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The Inner Journey by Barbara Hannah

Negotiations with the Animus

This brings us to a way of coming to terms with the animus, which is similar to the method Jung recommends to men for coming to terms with their inner woman:

[A man] is quite right to treat the anima as an autonomous personality and to address personal questions to her. . . . The art of it consists only in allowing our invisible partner to make herself heard, in putting the mechanism of expression momentarily at her disposal, without being overcome by the distaste one naturally feels at playing such an apparently ludicrous game with oneself, or by doubts as to the genuineness of the voice of one’s interlocutor. The technique of coming to terms with the animus is the same in principle as in the case of the anima; only here the woman must learn to criticize and hold her opinions at a distance; not in order to repress them, but, by investigating their origins, to penetrate more deeply into the background, where she will then discover the primordial images, just as the man does in his dealings with the anima.

These conversations with anima or animus are a form of active imagination, a technique unsurpassed in providing a

middle territory where conscious and unconscious can unite. It is, however, not a technique for everybody and is one that

should not be used lightly for it has effects which one cannot foresee. This really applies to all meditation. It is well

known, for instance, that the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are so exhausting that certain people have to be

sent away or are only given the exercises in a mitigated form. Another aspect of the same problem is very evident in

the lives of the Brontë sisters, who gave most of their energy to the inner world and were correspondingly weakened in the outer.

It is true that a modern woman who faces her unconscious because her life is disturbed by knowing too little of her own mind or animus is in a very different position from the Brontës.

Nevertheless, it cannot be emphasized too much that the technique of active imagination should be used with the utmost seriousness or not at all.

Moreover, a relationship to the analyst, or to someone else who will understand and provide a hold in the outer world, is indispensable.

Perhaps fortunately, most of us have the greatest resistances to using it.

Very few people touch it unless they are forced to do so.

Most people think they are inventing the whole thing or else they are afraid of it from the beginning.

Some people indeed seem to use it with a sort of fatal facility; they can produce fantasies by the dozen without as far as one can see it having

any direct effect on them at all.

This is probably because they do not give themselves actively to it and therefore it remains ineffective, both in a positive and negative sense.

The form of active imagination which Jung describes in the passages quoted above allowing one’s “invisible partner” a voice requires a lot of practice.

One must learn, for instance, to put a question actively and then to be completely passive until the answer comes of itself.

After a bit, the answers are usually so far from what one could think of consciously, that the idea that one invents the reply disappears of itself.

But again it is dangerous if one takes the answers for gospel.

One must always try to find out who is speaking and, when the conversation is over, weigh it very carefully, like any conversation with another person.

In this way, it is my experience that one can learn things of the greatest value about one’s animus, and also, of course, more than incidentally, about other figures if they appear; moreover, this method is the best one I know for really coming to terms with the unconscious.

One day, a woman who did a good deal of active imagination was talking to her animus, when to her great surprise he suddenly remarked: “You and I are in a most awfully difficult position.

We are linked together like Siamese twins and yet belong to totally different realities.

You know, your reality is just as invisible and ghostlike to me as mine is to you.”

She admitted that she had never thought of that before.

She had naively assumed that he saw everything in our reality as we do ourselves.

In fact, some of his interference had given her the impression that he saw it a good deal too clearly and that this was why he could so frequently outwit her!

The woman then asked him: “But if our reality is so insubstantial to you, why do you so often interfere?”

He replied: “If you leave something undone, I am forced to intervene. But I can quite understand that in terms of your world it may often be beside the mark.”

Jung has pointed out that when the animus interferes in our daily life, it is usually in a place where we have not given the matter our fullest conscious consideration, particularly where we fail in the realm of feeling.

But it seems to me that the remark about the two realities is very enlightening.

It shows us, for instance, that the animus is just as much in need of information from us about our reality as we are from him about his reality.

Moreover, just as he can help us in the invisible world of the collective unconscious so, evidently, we can help him in our reality.

We also see here why it was so dangerous for the woman with the animus she called Archibald to consult him about all the details of her daily life.

We find the same idea in another form in a most interesting series of dreams and fantasies which Emma Jung presents and interprets in the second part of her book on the animus.

This animus, which appeared in the first dream as a bird-headed monster with a bladderlike body, begins to lose its dangerous and destructive character in a dream where he is living on the moon as the ghostly lover of a human girl.

She must take him a blood sacrifice each new moon, though in between she may live freely on the earth as a human being.

As the new moon approaches, the ghostly lover turns her into a beast of prey and, as this brute, she is forced to bring the sacrifice to her lover.

Through the sacrifice, however, the ghostly lover himself is turned into a sacrificial bowl which, like the Uroboros, devours and renews itself.

In a later fantasy, this same animus, whose name interestingly enough is Amandus (literally, “to be loved”), entices the girl to enter his house, gives her wine and takes her into a cellar with the purpose of killing her.

The girl is suddenly seized with a kind of ecstasy, throws her arms round the murderer in a loving embrace which robs him of his power, so that, after promising to stand by her in the future as a helpful spirit he dissolves into air.

Emma Jung points out that the ghostly power of the moon bridegroom is broken by the blood sacrifice (i.e., by the gift of libido), and that of the would-be murderer by the loving embrace.

Since we are dealing as much as possible with the strictly practical side, we should try to translate this into terms of everyday life.

What does it mean to give libido and love to the animus? Mrs. Jung makes this very clear: it is giving him energy, time and attention, not only in order to get acquainted with him but also that he may have the opportunity to express his spiritual and mental nature through us.

When we give him libido and love, we consciously and intentionally place our faculties at his disposal in order that he may have the means of expressing the values of his reality.

In the first example, the girl is turned into a beast of prey.

This is a process that we can observe very clearly both in life and in analysis, as for instance when we spoil an analytic hour by getting into the animus and letting him twist everything until it is all just beside the point and we are offended, angry and so on.

When we go home, the animus goes on tempting us: the analyst should not have said this or that, he does not understand, he has a preference for so-and-so and probably she has poisoned him against us, and so on.

If we give in to these ideas, it will not be long before we are completely identical with our emotions, that is, with our passionate shadow who, in her turn, is identical with our animal nature.

The animus opinions have turned us into a beast of prey.

But if we admit and know that we let the animus catch us (in this case that we have lost the hour and made a nuisance of ourselves, if not worse), we suffer the penalty and thus, by our suffering, give the blood which can transform the animus.

It is essential in such a situation to realize that it was the animus and his opinions that spoiled the hour, against the wish of the conscious ego, or nothing at all will he gained.

The animus, it is true, will always turn the tables very neatly and if he fails in his endeavor to make a woman blame the analyst, husband or whoever it maybe he will attempt to throw the whole blame on the woman herself.

If she believes him, she will get into a state of inferiority which is just as destructive as her emotion and rage.

This blaming of a woman for all that he does himself is one of his best trump cards, for he thus binds her to his own existence and the thing for which she can really be blamed: failure to know her own animus.

In his untransformed state, we may always reckon with the fact that he is trying to get us back into the fold of Mother Nature, and to prevent any escape from the old order.

And we also are very reluctant to leave the false security which pervades an unconscious state of possession.

We talk a lot about love of freedom, it is true, but this love is inclined to be rather superficial and lukewarm.

We also love avoiding responsibility, particularly inner responsibility.

It is pleasant to be convinced that we know what to do, and no one is more convincing on this point than the animus, and if once we give up accepting his guidance unquestioningly we shall find ourselves in constant doubt.

Doubt is very laming to the young, but as Jung often remarked, in later life it is the beginning of wisdom.

Extreme certainty in the animus, indeed, is always a sign that only one side of him is constellated, for his real dual nature forms a most painful paradox.

Enduring this paradox is one of the chief ways in which we can give the ”blood” which can transform the animus.

An experience such as mentioned above, when the animus has twisted what has been said until it is all just beside the mark, is often an excellent opportunity to begin a conversation with him.

We must keep an extremely open mind, however, for his logos principle is the direct opposite to relationship, and his interference, though quite wrong from our point of view, may be logical and even right from his.

These conversations, therefore, are quite as difficult as any conversation in the outer world and demand a total effort, for we must both see his point of view and stand firm in our own. ~Barbara Hannah, The Inner Journey, Page 118-122