the archetypal mythology of horses
2004-2022 Beverley Kane, MD
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these cross-cultural similarities, twentieth century psychiatrist and mystical intellectual
Carl Jung postulated a collective unconsciousthe universal repository of all human
beliefs, knowledge, patterns, and experience that has not come to conscious awareness.
The collective unconscious is like a library of millions of books that taken together
reveal the infinite possibilities for the past, present, and future of the psyche. Taking
books out of the library is the act of making unconscious patterns and beliefs become
Archetypal dramas come to us in folk tales and in night time sleeping dreams.
We also see them in waking dreams, those highly symbolic or highly charged events that
seem to happen to usour triumphs, tragedies, lucky breaks, accidents, and illnesses.
In Jungian psychology, the work of a lifetime is the process of individuation in which
one attempts to integrate all the archetypes into consciousness of the Whole Self. In this
process, and in common with the mystical traditions of every world religion, we
recognize the fundamental unity of all beings and all experience.
To the extent that we have not acknowledged, embraced, and integrated all
possible archetypes within our own psyches, we will forever project them outward onto
others. Projection is the act, often unconscious, of attributing or blaming ones feelings,
thoughts, circumstances, and attitudes to or on other individuals, racial or ethnic groups,
or animals. Everything we experience as otherness, external to ourselves, represents, in
part, a projection of our internal states upon our mates, parents, children, enemies,
heroes, and animal companions. When our unconscious projections lead to hateful
emotions, destructive behaviors, or dangerous infatuations, we damage our relationships
and ourselves. When we read myths and folk tales, we can harmlessly project our
unacknowledged archetypal roles onto the heroes, lovers, villains, and animals of fiction.
Children do this quite naturally and playfully by becoming monsters, witches, and fairy
princesses for Halloween.
In myth and folk tale, whether idolized or demonized, Horse appears in forms
that correspond to all the major Jungian archetypes we meet belowAnima and Animus
(Gender Complement), Dark Shadow and Bright Shadow, Trickster, Hero, and Willing
ARCHETYPES OF THE PHYSICAL BODY
Archetypes as Jung defined them are psychological concepts that press down like
cookie cutters on the dough of our personality and character. However mental constructs
are insufficient to represent all our projections onto Horse. We also project onto him our
nonverbal sensations of size, strength, balance, grace, coordination, agility, and speed.
The body has its own unconscious material that needs to be integrated into the Whole
Self. As is attested to in research on cellular memory and in some sudden changes in
personality in organ transplant recipients, the body has its own consciousness.² Like
concepts of intuitive empathy, mental telepathy, and emotional sympathy, we can
postulate a somatopathic function that is body-to-body. Just as tendon reflexes like the
knee-jerk reaction are mediated by the spinal cord and do not need the brain,
somatopathic projections are not relayed via the cognitive brain for their enactment. If