The time has come for our society to make a quantum leap in awareness and acknowledge the central role of intuition. Archetypes are the vocabulary of intuition, and the more familiar we are with them, the more clearly we will resonate with our own intuition.

Archetypes speak to us in a language of myths and symbols, perfectly suited to a society that has become fluent in high-tech code, instant messages, and Twitter-speak. The only difference is that archetypes originate in our cosmic intelligence and not in our technical awareness.

But it was inevitable that one day our rational intellect would find a way to engage with our intuitive intelligence, and through the medium of archetypes, it has.

Archetypes are the keys to our personal power. I have witnessed dramatic changes when people awaken to this power. More than once, I have seen them come to the realization that their need for time alone was not because they are antisocial but because they have the Hermit archetype, which compels them to seek silence and solitude in order to sustain their spirit. I have watched other people discover that they have a passion to be in nature not because they want to get out of the city but because they identify with the Nature Child, an archetypal expression of the soul of the natural world. Upon discovering which archetypes are guiding your life, you step into the core of your being, perhaps for the first time. It’s as if you have finally put on the clothing you were destined to wear.

Though I firmly believe that the language of archetypes is becoming our next new language, there was a time not so long ago when I wasn’t so sure. The day I gave my first lecture on the subject, I worried that I might not be able to communicate clearly that archetypes are universal patterns of power emerging from our myths and beliefs, and that these myths and beliefs, in turn, invisibly weave their influential threads into the way we view every aspect of our lives.

I was doubly hesitant about speaking because I knew that the field of archetypes came with its own vocabulary, one associated with the inner realm of the psyche. For our rational, logical, scientific society, information that is introduced as “powerful but invisible” generally doesn’t stand a chance of gaining much credibility.

But much to my surprise, I discovered that a few simple examples of easily recognized archetypes immediately created the bridge I needed between the literal world in which we live and the mythic or symbolic world that is the power zone of the archetypes. I asked the women in the audience, “How many of you always knew you were going to be mothers?” A majority of them raised their hands. I then asked, “How did you know that?” Most just shrugged their shoulders as if to say, “I just knew it because that’s who I am, and that’s what I was meant to do—be a Mother.”

Then I asked the audience, “How many of you are natural-born Adventurers?” Several men raised their hands, along with a few women. “And how many of you would consider yourselves Warriors?” I asked. Even more men raised their hands. I was amazed, as I had thought that the victorious Warrior story was more a woman’s fantasy than a man’s. But that day I realized that many men find it sexy to imagine themselves as modern-day warriors like the Navy SEALs.

By the time I discussed the Healer and Hermit archetypes, audience members were no longer asking questions about archetypes in general but rather “What are my archetypes?” and “How do I identify my archetypal patterns?” The atmosphere in the room was electric, sparking with a level of curiosity I had never before experienced in an audience. They would have stayed all night in that lecture hall if I had let them.

Later, over dinner with friends, I could not stop talking about the explosion of enthusiasm in that room. No other subject I had ever taught had elicited such a response. What was it about archetypes that triggered that reaction? As I thought about it more, the answer seemed obvious: Archetypal patterns hold the key to the real you.

They somehow know more about you than you know about yourself.

By identifying and exploring your own archetypal patterns, you come to understand your true self.

Archetypes have always been the engine of the human unconscious, but you could live your whole life and not know that.

Archetypal patterns are like a door into a hidden realm, a parallel reality. Discovering this parallel reality in which archetypes reside and learning about your particular archetypes is a way of meeting yourself, perhaps for the first time.

Do you want to know your archetype? Take this quiz.

Caroline Myss has been in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness for 20 years. She specializes in assisting people in understanding the emotional, psychological, and physical reasons why their bodies have developed an illness.