Sunday, March 16, 2008

Reuniting with the Feminine, the Work we have to Do

(In breaking with our mothers, we break with our femininity)

"There are countless women of the sixties and seventies who so deeply resented the patriarchy which had destroyed their femininity and that of their mothers that they lashed out against that patriarchy, but in doing so they identified with the masculine side of their own psyches. In some cases they turned into the very thing they most feared -- the witch side of their mothers, or in Jungian terms, the negative animus.

…the natural feminine way to feminine maturity is through the body. This is essentially what the ancient initiation rites were about. The rites grounded the girl in her own body which was then recognized as part of the feminine cosmos – a vehicle for fertility the container which made her one with the Goddess, through whom life moved eternally.

In our society, however, we have no rites and there are few older women who can initiate us into our own femininity. Most of us, men and women, are unconsciously identified with the masculine principal (the conscious value system of our mothers) with little or no consciousness of our own feminine instincts. So we flounder.

…In such situations, the genuine masculine principle is not present. ...Where the masculine and feminine are undifferentiated, the act of union is merely an identification...She may believe she is an androgyne, an independent woman, but in fact she has given up on ever being a woman and unconsciously decided to be nothing instead. …[She is] polarized against her mother and ultimately against herself and her own feminine nature; plus against her man whom she has made into her mother. Such a woman may end up in despairing conflict or in conflict which manifests as disease, or she may go on driving through life on her phallic broomstick hating or fearing every man she meets.

To be fully differentiated in the full feminine, in relation to the mature masculine: we need to make that rite of passage. We have to pay in blood. Every rite of passage involves a death and a rebirth. The price is the sacrifice. Part of that sacrifice is giving up of old securities and illusion. ...The masculine principle (in men and women) is not a healthy ego strength but ruthless will power….giving up that driven-ness is part of our blood sacrifice. And it begins to feel like giving up life itself when an individual has lived life in a frenzied round of goal-oriented activity, leaving no room for loving. As Jung says, 'Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and there the will to power is paramount, love is lacking.'

… instead of being terrorized by her aloneness and her feelings of abandonment and rejection, she can use this time to work on herself. One of the things she will surely face is her own inner killer – the overdeveloped masculine in herself that kills her femininity (and put a bullet through the heart of her King Kong animus) [in dreams].

First I believe that femininity is taking responsibility for our bodies, so that the body becomes the tangible expression of the spirit within. For those of us who have lived life in the head, this is a long, difficult and agonizing process, because in attempting to relese our muscles, we also release the pent-up fear and rage and grief that has been buried there, probably since or before birth. …it acts at first like a wild neurotic creature that hasn’t known love. But gradually it becomes our friend, and because it understand the instincts better than we, it comes our guide to a natural, spiritual way of life.

Secondly, femininity is taking responsibility for who I am – not what I do, now how I seem to be, not what I accomplish. When all the doing is done and I have to face myself in my naked reality, who am ? what are my values, needs? Am I true to myself or do I betray myself? What are my feelings?

Working on these questions day after day is what I call differentiating the feminine.”

from Addiction to Perfection, Marion Woodman, chapter, The Myth of Ms.

If you don't mind the Jungian jargon, I highly recommend this book, published in 1982 by Inner City books, Toronto.

While is is on the surface a study of her analysands with eating disorders, at the base of it is the identification with the negative animus or unhealthy masculine priniciple, and our disconnection with our female bodies.

have a great Sunday,

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