Anima + Animus = Divine Marriage

Since he is animus, his seeking has also to do with finding the fully initiated feminine in the psyche and keeping that as the main goal, regardless of whatever else crosses his path…this animus is doing the real work in preparation for showing and acting the true soul-Self of the newly initiated woman in day-to-day life. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Whether or not you identify as a man or a woman, our androgynous self is always seeking to integrate the feminine with the masculine. This is the only way we will achieve the archetype of the divine marriage. Jungian analyst and author, Marion Woodman, wisely states how this life-long journey is perhaps the most important pilgrimage we will ever take. Why? Because it entails coming into wholeness with yourself and others.

Let’s dive into how female dream characters in your dreams play a role. First we need to understand that female dream characters represent qualities such as nurturing, listening, sensitivity, intuition, receptivity and caring. Likewise, male dream characters often embody such traits as action, intellect, assertion, and will-power.

Therefore, when a woman appears in your dreams, notice the feminine qualities she embodies. Is she passive, bold, fearful, nurturing, outspoken or timid? When we are aligned with the feminine, or feeling-function, we can identify and express our feelings, practice self-love and compassion for others, listen deeply to what others are saying, seek understanding and trust our intuition.

When a man shows up in your dream, observe his behavior and notice how you would describe him. Is he determined, bossy, sensual, heroic, tyrannical, controlling, or creative?

Jung referred to the archetypal feminine presence in a man’s dream as the anima, and the archetypal masculine presence in a woman’s dream as the animus. In Latin, the words anima and animus mean soul. Becoming aware of these archetypal images are essential in our emotional, intellectual, and psychological development.

Perfectionism is not the goal of the journey toward the divine marriage because it is fraught with shame, but wholeness is.

For example, in my counseling practice, when I am working with men and his relationships, we often begin with his relationships with women. And then, we look at how female characters appear in dream time. How women are showing up in his dreams tells me everything about his relationship with his feminine aspect, and therefore everything about his ability to relate to women. Until he accesses what is going on in the inner realm, nothing will change or improve in the outer realm. If a female dream character—his anima—is cold and withdrawn, I know he has work to do in creating a caring relationship with his inner woman. Being more sensitive to his own needs, his creativity, his own soul, is what is calling his attention. Why? Because the anima is reflective of a man’s search for soul. And until he is in right alignment with his feminine aspect, his connection with his soul and his relationships with women will suffer.

Likewise, if a female client is dreaming about a particular male character who consistently bullies her, or in someway makes her feel badly about herself, we will explore ways for her to stand up for her values and speak her truth. In this case, taking conscious action is needed. Until she is comfortable with her masculine aspect, she will attract men who wish to dominate, manipulate, and ignore her strength.

What we are talking about is the integration of both masculine and feminine aspects in a person. Wholeness. Completion. This is the path of individuation and it ain’t easy. But it is, oh, so very fulfilling. I’ve witnessed male clients completely transform their relationship with women by working with their anima. And I have been blown away by women shifting their connection with men by learning to understand and embrace their masculine side. Sometimes the result is ending their current relationship, but usually it entails improving and deepening the relationship they have with their partner.

And in case you’re wondering, sexual orientation and gender is irrelevant in the archetype of the divine marriage.

Each of us requires the delicate balance and intimate dance of the masculine and feminine to achieve the divine marriage. Once you have reached this deeply fulfilling state of being, you will no longer “need” people the way you once did. Your desire for relationship will stem from a place of wholeness and you will recognize that the only real reason you are joining with the another is to support each other’s soul growth. You are no longer looking to “get” your needs met. You are beautifully co-joining with another to deepen your connection with your own heart and soul, as well as the heart and soul of your beloved.

Namaste. 

Relationship Beginnings and Endings, Part Two

Relationship Beginnings and Endings, Part Two

All of us desire to feel loved, wanted and accepted for who we are. Science-based research, ancient spiritual wisdom, and evolutionary psychology teach us that at the root of all suffering—emotional and physical—is a lack of feeling loved and accepted for who we are, both from others and within ourselves. More often than not, people try to love us, but for various reasons, we have created barriers to love which are hidden in the unconscious. Nonetheless, our desire for authentic connection runs deep. As I wrote in ‘Relationship Beginnings and Endings, Part One,’ maintaining authentic love and intimacy in long-term relationship requires differentiation. And the Greek figure that best depicts this is Thanatos, the god of death. Thanatos may appear in your life in different forms. One is the feeling of stagnancy in your relationship. You care about each other but it seems you are both just going through the motions, co-existing as it were. Couples at this stage often say they feel like ‘brother and sister’ (or, in gay relationships ‘sisters’ or ‘brothers’) and there is no intensity. “Is this all there is?” is frequently asked inwardly but not shared with the partner or spouse.

One of the ways Thanatos is most recognizable is during our night-time dreams. For example, a woman may dream about a man or her partner which represents her animus, her inner male aspect, where she is trying to pull away or escape from him. Rather than trying to connect with him as in dreams of Eros, she wants to replace him in the driver’s seat. She may dream of living alone or even wanting to destroy her animus. More literal dreams may appear where she is leaving her partner or expressing anger toward him in a series of dreams. During waking time, she may fantasize of leaving the relationship, moving away, opening herself to meeting someone new, and so forth. As always, feelings are key. Irritation, anger, resentment, confusion, fear—these emotions are pointing the way to what psyche and soul are trying to communicate. Her anger is a symptom of a deeper issue; if she is denying Thanatos and the need for differentiation, her resentment will grow either toward her partner or herself depending upon her ability to access her feelings and express them. Following is an example of a male dreamer dreaming about Thanatos:

I am with an attractive woman and we are in a large outdoor park, like Yellowstone, or a similar environment. We are hiking and it is a gray day and cold. She is standing at the edge of a cliff looking down at the ravine below. I am behind her and have the urge to push her off the cliff. It’s something I have been considering for a while. As I approach her someone yells from behind me and stops me. I awake feeling ashamed and confused.

In waking life, after having been married for eighteen years to the love of his life, this dreamer was struggling. He had cultivated a successful career and desired more time on his own to express his creative side through photography, writing poetry and painting. However, he and his wife were used to spending most of their time together when they were not working. He was worried she would feel neglected if he carved out time for himself, especially because he worked so many hours. So he kept his feelings to himself and his resentment grew. Until they came to counseling, he didn’t know his wife was experiencing similar feelings. Although her desire for alone time was not as strong as his, she had been fantasizing about traveling to new places, without him.  She felt telling him about her needs would cause him to feel insecure or threaten the relationship so she said nothing.

In reality, this couple desired something that was not only healthy but would help take their relationship to the next level: emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and creatively. By giving himself permission to create, the man would feed his soul and develop more of his feeling function thereby enhancing his anima qualities. Likewise, the woman allowing herself to travel to new places—without her husband—would help her strengthen her animus aspects: independence, inner strength, courage, action.

Thanatos does not mean a relationship is dying, quite the opposite. It is a primary opportunity for the soul to be heard and to communicate one’s needs in an honest, loving, respectful manner, and then, to make the necessary changes to accommodate each other’s requests.

The strength of the anima and animus reflects the inner marriage, or hieros gamos, the stabilizing of masculine and feminine aspects, a significant part of our journey toward individuation.

Namaste.