Integrative Relational Feminine Jungian Therapy Essay

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Human beings are manifest as male and female. The long absence of a female deity has resulted in the repression of the female energy as subordinate and less important than that of the male. However, Woodman's suggestion of the Goddess Kali and Shearer's suggestion of Themis could serve as bases for reconciliation within the self and between the genders on a collective level.

Ann Shearer (in Huskinson, 2008, p. 49) notes that Themis provides a point of reconciliation between the male and the female. Her name means "right order," and she represents the relationship of the human with the divine. As a Titan, she predates the split between the male and female and represents the healthy psychological being. Indeed, the author compares her with Jung's concept of the "Self," where an instinctual psychological being is present, where the male and female aspect are in harmony with each other. As archetype, the goddess goes further than entering a relationship with the ego; she represents the very law that governs this relationship.

In terms of power, Themis is able to enter into conversation with the male gods without effects such as pursuit, pregnancy, or abandonment by the male divine. Indeed, she proved its equal in all respects. Hence, she represents an equal relationship between the feminine and masculine aspects before the war between the two, and she can be drawn upon as archetype for post-war reconciliation.

Shearer (p. 52) notes that this reconciliation recognizes both sides of the conflict, silencing each to provide an opportunity for listening and understanding, and subsequently for reconciliation. There is a mutual understanding, even while disagreement is contained in order to cultivate this. This is not without risk, because light is brought to all aspects of the self: "In its containing of opposites, the Self cannot but appear both bright and dark, both good and evil. Yet Jung also saw in this concept great hope for humankind" (Shearer, p. 54).

It is precisely in bringing the split self to life that human society can begin to reconcile its opposite male and female energies. It is only in recognizing the divine archetype as both masculine and feminine that human beings can recognize themselves as aspects of the same divinity rather than as manifesting the opposite concepts of good or evil. The feminine has been associated with the religious culprit, Satan, precisely because she has lost representation by the female divine. This can be changed by means of archetypes such as Themis and Kali, the latter as discussed by Woodman.

In her introduction, Woodman (1996, p. 9) notes that the feminine divine was recognized even as late as the 12th century and even by religions such as Christianity, where the divine mother manifested in the form of Mary. What Woodman refers to as the "psychic" balance between masculine and feminine was complete in the image of the young King Christ and his mother. This has however degenerated with the Protestant view of Christ as opposed to the devil, while the role of Mary was completely subordinated in the religious consciousness. Mary's role was reduced to a simple physical vessel for Christ's birth, after which her importance simply vanished, and with it, the importance of the feminine within Western society.

However, even in this early Christian view of the importance of divine motherhood, there is an essential shortcoming: motherhood is only one aspect of femininity (Woodman, p.12). The celebration of motherhood, however grand, fails to address the entire humanity of what it means to be feminine. Another important aspect here, as mentioned by Woodman, is the fact that men also often play the role of "mother," or caring parent. This is where the concept of Kali is helpful.

Generally regarded as a "dark" Goddess who can give or take life at will, her aspect as mother, incomplete in terms of the human, but nonetheless important, can offer an important platform for reconciliation. In the 21st century, for example, both male and female parents share their responsibilities in a much more balanced way than was the case ever before in Western history. Men can for example opt to stay home and care for the children while females earn money in extreme cases. More likely, today's economic situation necessitates that both male and female relationship partners work. In such a case, both partners share the caring aspect of child rearing, with duties such as homework, food preparation, and homemaking regarded as shared responsibilities. In many cases, both women and men choose to build their careers even while raising their families. This family paradigm offers an excellent platform of equality from which both men and women can recognize the importance of the feminine and the masculine within themselves. Reconciling these can offer both healing within the self and healing in terms of the cultural split.

What was traditionally known as motherhood is now recognized as a more neutral sense of "parenting," where partners share child rearing duties equally. This equality can then be used to manifest equality elsewhere as well. And indeed, this is already evident in many ways. Media representations of men and women have for example begun to change to include men in the homemaking role and women in the role of business executive. Increasingly, men are seen as caring for their children, cooking or cleaning; all of which would have been unheard of as recently as the 1950s. This indeed provides some grounds for Jung's hope for humankind.

It is clear that there is a great shift in consciousness back towards the "glorious" motherhood aspect of the feminine divine. However, much work is still needed in terms of all the other aspects of the goddess Kali.

Woodman (p. 12) also notes the importance of the much-subdued virgin archetype, which is much more than the female version of the "constricted throat and military shoulders" that voices its nature and demands in no uncertain terms. In no less uncertain terms, the Virgin archetype voices her nature and demands without feeling the need to concede to a male partner. Motherhood entails a human partnership while virginity on the other hand entails a perfection that needs no consort, but is happy to simply be and manifest as itself. It is this aspect of the feminine that is most subject to social subordination and peer ridicule. It is here that the most work is needed to reconcile the warring aspects of society and the individual. Indeed, even today a woman who remains unmarried is regarded as flawed in some way, while a man who remains unmarried does not receive the same social prejudice. Generally, there is very little recognition for the single woman who prefers career over family. Such a woman is regarded as "hard" and "cold," while the same aspect in men is regarded as "ambition." In general then, the motherhood aspect is currently accepted as applicable to both men and women. However, the female drive for a career is not viewed in such a positive light, and many inequalities still exist in this regard.

Conclusion: The Feminine and Masculine Aspects Today

According to Woodman, Kali is both the mother, the virgin, the conscious and subconscious, ambition and love. She is all aspects of life as desired by the female nature. Culturally, this is no longer only family, children, and home; it is also to leave a legacy in the world on her own terms.

Woodman compares the healing of this aspect with the human attitude towards the earth and nature, where these represent the oppressed feminine. In her introduction, Woodman (p. 8), describes the physical aspect of the human relationship with Earth, nature, and the body as on of slavery and subjugation. The rising Goddess aspect will no longer tolerate this, as indicated by the dire environmental situation that has resulted from such abuse.

We need to "expand our consciousness" to recognize the reality not only of the earth's and our own physical suffering as a result of our abuse, but also the collective sense of human community that we have divided for far too long.

I believe that, as a society, we are now ready to do this. I believe that we are ready to look beyond the nightmare to the subconscious healing message within the dream. Even if I dream of swallowing the poison of masculine domination, I can use this to assimilate power within myself. I can marry myself to the masculine power and use it to enhance the divinity within me. This sense of integrated Self could be an important aspect within psychotherapy; where individuals are taught to reconcile rather than eliminate an opposite that remains part of life. Life has never been only masculine or feminine. It is by the integration of both aspects that we become truly human.

In practical terms, this means that much individual and collective work is needed. However, I believe that, more than…[continue]

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