Soul, Image & Connection to Love

Wed. April 19, 2006
Categories: Dreams

What is Image? The Image holds psychic presence. The Image is a condensed expression of the psychic situation as a whole. It contains both light and shadow. What is Symbol?  The Symbol is a mediator of these opposites (i.e., images of light and shadow, conscious and unconscious contents, rational and irrational processes). Paraphrased, ‘all symbols contain, assimilate, or transform psychological energy (libido) along with instinctual forces by converting them into an image that the ego can work and be fed by, thereby offering a steeper energy gradient than the natural instinctual alone can provide.’

The function of the image is to arouse…it is endowed with generative power. In other words, power is found when the conscious mind through imagination participates actively with the unconscious mind in order to experience the opposites on the level of the third thing, or the reconciling symbol.  Images, as objects, contain bound libido which needs to be freed up to make more energy available to us. Symbols make this possible through the conscious assimilation of unconscious or instinctual forces. The trick is to find the image within an emotion and to personify its unconscious impulse. “As a plant produces its flower, so the psyche creates its symbols.” (Man and His Symbols).

An example of personal imagery follows, and the question is if the images were worked through symbolically for the purpose of finding greater wholeness:

Valentines Day, 2006, with no-one to celebrate. I went to the archetypes for understanding, having discussed these in our Jungian psychology class. I’ve had dreams of compassionate, unfamiliar male figures that I ascribed to my animus, but never actively worked with these images other than to write the dream down and ponder. I think because of my commitment at Pacifica, this morning I was led to actively engage the anima and animus archetypes as sexual soul.  I assume there is a soul within each of us (not everyone does) and my bias is that it ultimately desires spiritual union with another being either consciously or unconsciously. My experience is that the divided soul feels separate and experiences pain very deeply. I had, as a hidden agenda, the desire for a spiritual exercise that would call down the archetype to merge with my instinctual desires in order to experience a state of mind where my desires were fully satisfied, to live in peace and experience wholeness. A part of that agenda was to ease painful feelings of isolation or loneliness through a genuine experience of sexual soul and not through a belief that someone outside of myself can save my soul.

Perhaps I can find a path to holy union between the male and female inside of myself. Libido or life force depends on the dynamic of opposite forces, yet many people in the United States do not embrace the soul as male and female. Perhaps there is no personal, individual soul. My belief could be from my repressive middle-class family and my upbringing in the Christian church, or the culture of narcissism I live in. Buddhists, for example, do not posit a soul but do put forth the idea of enlightenment, i.e., soul is not necessary for the experience of a final blessed state marked by the absence of desire or suffering.

The concepts of anima and animus as representative of a divided soul may only apply to the psychological aspects of an actual relationship between a particular man and a particular woman, however, my hypothesis was that the imaginative act of union between archetypes may be superior to their correlates on the physical plane. I recognize that divided soul may not be a universal human condition, that there are most likely people who daily experience wholeness and peace and oneness in their relationships with spirit, people, and nature. If this were true for me, there would be no need of any spiritual exercises other than to love, which seems difficult to do. So that morning I awoke with the image of a past lover’s face floating in my mind (and, yes, he still loved me). I was perplexed because I had thought he was lost to me because of willful stubborn beliefs on both of our parts. What was left for me to do but active imagination in the service of the anima and animus archetypes?

The thought of my solitude on this Valentine’s Day passed briefly through my mind. My instincts called for him, but I soon realized they might also be calling for the archetype.  Breathing gently, I took the image into my heart, remembering what he said about my being ‘Miss Potato’ (starchy and unfeeling).  I recall him chastising me for a lack of emotional feeling towards him. It hurt because it is true that I have a hard time feeling emotions and expressing them.  I am the girl who used to look up words that convey emotion in the dictionary in order to understand feelings.

That morning I tried to feel my feelings more and thought about my physical heart as I dropped the image of his face into my heart. I was surprised to feel warmth and a tingling sensation as I focused my breath and awareness on my heart.  I swear my heart pumped faster and glowed like E.T.’s finger. I remember thinking to join myself as his anima archetype with the animus archetype that I contain. This active imagination did not involve any sexual imagery, it was as if words merged in my hypothalamus, but with those words came untold meanings.  Love expanded at the joining of these archetypes like waves of bliss further and further until I felt joy which I could only imagine was a union that was lovelier than anything I had ever experienced. It lasted about 24 hours

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 when it comes to love. There is a splitting of masculine and feminine in Jung’s archetypes that corresponds to the cultural ideals of a previous era, before transgender became a household word. A feminine person has a complementary masculine soul (p. 101) called the animus, just as a masculine person has a feminine soul. Jung also says that if the opposite soul-image is not projected, a thoroughly morbid relation to the unconscious gradually develops (p. 105).

Jung (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.  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).  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 woman’s animus is argumentative with no sound basis for opinions, however a man’s anima can womanish-ly argue when he is anima-possessed. He has been transformed into the animus of his own anima (p. 111).   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.  Perhaps it is helpful 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 have irrational opinions (vice versa in both cases) which, according to Jung, is natural. 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). These tendencies are most likely grounded on instinct with the purpose of keeping the “game” of hate/love alive (p. 114), according to Jung.

How necessary is the game of hate/love for the purpose of emergence?  It seems there is a more enlightened way of going about raising consciousness other than the battle of the sexes.   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. Men and women would not have to fight to recognize that they love each other.

While unconscious contents can be filtered into consciousness in the process of withdrawing projections, Jung says that the anima and animus themselves cannot by integrated because they are the foundation stones of the psychic structure. However, this is in contrast to the sexual archetypes in tantric religious 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).  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.  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. But I feel that I have (at least once) and I believe many others do. The ideal for Jung is to live according to our instincts in a simple unconscious life to the extent that we are able to follow our instincts “without hesitation or misgiving” while being conscious of the duality of anima and animus He says to “picture the archetypes of the unconscious…as constant, autonomous factors” (p. 117).


Comments are closed.