The Anima – Animus Archetype

    I have taken the expressions anima and animus from the known terminology of C. G. Jung. Anima represents the female part of the soul. In traditional Chinese philosophy (Taoism), the anima is expressed as yin to the male counterpart yang, which represents the male part of the soul – animus. The antitheses of yin and yang are basic principles on which the entire Chinese culture is organized.

    I am intentionally joining the two archetypes since both absolute antitheses, in the form of the male and female principle, cannot exist without each other and merge into a union that no longer contains antitheses. The Anima – Animus archetype comes from the personality and from the idea that we are a body. This idea, though overcome on the spiritual path through philosophical contemplation, by discovering the wondrous state of asexuality (states of unity), is so deeply experienced and ingrained into today's existence that it is projected as an unalterable nature of the existential antithesis into every creature of the external world of phenomena. Female – male, woman – man, goddess – god, these are spells that prevent us from leaving the prison of sexuality. This is one of the first dependencies grasped by the body, feelings and thoughts. In going through the history of humanity or of individual nations, we always find sexuality, meaning the division of male – female, man – woman, god – goddess. Only in mythology do we find a divine androgynous creature. One of them is in Greek mythology, the divine descendent named Hermaphroditus. He was the descendent of the god Hermes and the goddess Aphrodite. Hermes managed to cross the border of the world of the living and dead. As the goddess of love, beauty and fertility, Aphrodite is not merely the goddess of physical love, but also of emotion. Mythology has its basis in the unconscious, which is why everything, including sexuality and androgyny, can be drawn from this basis. Plato also mentions an androgynous creature called Androgynous, who existed at the beginning of the human race. The Androgyns rebelled against the gods; Zeus punished their defiance by splitting them into two halves of different sexes. Both parts of original Androgyns are ceaselessly looking for the missing half to join.  In this myth, human sexuality is simply and purely explained as the motive behind the urge for original unity.

    In connecting the anima – animus antitheses (of man and woman) people try to find the unity that they subconsciously seek as a permanent source of happiness and love. Following the short moment of sexual climax, this unity recedes and fades from them into a repeated force of antitheses. At this stage of understanding the anima – animus antitheses, the culmination of the relationship is the union and the child that becomes a fleeting symbol of wholeness.  Yet even this wholeness and unity is broken, for it is once again based on sexuality and the repeated search for a union with one's own antithesis. This is an unceasing principle of life and also a principle of suffering.  Only through an inner understanding of the anima – animus principle can one approach the possibility to exist as the mythical son of Hermes and Aphrodite –  Hermaphroditus – in an androgynous state, and can one know this principle from several sides and angles of various experiences. Anima – animus do not exit as antitheses in unity, and if one wants to achieve unity, he must set out on the arduous journey of unifying the antitheses.

    It is important to once more point out the endless cycle of unifying antithetical aspects. In the beginning this is the union of man and woman. The symbol of wholeness comes from this union: the child, who, however, drops out of the wholeness since he sees sexual difference in his own parents and seeks in himself the same model that matches the one he has witnessed since his birth. In playing, the child searches for his counterpart so as to achieve the perfection that he projects into the figures of his own parents. When the seed of sexuality sprouts from the innocent search, the child turns into an adult, who, according to witnessed and inner mythological principles, wants to find unity, and thus seeks a counterpart with whom he would attempt to find wholeness in sexual union and actually achieve it in the form of a child. This is the endless cycle of rebirth in antitheses and dependencies. Finding wholeness can be achieved by severing this cycle and by extricating oneself from a physical understanding of reality. This radical severance must concern the inner self, for the psychological aspect is the essence. By unifying the male and female part of the soul (anima – animus), we interrupt the cycle of rebirth in an ultimate discovery of unity and wholeness. The union of these principles cannot be achieved by rejecting or suppressing. Doing so would only emphasize our own dependency on one of these principles. The union can be internally grasped in encountering the symbol of the hermaphrodite.

    People live in a world of antitheses in which these very antitheses offer the possibility of getting to know the particulars of the various processes. Yet getting to know the whole, or rather recalling it, depends on an understanding of the impermanence of the antitheses. Once we begin to understand the essence of the antitheses, we will also start down the path of unifying these aspects so as to return to our original state with one difference – with knowledge of the way back. In the Anima – Animus archetype the unconscious helps us unite the male and female elements so that we understand perfection in unity.

The scheme of the Anima – Animus archetype:

  1. An example of all faces of sexuality with the presence of indifference
  2. An example of the symbol of the union of instinctual antitheses in the consciousness (hermaphrodite)
  3. The discovery of emotional anima (emotional animus in women)
  4. The partial control of instinctual animus (instinctual anima in women)
  5. Identification with emotional anima (emotional animus in women)
  6. Struggle with the instinctual component of anima – animus from the experienced instinctual level
  7. Achieving Luna – freeing the emotional component from the instinctual
  8. Birth of the second Sun (emotional animus)
  9. Union of anima – animus on an emotional level (female virgin – male virgin)
  10. The discovery of spiritual anima – dormant to this point (spiritual animus in women)
  11. Birth of the second Moon (emotional anima)
  12. Struggle with instincts from an experienced emotional level

    In women the order of points 8 and 11 are switched since usually the birth of the second Moon appears to them first and the birth of the second Sun later. An important factor for understanding the Anima – Animus archetype and the subsequent Coniunctio archetype is the division of the principles of the female (anima) and male (animus) components of the soul:

  1. instinctual level
  2. emotional level
  3. spiritual level


    First the individual unites the female and male principle on the instinctual level, then on the emotional level and finally on the spiritual level. To enter the archetype and understand it, all of the faces of sexuality must be accepted in a certain indifference (without hatred and urges), which triggers the entire archetype. One must not let himself by drawn into a sexual act, but also must not let himself be repelled by it.  In doing so, the instinctual level of the archetype is overcome and the anima (or animus with women) of the emotional level is awakened, since the antithesis of sex is not only wanting or rejecting but becomes higher on the level of experience. Emotional anima can then influence from the unconscious our efforts to find balance. Overcoming this turning point (and actually even the beginning of the archetype) is complicated precisely because of so-called human morality, which we have indoctrinated into our consciousness from our earliest years.  If one achieves the spiritual level of one's counterpart, preparedness for uniting the antitheses in the next directly related Coniunctio archetype can be assumed.

    The greatest paradox of the process of unifying anima – animus antitheses is that the union is achieved by a lone individual who finds his counterpart in his own unconscious. Once this path is taken by a pair of lovers, they will stop having with them their antithesis in their feelings of affection stemming from attachment and desire. Only through depersonalization of love does the identity of the personality's sex disappear, enabling the heart to beat in an inseparable rhythm with the very breath of the universe.

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