Symbols or archetypes?

Symbols are important because they facilitate communication and identification of ideas and other concepts based on what those symbols represent. And they can have literal as well as figurative meanings. Symbols can be used to signify individuals, groups of people, teams,and so on.

A symbol that means the same to all who see it is called an archetype. These symbols have universal meanings and can be used in literature, artwork and other mediums. They have been accepted by all cultures and are generally non-changing. Often, a symbol’s meaning has great cultural significance, but one symbol can mean different things to different cultures. An example of this is the swastika. To Hindus and Buddhists, it is a sacred symbol, but to much of the rest of the world, it is a symbol that signifies the death and destruction associated with the Nazi Party. Still, certain studies suggest that some symbolism is universal, due to its rootedness in unconscious processes, developmental stages, or experiences of the body, eating, and sexuality. Sigmund Freud maintained that the symbolism found in dreams, myths, fairytales, and linguistic utterances expresses in disguised form unresolved childhood conflicts or taboo urges surrounding sexuality and violence that are repressed in the subconscious of individuals. Jung (1964) viewed certain symbols as archetypes of the “collective unconscious”.

For example while black may be associated with dirt and therefore ideas of pollution, night, and death in many cultures, in Hinduism it is white, not black, that is associated with death, funerals, and mourning. As you see everything is very subjective and depends on may factors, so symbols are very personal unless they are archetypes.

Symbols or archetypes? by Jondix | Tattoo Life