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What are the anima and animus? In very basic terms, the anima is feminine qualities found inside a man and the animus masculine qualities within women. This – according to famous psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung – are qualities of the opposite gender that are nested inside the shadow.
Jung called the shadow self everything denied in ourselves and cast out, and embraces all dark thoughts and moods for which we feel guilt and shame.
Jung also believed that in every man there is a woman and vice versa, and presented concepts as the ancient models of the male Logos identified with thought, action, and power, and the female Eros associated with creativity, receptivity, relationships, and wholeness.
This article will look at how anima and animus influence us in our daily lives…
Animus and anima is an archetype – an idea that a transpersonal psychic structure transcends the personal – meaning that it has a universality which is evident across multiple individual psyches.
In simple terms, an archetype is a typical character, action, or situation that represents universal patterns of human nature, and in Jungian theory a primitive inherited mental image present in the collective unconsciousness.
The archetype of the anima and animus forms a bridge between personal unconsciousness and consciousness – the capacity used to draw inspirational and intuitive images from the transpersonal inner world.
Inner life and soul
Anima and animus in relationships depend on our ability to relate as whole human beings to other people and the world. The psyche relies on the relationship having an equal measure of heart and mind on contra sexuality to compensate for any natural one-sidedness.
The anima and animus play a significant role in determining the spirit we bring into a world that is felt inside.
Levels of Development
Jung believed that anima and animus development have distinct levels. See anima vs animus development levels here:
The first level is Eve which deals with the emergence of a man’s object of desire, and is connected to a woman as a provider of nourishment, security, and love, and cannot function well without a woman.
The second level is Helen showing strong business and conventional skills alongside an inability for virtue and imagination
The third level is Mary and this allows the perceiving man to see virtue in women
The fourth and final level is Sophia where complete integration has occurred and women can be seen as individuals who possess both positive and negative qualities, and the anima is developed to ensure that no single object can fully and permanently contain related images
Jung stated that there are four parallel levels of animus development in a woman and these are:
- Man of mere physical power – the first appearance as a personification of strength
- Man of action or romance – within this level the animus possesses initiative and the capacity for planned action
- Man as a professor – the animus becomes the word often appearing as a professor or clergyman
- Man as a spiritual guide – on this highest level of meditation between the unconscious and conscious mind this is the key to controlling the animus and to discern it from reality
Examples of Anima and Animus
A selection of anima and animus examples are shown below:
Archetypal examples of anima are:
- Margaret Thatcher who showed strong leadership with a feminine sacrifice
- Mother Theresa who embodied the spiritual transcendence but still connected to the world
Archetypal examples of animus are:
- Mahatma Gandhi who brings the spiritual component into the world without denying it
- Buddha the conscious spiritual incarnation transcending the earthiness of the unconscious masculine
In a man’s psyche, the anima is a personification of all positive and negative female tendencies. Positive expressions include empathy and sensitivity, and the ability to sustain loving relationships. If these feminine characteristics are repressed the anima replaces these feelings and emotions with moodiness, possessiveness, hysteria, and fantasising.
Some typical qualities of the integrated anima include:
- Creative inspiration
- Self-nurturing and self-loving
- Access to feeling life
- The ability to make value judgements over rationality
A displaced anima may show signs of:
- Relationships that become isolated
- A lack of creativity
- Constantly seeking outside affirmation
In a woman’s psyche, masculine tendencies can include courage, strength, vitality, and a desire for achievement. If these characteristics are disregarded assertiveness turns to aggression and ruthlessness, and analytical thoughts become argumentative.
When integrated into a healthy female psyche the animus instils:
- A strong centre
- Knowledge and creative thought
- Logical ability and problem-solving skills
- Clear thought
- The ability to sustain effort and application
Overwhelming of a displaced animus may induce:
- A controlling and loud temperament
- Know it all behaviour
- Ineffective and unmeaningful relationships
Making the Connection
Connecting to your inner anima or animus has nothing to do with sexuality and all to do with creating a balance of passive and aggressive inner energies. The state strived for is known as androgynous – attributed to sprits which balance all opposites in one unified whole.
Creating a balanced self changes from person to person – the feeling should always bring great composure, self-control, and wholeness. And mediation can bring a complete state of inner androgyny.
Connecting to the anima for males relates to understanding feminine energy and this can be achieved by:
- Practicing thoughtfulness and considering the needs of others
- Listening with compassion and concern
- Nurturing and taking care of something
- Getting in touch with and understanding inner emotions
- Expanding hobbies and interests to actually incorporate female energies into your daily life
- Expressing inner anima through music, art, or dance
- Using romantic gestures to rediscover the passion
- Practicing self-study to develop the internal need for love and fulfilment
Connecting to the animus for females is about understanding masculine energy and this can be done through:
- Taking on a role that puts you in authority
- Practicing assertiveness and learning to take charge
- Developing leadership abilities and becoming more self-reliant and self-sufficient
- Learning masculine skills such as handy-man tasks for example fixing car problems
- Studying others approach to problems and decision-making
- Gaining more emotional balance by practicing mindfulness, mediation and self-exploration
By finding a means of meaningfully understanding and working with our dreams where the anima or animus typically visits it is possible to develop a direct dialogue with the archetype.
All the workshops at Spirit Vine Center have the purpose of bringing to the awareness which aspects of our Anima and our Animus are unbalanced, only after the awareness it is possible to work applying the techniques to achieve our best version of ourselves, using all our resources to develop our potential in an easier way.