Equal Value and Gender (dr. kipnis)

Aaron Kipnis Lecture @Pacifica in Montecito May, 2006

It would be interesting to talk about equal value and gender as it relates to depth psychology, and the Eurocentric nature of depth psychology as it relates to eco-psychology.  Jung developed this whole idea of the Anima/Animus and the fantasy that the female consciousness was related to the earth and that masculine consciousness was heroic. Now those were interesting ideas that captivated a lot of people in the 1930’s and 1940’s. In Mother Earth, An American Story, we see that the whole idea of “Mother Earth” is a European fantasy and not the fantasy of indigenous peoples… early European explorers who came here and brought their science with them viewed Native American culture and their relationships to deities such as Place and Corn (like corn nature being related to corn) and they said, ‘oh, they worship Gaia’ because that is the European mythos of Gaia as the Mother of the planet.  But this was not in the imagination of the Indian because there was Coyote, the masculine diety that was related to the Moon as was Hare, and Kokopeia, who was related to the corn and to fertility and to earth. Most indigenous cultures are polytheistic. There was an even spread of sacred genderfication or anthropomorphication of nature, in other words, gender was equally distributed …everywhere you look…unlike monotheistic views…there was variegation…there weren’t these ideas of universal archetypes.

The idea of universal archetypes is a purely western fantasy that is more related to the transcendental and transpersonal God who is disconnected from Place.  To indigenous people, the deities are gods and goddesses of places and things, animals and plants. They didn’t have a sense of a transcendent God.  This idea was traced back (in this book) to how Europeans examined Native American culture, as they interpreted local deifications of … principles in aspects of nature as Gaia and then through the 17th C. fed that theory back to Native Americans. It was in the late 17th C and early 18th C that we start hearing Native American cultures talking about the earth as Mother. Prior to the European invasion those ideas did not exist in the Native American peoples.

A lot of archetypal ideas are ensconced in European thought and are no more universal in their application than the fantasy of Africans, Native American, or Polynesians in regards to their relationships …hence the importance of depth psychology opening awareness to the imagination of other cultures. If we begin to open our imaginations to other cultures we find gender ideas other than lunar femininity and solar masculinity. But that’s not just in Native Americans because if we look at ancient Egypt there is Thok, a moon god who is precursor to Hermes and he has the lunar symbol over his head. In Sumeria, we know about Innana whose father, Nana, had the moon disc over his head. He was the moon god. There is brother moon and sister sun.

Throughout the world there is a sense of lunar masculinity connected to a lunar diety…hence the importance of this to depth psychology because we are being told that our roles and behaviors are being informed by these symbols. If we only eat a certain diet of symbols, it only informs us in a certain way. And if a woman is only informed by her sense of sacredness being of a lunar nature, it says a certain thing about her femininity i.e., menstruation being a moon cycle, and there is a physical relationship but does it mean to be solar is antithetical to femininity and that it is somehow ego dystonic for the feminine to shine like the sun, to be brilliant, bright, persistent, powerful, dominant, overarching? If you abide the idea that the essential feminine is lunar, then anytime you are embracing that solar heroic aspect of being a woman it appears dystonic to the imagined sense of what it means to be intrinsically and archetypally, in your depths, feminine but again, that is a European idea of femininity. In Africa we find … the lion headed goddess who has the solar disc over her head, she’s the goddess of the sun, a warrior goddess. She can slay whole armies with a single glance.

Certainly Aphrodite has the luminosity about her, that brilliance, that light. Peleg of the Mayan is both fire and intensity and power and has the power of destruction and heat and is dynamic. Maybe its a lunar interiority but traditionally outside of the European thought there has been powerful goddesses of the sun throughout time. Therefore when I am feeling like a warrior or are running a corporation or in charge of a room or family, that is not necessarily about my animus, about erasing my masculine side, but something essentially feminine, just the way that femininity has been imagined throughout time but the European fantasy is that the masculine is dominant over the feminine. That fantasy also relates to colonialism, especially here in the Americas, that when European explorers first came here, if you look at the drawings of the 17th C, that the anthropomorphizing of America as an archetype is almost always depicted as a young Indian maiden, voluptuous and waiting to be raped, ravished by European males that were coming here. And the land was talked about as fertile and lush and unprotected and there for the taking. Part of that was the whole fantasy of nature as this feminine person and the masculine as the solar, heroic diety that has rights over her. This is why I think Depth Psychology is not merely an intellectual enterprise, but the way in which symbols are embraced can have political, social, and environmental consequences.

Now this is also true for understanding masculinity. The European idea, and hence Jungian psychology’s idea, is that the masculine ego is essentially heroic and solar while interiority and psyche and soul have become engendered. Does that mean there is no masculine soul? Is soul only feminine because Psyche is a feminist myth about a feminine diety? And so, over time, we have come to think of psyche as the soul of interior life, whether of males or females, as feminine. That divorces man from soul as one standard deviation out of soul and in a way it’s the recapitulation of the Judeo Christian myth of creation that man is created in God’s image and that woman was created out of man. Women are created in soul’s image and men somehow have to individuate. But in actuality, if we look beyond Europe to the archetypal imagination of the rest of the planet, we see there has often been a lunar masculine.

I think it is important for men to realize that they have a lunar nature because if I only imagine myself to be of the sun, then the fantasy of the masculine is to be consistent, exterior and bright, to be productive and also to be overt. In Egypt, the old idea of Osiris and the Neut Geb is that he lay on the earth with his phallus reaching up to Neut who is thought to be the sky goddess arched over him…different fantasy, right? In India, Shiva is sometimes up and dancing, but he is also prone underneath Kali who lies astride him and she is the one who is dominant, she is the one who is expressive and he is the one who is supine.

What that says to me as a man is that when I feel moody or interior, or when I feel inferior, that it means I am not being masculine. But it isn’t about getting in touch with my inner feminine which is the idea that has come out of Jung’s idea of conscious sexuality…or that the interior of the female is this animus…when actually it is getting in touch with an aspect of self that is deeply masculine. That is the lunar quality of masculinity. That is no less dystonic to my ego idea than the solar image of empowerment …that Jungian idea of the woman whose armour is shining brightly like the sun which springs from the fathers head.

So it is important for depth psychology to open its windows and its gates and let the rest of the world in. Because the fantasy, the imagination, the mythic traditions of the archetypal imagination of the rest of the world brings a very different vision than the limited ideas formed by Judeo Christianity from a time when men were more willful and non-reflective and women were more dominated. That is why we try to continually try to have fresh eyes instead of internalizing ideas from the past with the understanding that those ideas come out of a specific sociopolitical context and they have psychological ramifications. So this is what came out of our dialogue at our breakfast table.