I never knew when I would write the next part of my Animus Diet, I only knew I would. So for all you “Jung Dudes” out there who’ve been following my animus journey here’s my latest instalment. I hope you enjoy! As you know I first started my Jungian “inner man” diet back in January 2016 and here in September 2017, as we approach the autumn equinox, after my six month archetypal tarot journey, it feels just right to gather up my pen once more and co-create with my animus. In this article I’m going to explore more key learning experiences since my initial adventures began 18 months ago, where in Part Two last March I met my mother for the first time in 18 years. The number 18, I realise, is an important number for me and one that reappears towards the end of this article in a truly inspiring “animus” dream.
After my last article and visit to my mother, I reflected long on the English poet, Patience Strong. A most important name in my life I feel, as Patience was the first poet my mother introduced me to as a child, by way of gifting me her small poetry books on birthdays and at Christmas. You see, despite much unhappiness during my childhood, words and poems became wonderful friends and a common language shared between me and my mother. I remember how, in quiet moments, she would read Patience’s short poems filled with deep wisdom and beautiful nature descriptions. For this introduction of poetry into my life, I am forever grateful to my mother. Only later in life did I realise that “Patience” and “Strength” were to become two big clues to many inner and outer journeys I would take. Virtues I would need to be develop in equal measure.
Okay back to my animus diet, where for the past year and a half Olive (as in Olive Oyl who I call my skinny feminine side) has been fine dining on my renewed creativity, especially during my oestrogen-rich Tarot journey in the first six months of this year. Deeply fertile, she happily allowed her waistline to expand several inches. By late May, I felt positively pregnant swinging with a divine feminine glow under Odin’s Tree (Hanged Man) where I renewed my wedding vows with an ancient handfasting ceremony. Days of sunshine and glorious walks followed, bliss was aplenty! And as for Brutus (my previously overweight animus), well he certainly cut a dashing figure in his Levis and beautiful white linen shirt. Hand in hand we roamed together all over the ancient Wilshire landscape and around many a divine Stone Circle, such a beautiful couple … the green man and the goddess!
So imagine my surprise one month later when I fell down a rabbit hole and broke my ankle. Having never broken a bone before in my life I was in complete shock! A whole host of lost car dreams followed. After many nights of walking around (in my dreams) I became aware that walking, in contrast to driving, was the true pace of the human soul so instead I began to search for what my soul truly wanted, and it certainly wasn’t my car. I sat still on many a (dreamy) grass bank and silently waited. The virtues of patience and strength came to mind and a realisation that I needed to go on a true “Walkabout” to envision the bigger picture. In the very last dream of my lost car series a young girl asks me to open my purse where inside I found my mobile phone on silent. Intriguing! Only in hindsight did I make the connection.
Twelve days of lying in bed followed as I contemplated what to do next, yet nothing came. I couldn’t read, write or do anything that involved concentration yet my dreams were full of goings-on. Even Jung himself put in an appearance telling me I’ve “given birth to my Fate.” Arggh! I couldn’t make sense of any of it! My tarot journey continued, yet it was as though, following my visit to Odin’s tree, the Hanged Man himself had marked a waiting period in my life. Interestingly I was led to Donald Kalsched when he appeared in a subsequent dream with a small boy in tow. I had no idea who he was until I woke and googled the name he gave. In pure synchronicity that same morning a fellow twitter friend posted an article about his work on trauma. I ordered his book the same day, which I read with gusto, loving his theory of the “self-care system” which has been an invaluable addition to my Jungian inspired lens.
As I penned the World and finished my tarot journey, I felt joyous and ran into summer’s open arms, walked woods, over fells, and up and down (slowly with my ankle brace!) many a hillside, to stop and pick flowers, admire butterflies and sing as, when I’m happy, I love to walk and sing! Ah, I remember thinking, I have returned to Gaia. We spent the summer at a famous poet’s house with views of an inspiring mountain range. Heaven is definitely a place called Mother Earth! My negative animus was far, far away, or so I thought until one day, in the woods, I saw him staring down in the form of a magnificent yet menacing looking raven. I recognised him immediately, and knew he had been shadowing my journey. Was he an ill-fated sign, a bad omen I wondered? I hoped not.
Then it happened. Ten weeks after I had first broken my ankle, I broke it again, the same one. I couldn’t believe it! So back to bed I go with my foot elevated and me scratching my head in utter disbelief. The pain and fracture were worse than the first time. I cried daily with the pain, misery and frustration of it all, praying I wouldn’t need surgery on my ankle. Okay I thought, what the hell was going on?! At a loss I turned to my animus notebook and began to read. I read all about how the summer was an open, moving, breathing, living dream of self-nurturance, self-love and deep healing and how I was literally floating through my days despite having three successive dreams of a caged wizard, a yelling, screaming shaman and a furious bank manager.
As I read the sentence, “The Animus is a Latin word that means “the rational soul; life; the mental powers, intelligence” it slowly dawned on me that I hadn’t been paying attention to my financial affairs and was behind several months on my accounts, neglecting to renew an important membership and prepare myself for a business audit which was due to take place in the next three weeks. Suddenly the meaning of my silent mobile phone dream dawned on me, I had muted my own animus. Yes, I had neglected him and was deeply shocked to think that my once fat, overweight animus in the form of Brutus was now so lean and skinny he was struggling to be heard. And Olive? Well Olive was stuffed full and daily taking on a rounder appearance. I had been so focussed on putting my animus on a diet that I hadn’t realised I was actually starving him. Last year he had started the diet overweight and was now painfully thin, in fact he experienced the incarnations of both Laurel and Hardy and had become completely unbalanced in the process of change!
It was time to put things right, so I sat down and pulled out the neglected yet necessary paperwork, which covered the entire bed, and slowly began. On that first day each task seemed impossible – the story of Baba Yaga and Vasillila (which I had read in Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes) arose in my mind, for unachievable tasks were certainly the order of my day. It was like someone had tipped a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle into my lap and told me I had just 2 hours to finish it! Thankfully, in the end it all turned out well and somehow (miraculously!) I completed my tasks in time, teaching me a valuable balancing lesson, for either fat or thin, my animus was out of balance. Later, I turned to my notebook and read, “Listen deeply, give up the old life and die unto yourself, then and only then will you regenerate.” Yes, I’m thinking today but please can my psyche provide me with a set of inner weighing scales so that I will never forget to balance out my feminine and masculine aspects again!
Where was all of this leading I wondered? The answer came in the form of a dream. Last weekend I dreamt that I met my positive animus. I’m eighteen years old (that magical number!) and I’m in the pub with friends, waiting for my boyfriend to arrive. The party is in full swing as I watch the door open and David Bowie walks in. He comes straight over to me, our eyes lock, there are no words. I put both arms around his slim waist, he pulls me in close and slowly we begin to dance. The dance is slow, powerful and deep. David whispers, “You’re my living dream, you know that don’t you.” I wake up almost crying with joy! For deep within the mystery of my dream, I felt the sacred marriage was revealed to me, whilst I was led to a “new man” within.
First of all, let me give you some words I would use to describe David Bowie: heathen, spiritual, poet, genius, devoted, animus, starman, soul, integrated, androgynous, original, and divine. Christ-like, deep, sexy and wild all wrapped up in one. In the dream (like life) it was a long wait before me and my animus came together for “that” dance and his slim waist did not go unnoticed by me!
I’m onto google as soon as I wake, with his words “living dream” still echoing in my ears, and discover that “When I Live my Dream” was one of Bowie’s early songs back in 1967. Whilst listening to the lyrics I couldn’t help but make the connection between my animus’s desire to be in a balanced relationship with me and how recently I had placed him on “mute”. In Bowie’s song he is heartbroken by the separation from his love and will only be happy when he reunites with her in his dreams. I know that when I live my dream it is always when I’m in deep relationship with my creativity … more synchronicity! I realised that my dream had been a slow, powerful, deep dance with the animus. “Perhaps it’s time to write part three of my animus diet” I remember thinking. I felt called, supported and guided back to my pen by David. The way in which he pulled me close spoke of a deep, deep trusting bond, that we belong together, we’re the same. Twin flames, twin souls, call us what you will, it was a wild night! And even if nothing ever goes right with my words again, I know I am deeply loved by my animus.
Oh let’s dance, for only then will we live our dream! The glint in his eye, the way he moved me, I’m off to spin more Bowie now. Of course I should have guessed that David would turn up in my dream as an animus figure, for at my wedding many years ago as I walked down the aisle with my partner “Heroes” was the music and melody that played us out. Everyone was dancing, clapping, beaming with love and happiness for us. As I’m writing now, I look up and sing to David “Look down here I’m in heaven!”….a zillion thank yous to my Starman, my Jung Dude! Just like Bowie transformed the pop scene, he’s transformed my psyche too! Jung and Bowie are deeply connected I’m sure, for I remember reading that he had a deep interest in Jung and had attended when The Red Book was exhibited for the very first time in New York back in 2009. Coincidentally that was the same year I met Jung again for the second time … or is that synchronicity too?
I love the word “androgynous” and of course neither Jung nor Bowie were the first to recognise we are both male and female, for that was recognised in ancient times. Yet the process of integrating the opposites within seems to have been part of both of their “great” works and mine, I realise, too. Much like the tarot journey (another walkabout!) I recognise that, through my animus diet, I have been following the snaking path home of the mystic fool towards wholeness and individuation. Meditation is one of the ways in which I have often experienced the state of inner androgyny, of the inner balance of male and female or anima and animus. In the meditative state I lose sense of gender, a fusion of all aspects of myself that takes place within and this feeling brings great equanimity and wholeness.
At the end of this stage in my animus journey I feel my earthy, patient, receptive feminine side welcome and honour her animus’s courage, analytical thought, strength, focused attentiveness and desire for achievement. As for my ankle, it grows stronger with much patience still required during the growing (healing) season. I have an idea that the break happened in order for the genuine masculine and genuine feminine to come through, and for me to further reconcile the opposites within.
Where next I ponder? With my workbench now cleared, I don’t know exactly, yet I’m sure there will be a deeper connection to my creativity. Here with the autumn equinox drawing closer I feel I’m standing at the threshold of who I am and who I’m becoming. So let the goddess and the green man gather this year’s harvest and be conscious of what they’re leaving behind. Rumi writes, “Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.” Pay attention to your dreams dear poets, for in a dark time as we know, the eye begins to see. I leave you with one of my favourite Patience Strong poems that I treasured in my childhood. Much love, Blessed Be, Deborah.
NB: If you’ve enjoyed reading my Animus Diet, nine hundred nights later, here’s the final part: Food for the Soul: The Animus Diet
If You Stand Very Still
If you stand very still in the heart of a wood
you will hear many wonderful things-
the snap of a twig, the wind in the trees,
and the whirr of invisible wings.
If you stand very still in the turmoil of life
and wait for the voice from within-
you’ll be led down the quiet ways of wisdom and peace
in a mad world of chaos and din.
If you stand very still and you hold to your faith
you will get all the help that you ask.
You will draw from the silence the things you need
-hope and courage, and strength for your task.
By Patience Strong
Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2017
Header Image Credit: Justin de Villeneuve
Second Image Credit: Bruce Weber
© Deborah Gregory 2021. This essay forms part of a much longer series which includes my four part Animus Diet, Divine Hermaphrodite and In the Name of Sophia essays and poems which are presently being gathered to create a new book later this year – Jungian Archives