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Archetypes in Native American Myth

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Laura Miller

on 2 October 2010

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Transcript of Archetypes in Native American Myth

archetypes are everywhere
The human mind unconsiously creates images. These images appear in dreams of all humans and in the myths of every human culture.
They are naturally built into the minds of all human beings.
They are basically SUPER SYMBOLS -- characters, situations, and images that can stand for many different things

Examples of archetypes OR super symbols Images -- water often represents a source of life, cleansing or purification, baptism; green symbolizes fertility, luxury, growth
Situations -- the journey to another place might represent a quest to find a person's destiny, seek identity, mature, overcome challenges, etc...
Characters -- the villain personifies the evil in the world
Why do researchers believe archetypes exist? The theory of archetypes explains why cultures who have never interacted have similar images, characters, and situations (what happens after death, where life came from)

These are especially evident in myths from culture

Also in modern works (TV, books, art, films); Avatar, for example, is FULL of arthetypes Archetypes in Native American Literature Some archetypes that frequently appear in Native American myths

Fire -- can be both protective and destructive; human knowledge, industry; gathering and community

Celestial bodies -- the sun (often masculine) is a giver and destroyer of life; the moon marks the passage of time; controls the course of human events; determine harvest, seasons, etc...

Outcast/loner -- separated from society; matures; returns to society for a reason; hidden strengths

Yin and Yang -- a pair of opposites that complete each other; they create balance; one without the other creates chaos

Mother goddess -- represents earth, regeneration, rebirth, mystery, abundance and growth

Water -- see above

Trickster -- A wise-fool; a rascal; acts selfishly, but is inventive and can benefit society

Circle -- we'll read about this today Many elements of nature can be symbolic of larger ideas. For example, what different ideas might a tree symbolize?
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