Journey of Love: The Animus Diet

The Animus Diet

“Okay, that’s it, I’m putting my fat animus on a post-holiday diet! For too long now he’s been aggressively stuffing me full of sugar and fat and making me feel, well, quite ill, if not tired most of the time …”

© Deborah Gregory 2016 – Extract taken from new essay
Image Credit: Google Images

© Deborah Gregory 2016 – Extract taken from Soror Mystica: Balancing the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine which will be published on January 6th, 2023, under the resplendent light of the Full Wolf Moon. 

24 thoughts on “Journey of Love: The Animus Diet

  1. I don’t see many comments from the guys, so if I may, I just wanted to say . . . this is an absolutely brilliant article.

    You have married the opposites here – heart feeling and head knowledge – and I am very much inspired. I will be sharing this far and wide.

    Thanks again!

    1. Thank you so much Bob for your truly great comment and for sharing my Jungian themed article with your friends. It’s simply wonderful to get a man’s feedback on this subject! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed reading all about the Animus and a woman’s relationship with him, and hopefully more.

      Please enjoy reading the comments below, they’re so rich and reflective on the subject too. If you’re interested, I’ve included a Part Two link at the end of this article and Part Three (which I’m really looking forward too!) will be written after I’ve finished my current Tarot series. Warm wishes, Deborah.

  2. Hi Deborah, how much I enjoyed reading your article. And it is such a lovely coincidence that yesterday I wrote a case study about a dream with the animus as theme and I really like the conscious way you are dealing with the animus energy. I can not wait until I read more about how your play with the animus (to should I say dance? It is like the cha-cha-cha, the energy interacts and there is synergy.

    1. Thank you so much Susanne for your rich reflections and wonderful feedback. If you would like to read more I’ve posted a link to ‘The Animus Diet – Part Two’ at the end of this article … for what happened next took me by complete surprise! I’m hoping to write the next chapter on my animus journey after I’ve finished my ongoing ‘poetry of the tarot’ journey. Love your cha-cha-cha! Will take a look at your article. Warm wishes, Deborah.

  3. Another excellent post, Deborah. I really need to read up on this, such an interesting concept! And I especially loved the line, “…psychological fulfillment, spiritual growth, and comfortable jeans.” I love your writing! I definitely have two opposite voices that war against each other in my head daily. The one that is calm, collected, and confident. The other that is hot-headed, chaotic, and full of self-deprecation. I am trying to nurture the former more and more, but I can’t ignore the other parts of myself, the more I ignore that other more destructive part, the more tension builds up inside of me, until one day I just explode.

    I bought a book today on meditation and mindfulness. I have had the suspicion for a long time that stress has wreaked havoc on my brain, slowly but surely I feel my memory failing and my ability to quickly learn new things is not what it used to be. I’m only thirty-one. I’ve read that meditation can help repair the brain. The book I bought is called, “Mindfullness In Plain English” by Bhante Gunaratana. He brings up some excellent points about the benefits of mindullness and how meditation helps us achieve insight into ourselves and our place in the universe. I’m excited to try it out. I never really took meditation seriously and felt like it was too close to prayer for me to be enticed to try it, but I feel lately that I am distracting myself too much from my reality. I am pushing aside all the bad things and trying to escape into a world of avoidance and fantasy. That is not really living and occassionally, when reality hits me it is incredibly depressing. I feel like this dialogue you have with your two animus is like this practice of mindfullness, in that you are paying attention to even the negative side because you know there is more to you than just the good. Thank you for sharing and Best of Wishes!–Lindsey V

    1. Thank you so much Lindsey for your sharing your wonderful and thought-provoking observations. You describe well the negative process of feeding and fattening up our shadow sides by ignoring that ‘other’ voice within. Jung recommends that we neither give the shadow free reign nor try to suppress it. We need to simply recognise that these movements are within us and are part of our internal dynamics – he advises us to accept them, without trying to cure them, recommending that cultivating a sense of paradox is best.

      If you’re interested in studying the shadow side of yourself further I would highly recommend: ‘How To Befriend Your Shadow: Welcoming Your Unloved Side’ by John Monbourquette. Maybe check out the book reviews on Amazon and see if it works for you. With the animus I’ve discovered that the two sides of mine also greatly differ in age. The poet within is in his early twenties and the articulate politician, his early fifties. That said, the angry teenage boy within still occasionally explodes onto the scene.

      I love the sound of your book and will look it up later for sure! I agree, sitting quietly and ‘going within’ is a great way to practice mindfulness yet even spiritual work (however defined) can create imbalance if ‘life’ itself is avoided. Time and time again I am met with the simple truth and task of learning how to hold the tension of the opposites within. Presently, I’m having to do this by fattening up my skinny feminine side whilst slimming down that overweight animus! Warm greetings, Deborah.

  4. This is funny and fascinating, Deborah. Altogether terrific with such a great mix of teaching ideas and practical applications. I never ever think of my positive animus as the hungry one. He saves me by being more interested in ideas and vitality than the momentary pleasure of sweets–but there is another animus voice associated not with my father or with my husband, but with my mother’s negative animus. That dude and I have a constant battle going on. (Some of those early Jungian comments about the animus are crushing, by the way. I’m so glad we’re doing better at talking about the positive side of the animus.)

    My mother’s (and now my) buddy is more than a little judgmental and punitive in his thinking when I don’t tow the line and follow the rules. This invariably happens in December and January. It’s so dark and cold. Wouldn’t this little bite of chocolate make me feel better? Or this big bite? When Vic was very ill and I was worn out by the support he needed, I had a dream of trying to take in the wounded feminine by swallowing her. Mouth wide open as I reached for the starving girl baby’s head. Oh my…

    I often dream about the workshop Jeanie and I will do. This week I’ll write about dreams that came up when we first met after eleven years to plan our workshop. In a more recent dream when I had little to offer, dream Jeanie showed up with many masks with many feathers. We had such a good time with the masks and imagining how to use them. Dream me said, “We also need a good animus mask.” And we do. With abundant intuitions and dreams and images flying around, the workshop planning had demanded our strong positive animus energy to focus the energy, pay attention to time, and make sure our mythological and dream food is nutritious.

    But let’s keep that guy on a diet so he remembers this is a workshop being created by two strong women and he is not running the show. I’ll enjoy this animus idea for a long time, Deborah. Thank you so much.

    1. What a terrific and rich reply! Thank you so very much Elaine. My notebook is getting fast packed with funny moments as me and my animus are having some ‘entertaining’ hours since I first started this diet. Alongside the occasional screaming match and lots of downright sulking going on. Ha-ha! I’ll save those episodes for part two.

      Sadly, I can relate (all too well!) with the constant clashing of my mother’s negative animus. ‘That dude’ is a great way to introduce him. I love that, as it separates him out from the other animus figures. I agree, exploring both sides of the animus is vital, otherwise we suffer deeply the loss, trust and faith of our inner masculine sides.

      My animus also seems to ‘come into his own’ during the dark days of winter. Mine usually starts his trouble mid-November when I find myself throwing all caution to the wind and begin overindulging with sweet, sugary, sickly foods. I also stop being so physically active as I put my bicycle away and stop swimming. In those times when he rules supreme, my writing becomes tight, and inflexible.

      Thank you for sharing your insightful dream of ‘swallowing your wounded feminine.’ How amazingly accurate, and to the point the psyche is! In my own journals these past seven winters I have recorded many dreams in which muscle-bound men and soldiers have thrown me into small cells and beaten me up. In light of this Animus Diet, the deeper meaning to those dreams in particular are becoming more obvious.

      I fully appreciate how you’re focussing on creating ‘strong positive animus energy’ for your approaching workshop with Jeanie (which is going to be incredible, I just know it!) and love how you treasure the whole seminar (both delivery and planning) … ‘to make sure the animus is not running the show.’ Never! Not with two incredibly wise, loving women, who are filled to the brim, with the soul’s available healing crone energy.

      You’re my spurs and inspiration! Love and blessings, Deborah.

  5. This is such an amazing piece of writing on the animus and a wonderfully refreshing way of looking at how women can lose weight – physically and psychologically! For me I know that my animus was so in control in the first half of my life – it helped me survive to a degree when I was working in a very male dominated environment, however, he was urged on by that environment to climb the corporate ladder and succeed and I allowed him to run rampant within me in trying to do just that….resulting in burn out.

    In mid-life I have started to tame him – by taking on a career that is more of a vocation and supportive to the feminine aspect. He was still useful to me when I set up my business, however, when I started to run away with ideas, striving to achieve, work long hours again I realised I needed to reel him in and take a more balanced approach. In doing work that I love, that supports others, I feel I am connecting more to my feminine instincts. By factoring in time to walk in nature, be creative and do exercise I enjoy in a non-competitive way it has helped me to feel happier and fitter. By being happier I know I become healthier and lighter both physically and psychologically – I have more energy to do things and I do them in a far more positive yet feminine influenced way if you get my drift! As a strong believer in the mind-body connection therefore it is really important for me to keep my animus in balance otherwise his desires and expectations end up causing me stress and that certainly leads to ill health!!

    Ahh now I have rambled on enough – its a really good article Deborah and certainly reminds me more not to let my animus take over my life again!! Definitely a subject for a book and, with your understanding and clear way of explaining it all, you are the person to write it!!

    1. Wow! Thank you so much Sophia for totally engaging with my article! Having never worked in a male-dominated environment before I imagine that in order to fit in, and climb the corporate ladder, a woman would have to consider becoming ‘one of the boys.’ How strong and powerful your animus became before the feminine side wreaked her punishing revenge and brought you to ‘burn out.’

      It looks as if that your change of career started balancing out of those inner archetypes, and ‘plumped up’ your inner feminine in the process! How valuable your animus was though to help you set up your new business. That’s a great example of the positive animus. I agree, the secret is keeping an eye on him to make sure things don’t go, ‘belly-up’ in his favour again.

      ‘Exercising in a more feminine, less competitive way,’ Oh I love that and what a difference that really makes. In recent weeks (especially when I’m swimming) I’ve noticed how my body immerses itself in joyous pleasure. Many thanks for sharing your supportive, (and lovely) rambling thoughts. Warm greetings, Deborah.

  6. I sped read this the other day Deborah but now I have re-read it properly and am digesting. It’s inspired me to be more conscious and spiritually aware of how the battle continues with that *&%^$%$ animus.

    A way I like to look at my battle is gaining lightness instead of eg losing weight .. the emphasis changes from loss to gain … and also, just to play on words – the word diet contains die in it and tied – who wants those ties any longer? The tide is turning!

    I so enjoyed this post thank you so much – and I’m honestly inspired.

    1. I love your word play Susan! You’ve inspired me further as the tide (diet) is definitely turning. ‘Lightness instead of weight,’ absolutely … I no longer wish to be tied (diet) to my animus’ ravenous hunger for control. In four weeks the changes are subtle, yet there is a certain ‘grace’ within me that I have not felt for a long time. I hope that makes sense. Thank you so much for your wonderful reply, may the gains, losses of this Animus Diet continue. Blessings, Deborah.

  7. Deborah, this is a new book. Your ideas are highly publishable. If not a book, a published paper. Your advance knowledge in this field and personal narrative makes compelling reading. This is why you are an outstanding poet. A great cartoon, I recognised my own animus immediately. High-impact writing. Wonderful and inspirational article. All the best, Liz.

    1. Oh thank you so much Liz for such a positive reply and your kind-hearted words, truly appreciated. I’m going to see how part two goes and take it from there. Although I must say, your support and praise is greatly encouraging! So pleased you enjoyed the cartoon, and that visually, it also worked for you. Warm greetings, Deborah.

  8. Dear Deborah, what a fascinating and enjoyable read, with plenty to ponder and chuckle about! Great post! I’ve heard of Jung’s animus and anima before, but I couldn’t remember what these terms referred to, so thanks for the clarifications. I’m wondering, is there any link between a woman’s animus and her father, and vice versa, between a man’s anima and his mother? An concept that perhaps overlaps with the animus/anima is Schulz von Thunn’s idea of the “inner team”, namely, the various inner voices we have going on in our heads, with their specific “personalities”. Loved the cartoon! It does make you wonder 😉 Love & blessings, Sam 🙂

    1. Dear Sam, thank you so much for your wonderful reply, it’s always lovely to hear from you. Yes, the development of the animus/anima are deeply connected to a woman’s relationship with her father, and the anima to a man’s mother. Hmm, perhaps I should of written ‘father-wound’ then.

      I believe Jung often referenced the mythology surrounding the Greek Goddess Athena to describe how a woman became animus-possessed. Her birth being unique in that she did not have a mother. Instead, she was to spring full grown and clad in armour from her father’s (Zeus) forehead.

      I shall check out Schultz von Thunn and his ‘inner team. Thank you, I love exploring new ideas. Ha-ha! So glad you also connected to the humour within the post, cartoon had me chuckling away too! I hope the day finds you well. 🙂 Blessings always, Deborah. 🙂

  9. Well Deborah, I don’t quite know what to say!!! That was an amazing article!!
    I didn’t expect you to write about it so soon, I thought I’d have to wait another month or so.
    I just googled “animus diet” and you know it’s never, ever been written about before, why not write “the book” because it’s a diet that costs a woman nothing yet gives a woman everything. More than everything actually. As you say it’s a win-win situation.
    I recognise my type of animus only wants me to eat one apple a day. He’s definitely getting too big for his boots at the minute but it’s funny I never thought of my masculine side becoming fat but it does makes sense. He also eats the opposite way round to your speedy gonzales wolf animus, more sloth like, my mom is always complaining how slowly I eat my dinner. Wowee!! Seriously think about writing a book on this!
    Lol! I chuckled at the cartoon, it’s funny and a great way of showing us what an inflated animus looks like.
    What a great idea sending him off for a weekend with his mates.
    “The wardrobe and the animus” there’s another book, I totally get that! Like many women I’ve kept smaller clothes just in case but to lose more weight I know I would look awful. I need to seriously “plump up my feminine side” I’ve decided and eat more, much more…..this really brings home how unbalanced the animus is in me.
    There’s so much to grasp, I’m going to need to reread this a few more times.
    I think my year of becoming a woman is about to start!!!
    Yay! 2016 for the Animus Diet, excellent piece.

    1. Oh I do love your enthusiasm Claire! Thank you so much for reading and commenting on this article, I fully appreciate it’s a long one. Actually, I think it’s my longest blog post to date. Yes, I wasn’t going to write for another couple of weeks about my ongoing animus diet but today I had an unexpected afternoon, free from work stuff and decided okay, it seems like today’s the day to write that post.

      A book? How terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I did my research and nothing like an ‘Animus Diet’ has been written about before. Hmm, let’s see how it goes. It breaks my heart to hear women say an apple a day is all they can bear to eat, if that. Similarly, when another woman is gorging on food. I feel a woman’s relationship to her body is vital and I’m learning that the animus plays a huge role … more than I ever realised.

      Ha-ha! The cartoon is great. Ah! I said there’s my animus! That’s exactly what’s going on for me “on the inside.” Like an interior picture of my psyche. I desperately need to plump up my feminine side. I love your 2016 “Year of the Woman” challenge, maybe that’s what this article is all about really. If you like do join in and trial the diet with me. I’m keeping a journal to record how the 12 weeks unravel and what I learn about myself during them.

      I’m recording my dreams in the journal too as I search for more insight into my inner-man. For example, last night in my dream, a completely naked man came and sat next to me in an empty chair during a Jungian conference I was attending. Looking forward to seeing more of him in the weeks to come. Warm winter wishes, Deborah.

      1. I’m in complete agreement with Jean, this work is really important.
        A book from your experiences would be amazing!!!
        Ok I’ll tag along, thank goodness it’s not horrible cabbage soup!!
        Honestly Deborah, this kind of diet could change women’s lives forever.
        Maybe a book could be written for the anima too??…….

        1. Ha-ha! ‘Horrible cabbage soup’ … you do make me laugh! Yes, I’ve already thought of the Anima Diet. Both would take lots of work, so maybe a combined book? Have a great day, happy writing dear poet.

  10. Dear Deborah,

    I’m so impressed with your inner work. This is refreshing, wise, wonderful, and spot on! A perfect example of thinking psychologically and living spiritually. And desperately needed for women who grew up being fed with a Barbie doll mentality then told how to lose weight with a diet mentality. Neither works for women because neither is about respecting our authentic femininity and recognizing and reining in our dominant masculinity.

    Your discussion of the animus is perfect: recognizing his critical, bullying voice is essential. And the creative activities and rituals you’ve devised to balance him with your feminine side are also perfect. It’s not enough to think our way through a dysfunctional old habit and into a newer healthier one; we have to plan and act! Eliciting help from our animus in this way is an example of channeling his strengths in the best interest of our whole selves.

    I’m very glad to see that you’re studying and taking notes and keeping careful records of what you’re doing. Planning, clarifying and recording are excellent ways to strengthen the positive aspects of our animus energy. Yours is definitely a combination of 2nd and 3rd stage animus moving decidedly into the territory of the 4th.

    I see the seeds of a book in this. I really do. An important one!

    Warmest blessings to you,


    1. Dear Jeanie, thank you so much for your inspiring reply. I am deeply touched by your generous gift of words. Oh happy days! You describe well the impossible Barbie doll standards and mentality with which many of us grew up with, and failed miserably on. I also believe that diets never work, however, this I hope, is something entirely different. This very idea literally just popped into my head one day over the Christmas holidays, it just made perfect sense.

      In Jungian Psychology the topic of the “Animus” is vast and I do worry that I don’t know enough at all to be writing a whole book on the subject yet by the time I get to write the second part of this article, in eight weeks’ time, I guess I’ll be a little bit further on with my studies. For now keeping a journal of these 12 weeks will keep me busy and reduce the fear factor. We’ll see how it goes! Who knows, just elated to have made the inner-man connection for myself and to share this with others.

      I agree that something along the lines of “The Animus Diet” and its “Journey of Love” would be an important book for all women. You greatly inspire me to undertake the work! “Thinking psychologically, living spiritually” I love your tagline! Ah! You see me between stage two and three too, that’s affirming and all thanks to your three “Affordable Health Care” articles I made the connection between my inner Poet and my inner Politician. Blessings always, Deborah.

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