Saturday, November 12, 2011

Musings: von Franz's "Alchemy"... and further on the pin

The stories of Eve and of Isis getting secret knowledge from angels, is a man's view of growth. Eve is the Anima who steals knowledge from God (the Self). As a result, a man's unconscious paradise is lost and now he has to do all the hard, painful work of psychological growth. Or the story of Isis who, as his Anima, coerces the secret from the Angels and gives it to her Son (the man.) But what is a woman's story? Where are the stories of an Animus, the woman's mediator between her and God/Self? How do women gain secret knowledge? Or is it even knowledge that she gains? Prometheus steals fire from the Gods and therefore must suffer every day while his liver is eaten... and every night it heals. Is this the image of a woman's Animus? But it's not knowledge her Animus steals. Rather it's fire; power, energy and vitality; the light which illuminates the darkness and reveals what was hidden. As a result a woman's Animus is wounded during the day but is healed at night, when dreams come.

Another is the story of Inanna going into the Underworld, the land of her dark sister, Ereshkigal. Enki (the god of mischief, water, intelligence and creation) sends two little people he makes from the dirt under his fingernails to mourn her as she hangs on the meat hook. When she returns to her world above she has to choose someone to take her place. She picks her consort, Dumuzi, who was the only person who didn't mourn her death, but his sister loved him so much that she offered to take his place so half the year she's in the Underworld and the other half Dumuzi is.  What is the woman's Animus providing here? Sympathy, from Enki? A sacrifice, from Dumuzi, to suffer in her place (which calls to mind Prometheus' suffering during the light half of a day.)

Persephone was abducted by Hades, also of the Underworld. She doesn't want to go but she must if she's to find her power as a Queen. Here the Animus is the Demon Lover who kidnaps the woman to Death (in other words, he kills her old self.) Unlike Inanna here the woman is dragged kicking and screaming to her death, her transformation, in which she must give up her old self in order to be reborn to a greater, more whole and more powerful self. Here the Animus is the abductor, or Death himself. The woman resists her transformation initially. It is only by choosing Hades/her Animus/her transformation, giving up her old self, that she grows (because I made the choice, my Hades abduction is psychological rather than literal - my growth is through us *not* having a relationship.)

"[Y]ou wonder whether you should stick a pin in him and a drop of the poison of knowledge and give him an idea as to what it really means..." (von Franz, writing about whether an increase in consciousness is good or not in "Alchemy" p. 54.)

My dream of the dark man sticking a pin into my "other self" - the "dark man" is obviously my Animus in his role as the destroyer, the demon lover, Hades, Death. He sticks a pin in her and brushes the powder of knowledge - that is, of his own essence (the essence of the Self?) and that destroys the old me, the "other me," the one who must die in order for the new me to be born. He wants to unite sexually with me; he brushes his consciousness onto me to do so. By being covered with his essence does he unite with the me that's being born?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Is it real or is it a projection?

I've been reading Marie-Louise von Franz's book The Interpretations of Fairy Tales and came across the following:
"Men [and women] who know nothing about psychology tend simply to project the anima onto a real woman, experiencing her [his anima] entirely outside. But if through psychological introspection they realize that the attraction exerted upon them by the anima is not only an outer factor but is something they carry within themselves - an inner image of a feminine being which is the true ideal and soul guide - then often, as a next problem, the ego raises a pseudo-conflict between the inner and outer realms by saying, "I don't know if this dream figure is my anima inside or if it concerns the real woman outside...[C]onsciousness, with its extraverted bias, gets caught in a false conflict between concrete outer and symbolic inner realization and in this way cuts the phenomenon of the anima artificially in two.

"To get into this conflict indicates a lack of feeling-realization; it is a typical conflict, raised not by the feeling function but by thinking, which makes an artificial contrast between inside and otuside, between ego and object. Actually the answer is that it is neither the outside nor the inside because it has to do with the reality of the psyche perse, and that is neither outside nor inside. It is both and neither. It is precisely the anima which has to be realized as a reality per se. If she, the anima, likes to come from the outside, she has to be accepted there. If she likes to come from within, she has to be accepted there."
(Page 94)

The question of anima/animus projection and whether or not our romantic relationships are a useful place to work out those issues has been on the back burner of my mind for a while, since I wrote Thoughts on the animus/anima. In that post, I wrote about how our animus makes itself felt in the kinds of stories we find ourselves drawn to, as if we're instinctively drawn to working through those issues, and I was warned about the dangers of projection, something I'd never even heard of.

Further reading showed that yes, projection was problematic, and probably quite common, the reason so many people fall in and out of love all the time. BUT I felt as if it could be helpful if used consciously, asking the right questions: Am I projecting? What am I projecting? And exploring the projection. Also, I felt that, although we need to be dealing with the true people themselves in our relationships, an element of projection might be useful in romantic relationships, adding a tinge of the eternal.

Reading the above quote by von Franz has added an extra layer to this issue: While it's undoubtedly good that we're progressing from viewing others and the world purely in primitive, symbolic and superstitous terms, we can lose sight of the fact that, to our subconscious, everything actually is one, and the person as a symbol and what the symbolic person stands for are one and the same. The problem isn't to figure out which one it is - it's not an either/or thing. The problem is to be conscious about it, seeing which direction it's coming from, now from the inside and now from the outside, and deal with it as it comes up.

I'm not back but I will stop ignoring this blog

I just recently decided to check in and see what, if anything, was going on. And it looks like this is actually quite active! Apolog...