From Devil to Fool: Jung’s dream symbols and tarot

This is a guest post by Charmaine.

Famous dream psychologist Carl Jung believed dreams were expressions of waking life that you could use to learn about yourself.

Jung called these dream images archetypes: symbols that come to you from the collective unconscious – memory all humans share. Like tarot cards, Jung’s archetypes are all about transformation and opposites – light and dark, negative and positive, masculine and feminine – and about coming into your truest, individual self. You can find these archetypes in tarot cards, and use them to analyze where you are as you search for meaning and purpose.

In Jungian psychology, the anima represents the feminine part of you and the animus is the masculine part.

A solitary and confident figure, the Empress is equivalent to the anima archetype. Glowing, at home in nature, and open with a pomegranate-print robe representing fertility. In contrast, the Emperor is the masculine or animus part of the human experience. Stern, rigid, focused and wise, this figure is less about the body and more about the mind. While too much anima can lead you to overextend yourself, too much animus can lead to isolation and coldness. It’s all about balance.

The persona is another Jungian term meaning your ideal self, the self you share with the world, and how you want to be seen.

The Magician represents the persona and shaping the world to fit your ideals using the four elements. However, greed is a motivating force for the Magician. If you become too preoccupied with your persona, you may repress or deny forces in yourself that could later rebel and destroy all you have built, as in the Tower card – another balancing act.

When you deny parts of yourself, these parts become what Jung calls, the shadow.

The shadow is your alter-ego or evil, dark, taboo side. The Devil represents the shadow archetype as well as lust, unhinged sensuality, desire, and destruction. The Devil refers to what you hide in order to fit in with society, but you can integrate The Devil in order to experience your complete self. Denying your devilish nature completely only makes it stronger. Do you see the balancing theme yet?

Finally, we come to what Jung calls, the self.

The self is you and everything within you integrated as one. It houses the anima, animus, persona, and shadow, too. It is your uniqueness, and these parts of you engage in a dialogue as you transform, mature, and come to know yourself on your journey to self-realization and finding your place in the world.

It makes sense that the self is represented by the World. On this card, a naked person floats in the sky holding two wands like a baton twirler. The four elements are represented on each corner showing you have the power of The Magician to shape your persona – but at the same time, you are in touch with the shadow, symbolized by the figure’s nakedness. The self is open and vulnerable like the anima, but has a lofty perspective like the animus.

Each tarot reading tells a different story that leads back to you, the way dreams do. Jung said, “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” The Fool stands on the edge of a cliff with a dog and is another representation of the self archetype.

Like the Fool, trust your ability to balance, pushing to the edge with curiosity as your guide on the path to self-discovery and full humanity!

Images featured from Unsplash and The Spirit Stock Network. Decks featured from the Fountain Tarot and Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot


About the author

Known as Charmaine, Chimmi, Chazzi, or Mai-mai, Charmaine Frapp is an astrologer and tarot reader named after her great, great grandmother who was a sage in the old world. Writing for her website Tell My Tarot, Charmaine aims to help people explore themselves with the archetypal knowledge of tarot.

One comment

  1. Nosgo says:

    Very interesting! Thank you for sharing your knowledge! Do you know if there are any particular books on the specific topic of tarot from a jungian perspective? (I think I have one or two books that take on the subject but it doesn’t go far enough for me to be satisfied :p)

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