Soul Image & Connection to Love

Wed. April 19, 2006
Categories: Dreams


What is image? It is psychic presence. The image is not the thing, it is a condensed expression of the psychic situation as a whole (it contains both conscious and unconscious contents).  Image is a container of opposites. This is in contradistinction to the Symbol, which is a mediator of opposites. Images do not adhere to any one position but elements of it can be found in either. For example, the Image of anima, both inner and outer, is Mother. The function of the image is to arouse…it is endowed with generative power. The power is to be found when the conscious mind participates actively and experiences each stage of the process or understands the image intuitively.

Here follows an experience as something to unpack:

I lay in bed in a semi-conscious state before sleep with candles burning after having listened to tapes by Robert Johnson and Marion Woodman on femininity. My body starts quivering because the psychic energy is so strong.  I surrender to this shaking and wonder if it is my soul coming through my body.  Every muscle seems to be engaged and like a slow crescendo the pressure builds and I want to let the shaking continue and not fight it (as I have so many times in the past).  I feel awkward and a little afraid but I know this has something to do with soul.

I hear my roommate arrive home and enter through the living room door and I am self-conscious and ready to shut down on my experience but decide not to. I let the energy keep building.  It isn’t going to kill me.  I just want to let myself feel it. This is not the dream part of my experience. Then the shaking suddenly subsides and I feel transcended from my body and hear children’s voices in the living room.  There are no children in my house, I am thinking, but am so curious I have to get out of bed and investigate.  This is when the vision begins.

I open my bedroom door and the living room is filled with light, hundreds of small lights like at Christmas time.  A woman is sitting at the table near the window in the sunroom very busy working on something and it seems she is supervising the children. There is a little girl and a blonde boy about seven years of age.  I gaze at them for awhile, taking it all in.  They have been playing together and laughing.  I don’t have children, I think.  Is that my mother across the room? Someone else is in the kitchen. Yes, this is actually the house I live in presently but everything glows with light and vitality.

I pick up the little boy and hold him high in front of me up but he squirms uncomfortably.  He complains and says he has a hurt shoulder.  The girl is reticent and stands back to watch, not wanting to acknowledge me.  This is the end of the vision.  Then I have the rabbit dream. After I wake up I feel those children were real, and I realize how dark and empty the house is without them, without their playful laughter.  I remember the joy I experienced being lit up on the inside and in touch with a feminine energy. But now that I am awake I am alone in darkness.

What is love and why does the soul unconsciously project an image onto its opposite and pull us into relationship? Jung (1921), in Psychological Types, says the soul image is produced in the unconscious (paragraph 49) in contrast to Psyche which is the sum total of all psychic processes both conscious and unconscious (para. 48).  Our conscious mind projects an attitude that we show the world which is called the Persona.  Our persona develops as a functional complex for reasons of adaptation but it is not the sum total of who we are. Inner personality is called anima or “the way that one behaves in relation to one’s inner psychic processes” (p. 100), also known as the face turned towards the unconscious.. The blurring of masculine/feminine in our culture has led to great confusion, at least in my life, when it comes to love. Since I have been told that I process information like a man and am highly adapted to them, I am unsure of my anima/animus nature and feel both strongly.  There is a splitting of masculine and feminine in Jung’s archetypes that corresponds to cultural ideals of a different time and place.

A feminine person has a complementary masculine soul (p. 101) called the animus, just as a masculine person has a feminine soul. Typically logic and objectivity are characteristic of a man’s outer attitude, says Jung, idealistically.  And for a woman, the outer attitude is one of feeling.  This was clearly not the case with Mrs. Smith!  She is an enigma that is symbolic of women in our culture today, myself included. Jung says

“the influence of such a person is immediate and absolutely compelling because it always provokes an affective response.  The affect is due to the fact that a real, conscious adaptation to the person representing the soul-image is impossible.  Because an objective relationship is non-existent and out of the question, the libido gets dammed up and explodes in an out burst of affect…a failure of adaptation.” (p. 104).

Jung says that if the soul-image is not projected, a thoroughly morbid relation to the unconscious gradually develops (p. 105).

Jung, in The Syzygy: Anima and Animus (1951) says the first anima image for a man is the maternal Eros, which is then transferred to the wife.  We see Mr. Smith become childish, sentimental, dependent, and subservient to Mrs. Smith as she takes over the role of the mother as a safeguard against consciousness. For a woman, the first projection-making factor (animus) is paternal Logos “resulting in a considerable psychological difference between men and women” (p. 111).

But why, as Jung(1951) says, is it necessary for the animus to draw his sword of power and the anima to eject her poison of illusion and seduction? (p. 110).  The anima is said to possess all the outstanding characteristics of a feminine being, and exists as an archetype found in men as a form of compensation. Likewise, a woman is compensated by a masculine archetype.  In my dreams of animus figures over the years these figures are never conflictual but truly beautiful yet in waking life my projections onto men (and likewise, women) sometimes produce problems.  (Just as often there are positive projections that produce inspiring, wholesome friendships where the soul-image is seen for what it is).  Yet when a merger is attempted instead of appreciative acknowledgement of our separateness, conflicts arise.  Why is that?  On the level of dream and imagination, the anima and animus archetypes can dance, merge, and coexist in blissful union, yet to attempt a merger on the conscious plane represents many difficulties.

Jung suggests that the animus is argumentative with no sound basis for opinions, and that the man’s anima can argue in a very womanish way when a man is anima-possessed and he has been transformed into the animus of his own anima (p. 111 I know a lot of men that are emotional, opinionated, and argumentative.  It seems careless to assume they are just acting like women when it appears these are repressed characteristics existing in the shadow of the male psyche without needing to say that they are overwhelmed by the feminine traits of their anima projection.  There are so many conflicts between the opposites of male and female that I am beginning to wonder if it is useful to psychologize actual men and women in this way.  I do not see how it has been helpful except for the purpose of withdrawing projections if we are able to do so.  Even Jung has said that “it is easier to gain insight into the shadow than into the anima or animus…most people are content to be self-righteous and prefer mutual vilification to the recognition of their projections.” (p. 114). Men have irrational moods (and women do not?) and women have irrational opinions (and men do not?) which Jung says is natural, and is most likely grounded on instinct with the purpose of keeping the game of hate/love alive (p. 114).

How necessary is the game of hate/love for the purpose of mating or merging?  It seems there is a more enlightened way of going about raising consciousness other than the battle of the sexes, yet Jung says that ‘telling’ is not enough to make a person see the shortcomings of their attitude, for that is like “expecting the average respectable citizen to recognize himself as a criminal.” (p. 116). I was thinking more of teaching people to imagine the union of the archetypes of anima and animus in their body, mind, heart and soul in some ritual fashion until the blissful experience of unity is felt.  But that may not be the objective that Jung has, for I have been trying to understand what Jung’s goal is, and I think it is to overcome one-sided thinking and/or sentimentality which is a smaller part of the union of the opposites. Yet if the game of hate/love were ended, we would have compassionate thinking and true joy. Mr. and Mrs. Smith would not have to fight to recognize that they love each other.

Jung (1951) says the anima and animus figures are crystallized out of the collective unconscious.  If tension arises, the anima or animus confronts the conscious mind in personified form, splitting off from the personality like part souls.  Unconscious contents can be filtered into consciousness as projections are withdrawn, yet the anima and animus themselves cannot by integrated because they are the foundation stones of the psychic structure.  Is this in contrast to the sexual archetypes in tantric practices that merge and overcome duality? Nevertheless, anima and animus cannot be objects of direct cognition according to Jung, because they are archetypes and they remain autonomous, meaning independent (p.117).  Does he mean anima and animus remain independent of human consciousness depending on how civilized and separated from our instincts we are? Jung only asks that we pay attention to the “symptomatology of unconscious contents and processes to avoid becoming one-sided” and he does suggest that we merge anima and animus archetypes with human instincts. The complementary and compensating functions of the unconscious in the anima and animus archetypes can help us avoid the danger of one-sided thinking as if one-sided thinking were the greatest problem we have (well, it probably is).  The advice is to be conscious of the duality of anima and animus and to live a simple, unconscious life to the extent that we are able to follow our instincts “without hesitation or misgiving” (a rather impossible task if you ask me).  He says to “picture the archetypes of the unconscious…as constant, autonomous factors” (p. 117).

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