Wednesday, November 10, 2010
The book is poetic, a sharing of women's thoughts and aimed mostly at women although the ideas could apply to men as well. It is about our human need to find balance between our masculine and feminine sides which according to Jungian thinking, we all have.
The chapters are quite short and aimed at reading one and then thinking about how it applies. It would be a wonderful book to do in a circle of women which is perhaps how it is intended. It would also be a good book for a woman to think about as her daughter was coming into maturity or her niece or a girl to whom she was close. It is really about being there on an intimate level for each other.
It is mostly aimed at old women with the emphasis that as we come to old age which can be a time for balancing our male and female energy, it is a time where we can open ourselves to the things a busy life before never permitted.
Now when I start throwing around terms like animus and anima, or yin and yang, assume I am no Jungian nor am I an expert in Chinese philosophy. I internalize what they mean more than finding myself able to accurately describe them to someone else. We all have both female and masculine characteristics. The female has the internal animus. The male the internal anima. That isn't always expressed but Jungian teaching would say it should be if we want to live most fully.
What this book is about is how in our culture the animus is rewarded in male or female, and it is what is needed to get through school, to attain and succeed at jobs. It is the focused energy of the yang, hard, analytical, tough, the ambitious side of humans. While the anima is the soft part, the dark, the yielding, the intuitive, the yin.
So (this is for the women here) we are born into the world as females, and we must learn to operate in a masculine realm. We toughen. We become more analytical. We compete. We may work too hard at developing our animus because we must. If we didn't find success ourselves, we might drive our daughters to find it and try to grow their masculine side instead of their feminine.
Then we come to old age and things have changed but have we?
When we are old, we do not have to do what we once did; but for some women, there is still this need to compete, to succeed, to justify, which drowns out the softer, intuitive, female side which has been buried for so long that it must be resurrected if we want to life fully for who we can be now. Some block it all out by being a perpetual Peter Pan, not admitting where they are but using the animus to direct their goals possibly haphazardly while there is no time for the intuitive anima. Busy busy busy and at what? That's the question of the book as well as how might our lives have been different if we had internalized all this years before?
It might seem this is all about women but the same would be true for men who now are freer, in old age, to release their softer sides, less compelled to be competitive-- or will they ever let that go in a culture that places the emphasis on the animus and the yang.
We can change it by opening ourselves up to the fullness of who we are. Or we can stay caught in the trappings of what we have been told we need to be.
The book ends with this thought--
Photo is mine. Words are from 'I Sit Listening to the Wind' by Judith Duerk