / Mother
    Our parents, and those who nurtured us as we were growing.
  • Hero
    The figures we look up to and admire.
  • Persona
    The version of ourselves that we present to the world.
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