This article complements the concepts explored in my article “Archetypes of the Mature Masculine” and applies them to the other half of humanity—women. In doing so I apply the same principles, not in a mechanistic way, but in the spirit of Jung’s archetypes and their rationale. Lets start with a few words of C. G. Jung himself where he talks about the Anima.
Thomas Moore and Douglas Gillette adopted and extended Jung’s approach in their exploration of the masculine psyche by using the collective archetypes of the King, the Warrior, the Magician, and the Lover. Obviously those four male archetypes can be translated in female clusters of virtues and specific attributes associated with them mapped to four female archetypes: the Queen, the Mother, the Wise Woman and the (female) Lover found in history and myths. This has been done before. Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian psychiatrist, published in 1984 “Goddesses in Every Women: A New Psychology of Women came up with seven feminine archetypes based on ancient Greek mythology. Each Goddess represents a primordial image for women’s personality; they are: Hestia, Athena, Demeter, Aphrodite, Hera, Artemis, Persephone. Jennifer Baker and Roger J., Woolger in 1989 included only six of the Goddesses taking away Hestia. I think that is still a bit inflationary, narrow and not powerful enough. Toni Wolff, colleague and presumable lover of Carl Jung, identified four feminine archetypes: Fairy, Wise Woman, Lover and Queen. I get lost on the fairy and I miss the most powerful female Archetype - The Mother – of which C.G. Jung has written at great length. To me the reproductive Mother archetype is not only neatly symmetrical to the destructive warrior archetype it is definitely a primary one. Life is about birth and death – between is wisdom, spirituality and individuation, if one is unlucky staring at the Dow Jones. Favoring quadruple qualities, however, takes in account the important (particularly for C.G. Jung) number four. A quadruple seen by C.G. Jung might be thought of as the cross, a mantra or cardinal points that must be balanced in the fully realized being. No individual is completely masculine or feminine, good or evil, right or wrong. Tyrants and Weaklings for instance represent an imbalance, a shadow or missing quality of power, a failure to employ virtues.
C.G. Jung distinguished himself from Sigmund Freud and most of his colleagues in that he recognized the existence and admitted the significance of religion and intangible elements of the psyche—what many previous thinkers, from Plato to the early Christian philosophers, have called soul. Jung’s own approach to religion was complex, unorthodox, and open to fresh insights ranging from affinity to Catholicism and Eastern thoughts to gnosis and alchemy. He recognized and valued collective cultural patterns (archetypes) but also individual enlightenment or at least development to find a person’s whole being (individuation). He felt those were dismissed by modern positivistic science and political systems which recognizes only the material world and denies or claim any spiritual dimension (totalitarian systems with personal cult).
The acceptance of the spiritual dimension allows us to understand holistic a person, society cooperation —the complex of (conscious and unconscious) beliefs, attributes, and virtues that defines that entity. Key to this understanding is Jung’s concept of the archetype. According to Jung, “The concept of the archetype is derived from the repeated observation that, for instance, the religious myths and fairy-tales of world literature contain many symbols which are manifestations of those archetypes. There is a good book from his former assistant Jolande Jacobi. about archetype, symbols and complexes to clarify Jung’s slight ambiguity using those terms over his lifetime.
Proposed set of female Archetypes
Significantly, female in myth and art can serve as vehicles for both the understanding and the modeling of these female archetypes. Jung’s theoretical framework of the human psyche follows Taoist principles and is remarkably symmetrical; the extrovert is balanced by the introvert; the material outer world by the inner world, the masculine principle—the Animus (Yin)—is balanced by the feminine principle, the Anima (Yang). Jung als favored strongly the number four and following Jung’s idea of the complementarity of opposites, a similar foursome archetypes can be identified and used to provide a foundation for the understanding of the unique qualities that characterize the female psyche.
All four representations of the archetypes have one positive (right amount – fullness) and 2 negative poles (deficit or surplus). For example, the positive lover archetype embraces the world with passion whereas the negative poles are the seductive (or promiscuous) lover and the frigid (or selfish) lover. One can see every woman (or girl) somewhere between these three extremes.
- The Queen is the leader and the most important responsible for the safety and well being. History and art has shown that every society must have king or leader who is entrusted with guiding his people to success and comfort. The benefits and virtues of the Queen are many, but the responsibilities are many as well. And if the Queen fails in her duties he is traditionally disposed. The shadows sides are tyrant and the weakling.
- The Mother is like the Warrior today the most controversial of the archetypes, because of ideological former and current stereotypes. The two male shadow sides are the Sadist and the Masochist. The Mother is a live giver who maintains humanity clears a space for renewal and change. The prototype of the mother, is well – the mother. But there are shadows here too – the careless and the devouring mother.
- The Wise Woman, represents Logos according to Jung a feminine principle, is the archetype behind a multitude of professions like, doctors but also lawyers, teachers and priests. She sees the unseen. She is the mediator and communicator of secret knowledge, the healer, technologist, teacher, and spiritual. The Wise Woman always has a tendency to abuse her power, being the negative , the witch.
- The Lover like the feminine principle Eros manifests energy and fertility of the nature. The gendering of Eros and Logos and synergy is a consequence of Jung’s anima/animus synergy. Lovers are at ease with our own deepest and most central values and visions. And only through union of the feminine and the masculine our culture and personality prospers and grows. The “me- society” of the impotent is sterile and without compassion and destroys any spiritual dimension.
All these roles could be fulfilled by on person. The shaman as a holistic archetype has the King’s capacity to lead, the Mother’s capacity to care and the Lover’s capacity to value someone or something enough to fight.
Despite the visible presence of males in political power and economic power in various cultures social and hidden political power has been disproportionately exercised by females. Western culture, which evolved within a predominantly Christian context, has its religious sources in the Jewish-Semitic Middle East and the Greco-Roman political and philosophical traditions, all of which were distinctly patriarchal on the outside but quietly influenced by women. This means that in the political, religious, and economic spheres the majority of leaders have been male. In those cases where women have been called upon to lead countries, they have until today exercised male-like leadership. Nonetheless, Western, Eastern and Orthodox civilization has not been entirely dismissive of the female psychic energies. Hindu and Buddhist cultures are also dominated by men in the political sphere but women’s leadership roles in the family are highly regarded. Indian societies, despite the predominance of the male Warrior archetype, have developed a complementary matriarchal social system. All of these cultural complexes afford surprisingly equal powerful symbolism of gender complementarity afforded by the Chinese Ying-Yang icon, and the uninhibited creative sexuality of many Hindu goddesses, and honor and respect for Holy Mary in Christianity. However. another major civilization, such as those that evolved in a predominantly some Muslim context, have been much more restrictive of female freedom and have arguably developed distinctive social pathologies and economic disadvantages precisely because of this.
The Faerie, the Goddesses—The Great Mother, the Wise Woman and the female Lover are found with the secondary C.G. Jung literature and in feminist and/or New Age books Godnesses are everywhere. Not so the the Mother and only as a recent addition the Queen. As is the case with her male counterpart, the King, the Queen is the most complex and mature of the female archetypes. But also the most simple to map to the Moore model. There have been weak and evil Queen and Kings at all times. The image of Queen and Ling serves as a center for the mature ordering of things includes and transcends the other archetypes of the Feminine. Ideally, all ”leading” human would , to a greater or lesser degree, embody the ideal King or Queen.
One example, born in the 15th century BC, Hatshepsut, daughter of Tuthmose I and Aahmes, both of royal lineage, gained the throne upon the death of her father. To have a female pharaoh was unprecedented. Although there were no wars during her reign, she proved her sovereignty being a master politician, and an elegant stateswoman with enough charisma to keep control of an entire country for twenty years. In all, Hatshepsut accomplished what no woman had before her. She ruled the most powerful, advanced civilization in the world, successfully, for twenty years. Another example, the mother and the father of a family would model them. In those not so rare cases were women become leaders of nations, the archetypical Queen may take visible form, wise or foolish, caring or cruel. Just as the King is not born as a King, but must start life as a Prince, the Queen begins life as a Princess. A powerful embodiment of this archetype is the Great Goddess or God like in Egypt were those roles merged. This cosmic image is the equal to that of an all-powerful God, the source of complete cosmic power, but at the same time is more accessible, less menacing. As is true of her male counterpart, the Queen is the symbol for the leader of a nation, but the archetype itself, symbolizes leadership on a much grander, cosmic scale. However, all the essential attributes of the archetype of the Queen are present in a real woman who plays a leading (if only herself) role, regardless of the scope her real responsibilities—be she queen of a nation, a clan, or her own family.
This is the one archetype that is distinctly different for male and female development. Just as the Warrior is the most natural complement to the King and embodies a set of virtues that are necessary to defend the Kingdom, the Great Mother is the most natural complement to Queenship - and the King. The explosive destructive energy of the male Warrior archetype is balanced by the reproductive energy of the female Mother archetype. This is most evident in Kali-Ma the terrible mother. The Hindu religion has a myriad of Gods and Goddesses and the most revered Goddess is Kali. She is usually pictured wearing a necklace of skulls and girdle of human hands, dancing on the body of her consort, Shiva. In many attributes the Mother clearly complements the Warrior. Wagner’s Valkyries, those tough maidens who took worthy fallen warriors to Valhalla also served as sources of inspiration for heroic action. Just as the Warrior appears most fully when he gives himself over to death in an act of self-denial, the Mother appears most fully when she gives birth. Warriors take life, Mothers give life. This is the source of her power. Both place them outside any human’s power even; thus, she has the power to inspire, to create. Kali, in this aspect is said to be “The hungry earth, which devours its own children and fattens on their corpses.
But the Mother archetype is also the symbol of all that is fair, all that is beautiful, all that transcends material existence. These concepts are not merely ornamental niceties but are at the very center of Being. Indeed, in their mythological thinking, the Ancient Greeks recognized the importance of Skills in their concept of the Nine Muses—each the inspiration and source of such humane gifts as poetry, music, and history. In their philosophical thinking, the Greeks recognized Beauty is an essential attribute of the Absolute Good. The Mothers’ virtues are intangible and ethereal; they often had been be self-sacrificial. Consider the holy Mary and the real-life women who have embodied legions of Virgin-Martyrs venerated by the early Church attest to the power of the self-sacrificing, inspirational but unreachable mother. As a powerful archetype the “feminine” aspect the Mother come up in the Christian quadruple conception of the Holy mother.
The Wise Women
The archetype of the Wise Women inhabits not ethereal regions where all appears as bright and luminous, the Wise Women inhabits like the magician the shadows. She is at home near the earth, even inside the earth, inside the dark, moist, primordial womb, the source of all fertility. The Wise One is no longer young. She is mature, rooted. She is likely to be old. Like a priest she may have even loved, but she has now transcended all sexuality and reproductivity and has reached a state of superior wisdom.
In contrast also to her male counterpart—the Magician— a non spiritual mind seeks not to penetrate beneath the surface of things and probe the mysteries of nature, rather, she looks inward into the mysteries of Being. This earthly knowledge extends to the body and more specifically to the very distinct realities of the female body, with its mysteries of fertility and procreation. Women who knew this much were much respected and feared.. This is the knowledge of the Sybil, of the Oracle of Delphi, of the forest spirits. In later centuries, patriarchal institutions resented and persecuted this source of feminine power because it lay out of their control and it dealt with many topics which were not well understood and stigmatized because of their inherent feminine nature. Many Wise Women were accused of being “witches” and were cruelly tortured and put to death.It is natural for both Wise women and Magician to seek separation from her sisters who toil in the world. Their quest for special knowledge requires long hours of solitude for study and reflection. Most often, both become a seer, an advisor. The Queen of Sheba, the counterpart to Solomon—the Magician King—illustrates this type of leadership.Perhaps the most powerful and inspiring embodiment of the archetype of the Wise One is the gnostic Figure of Sophia—Wisdom.
.As a powerful Christian archetype the “feminine” aspect the Wise Women come up in the Christian Trinitarian conception of the Holy Spirit. Who is Sophia? Literally she is Wisdom, because the Greek word Sophia means “wisdom” in English. More than that, she has been revered as the Wise Bride of Solomon by Jews, as the Queen of Wisdom and War (Athena) by Greeks, and as the Holy Spirit of Wisdom by Christians. Solomon was considered to be married to Sophia. One of the many layers of symbolism attributed to the Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon or Canticle of Canticles) is that it speaks of Solomon’s marriage to Holy Sophia. Sophia surfaced in the Eastern Christian tradition with the construction of the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople (converted to a Mosque 1453 and today a Muslim museum in Istanbul). Sophia has survived in the West today in the form of Gnosticism. Sophia plays a very active role in Jung’s Answer to Job (Hiob), where she also completes Quaternity.
The fourth archetype of the mature feminine is the Lover. Even more that in the case of its male twin, the female Lover archetype poses a problem when overwhelming. The Lover embodies the unrestrained embrace of the life-force, of Eros, or in this case, of Aphrodite, of pleasure, of life itself. It is a life-affirming and creative archetype but one that eschews order, sacrifice, and rational knowledge. It is not easily reconciled with the orderly world of the Queen, and is suspicious of the knowledge of the Wise One, because she has transcended this phase.
The powerful Ishtar/Astarte/Aphrodite/Venus mythological complex is a strong archetypical current that runs deep from the appropriately named Fertile Crescent through the foundations of Near Eastern and Western Civilizations. India has equally powerful images of female generative power in Shakti, and her three avatars or embodiments of Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Parvati. The Chinese Ying-Yang symbol represents in graphic form the classic Jungian mysterium conjuinctionem. Thus, the Lover intrudes powerfully into humanity’s collective consciousness and enthusiastic, connects with followers inspiring them to accomplish the difficult deeds. The intoxication of love opens an alternate reality with its own truths which separates those in the grip of the Lover from mundane concerns. Thus, as is the case with the male Lover, the female Lover gains enormous powers of transcendence but she, and he, are subjected to “the other” and therefore lack the freedom of the other archetypes. This is the power and limitation of the hierosgamos—the cosmic marriage of opposites. Without Jesus our life would be meaningless, incomprehensible; Jesus explains our life. Joan of Arc whose last recorded words before she was burnt at the stake were: “I pray you, go to the nearest church, and bring me the cross, and hold it up level with my eyes until I am dead. I would have the cross on which God hung be ever before my eyes while life lasts in me. Jesus, Jesus!” It appears again that the Lover archetype is essential. Of course there is also the dark story of Salome, the infamous daughter of Kind Herod, has fascinated many for centuries painters. Paintings of her equally infamous dance with John the Baptist’s head evoke a sensual, evocative atmosphere.Salome’s story first appears as a fragment in the New Testament Gospel of Mark, where she dances in exchange for the head of John the Baptist on a silver charger, at her mother’s behest. In the Gospel version, the burden of wickedness thus falls upon Salome’s mother, Herodias, and Salome’s virtue remains ambiguous.
Salome dances as femme fatale for her stepfather, Herod Antipas, defying Herodias. The beheading of the Baptist is Salome’s own idea, for which she will pay with her own ghastly death. Nevertheless, John, the Evangelist, come to prepare the way of Messiah with a new gospel of love, succeeds in coaxing the Judean princess to a personal epiphany, for the soul of Salome is not the same fetid sink as her mother’s. “Speak again,” Salome exhorts him, “Thy voice is as music to mine ear…. Speak again…and tell me what I must do.” But just when a prophet’s wisdom might have done some good, John is out of ideas, saying: “I will not look at thee. Thou art accursed, Salome….”
What can we learn from the examination of the archetypes of the mature feminine ? First, female like male, in order to fulfill their wholeness properly, would do well to embody the best qualities represented by all of the archetypes. When men and women do this, they model these archetypes inspires both of them on the path of virtue and spirituality. The archetypes are viable because they furnish us with a short-cut, an intuitive way to grasp the essence of a group of attributes that connects directly with the unconscious mind. Instead of patient intellectual analysis of each individual attribute of leadership, the ethos of each archetype is immediately accessible through a complex of cultural pattern which are instantly recognized even trans-cultural. These archetypes are emotional and spiritual pictures that have an immediate effect on individuals and groups. This effect is readily apparent when one compares the phrase “The Good King” with “a King who is good, strong, wise,etc.” The first phrase is incomparably richer in context and seems “alive” compared to a listing of adjectives to describe a particular King. It evokes an instant visual image that has an immediate appeal. This is why the old Greek epics, the Bibles stories and Wagner’s opera are so powerful. Archetypes are, by their very nature, universal and indestructible. The complementarity of opposites assures us that, even in patriarchal cultures that are hostile to the feminine, feminine archetypes cannot forever be suppressed. Archetypes are not irrational forms of thought; rather they are supra-rational, beyond the parameters of logical thought and if we accept the idea of the “collective unconscious” as an image for the deep cultural models common to humanity, they are universally present—hence their power to move, to affect, to influence. Suppression of an archetype only results in denial of attributes and spiritual resources that we, as humans, need. There is much to contemplate in this archetypes which can be mapped with political, mythic and culture examples. The self-evident interpretation and its usefulness is overwhelmingly convincing. For example, look at your politicians: Does one of them have the virtues of those positive archetypes? As a man look into your family – how does it look there? Do we still have Divine Couples (Syzygy). If one comes to terms with the Shadow and the Soul, one will encounter the enchanted castle with its King and Queen. This is a pattern of wholeness and integration. The opposites of the outer and the inner life are now joined in marriage. Great power arises from this integration. Christ and the Church, God and Israel are syzygy images. The believer who aspires to be the “bride of Christ” is modeling his or her experience in response to the syzygy archetype. Where is our hope from the Child Archetype is a pattern with apromise for new beginnings. It promises that Paradise can be regained symbolized in the golden ring and the golden ball and most flower and circle related images. The birth of the Christ Child who unites Heaven and Earth, Man and God, is one of those powerful archetypal event.
- Tao Te Ching The idea of the Ying-Yang duality
- Jacobi, Jolande, Die Psychologie von C. G. Jung – Eine Einführung in das Gesamtwerk, mit einem Geleitwort von C. G. Jung [Gebundene Ausgabe]
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- C. G. Jung Grundausgabe CW 18