Archetypes: Subconscious, Spirits, Guides, or Gods?

Recently I’ve begun to wonder whether the cast of characters I regularly meet my meditations are just aspects of my subconscious, or something more.

Slade’s Voices

interviewfrankmaceowenThe question has come to the forefront in the past couple of weeks during conversations I’ve had with Slade — the editor, author, and medium at Slade recently came to a realization about his primary mission: it’s not to give psychic readings to people and point them down their life’s path. Instead, his goal is to give people the tools and training necessary to contact their own spirit guides and discover their own path.

In my conversations with Slade, I told him that, while I’d always found the information from my guides useful, I never knew whether they were parts of my subconscious mind, or if they were really separate entities that lived somewhere “out there”. Slade, who is clairaudient, said he used to wonder the same thing; he thought that the voices he heard his head were just part of his creative process as a writer. He’s changed his mind about that ever since they started appearing before him, tapping him on the shoulder while he’s working at the computer, and materializing 2 inches in front of his nose right when he wakes up. “Scared the *&^*!! out of me,” he said.

Slade has worked with his guides, and now they’re more respectful of his personal space. But he said he would be very suprised if the characters in my meditations were not channeled entities.

He said, “One of the things I’ve discovered doing Readings and communicating with people about this phenomenon – it’s so NOT supernatural.

It’s common. It’s just overlooked… ”

Needless to say, I was extremely intrigued. I decided to do an extended meditation and ask these characters exactly who they were.

Meditation: Interrogation

My Anima

I opened the meditation by visualizing a rocky beach that I like to “visit” during these sessions. When I had the beach firmly in mind, I turned to my left and was unsuprised to find my anima sitting next to me, waiting. She always appears in my meditations now, unless I specifically “ask” her not to. She looked the same as she always does: small, waiflike, wispy red hair, purple dress.

“You know what I’m going to ask,” I said.

“Yep,” she said. “The answer is: I’m your anima, like I said before. I’m not an out-there spirit guide.”

“Fair enough,” I said.

She asked if she could join me as I went to visit the others, and I readliy agreed. She’s good company.

Fire and Shadow

We left the beach and started toward the line of hills behind us. These hills are covered with mixed forest and meadow, and riddled with paths. We found one that led to the top, and started climbing.

At the crest, the path joined a larger one that follows the line of the ridge. Here we stopped, and I said, “I’m going to try to talk to the shadowy fellow now.”

My anima looked a little nervous, but nodded. The shadowy fellow is a rather odd character I’ve had a few conversations with. He is very tall, muscular, absolutely black, and indistinct, almost as if he’s made of black smoke. His eyes burn with fire. His voice is deep and threatening, but he’s actually quite nice once you get to know him. I first contacted him via my anima, who is a medium; she channeled him for me, and he told me I needed to create a Tarot deck. Since then, I’ve talked to him directly a couple of times. He is a source of tremendous creative energy for me.

I called out to him, and he appeared. My anima freaked out — he is quite fearsome looking, and always seems angry — but I pushed on:

“Are you a spirit guide?”

“A spirit guide? Yes, indeed,” he said.

I thanked him, and he departed. I didn’t know what to think yet; and I didn’t want to distract myself away from the meditation, so I didn’t waste time mulling it over.

I turned to my anima, who was recovering from the shock. “It’s funny that he first contacted me through you,” I said.

“I suspect he was afraid of scaring you,” she said. “I can see why.”

“Yes,” I said. “It was very spooky hearing that growling voice coming from you, and seeing your eyes go all black.” As I’ve mentioned before, when my anima acts as a medium, her eyes turn black, with flecks of stars in them.

“Oh, well,” she said, laughing. “Your eyes always look like that when you’re meditating.”

That sent my head spinning, but it was nothing compared to what happened next.


The only other individual I’ve had multiple conversations with is a young man who calls himself Apollo. Apollo first appeared in my meditations because I explicitly prayed for the god Apollo to appear. I had been reading up on pagan gods, and I always felt an affinity for him, and I felt it was an archetype I wanted to get more in touch with.

The first time I asked to see him, I couldn’t. Instead, I met a little fawn-like fellow who told me very seriously that if I agreed to do a few things — e.g., work on my charity, kindness, strength of character, and so forth — then in a few weeks I might get to see him.

When I did get to see him, he always had a hood over his face — which kind of freaked me out. What was I really dealing with here? He still wears the cloak, but he exposes his face. He says he didn’t want to scare me the first time. Like many famous people, he’s shorter than you expect; he’s probably a little under 5 1/2 feet tall, and looks a great deal like Michelangelo’s David, but with a slightly more pointed, elfin face.

His eyes are always jet black with stars twinkling in them.

When I want to see Apollo, I go to his temple at the top of the mountain. It’s a little domed platform, surrounded by Greek columns, with a small pool in the middle of the floor. There is also a pedastal with a book; when Apollo is here, he usually stands near the book.

I asked humbly for him to appear, and he kindly did, after a moment. Of course, he knew what I was going to ask, but he let me ask it anyway.

“Are you a spirit guide?”

He said, tolerantly, “No, I am a god,” as if I were a child who had just asked Santa if his beard was real.

And this proves…?

Well, exactly nothing, I suppose. But here’s what I know:

  • My conscious mind isn’t creating these people. Sometimes I ask questions, and they refuse to answer, or they answer cryptically, or they answer and it seems like I can’t hear them. If I were just “making this up” with my conscious mind, that wouldn’t happen. So either they’re manifestations of my subconscious, or they are external spirits.
  • Their advice and insights are valuable and reliable. I haven’t ever asked for predictions of the future, but they’ve cast plenty of light into aspects of my character, and the characters of others. They don’t just tell me what I want to hear (though sometimes I’ve been too scared to listen to them). They haven’t lied or led me astray.
  • Given the first two bullets, this follows: if they say they’re external spirits, then I should believe them.

Of course, I can’t prove they’re not “lying” to me, but then, I can’t prove that anyone other than me exists in “reality”, either.

Erin Pavlina suggests that it doesn’t matter whether these spirits are internal or external, as long as they’re helping you out. But to me, it matters a great deal. If I believe I’m talking to my own subconscious, I’m going to limit my questions to things that seem “reasonable” — questions about my childhood, about my fears, that sort of thing. But if I believe I have been granted an audience with the Oracle of Delphi, that’s a whole different matter. The subconscious is the comfortable land of folktale and archetype, but this is the landscape of myth — epic and inescapably profound.

8 responses to “Archetypes: Subconscious, Spirits, Guides, or Gods?”

  1. This one was important to me. I’ve been having an ongoing argument with someone I know who very firmly believes that guides/angels/entities are all from within ourselves. He hasn’t changed my opinions, but his constant querying/arguing has worn me out emotionally. We have finally agreed to not get in each other’s face on the internet (we wander the same forums/places), which makes me sad to a degree. I had no problem with him believing differently, I just didn’t see why he needed to “correct” me constantly.

    Ok, enough of my grumbling. The point is he did wear me down and there have been times recently where I have begun to have those “is this all merely in my own head?” doubts. Last month I had (to me) positive proof it was not, but it still was very nice to find this extra confirmation that I’m not alone in questioning… and finding similar answers! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    In return I can offer the story of my recent confirmation. I’ll keep it short. About two years ago I started hearing an online friend’s guide. We were both very surprised that his guide seemed as happy to talk to me as to him. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens regularly. It was a point I used in my argument with the disbelieving friend – how could I connect to another person’s guide if all guides were merely within? He wasn’t convinced and had several arguments of his own. In the end, tired of getting nowhere, we agreed to disagree. I went to a forum I visit where channelers leave messages. This other friend had left a message from the guide in question. Now, this friend knew nothing about my ongoing fight – I’d kept my bickering to myself. So he had no way to be influenced in any way, or influence the words of his guide.

    The message his guide had asked him to write out therefore made no sense to him, but it had me literally laughing out loud here. His guide had quoted my secret argument (literally to the word in one sentence) and used it to point out that we all need to trust ourselves and not let negativity influence us. Unfortunately the unbelieving person also goes to the same place, read the message and was convinced I’d been blabbing about him behind his back. Funny-ironic in a way that the ultimate proof that this guide is a seperate entity who pops into the lives of myself and another is something I still can’t use as proof for the non-believing (ex) friend.

    Hope that made sense. It was a story that spanned about 20 months – not easy to condense.

    PS… the anima/animus idea is not one I’d looked at before. Reading your fascinsting story here I asked my guides about my animus and received a rather odd reply. They say my husband is my animus. !?! In a way it could connect to something I got years back – where I was told my husband was my twin flame. But anima-animus of each other? Is that possible?? I’ll have to go look further into that!


  2. That’s an awesome story, Michelle! It’s a shame that your confirmation story can’t be used to convince your friend. But I bet that the reason he kept arguing with you is that, deep down, he knows you’re right, and is kind of hoping you’ll be able to convince him. 🙂 Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the way it works. He won’t see that firm evidence he “needs” until he really has an open mind about it.

    Amazing that your husband might be your animus! I have never heard of that before, either; be sure to let me know what you find out!!


  3. I’ve only recently discovered your blog, and I’ve been on a binge of reading what you’ve chosen to share with us.

    I hope you will not be offended if, in my first post, I disagree with you about a four-year old posting of yours.

    I think your binary of subconscious/guides&gods is a false dichotomy, and I would further suggest that this false dichotomy has caused problems for you, Michelle, and her friend.

    There is a fine tradition of mystical (monist) thought which argues that the individual subconscious taps into the universal grounding. To use a water-as-spirit metaphor, at the deepest levels of the subconscious, we go from our individual wellsprings to the universal ocean that is the source both for every individual and for every mythical and spiritual power.

    This notion of the subconscious as a path into the universal is shared by both (some forms of) Christian mysticism and (some forms of) pagan mysticism, which is a beautiful fact in and of itself in my personal opinion.

    According to this notion, the best answer to whether such archetypal forces come from the subconscious or are spirit guides and gods is, well, yes. And if the querent pursues this effort to enforce a binary division between subconscious and spiritual reality, the next best response comes from Buddhism: mu, i.e. that the question is meaningless.

    Again, I apologize if I have offended by disputing you in my very first post.


  4. Phoenix — it is not a problem at all if you disagree with my past self… Especially since my present self actually agrees with you. 😉

    I talked a little bit about how I came to this realization, and some of the consequences of that, here.

    Thanks for reading!!


  5. Dear JEFF,

    Your post is very interesting and I would like to recommend a book that – as far as I am concerned – settles the question once and for all from at least from a Jungian perspective: Jeffrey Raff’s ‘Healing the Wounded God’

    I believe you will benefit greatly from reading his work.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way connected with Dr Raff and I do not personally benefit by the sale of his books 🙂


  6. Thank you, Oscar! I have looked at the book on Amazon and it certainly seems intriguing. I look forward to checking it out sometime. 🙂


  7. […] my subconscious playing tricks on me. But I found this great article that might help you or others: Druid Journal – Archetypes: Subconscious, Spirits, Guides, or Gods? Anyway, if the garden is a big illusion for you– then just talk to them. I find myself on my […]


  8. […] it’s been a bit of a revelation. For almost 20 years now I’ve been thinking and meditating on archetypes, shadows, visualization, and all this other Jungian stuff, but it has been difficult to find a […]


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