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Anima And Animus

  Anima (Latin, ‘spirit’) and Animus (Latin, ‘mind’) correspond respectively to the psychological female element in a man and the male element in a woman. Jung believed that each of us carried in our psyche an unconscious image of ourselves as the opposite gender. He formalized symbols that he found in his patients\' dreams as anima and animus.

The anima as the female element in the male unconscious is often symbolized as a hermaphrodite figure. Myths that illustrate the male need to rescue the female in himself are those where the hero rescues the damsel in distress. Mistress figures, who guide initiates through spiritual journeys, are also symbols of the anima—for example, Kwan-Yin in Chinese Buddhism, Sophia in Christian Gnostic doctrine or the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom Pallas Athene. These are known as the ‘supreme feminine figure’, what Goethe called the ‘Eternal Feminine’.

The most frequent manifestation of the anima takes the form of erotic fantasy. The anima can be projected onto a woman until she appears to have its qualities. The anima is also often personified by a witch or priestess. Anima and Animus have dual aspects, life-giving or destructive.

There are four stages in the anima\'s development. The first stage is exemplified by Eve who has instinctual, biological functions. The second stage, exemplified by Faust\'s Helen, is the romantic, aesthetic level. The third is exemplified by the Virgin Mary who is love and spiritual devotion. The fourth stage, exemplified by Sapienta, is wisdom transcending the most holy and pure. A man\'s complete and healthy development, according to Jung, should include these stages, but a man\'s anima is shaped by his mother and may have negative aspects instead.

The prince awakened by the kiss or love of a woman is the story of the reawakened animus in the woman. The qualities of the animus are the so-called masculine qualities of courage, initiative, intuition, objectivity and spiritual wisdom. The animus is hidden from consciousness, as is the anima in man, and is apt to take the form of a hidden conviction in women.

In its negative form this would be said to be manifest as a loud, insistent, brutal female personality, or as a woman whose personality relentlessly seeks for power. The animus of a woman is influenced by her father and may have negative effects which are said to lead to coldness, obstinacy and inaccessibility; in myth these attributes are symbolized by robbers, murderers and death demons.

The stages of the animus are: one, personification of physical power; two, initiative and capacity for planned action; three, the word, personified by the professor or clergyman; four, meaning and meditation in religious experience.

Psyche, in Greek myth, is the symbol of the animus. Loved by Eros, she was forbidden to look at him, but she did so and he left her. She regained her love only after a long search and much suffering. This story illustrates the negative anima rebuilding itself through creative activity. MJ

Further reading Carl Jung (ed.), Man and His Symbols.



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