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You seek the feminine in women, and the masculine in men. And thus there are only men and women. But where are people?... But humankind is masculine and feminine, not just man or woman. You can hardly say of your soul what sex it is…As a man you have no soul, since it is in the woman: as a woman you have no soul, since it is in the man. But if you become a human being, then your soul comes to you. -C.G. Jung, The Red Book, pp. 226 ff
Barbara Hannah spoke of the animus as the archetype that personifies the inner spirit or unconscious mind of women and which typically appears as a masculine figure in women’s dreams and as projections. Today we shall work with some of Barbara Hannah’s insights about what the animus is, how it functions in a woman’s life, and how she might safely create a fruitful relationship with this complex and mercurial inner figure. We shall also reach into her toolbox of practical methods for engaging with the animus, the “spirit of inner truth in women.”
Barbara Hannah arrived in Zurich in 1929, the year of her 38th birthday. In 1929, the year The Secret of the Golden Flower was published, C. G. Jung was 54 years old. In 1931 she attended a lecture delivered by C. G. Jung on the anima and animus, during which he proposed a conceptual model for the inner development of the animus. At the end of his discussion, believing that “a man’s ideas about the animus can produce a model based only on intellectual assumptions, and not grounded in direct experience,” he would “lay down a challenge.”
Addressing the women at the lecture and noting that only a woman could have a direct experience with the animus, he said, “Now that is my proposition, but I leave it to the ladies to invent something better or argue this proposition.” Barbara Hannah heard the clarion call. Over the decades ahead, she generated a body of work and created a toolbox of practical and insightful methods that provide guidance for women who confront, and are confronted by, the problem of the animus.
C. G. Jung’s challenge is living in us today; each of us has the opportunity to respond. As Barbara Hannah taught, a woman cannot learn about the animus by reading about the animus, any more than, shall we say, she can learn to play tennis by reading about tennis. To learn tennis, she must play tennis. To build a relationship with the animus, she must engage with him through inner work, and this takes practice, persistence, and courage.
This program is for people of all of gender identities and not only for people who are gender identified as female, or as a woman. The work with the archetype of the “invisible partner,” as expressed through the animus and anima, is ultimately transcendent of gender. Each of us has an inner opposite, which we encounter in our dreams and projections. Consider how helpful it could be to learn more about how this fundamental archetype of the “invisible partner” affects your inner life, your relationships, and your social world. By making a conscious relationship with that invisible partner, each of us moves closer to discovering the depths of our androgynous nature. Therefore, I encourage everyone to participate.
Please come prepared to roll up your sleeves and do some work. Bring your journals, art materials, and memories, dreams, and reflections for your eyes and ears alone. You may also consider stories, fairy tales, plays, or films that reflect the animus in your life and the lives of women. This is a workshop, not a lecture. Therefore, we will spend time on Barbara Hannah’s material and have time for reflection and for dialogue. Together we shall explore the relationship between ego and archetype.
Dr. Bonnie L. Damron is a psychotherapist, ethnographer, storyteller, and Archetypal Pattern Analyst in private practice in the Washington, D. C. metropolitan area. She is an independent scholar, with a particular interest in pre-patriarchal, goddess-based, and woman-centered cultures. During her many years in practice, she has led seminars on the writings of C. G. Jung, archetypal motifs in fairy tales, myths, the arts, and has conducted study tours to Crete and the Greek mainland.
Dr. Damron holds a Masters of Social Work degree from Catholic University, a Doctoral Degree from the University of Maryland, Department of American Studies, and a Certificate as an Archetypal Pattern Analyst from the Assisi Institute for Archetypal Studies.
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