Archetypes and the gender dichotomy.

Various symbols of gender roles have been popping up recently, in dreams, Tarot and conversation. I found a fantastic book about dream interpretation, Dream Alchemy by Jane Theresa Anderson. It’s a great book. Not only does it walk you through a number of dreams common to humans, it offers useful suggestions for working with what your dreams are telling you. How to use the symbols and feed back positive suggestion to move forward.

As a witch I have no problem with the use of symbols for positive psychological suggestion. As a thinking woman I have no problem with using psychology and ritual to change my life and understanding for the better. Isn’t that what the unconscious is for, to interface with what’s going on at a deeper level and overcome shallow, imposed constructions that try to force you into someone else’s pigeon hole?

In some places this book, as do many others, uses Jung’s archetypes. No problem with Jung, except that he as much as so many other men, was a product of his culture. Unfortunately the same thing holds true of other famous spiritual writers such as Paul Foster Case, Arthur Waite and even Aleister Crowley. The thinking of society at the time was that the masculine had to be logical, light and active energy and the female was the dark, passive, intuitive energy.

This is something of a problem if we’re trying to evolve toward a society where women and men are seen as equally human, rather than men being “more human” or at least more important than women. It’s obviously hugely necessary to see women as human in their own right and not an accessory to men or some necessary evil to provide sex and babies for men.

All people whether male or female have active initiating energies and strong conforming or shaping energies at work in their lives. To characterise a shaping energy as “passive” and therefore “female” contributes to a gender bias that does no one any good. It contributes to the problem rampant in christendom of projecting the shadow onto others and in fear of dealing with the deeper elements of the psychy even making the shadow evil.

To evolve as humans we need to be able to deal first with our own shadows, rather than seeing our own evil in others and then punishing them. We need to balance the forces and archetypes at work in our own psyches, rather than wanting all the “male” ones because we want power over our own (or others’) lives, or wanting the “female” ones because we think we must be submissive to be acceptable in a masculine defined society.

What I’m proposing is not that we throw out archetypes, but that our attachment to constructing psychological, spiritual and energetic archtypes as “male” or “female” under the continuing influence of Victorian era androcentric cultural norms be reconsidered.

Crowley hinted at this when he considered the Tarot trump Strength as a female energy and called it Lust. The kundalini energy in women is equally as strong as in men, it’s an energy common to humans after all. It is the Anglo cultural stereotype that tries to portray men as being necessarily strong and women as weak in order to appeal to the indoctrination of men to take power over others. Should I say illegitimately take power over others…

Because of course every human should have power over their own lives, be responsible for their own lives, in relation to others but not taking power over others. That’s where christendom has embraced Nimrod. The idea of imperial conquest and the construction of dominating power as a good rather than an inappropriate, disrespectful and abusive overstepping of the lines. Yes, it’s about boundaries. Yes, it’s about self-respect and self-determination. And yes, it’s about women being human.


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