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On the Anima
The unconscious feminine side of men
This post forms part of an ongoing series:
This article will conclude the second vision I had in December 2020, detailed here. To recap, the visions have described events that lined up to events from my life, as follows:
Encountering the primordial waters of creation: Realizing my old way of being no longer suited me, and resolving to find a new job
Hera provides me a ruby: Optimism from being hired for a new role which will birth new potential, as symbolized by the ruby
Seeing Hera morph into Kali: Dread as I start to realize my new role may not end up involving what I had expected
Being birthed by Hera and feeling abandoned: Starting my new role and confirming that my naive belief that everything ‘would take care of itself’ at my new role was unfounded
We left off with the initiate slumbering on the beach, indicating further work is required before the initiate’s seed of consciousness awakens. As indicated in the previous article, the Terrible Mother, Kali holds him fast, and resists the efforts of the initiate to break free and become realized.
In this article, the initiate encounters the ambiguous figure of the Anima. Jung describes the Anima as the ‘unconscious feminine side of men’. The Anima points towards completeness, surfacing repressed elements in our unconscious. In this vision, the Anima guides the initiate towards a repressed hidden principle that is opposed to reason, and can only be bought forth through ‘unreason’ - whether to his salvation or his doom he is still to find out.
Where am I?
I'm lying on a rectangular cube..
Many flowers are sprouting
The birds are singing
Disney animals stream by..
A lady smiles at me..
She tells me the journey never ends
She's telling me (more) things but somehow I don't have the ears to listen
I can’t quite make out, I can’t quite comprehend
Her voice comes back into focus
Asking if I am alright
I say yes I couldn’t hear her
She tells me I haven’t acquired the ears for it yet
I need to keep listening
Keep listening to the song of the forest..
She tells me to listen intently
It’s there in the song of the birds
Listen and the song of my heart will come into focus..
There is an ambiguous nature to the Anima here. She appears in the midst of a beautiful garden, which would appear to underline her beneficial aspect, serving as a guide for the initiate. She tells him to listen and keep a keen ear out for the song of one’s heart. And yet she indicates this song is found through the darkness of the forest, and the inexpressible sounds of the birds.
In pointing towards the sounds of the forest, this indicates a particular meaning to the initiate - the darkness of existence. She is advising to let the influence of the Terrible Mother, Kali, take hold. She indicates not to resist, but rather to allow it to manifest as it will and listen to what appears. The ambiguous nature of this advice raises questions about the Anima’s nature. The vision earlier indicated she may be Aphrodite, acting as a siren leading the initiate into stupor and enchantment. It also serves to underline the opposites encountered during this transformation process - the more one moves towards death the closer one comes to rebirth, the more one moves into darkness, the closer one comes to light.
Through pointing towards the song of the birds, she suggests the irrational and the inexpressible. This points to a hidden nature that wishes to make itself known and is not understood yet. Its song is lawless and reason will only murder its living nature. It is made understood in an inconceivable manner, whose mysterious and subjective process of ‘unreason’ requires a total embrace in order to bring it to completion.
Real life parallel
The reality of what the Anima is speaking to would become apparent in the first few months of my new job. I recall having this uncanny feeling my new team and manager equated to this Anima figure, calling me forth to realize my destiny. Even as I started to have doubts, I kept the faith, believing I simply needed to soldier on and the ‘song of my heart would come into focus’.
What I would actually experience however would be the opposite. Seeing my expectations profoundly misaligned with my team, I would descend into fits of resentment. Great effort would be expended in expanding my role into what was promised, all of which amounted to very little. It started to seem like I had been tricked, that I had been bewitched towards my destruction.
And yet by all accounts, I had a good team that supported and appreciated me, and so it defied reason how I had ended up in this maddening situation. Looking back, one can only conclude we are sometimes led into situations that seem unfavorable, but thereby break us out of our former patterns.
Peter Kingsley states the ‘divine within is birthed by attending to it’s secret intention over our own reason’. And this matched to my experience, that there was a hidden principle at play here that is opposed to reason. And looking back, I can only conclude how damnable was my reason that had led me here. This reason that is forever discontent and ambitious, crying out for recognition and status. This reason that thrives on speed and distraction, carried away by hubris and inflation which leaves behind who we are meant to be.
I came to see that this hidden principle is the source of our life and motivation, and it comes from a source our reason is unable to grasp. It’s only with hindsight that I see how this hidden principle unfolded. My experience at the time was bewilderment. What insight I experienced over these first few months came through realizations and dreams concerning my work and family life.
First, it became clear to me how I saw my life as akin to an algorithm. That if I put in the time and effort, reward will come out the other end. This indicates our being is summed up by what can be reasoned through and verified, and such a worldview diminshes and leaves no room for our subjective nature.
In a second realization, I came to see how this nature is psychotic in how it constantly denies this nature. This hidden nature is our source of life, however it does not discriminate between opposites like reason does. It draws us towards darkness, just as it will draw us to light. Our reason abhors this, it prefers what is organized and safe. It abhors not being in control, and tries to wipe out the messy nature of our unreason. Every ploy of our reason, in attempting to strategize away from where our hidden nature wants to take us, is a gradual murder of its being.
Resolving this conflict then is what the Anima points towards in the vision. She indicates to examine closely where the initiate’s reason and ambition has led him. To disregard it’s influence in favor of the unreason, the inexpressible song of the heart. This process involves sacrifice, for Kali leads towards death, where the reason draws back from. But only in confronting this darkness will it be shown up for the shadow it is, and the light revealed that lies behind it.
I had a rough experience over these months, and would continue to experience further challenges over the coming months as well, as the seed of consciousness inside struggles for realization.
One benefit I did experience was seeing and resolving a seed that was learned from childhood. This seed produced a poverty mentality, where I was driven to constantly hustle at work to no benefit of my own. And it was this mentality that was a key overriding factor in preventing the hidden nature from revealing itself.
The song of my heart did eventually make itself known to me. During a sitting practice, I had a faint impresssion of a sound, and my heart opening like a crystal flower. It appeared to me as if the ruby embedded within my heart was blooming, like a shoot from the soil opening to a new light that emanated through me.
The result of this mini realization will be explored in the next vision, that will be posted shortly.
For further reading on the ideas discussed in this article, Jung touches on the conflict between reason and the Anima in the Red Book, in the section titled Mysterium Encounter, pg 174-183. Jung experiences his Anima as Salome, the daughter of Herod from the New Testament. He also references the Garden of the Anima, which represents a roughly parallel meaning in the book as it does here.
Texts referenced in this series
Alan Chapman (2019), Magia. Barbarous Words
C.G. Jung (2009), The Red Book, A Reader’s Edition. Philemon Foundation
C.G. Jung (1980), Psychology and Alchemy, 2nd Ed. Taylor and Francis
C.G. Jung (1991), Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. Taylor and Francis
Erich Neumann (1955), The Great Mother. Bollingen Foundation
Peter Kingsley (2018), Catafalque, Catafalque Press
Joseph Campbell (1949), The Hero with a Thousand Faces, New World Library
Henry Corbin (1998), Alone with the Alone, Princeton University Press
Wim v.d. Dungen. Book of the Hidden Chamber. Retrieved from https://sofiatopia.org/maat/hidden_chamber03.htm
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