Do this dream sound familiar?
"There is a man chasing me. I can't see his face, but he is right behind me and I am desperately trying to get away from him."
Or how about this one?
"I'm trying to finish a painting and I need only one color to complete it. I can't find it anywhere but then this man shows up and gives me the exact color I need to complete the project."
Both of the above dreams typical of the 'animus'--the male part of the female consciousness that usually remains unconscious. When I use the word "male" I mean male in the context of the male principle. All beings, regardless of gender, contain both the female and male principles. The female principle is that which is receptive, that which creates. The male principle is that which is active and dynamic, that which is responsible for bringing creation into being.
Both men and women have an unconscious that is the opposite of their gender--these are called the anima and animus. Both the anima and animus have positive and negative qualities. And for both men and women, a major step toward individuation is that of integrating, or accepting the anima/animus. We can see where we are in the process by looking at our dreams and seeing how the opposite sex is behaving in our dreams.
The integration of the anima/animus is often one of the most difficult of the individuation processes, largely because we confuse the inner opposite genders with the genders we encounter in the outer world.
Take the animus, for example. Many women have had negative associations with the male gender. Women may have been brought up by absent fathers at best or downright abusive ones at worst. When this happens, the male gender becomes confused with the male principle and the male principle becomes distorted. Power is distorted into brute force, taking action is seen as a battle for domination, and so on. As a defense, women take all of what they have seen and attempt to exorcise it from their lives, to cut it off and have no part of something so awful.
But one cannot cut off a part of one's psyche. The male principle still exists, only now it exists and sees itself as the women sees it--as something bad, something unwanted, something worthy of exile. At the same time, it wants to belong and if it can't belong by being loved, it will attempt to belong via possession. Dreams of being chased by men, held hostage by men, having men take something precious from you, being raped, or of a man trying to kill you are often dreams of the negative animus or of animus possession. The animus is acting out and worse, it is acting out in the way it has been programmed to act out--as an abusive entity.
Not only is the animus acting abusively in your dream life, it is acting this way in waking life as well. The part of your psyche that ideally should be helping you on your life path, helping you achieve your goals, helping move you forward, is acting as your enemy. It tells you constantly, "Oh what's the use?" or "You'll never be able to do that!" or "Don't even bother." Worse than that, it attracts you to people (not just men!) and situations that will actively work against you, or that will subtly sabotage your goals and plans.
The animus becomes an aberrant entity not because it is evil, but because it is hurt. It is a part of you that you don't want. It is like a child who is ignored and who does negative things because any attention is better than no attention. The animus may also act out in a negative manner as a means of protection. If power is evil, if having power is bad, if taking action is destructive, then the animus sees empowerment as an act of self-destruction.
The way out of the negative animus is to learn to differentiate the male principle from the male gender. Or better yet, to stop generalizing the negative actions of a human or humans into a blanket comment on the whole of humanity. Active imagination is an excellent technique for learning to do this. (Active imagination will be next week's focus.)
The animus is meant to be a positive force, an archetypal energy designed to help us achieve balance and assist us in making our "great dreams" a part of waking reality. When the animus is acting in a positive manner, this will be reflected in dreams. When dreams shift into those that are symbolic of men helping rather than hindering progress, one knows that the animus is being integrated in a healthy manner. Integration can also be felt and seen in waking life when begins getting excited about life and begins putting one's dreams into a manifested reality. Then the voice shift from "What's the use" to "Why are you laying around the house, let's go do something exciting!"
We also see a positive animus at work when we begin, almost magically, attracting people who open unexpected doors for us, when we suddenly get that job we always wanted, when that book we wrote ten years ago gets published, when we open that art gallery, when we--fill in the blank! When we allow the male principle in its highest form to be a friend, a part of ourselves that guides us and helps bring all our creations to life in our outer waking world then we know we're truly on the path to being an authentic, individuated Self.
Until next time, sleep well and dream out loud!
*~Aisling Ireland~* is an ordained Spiritual Counselor providing dream interpretation and Tarot readings. To make an appointment check out her website at: web.mac.com/aisling.ireland