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The Individuation of Ideas.

Inspired by Mysticism, Kabballah, Platonic Philosophy, Animism & Jungian Psychology

What is The Sentient Idea Tree?

The Sentient Idea Tree is an adaptation of the Tree of Life; a recurring archetype that dates back to Sumerian culture; the origins of recorded human civilization itself. Since then it's been used in various eastern & western mythologies, folklores, religions and philosophies, as an illustrative representation of how the universe came into being. 

​The origins of the universe are typically illustrated on the top of the tree, and as one works their way down the tree, the universe materializes into the fabric of reality that we typically associate with the universe. 

​Amongst the many trees within the forest of life, we’ve specifically iterated on the Kabalistic Tree of Life design; an assimilation of many philosophies that dates back to Jewish Mysticism. It was popularized in the west by it’s integration with Cristian Cabbala, Hermetic Qabalah, Theosophy, and more recently Western Esotericism, new age spiritual movements, and Post Jungian philosophy. 

The tree contains 10 nodes, represented by the circles which are aspects of existence, or the human psyche, and 22 connecting paths which represent the relationship between the aspects of existence. Instead of representing the human psyche or creation of the universe, the Sentient Idea Tree applies these concepts to the progression of ideas, - from their origins to their representations in reality. By perceiving ideas as sentient entities, we can use the tree to illustrate how ideas evolve, and progress through their own development narratives, just as we would use the tree for self-development and discovery. 

Preparing for the stage of consciousness where we perceive the universe as a living entity

Today with the increasing accessibility of knowledge, there is a shift away from esoteric wisdom belonging to only a few select individuals in remote corners of the world, towards a new consciousness where we all have the capacity to think and act like our own self actualized being, and perceive the world around us as a living responsive organism.

The 10 Stages of an Idea's Individuation Journey

An idea's journey into individuation begins with it's first cause. We must determine how the idea was first encountered. What was the catalyst for the idea appearing in the imagination? Did it appear to a person first, or did it already exist in another form? Was it a problem, a demand, a moment of synthesizing two other ideas? Maybe an eccentric genius accidentally stumbled upon it. Once we have discovered how it was first encountered we can then infer the universal principles governing the idea; it’s first cause.

The idea progresses into the second stage and it’s first spatial representation; 1D space, an infinite line with 2 axioms at either end representing a thesis and antithesis. This X axis spectrum provides a contrast and the idea’s first contextual reference; what it is relative to what it is not, i.e. light and darkness or yin and yang.

With a second Y dimension added in the third stage, we can start populating the contrast spectrum, and choose an ideality; a finite point on the spectrum that represents the ideal state of the idea. 

The fourth stage commences the idea’s transition from the imaginal realm of archetypes, into something more tangible with a 3 dimensional form. To gain volume the previously defined axioms need to be extended into 3 dimensional space. This is where the idea takes form

After the idea has a shape, we move into the fourth dimension of time in the fifth stage. The idea requires motion to traverse time, and this is where it’s trajectory is measured and predicted and we can start to get an idea of the velocity and mass of the idea. 

With the motion and form identified, the idea is looking like a functioning concept. With an overview of the motion of the idea, we can track it’s trajectory back in time to its origins and have an idea of its narrative relative to other ideas. With this we have identity, and it is here that the idea is individuated into our space and time frame of reference or the idea exists within our zeitgeist. 

In the seventh stage we are working in the dimension of will. What does the concept require to survive and grow. What action will the idea take to fulfill its hierarchy of needs, and where is it’s unrestricted agency going to take it. This could be considered as it’s libido. 

After an idea has expressed its will, unless it is doing so in a vacuum, consequences follow and learning begins. The eighth stage observes the actions of the idea, evaluates them and maps meaning to the outcomes of different actions. This could be considered it’s superego; or moralizer.

The ninth stage represents the final product of the idea; all of the requirements for bringing the idea into the world have been explored. This function moderates all of the requirements of the idea; it’s concept, will and superego and makes compromises so that it can exist as a stable embodiment of an idea. This could also be considered the ego. 

The idea finishes it’s individuation journey once it has entered the world of engagement in the tenth stage. This is where the final product interacts, and engages, with other ideas and us. It is put to the test and materialized. 

The Individuation of Ideas

Father of analytical psychology and Jungian philosophy, Carl Jung, coined the term self-individuation; a process of self realisation, the discovery and experience of meaning and purpose in life, in which a self is identified and distinguished from another thing. It was the central piece to his analytical psychology, and his clinical efforts were designed to support clients and patients to reach their own sense of self-individuation. 

The benefits of this process is to increase the individual's consciousness, via assimilating the individual's collective unconscious, conscious mind and sense of identity. With greater consciousness, individuals have a holistic well-being effect, and greater agency in the world to express their will and navigate the world in a constructive manner, bringing them wholeness in their psyche. 

An individual who has a sense of wholeness, and is in touch with their collective unconscious is a more powerful agent than if they were in conflict with themselves. Their energy can be focussed on a pro-active constructive vision, rather than in a flux of repairing imbalances and wrestling with the self. 

The clinical setting between a patient or client and their therapist, creates a dynamic where both the patient and therapist come closer to an understanding of the patients individuation process. By going through this process together, the therapist is capable of evaluating, analyzing, and predicting the behavior of the patient or client, and guide them on a path that matches their authentic self and help them realize their true potential.

Similarity with the Sentient Idea Tree, we can view ideas as our client or patient and us the therapist; applying Jungian techniques of individuation to ideas.


You don’t need to believe that ideas are sentient to see the benefits of evaluating an idea as if it were a sentient patient in an individuation process. Understanding an idea at it's individuated best, will help you grasp the essence of the idea, it’s trajectory, desires, intentions, strengths and weaknesses.


Using the Sentient Idea Tree allows you to become the custodian of an idea, nurturing it through reality so that you and the idea can reach an understanding of the idea’s individuation.


These three stages are designed to engage with an idea’s embodiment as if it were a sentient entity with it’s own will, desire and hierarchy of needs. If we were to understand a human’s will, desire and needs we could also infer the way they represent themselves in reality. These are the stages of exploring the ego or an idea - mediating between pleasure and consequences.


Like the shadow projected on the wall of Plato’s cave, an idea’s representation is the way the idea is projected and perceived. Any adjustments made to the embodiment will be amplified as a representation, like adjusting a shadow puppet and creating a new image on a wall. So these stages are also where most adjustments are made first before making drastic changes to an embodiment.


The idea has completed it's developmental journey and is ready to enter the portal into our reality. Here we get our first impression of an idea in it's tangible form; this is the part we see, the equivalent of an idea’s body and physical presence. If we mistake the manifested part of an idea; the tip of the iceberg, as it’s complete being, then we are destined to be the person in Plato's cave facing only the illusions dancing on the canvas of reality.

If we take a peek behind the idea’s manifestation we will soon see it’s character as a representation of a more intricate and sublime embodiment, which can lead us to understand the nature of the universe itself via observing how the archetypes of the idea play out in our reality.


Carl Jung used the term Archetypes to define universal innate structures that permeate existence, myths and meaning. Classic examples include the mother, fools and hero’s. Jung typically used these to gain insight into human behaviour, but they are equally as useful for describing non-human phenomena, i.e. the mother of a star system, or the heroic journey of a comet, the foolish political system.


Jung was known for believing that people didn’t have ideas, but that ideas had people. We use this insight to build the first three archetypal stages which are designed to understand the universal character of an idea, and why or how it has adopted us.


As the universal archetypal stages transcend time and space, an idea must take some shape that embodies a relevant space and time to exist as more than just a possibility. Hegel used the term Zeitgeist to define the spirit of the ages. It is considered as an essence of a time period that influences culture, behaviour, and ideas. A spirit of the time would be considered the embodiment of reality. 

An embodiment to an idea is the vessel that carries an idea through our space and time, and is filtered through our spirit of the ages. An archetype can have many embodiments, depending on which spirit of the time is acting on it, which culture is closest to it, and which universal laws are governing it. A hero has a very different embodiment today than it did 4000 years ago.

The Sentient Idea Tree & Platonic Forms

Since the saying goes western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato, it’s no surprise that Plato’s theory of forms have influenced the Sentient Idea Tree. Platonism's central theme is that the reality we perceive via the senses is only a representation, and usually a flawed representation, of a more perfect reality. Mindful consciousness precedes the physical realm often interpreted by the senses as the ultimate reality. This is best represented by the illustration and allegory of Plato’s Cave. 

In the allegory, a fire (an analogy for spirit) is illuminating a cave and casting a shadow of a form (the bird figure) onto the back of the cave wall, with a person sitting towards the shadow believing that it is reality; when in truth it is an illusion cast by the shadow of an object that exists in a more “real” but less accessible dimension.


The Four Idea Forms

Much like Plato’s allegory of the cave, the tree can be split into four layers; the archetypal stages, embodiment stages, representation stages, and manifestation stage.

The 22 Paths of an Idea's Individuation Journey

 The final piece of the Sentient Idea Tree is labelling the connections between the stages of an idea’s individuation. These connections describe the archetypal character that emerge in the connection between the stages that represent aspects of existence. 


The positions of the archetypes themselves rarely change, but the labels representing the archetypes are influenced by the spirit of the time, and they adapt and evolve as time progresses. For instance the chariot label today means something quite different than it did 500 years ago when the label was first defined. Therefore there are many variations of how these could be labelled, but to be useful they must be consistent with the archetype that emerges when two aspects of existence interact.


We've illustrated two variations of labels; the traditional tree of life which narrates the fool's journey; the individuals spiritual journey from fool to the universe, and our Sentient Idea Tree for those looking to support an idea's spiritual journey into reality.

Sentient Idea Tree

The 22 Paths for Manifesting Ideas

Instead of focusing on an individual's spiritual progression, as in the Fool's Journey, the labels on the Sentient Idea Tree are designed to describe what of experience must be projected onto an external idea, to facilitate it's progression through the 10 aspects of an idea's existence. 


The archetypes that need to be projected onto an idea are based on the fool's journey, and we've adapted them to the spirit of our less enchanted time. As you will see when comparing the labels, the Sentient Idea Tree is less mystic in nature but more accessible to the modern mind. This way it should be accessible to those not familiar with mysticism or Kabbalah. 

For instance, the chariot label connecting the stages of ideality with motion, which was known for it's mastery of navigation, commandeering war horses and taking initiative has been replaced with the commander title; to illicit a sense of a more modern ship captain to project the themes of authority, decisiveness, and planning a trajectory. This path reminds us that we need to apply these characteristic to an idea to successfully integrate motion and ideality into an idea of focus. 

Similar to how the fool's journey tarot archetypes are useful for mapping the meaning of a dream, or predicting the affect of an archetypal influence in your day to day life, we can use the 22 labels in the Sentient Idea Tree for understanding both the development progression of an existing idea, or as a guide for initiating an idea into reality. 

If you would like to find out how to apply the stages or paths on the Sentient Idea Tree, please use the navigation page where you can explore the interactive Sentient Idea Tree.


Also subscribe to our newsletter or have a look through our blog articles that explore the application of the sentient idea tree for evaluating, developing, understanding, and predicting existing and new ideas.


Please don't hesitate to reach out if you would like more information, we appreciate engaging with people about our ideas, and welcome any feedback or discussion topics.  

Sentient Idea Tree

The Fool's Journey

​Inspired by the archetypes found in the major arcana of the tarot, the Fool's Journey represents the lessons learned on a person's spiritual journey from a fool to their unification with the universe. Progressing through each path brings spiritual development for the individual navigating their modes of existence, and the labels i.e. fool, magician etc, characterize the experiences and obstacles necessary to navigate prior to reaching the next stage of the tree.​ 

The archetypes can be encountered in no particular sequence in one's day or dreams. For instance a dreamer may have a hanged man experience when they are trying to run in their dream, but they are seemingly stuck in mud that doesn't let them move. The helplessness experienced by the dreamer is similar to the archetype of the hanged man holding someone back, in order to bring a new perspective or evaluate one's priorities.


By recognizing that one is having a hanged man experience in their dream they can look up the association to the tarot card and get an understanding of it's symbolic meaning. Then by contextualizing where the archetype is in the tree of life, one can also understand it's meaning relative to other archetypes. By using the tree of life with the tarot archetypes, we can see that the hanged man sits on the left pillar of the tree, symbolic of a more observational and passive type of experience rather than the active oriented right side of the tree.


It's also further down towards the bottom of the tree so the experience is most likely to do with some problems in the world rather than problems of the spirit. Then we can conclude that the running in mud dream has something to do with observation of a worldly phenomenon - a learning opportunity. If we have a look at which nodes the hanged man connects, we can verify that it connects learning with motion - giving more insight into the nature of the dream; observation and a learning opportunity about something worldly that is set in motion.


We can also map an every day experience to the Fool's Journey, for instance encountering a vagabond street musician who prefers to let fate decide where he sleeps at night. We may think that such a person may be a fool; letting fate decide where they sleep and seeming to be a bit aimless and lost. We can map the fool on the tree of life to belonging at the very top of the tree, associated with matters of the spirit or will - and choosing to let fate decide where one sleeps is more relevant to the spirit than to worldly affairs like thinking about money or physical possessions.


If we look at the nodes that the fool connects - first cause and contrast we also get a greater understanding of the motivations of the fool; by being uncommitted to anything and having a sense of adventure they are able to experience all of life's contrasts. We can also predict the type of affect the vagabond street musician may have on others by associating them with the fool; they can enlighten others on their own first causes, or reason for doing things themselves; just think when we see a vagabond street performer we may also start to wonder why are we working long hours and committed to living a life of owning physical possessions either re-confirming our inspiration for living such a life or providing a contrast to living such a life. 

If you would like to know about what an archetype symbolizes in your life or dreams, or how the nodes are relevant for explaining them, please don't hesitate to reach out and we can direct you to the correct resources. 

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