Jungian Therapy, Jungian Analysis, New York, Animus

Heroine's Journey: Meeting the Animus

Jungian therapy, New York


A girl meets a dangerous male spirit, wrestles with it, and acquires some of its power. That story re-occurs in many cultures because it concerns a universal question: what if the feminine marries the masculine but keeps its own identity? To put it another way, what happens when feminine consciousness relates to the unconscious which, being other, appears masculine?

Legends and fairy stories are not about humans but about supernatural beings, as is shown by their sometimes supernatural powers. To use rational language, legends and fairy stories are about the organizing principles by which life organizes itself (emerges) and how these principles interact with each other as life proceeds. Jung called such principles archetypes. The father, for example, represents objectivity, judgement, and authority; the hero, assertion, adventure, and phallic consciousness; the mother, fertility, death, holding, and indiscriminate nourishing; the heroine, assertion, adventure, bonding, and lunar consciousness.

A naive fairy story resembles a dream in that it emerges from the unconscious as teller-and-listeners, perhaps gathered together in the kitchen, conjure it differently each time. A literary story reveals less about the unconscious because it is burdened by the literary or political intentions of the writer. A naive story is told by someone who, lacking formal education, is not so much invested in, as oppressed by collective power structures (it may be called an "old wive's tale", or a "kitchen tale"). It subverts collective wisdom, expresses archetypal patterns which have been suppressed. A dream likewise points out archetypal patterns suppressed by the dreamer's consciousness. When consciousness seeks to dominate and exploit the unconscious, it provokes the dream.

In a less hierarchical culture (Kalahari Bushmen, Melanesian islanders) consciousness is less linked to formal education and hierarchies of power. Stories from such cultures