on the Kore

In Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (CW 9i), Carl Jung speaks of the Kore as an image of feminine innocence. The kore is an archetypal image. As such she “belong[s] to the structure of the unconscious” (para 314). The Kore is a part of the “impersonal psyche” common to all people (ibid).

For women, the Kore image speak to “the supraordinate personality or self” (para 314). If the Kore image appears, it may tells us something about the “the wholeness” of the unconscious psyche (ibid). In particular, the Kore image can tell us something about the undeveloped part of the personality. I assume equally for men and women. If the maiden image is incapable of maturation, then we may be seeing a hindrance in the individuation process. In this regard, Jung says:

 “Maidens are always doomed to die, because their exclusive domination of the feminine psyche hinders the individuation process, that is, the maturation of personality” (para. 355).

The inability to grow and mature is commonly expressed in a mythological manner. If one is too attached to feminine innocence, then life is bound to push for transformation and change. In such cases we see the Kore being exposed to dangers. Jung says:

“The Kore often appears in woman as an unknown young girl . . . . The maiden’s helplessness exposes her to all sorts of dangers, for instance of being devoured by reptiles or ritually slaughtered like a beast of sacrifice. Often there are bloody, cruel, and even obscene orgies to which the innocent child falls victim. (CW 9i, para 311)

If a woman limits her development to that of a maiden, then she is hindering her own potential to develop her personality, and to live a full life. This may work for the woman if she is content to act as “a welcome vessel for masculine projections.” Of course, this charm may wear thin in the second half of life. In this regard Jung says:

“as long as a woman is content to be a femme á homme she has no feminine individuality. She is empty and merely glitters-a welcome vessel for masculine projections. Woman as a personality, however, is a very different thing: here illusion no longer works. So that when the question of personality arises, which is as a rule the painful fact of the second half of life, the childish form of the self disappears too” (para. 355).

In myth we find the kore image as a part of the mother-maiden dyad, as the Demeter-Kore dyad. This appears to express two aspects of feminine consciouness, as innocence and wisdom. Jung reflects on the dyad:

“Demeter and Kore, mother and daughter, extend the feminine consciousness both upwards and downwards. They add an “older and younger,” “stronger and weaker” dimension to it and widen out the narrowly limited conscious mind bound in space and time, giving it intimations of a greater and more comprehensive personality which has a share in the eternal course of things.” (para 316).

If seen in older adults as a fixated image, the Kore may represent the underdeveloped part of the personality. In other words it is the aspect of the personality that needs to enter the cycles of life– of growth, development, transformation.

We see the images of the Kore everywhere. Advertising loves ‘feminine innocence’. Males and females alike get stuck on the image of the beautiful and fair girl. In Jung’s terms this would reflect a regressive movement backward toward youth, rather than participation in psychic growth and transformation that leads to maturity and wisdom.


The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1)


  1. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1)

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