All is one and all contains the seed of its opposite. Polarities are a way to be able to discern the singular from the all-encompassing plurality and a perfect being lacks only one thing – limitation. But we’re human and one of our main intra species polarity is the polarity of sexes – the male and the female, which stand as opposites needing each other. Stories through various cultures speak of a perfect proto entity who was neither male nor female. By some tribulation it got split into two, providing the romantic search for your other half, soul mate to once again feel complete in union with another. The world is pretty much split into anima and animus, the male and female archetype. Anima comes from a Latin word denoting breath, soul, spirit or vital force, while her counterpart animus is a more male representation meaning rational soul, life, mind, mental powers, courage or desire.
As kids we come here with mixed traits but as analytical psychologist Carl Jung postulated that due to the norms of our culture and dependant on what gender we were born at, as we grow up we’re encouraged to enhance some of our traits and suppress others, which get pushed down and reside in what is called the shadow, all of the discarded parts we don’t see fit for expressing or acting on that needed to be bound in order to become civilized, be able to live in a community and play by its rules. So in our culture there is for example still a loud or taciturn consensus around boys not crying and building their self-image on strength, achievement and aggressive pursuits of goals, and of girls as understanding, caring empathetic nurturers that re polite, neat and orderly. Some of these aspects are justified as the natural inclinations of male and female really do diverge and are partly a result of body chemistry and the different ways our respective brains operate and process information. Yet bringing up kids under the dome of a “strong/brave boy” and “pretty/nice girl” enhances the natural split.
In order to grow and develop we’ll snuff out some of our impulses as we’ll get encouraged to display more of others to be accepted. This is natural but it is only the first step of development. It cannot stop there. Once the femininity in male is repressed and the masculinity in female, the second phase is to recognize when the archetypes of the anima (the female in the man) and the animus (the male within female) start seeping through and to integrate them into a mature person, now able to incorporate them with more finesse, grace and intelligence than in the previous developmental stages of youth. These male and female counterparts within us are not individual and they transcend personal experience, they are collective archetypes which we sometimes struggle with and they cause unnecessary battles in reality. They are more than a composite of male and female characters in our immediate surroundings. You may by nature be a more compassionate male, or a more aggressive female but you adapted a persona to fit in a role. To be whole together, you first need to be whole within yourself.
Anima and animus will find a way to manifest. They may be subconscious archetypes but they leave real trace in our behaviours and decisions. It’s far better to recognize and accept what was repressed, because if left denied and ignored you’re heading towards the scenario of possession, where the subconscious pours over the conscious and goes on a rampage searching for satiation of its impulses. Your anima or animus can become an ally to help you advance, grow and see or they can be a destructive force. We all have traces of polarities in us. Let them breathe; let them be incorporated. Watch, study and understand yourself to be able to understand the world. Completely objective things are rarities, we see the world as we are, or through the role we’re currently playing. A controlled burn is much better than an explosion since the social sphere is complex and it’s quite a good thing to, as the inscription on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi said so aptly 4 centuries BC, “know thyself”.