How to balance and harmonize our masculine and feminine energies through the anima and the animus
In this article, we'll illuminate the topic of our idea of the Anima and the Animus. As we explore these classic archetypes, we’ll get to have a better sense of the feminine and masculine energies that exist within us.
Simply put, the word Anima refers to the female dimension within the male's unconscious psyche. As an idea about what it means to be a woman, the concept of the Anima is present in the male. Literally, it translates to life or soul, symbolizing the unifying nature of the female energy.
Thus, when we speak of the Anima, we are basically referring to the male’s feminine energy. And with that, this energy is often perceived as the Eros or the male’s ability to exhibit feminine characteristics comprised of union, love, and emotion.
Inversely, the Animus pertains to the male dimension within the female unconscious psyche. Referring to an idea about what it means to be a man, the concept of the Animus is known to be present in the female mind. Literally, it translates to mental power, intelligence, or the rational soul.
Thus, when we speak of the Animus, this refers to the male characteristics in the female mind. Often relating to Logos which means reason or logic, the Animus is presumed to be responsible for the rationalistic tendencies that are present in women.
To begin with, both the Anima and Animus are concepts from the famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung.
In his analytical philosophy, Jung tried to unravel the archetypal concepts that are present in our psyche. As such, the Anima and the Animus are two important primordial archetypes present across varying symbolisms in human history.
With that, Jung began his investigation about the human psyche. Whereas he was originally groomed to be the prince of psychology and the successor of Sigmund Freud's psychosexual theory of development, Jung decided to veer away from such a limited point of view.
Taking off, Jung utilized the basic concepts of the conscious and unconscious mind. But instead of having the Id, Ego, and Super Ego, Jung presented the conscious, personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious.
Simply put, the conscious is the active mind, whereas the personal unconscious is the stored qualities, traits, and perspectives within us, while the collective unconscious is preconceived ideas that are present in us upon birth.
Like a muscle of the human body, Jung believes that the psyche evolves overtime, inheriting in it some universal concepts that are placed under the collective unconscious.
As such, we call these concepts as archetypes. Like primordial images and ideas, archetypes are universally present amongst us, giving each one an idea about a particular role in society.
For instance, one’s perception of individuality often reflects the ‘Self’ archetype. Symbolized by the mandala, the concept of having oneself seeking for growth is perceived by Jung as an idea that is shared among all cultures.
Bizarre as it may seem, Jung sought to prove this concept of Archetypes. By looking for similar symbols across cultures to prove the validity of the collective unconscious, he was able to present proof of their validity.
With that, both the Anima and Animus are perceived to be Archetypes stemming from the collective unconscious.
Understood to be transcultural and metaphysical, both the Anima and Animus are archetypes present within us. With that, their presence contributes to our character, often relaying varying kinds of responses as it influences the way we perceive the world and ourselves.
Here are two key areas where both of them shapes our perspectives:
As the title suggests, this push and pull mechanic exists within us. Given our conscious nature, we as human beings respond to situations not only through instinct. More importantly, our humanity allows us to become self-conscious beings, able to distinguish for ourselves what’s right from what is wrong.
Similarly, such tension exists between our given sex and how we perceive the opposite sex. Since we are, as in Martin Heidegger's words, "thrown into the world," we have no choice when it comes to the kind of bodies that we have (male or female sex).
However, when we speak of gender, the substratum of it is only getting more complex, leading towards the idea that the dichotomized approach of heterosexuality is far outdated.
Even so, there exists a tension between our notion of self and how these two opposing forces react within us. With that, we often feel some sort of moral duty based on our preferred gender, often indicating the dominance level of one over the other.
Moreover, it is important to emphasize that we are social beings. And in this case, our notions of right or wrong and good or bad are inevitably influenced by the society around us.
With that, even if the archetypal image of the Anima or the Animus is present within us, such a notion is likely to be influenced by our surroundings. Instead of being completely free from all sorts of influence and bias, the mere fact that we co-exist with one another impacts the way we think.
For instance, even this whole concept of Anima and Animus of Jung was regarded as something that’s ahead of his time. Since his peers were more of heterosexual and homosexuality was perceived as a mental illness, to suggest that there exists an image of a female in a male’s mind is far beyond their acceptable notions.
Even so, Jung carried on with this as he presumed that the idea of the opposite sex is there and is present within us.
While the above points have focused on what the Anima and Animus is, this short article is still yet to ask what happens when these archetypal images in our mind become unbalanced. Simply put, an imbalance of one's notion of the opposite sex can lead to an excess or a lack thereof.
For instance, a male who is presumed to be accustomed to the logos or reason may lack empathy when not heeding to their Anima. As such, this leaves them to become heartless creatures with almost no empathy for others.
Inversely, an unbalanced female mind, may lack the rationality in assessing situations. While they are generally more resonant with their emotive and intuitive powers, such lack can lead them to thoughtless decisions in life.
This is, of course, not to say that without a balanced Anima and Animus, such outcomes will instantly happen. However, if we look at both concepts, the reality of them being archetypes will slowly seep in our system.
Emerging from the collective unconscious, such lack translates to the influencing of the shadow archetype. As the section which contains our repressed thoughts, the shadow harbors these thoughts and projects them unto others.
Thus, instead of being appreciating diversities, individuals who failed to harmonize their Anima/Animus tend to evoke animosity towards people who cross against their values.
Balancing the Anima/Animus in you requires you to do some thorough introspection. As such, here are some simple steps that you can do in order to balance your Anima and Animus:
Ask yourself about your current state of mind and how you perceive the opposite sex and its accompanying energies, For instance, this can be done through meditation given how this spiritual practice reveals the depths of our souls. Introspection is also part of shadow work.
Expressing a subconscious part of yourself is, in itself, challenging. Thus, by using non-lingual ways of expression, like various forms of art, it is likelier that you'll be able to find the path towards balance.
In doing so, you’ll be able to evaluate your conscious actions and how they translate to perspectives regarding the opposing energy. For instance, both men and women can assess their choices on a daily/weekly basis and try to identify how rational/emotive they were in making them.