“In each of us two powers preside, one male, one female … The androgynous mind is resonant and porous … naturally creative, incandescent and undivided.” ~ Virginia Woolf
For everything there is a season and mine is late spring, May to be exact. It’s my favourite month of the year in which the wedding of the Goddess and the Green Man takes place. The Goddess symbolises the manifestation of growth and renewal. She is the embodiment of the energy of the earth. The Green Man symbolises the life that grows on earth. They cannot exist without each other. The perfect time, I felt, for sharing the next part of my “In the Name of Sophia” series, as they come together in a beautiful embrace. In this second essay I will be exploring last year’s protests and pandemic in light of Sophia, updating you on my Animus Diet, before reflecting on “Becoming Sophian”, all with a nod to Jung.
Wisdom takes work. It takes years and years of searching, patience, and devotion. However, if it’s valuable to us, in the end we will find it and, much like the Goddess, find ourselves pregnant with new life. The awe, the mystery, the unknowing are part of this journey too, often beyond words. An example of this came to me as I sat in my garden today, with peonies preparing to burst into bloom. I reflected on how, on my journey, my longing for wisdom has brought me a vast yet ever-changing library, where no longer needed books are willingly released for others to enjoy whilst creating space for the new. This willingness to accept there’s a time for birth, death and everything in-between is, hopefully, helping me release what no longer serves and creating more space for Sophia.
In a Time of Pandemic and Protest
Unlike many, staying at home during lockdown came naturally to me as an introvert. My home and garden became more of a sanctuary than ever. During the first lockdown in March last year, I was delighted to press pause on work for the first time in my adult life. Reacquainting myself with my wife, garden, Mother Nature and soul brought out a deep nurturing side to my personality, as I walked, cycled, gardened, wrote poems and dreamt loads! Holding high the lamp of love, I was able to tune in to the steady rise and fall of nature’s breath. For a moment, the outside world became the inside world and I was home. A profound dream I had at this time was one of giving birth to twins which you’ll hear more about later.
The pandemic seemed to come hot on the heels of climate disaster, where floods and wild fires were wreaking havoc in a world dominated by those who did next to nothing to protect Her. Mother Earth seemed to be silently suffering until the coronavirus took the headlines by storm! Worldwide, national lockdowns and “exercise hours” quickly came into force and suddenly millions of people were outdoors enjoying the beauty and splendour of woodlands, mountains and beaches, honouring nature in a way I hadn’t seen in my life before. For me the earth became a warm mattress beneath my feet, where going “out” for a walk, was really going “in” for a walk. I remember looking up to those plane free skies in wonder!
Then came a summer of protests following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. His dying words, “I can’t breathe”, became the rallying cry for overwhelmingly peaceful protests organised by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. After attending a local “socially distanced” BLM protest myself, I was deeply moved by its peaceful, non-violence stance. Two months ago, in March 2021, Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered on her way home in London, by another police officer. Unable to attend a vigil due to lockdown restrictions, like many, I left a lit candle on my doorstep in remembrance of Sarah and as my own peaceful protest. Much like the Women’s March on Washington in 2017, peaceful protest requires and unites both (positive) masculine and feminine energies, or “unity consciousness” as it’s also referred to, in stark contrast to the (negative) angry mob rule, anti-lockdown rallies being held across the world.
Returning to 2020, by autumn I noticed that social media platforms had become infected with toxic online wars and threats being made against all kinds of protest around gender conversations. The old wounds between the masculine and feminine or “problem of the opposites” as Jung would call it, where each side of the opposite was being favoured while the other side was being dismissed, seemed to be opening up for all to see, as many vitriolic battles ensued. All parties went at it ‘hammer and tongs’, stirring up the gender war to fever pitch. And here we were in the middle of a pandemic, I thought, feeling overwhelmed by all the negativity and wanting to protest at the loss of middle ground in these matters.
That was until I experienced a sharp intake of light, as my wife calls it, which finally led me to encounter Sophia and Her regenerative energy, by asking myself this one question … were my own inner masculine and feminine conflicts mirroring these outer conflicts? YES, came the resounding reply! And so, all thanks to the outer conflicts, my attention was bought back to my inner ones as my ego finally acknowledged what my soul already knew. For the conflicts buried deep within myself were being reflected back to me via social media. At last I understood my attraction to androgyny through my desire to psychologically and spiritually transition my gender to a more harmonious relationship between my masculine and feminine sides.
Five Years on the Animus Diet
So how is the Animus Diet going I hear you ask? Well on the whole pretty good, although sometimes on a physical level I forget and allow my animus to feed me more sugar and fat than my body actually needs! I mention this because the body cannot be ignored on the path to individuation – for nothing will feel right until the body and soul reunite, meeting at the stillpoint. Creatively, it’s been a busy time following last year’s midsummer night’s “desk” dream that guided me to create my second poetry collection, The Shepherd’s Daughter. Then, just when I thought the muses would finally let me put my feet up, a profound “twin” dream sent me scurrying down a Jungian rabbit hole in search of a new, third book. Hopefully, all this creative activity has been balanced out in recent years by devoting more time outdoors than usual.
For those interested, following on from my Animus Diet, I visited my mother three more times in subsequent years, again all thanks to one sister letting me know what was happening in my family. Any pain, anger and sadness had long since departed as I spent hours talking to her about her life, my life and everything in between. On my last visit I read her my poem “Dear Mother, Dear Father” which was a truly healing moment for both of us! Perhaps I’ll see her again, perhaps I won’t. I’m happy and accept this is the best outcome I could hope for, as we reconciled with each other after eighteen years of estrangement. Years of estrangement that enabled me to find myself in ways I could not have done if I had remained in contact. Intuitively, I got the feeling that my mother knew this too, for the knowing smile she gave me as I said goodbye was astonishing … beyond words!
Okay, back to that “twin” dream. Nine months ago on 1st August 2020, I dreamt that I gave birth to twins with the help of an androgynous looking midwife. They broke my waters just before the babies were birthed together, with their light and dark arms and legs wrapped tightly around each other. In the dream I remember thinking, “Oh, they look just like the silver yin/yang ring I wore as a teenager. The boy was light skinned, sturdy and blonde haired, the girl dark skinned, delicate looking and dark haired. The boy talked loudly, the girl talked telepathically. Talk about opposites!
I woke up filled with a sense of awe and, as my wife was still sleeping, I went straight into an active imagination for fear of losing the dream’s essence. What came out of that dialogue could fill another book but the main points seemed to be about how opposites can offer the world guidance. I remember the boy saying, “because of your work you have dreamt us into being, mother”. What this dream highlighted most for me was the reality of having a feminine and masculine side and how each differed yet balanced out the other. The emergence of the “living” yin/yang symbol from my body, with each light and dark twin embracing, was incredible to witness! In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “Everything is gestation and then bringing forth.” Thus patience is the master key to all creative life.
The wisdom I’ve gained from the Animus Diet has been invaluable and, for me, proves the reality of a person having both masculine and feminine sides, alongside the ability to find our own balance between these aspects. Going over and over the work patiently throughout winter proved deeply rewarding, as the transitional space between my Anima and Animus became filled with the presence of Sophia. Today, as I turn my lens towards androgyny and meet the Divine Hermaphrodite, I realise that we are all sacred mirrors, reflections of the Goddess Sophia. If only we would look beyond the surface, to deeper within. I feel that this is the beauty of inner work, as decades later, deeper and deeper meanings will reveal themselves, much like Chinese boxes, there’ll be another box within, and so the mystical game continues.
At twelve years of age I got my first glimpse through the Sophian portal of “Orlando”, a novel by Virginia Woolf. The book describes the adventures of a poet who one night changes sex and becomes their opposite gender. As I slipped the book under my pillow I prayed that I too could change sex on waking. Why? Because growing up lesbian wasn’t possible in my family or in the rural community I lived in, unless I was prepared to face abuse, narrow-mindedness and prejudice. Back then my need to belong far overshadowed my soul’s calling, yet thankfully today those feelings of wanting to change sex and being attracted yet repulsed (as a child) by androgyny have finally made sense. For Sophia came a-calling, only I had no idea!
Even becoming a single parent decades later and having to be both “mother” and “father” to my children, now feels like it was all part of learning Sophia’s wisdom. I’m still left with more questions than answers, but that’s okay as “Desperately Seeking Sophia” feels more like a mystical quest these days, as I continue to search for answers while sitting with the questions. At the heart of this matter I believe lies the ancient wound between men and women as still the war continues above and below! If only we could stop and see the truth that psychologically and spiritually we are neither, and both.
Surely, we’re all somewhere different on the gender continuum, which is impossible to chart because humans are not static and so we’ll move along it throughout our lives. When I look at my Jungian studies holistically, I can see that five years ago writing the Animus Diet opened the first of many doors to wisdom for me through sharing my personal stories … such is the power of story! I hope that by sharing a few of my own experiences, in contrast to offering non personal stories, they have helped others to gain a sense of my journeying towards Sophia, as I travelled from naivety to wisdom and back again many times, with my psyche’s ongoing push for individuation and drive for union.
If, after reading through my work, you would like to explore your own masculine and feminine sides, first ask yourself how your animus and anima are doing. Is one overweight? Is the other underweight? It may help you to take a look at my Animus Diet essays and get acquainted with how these wonderful archetypes work. Previously, I nicknamed my animus “Brutus” and my anima “Olive”, characters taken from the Popeye cartoon but today I see them more like “Iman” and “David Bowie”, as they were together, each powerful in their own right, each happy with both masculine and feminine sides of themselves. It’s all about that connection really! That connection to ourselves and others.
A Nod to Jung
But what is the resolution? … To give birth to the ancient in a new time … The task is to give birth to the old in a new time.” ~ Carl Jung
Near the end of Carl Jung’s life he wrote in his Black Book diaries that it was the vital task of our age to “remember Sophia”. Here, I offer but a tiny glimpse of the Goddess Herself. She, who I believe, seeks to return to the world, anew, offering us all a sacred path to the future. Slowly, I feel that I’m coming to know and love Sophia, and will never be the same because of Her! And with a final nod to Jung, let me conclude that, by writing these essays and dreaming of giving birth to a “living” Yin/Yang symbol, it has certainly felt like I was giving birth to the ancient in a new time.
In pure synchronicity with Jung’s quote in mind, my laptop broke at the start of February so I had to write both Sophian themed essays by hand and type them up later, which also felt like “giving birth to the old in a new time” as I returned to pen and notebook for the first time in twenty years! Another essay in itself! It took a while to get back into the rhythm of writing by hand but after a few days I even looked forward to the task. I’m hoping that my laptop will be fixed by the time I write my concluding poem to this series but if not, well, my creative imagination has been sharpened and is ready to go!
Wishing you all a Blessed Beltane. May we all dance at the wedding of the Goddess and Her Green Man. May we all find Sophia in their beautiful embrace. Here at the end, I leave you with the image that inspired me to write this series, one that perfectly illustrates my heart’s journey of love on the way to my own Inner Marriage. Dancing ecstatically in each other’s arms are David and Iman who, much like Sophia, lit a way in the dark, long ago, for us all to follow. Love and light, Deborah.
© Deborah Gregory 2021. This essay forms part of a much longer series which includes my four part Animus Diet, Divine Hermaphrodite and three part In the Name of Sophia essays and poems which are currently being gathered to create a new book later this year – Jungian Archives
Image credit: “Sophia” 1989 – Acrylic on Canvas, Alex Grey. Photo credit: Ellen Von Unwerth 2003 – courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger.
NB: A friend has just messaged to let me know they’ve lost their entire comment. How annoying so please take the precaution of copying your reply into a word document before posting. Perhaps also try refreshing this page before you post, especially if the WordPress captcha code is playing up. Deep sigh! Hope that works.