Marion Woodman died peacefully on July 9, 2018, just five weeks short of her 90th birthday. You can read her obituaries in the New York Times, the Toronto Star, and on the C.G. Jung Foundation of Ontario website.
Inner City Books also has a tribute to her on their website – In Memoriam: Marion Woodman, 1928-2018.
She was the first Jungian analyst I ever read. Her book, Addiction to Perfection, changed everything for me. It answered so many questions, made everything make sense. It is why I embarked on a symbolic life.
Marion introduced me to the concept of the dark feminine. I, with my Roman Catholic upbringing, had never heard of such a thing. Marion showed me all of me. And when I shared that with my friend, the brilliant photographer Lenny Foster, he went out and photographed the Black Madonna carving given to him by Father William Hart McNichols. You can see the photo on his Instagram page.
I’ve uploaded a lecture she presented at the C.G. Jung Center Evanston on January 28, 2005 called “Revisioning the Feminine: A New Paradigm for Men & Women.” It’s one hour and 19 minutes long and around 64 MB. You can play it right here in your browser or download it directly to your computer.
By Marion Woodman
Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride Inner City Books #12; also in a deluxe hardcover edition
Bone: Dying Into Life A Journal of Wisdom, Strength, & Healing
Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body & Soul with Jill Mellick
Conscious Femininity: Interviews with Marion Woodman Inner City Books #58
Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness with Elinor Dickson
Holding the Tension of Opposites Audible Audiobook
Leaving My Father’s House: A Journey to Conscious Femininity with Kate Danson, Mary Hamilton, & Rita Greer Allen
Sitting by the Well: Bringing the Feminine to Consciousness Through Language, Dreams, & Metaphor Sounds True Audio Learning Course (6 CDs)
The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine & Feminine with Robert Bly
The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa & the Repressed Feminine Inner City Books #4. Her thesis.
The Pregnant Virgin: A Process of Psychological Transformation Inner City Books #21. In it she recounts her trip to India where she had an out-of-body, near-death experience.
The Ravaged Bridegroom: Masculinity in Women Inner City Books #41
The Stillness Shall Be the Dancing: Feminine & Masculine in Emerging Balance Free audio of her Fay Lecture Series
Her husband, Ross
“Ross Woodman passed away in his sleep at home on March 20, 2014. He was 91 years old. Dr. Woodman earned his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He was an avid collector of contemporary art and was a tireless champion of artists and the arts. For nearly forty years Ross was a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario where he taught Romantic literature until his retirement in 1989. In 1993 he received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Keats-Shelley Association of America. For many in the BodySoul family, Ross was a cherished teacher and spirited guide. It was a privilege to watch Marion and Ross teaching together in their home, for Seminars and onsite at BodySoul Intensives. As one MWF member shared, ‘Ross and Marion respected and listened to each other as if hearing each other’s words for the first time.’ Another shared ‘we were all Ross’s ‘lovelies.’ Why? Because. We were seen, heard, respected, valued, and cherished… And, because they were both great teachers, they naturally called everything by its proper name.’” ~Marion Woodman Foundation
ADDICTION TO PERFECTION
“This book is about taking the head off an evil witch. Lady Macbeth, glued to the sticking-place of insatiable power, unable to countenance failure to the point of rejecting life, will serve as a symbol of the woman robbed of her femininity through her pursuit of masculine goals that are in themselves a parody of what masculinity really is.”
“And though in Shakespeare’s tragedy it is Macbeth who is beheaded, the head he loses is fatally infected by the witches’ evil curse. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are metaphors of the masculine and feminine principles functioning in one person or in a culture…”
“The deteriorating relationship between them clearly demonstrates the dynamics of evil when the masculine principle loses its standpoint in its own reality, and the feminine principle of love succumbs to calculating, intellectualized ambition.”
“Shakespeare’s beheading of his hero-villain is, in the total context of the play, the healing of the country. This book is about a beheading. It has been hewn out of the hard rock of an addiction to perfection.”
“A Greek version of the witch motif concerns Medusa, a beautiful woman until she offended the goddess Athena… In reprisal, Athena changed Medusa’s hair into snakes and made her face so hideous that all who looked on her were turned to stone.”
“If we look at the modern Athenas sprung from their father’s foreheads, we do not necessarily see liberated women. Many of them have proven beyond question that they are equal to or better than men: excellent doctors, excellent mechanics, excellent business consultants. But they are also, in many cases unhappy women.”
“‘I have everything,’ they say. ‘Perfect job, perfect house, perfect clothes, so what? What does it all add up to? There’s got to be more than this. I was born, I died, I never lived.’ Often, behind the scenes, they are chained to some addiction: food, alcohol, constant cleaning, perfectionism, etc.”
“I am convinced that the same problem is at the root of all addictions. The problem manifests differently, of course, with the individual, but within everyone there are collective patterns and attitudes that unconsciously influence behavior.”
“One of these patterns is illustrated in Athena’s cruel revenge on the once beautiful Medusa, whose snaky locks twist and writhe in constant agitation, reaching, reaching, reaching, wanting more and more and more.”
“Is it possible that the modern Athena is not in contact with her Medusa because somewhere back in the dark patriarchal ages she was shut up in a cave? Our generation scarcely knows of her existence, but she is making her presence increasingly felt…”
“This book looks into the heart of the driven Athena, the anguish of the writhing Medusa, and suggest ways of releasing the maiden into her vibrant womanhood before she is sacrificed to the perfection of death.”
“Only by loving our own maiden, and allowing her to find the deep down passion within herself, can we dare to open ourselves to the raging goddess at the core of the addiction. Only through love can we transform her and allow her to transform us.”
“The I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, recognizes the continual shifts that go on within the individual. The Yang power, the creative masculine, moves ahead with steadfast perseverance toward a goal until it becomes too strong, begins to break—and then the Yin, the receptive feminine, enters from below and gradually moves toward the top. Life is a continual attempt to balance these two forces.”
“With growing maturity the individual is able to avoid the extreme of either polarity, so that the pendulum does not gain too much momentum by swinging too far to the right only to come crashing back to the left in a relentless cycle of action and reaction, inflation and depression.”
“Rather one recognizes that these poles are the domain of the gods, the extremes of black and white. To identify with one or the other can only lead to plunging into its opposite. The ratio is cruelly exact. The further I move into the white radiance on one side, the blacker the energy that is unconsciously constellating behind my back: the more I force myself to perfect my ideal image of myself, the more overflowing toilet bowls I’m going to have in my dreams.”
“As human creatures, not gods, we must go for the grey, the steady solid line that makes its serpentine way only slightly to left and right down the middle course between the opposites.”
“Essentially I am suggesting that many of us—men and women—are addicted in one way or another because our patriarchal culture emphasizes specialization and perfection.… Working so hard to create our own perfection we forget that we are human beings.”
THE OWL WAS A BAKER’S DAUGHTER
“In essence I am suggesting that 20th-century women have been living for centuries in a male-oriented culture which has kept them unconscious of their own feminine principle.”
“Now in their attempt to find their own place in a masculine world, they have unknowingly accepted male values—goal-oriented lives, compulsive drivenness, and concrete bread which fails to nourish their feminine mystery.”
“Their unconscious femininity rebels and manifests in some somatic form. In this study, the Great Goddess either materializes in the obese, or devours the anorexic. Her victim must come to grips with her femininity by dealing with the symptom.”
“Only by discovering and loving the goddess lost within her own rejected body can a woman hear her own authentic voice. This book suggests practical ways of listening, and explores the meaning of the feminine”
On complexes: Jung “pointed out that an outward situation may release a psychic process in which certain contents gather together and prepare for action. This he called a ‘constellation’; this is an automatic process which the individual cannot control. ‘The constellated contents are definite complexes possessing their own specific energy.’”
“An active complex puts us momentarily under a spell of compulsive thinking and acting.”
“The more unconscious the individual is, the greater autonomy the complex has, even to the point where it may assimilate the ego, the result being a momentary alteration of personality”
“In the Middle Ages, this was called possession or bewitchment. ‘The via regia to the unconscious, however,’ said Jung, ‘is not the dream, as [Freud] thought, but the complex, which is the architect of dreams and of symptoms.’”
THE PREGNANT VIRGIN
“All my life I had hated my body. It was not beautiful enough. It was not thin enough. I had driven it, starved it, stuffed it, cursed it, and even now kicked it, and there it still was, trying to breathe, convinced that I would come back and take it with me, too dumb to die. And I knew the choice was mine.” p. 178
“I stayed first in Delhi, attempting to orient myself in that totally foreign world. … People shouted ‘Good evening’ in the morning and I knew something was wrong when I shouted back ‘Good evening.’ As my exhaustion grew, my ego could no longer make decisions and strange situations began to develop. I realized my own terror was constellating death around me.” p. 176
“‘You’re in culture shock,’ she said. ‘I’ve lived here for ten years. I can recognize it. We’ll go to your hotel, gather your luggage and I’ll take you to your plane. You must go home. Now.” ~an American woman to Marion Woodman in India, p. 177
“‘I can’t do that,’ I said. ‘I can’t live with that defeat. I’d have to come back and try again and I can’t do that either.’ ‘You cannot stay,’ she said. ‘Peace Corps people go into culture shock and sometimes take knives to each other.’ But I did stay.”
“India was my fire. Certainly it is not everyone’s. We each are thrown into our own fire and the room in the Ashoka Hotel was mine. There was no one to phone, no one to visit, nothing to do. All escapes were cut off. I had to move into my own silence and find out who was in there.”