Balancing the Archetypal
Masculine and Feminine
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There are many possible scenarios in which the dynamic between the inner Masculine and Feminine can play itself out. If you take any of the terms we associated with yin and yang as a pair of complementary metaphors, you can begin to get some sense of the various ways in which this dynamic might express itself. The following examples are meant to stimulate your thinking about the imbalances in our world and what we might do about them using the concept of Sacred Balance as our approach:
If, for example, we think about the archetypal Masculine as light, high and ascendant; and the archetypal Feminine as dark, low and descendant, we can extrapolate the following:
The archetypal Masculine primarily functions through the inspired intellect. It naturally seeks to know the abstract principles of truth beneath the appearance of things, to bring the unknown into the light of conscious understanding, and to rise up toward excellence in the actualization of its highest potential.
The archetypal Feminine primarily functions through feelings that take one into the depths of soul. It naturally seeks to know the tangible reality of the world through an immediate sensory experience of things, to court the mysteries that cannot be explained by rational understanding, and to settle into a deep acceptance of what is.
In these expressions, the archetypal Feminine and Masculine are obviously quite different from each other, but one is not better than the other. In fact, one is not complete without the other.
"Sacred Balance demands that the Masculine and Feminine within us and within the world are in love with each other, and working together as a team."
If any individual – male or female – thinks, but doesn’t feel, for example, he or she will have a skewed worldview. This particular imbalance is what allows a forester sitting in an air-conditioned office in Washington, D.C. to make decisions about clearcuts in a national old growth redwood forest in the Pacific Northwest; or an accountant for some large corporation to decide to lay off auto workers in Detroit because workers in Mexico demand less pay. The human consequences or the real impact of human decisions upon the ecosystem are never taken into account because the archetypal Feminine capacities through which they might otherwise register are missing, or undeveloped, or repressed.
Conversely, if any individual – female or male – feels, but does not think, she or he will also have a skewed worldview that leads to imbalanced behavior and consequences. Those with deeply held faith-based beliefs, for example, may blindly accept the bombing of abortion clinics, never registering the inconsistency of these actions with a “pro-life” stance. Environmentalists defending local ecosystems on the basis of a purely emotional appeal to others about the right of other species to exist are often less successful than those who incorporate facts and figures into their argument that might make sense to the mind as well as stir the heart. Where the need for mental clarity – intrinsic to the archetypal Masculine side of the human psyche – is not met, the archetypal Feminine alone may well fail to achieve the desired end.
If we consider the archetypal Masculine to be fiery, hot and fast; while the archetypal Feminine is watery, wet and slow, we can use this as a metaphorical springboard to a different set of possibilities.
The archetypal Masculine burns with passionate attention to what seems most immediately pressing in the moment, and seeks effective, efficient solutions to problems. The archetypal Feminine feels the interconnectedness of things, and seeks a much slower immersion in experience as its own reward. The Masculine side of the psyche works toward accomplishing a goal; the Feminine side seeks a deepening of enjoyment and a richer quality of life.
Again, these two fundamental attitudes are opposite and complementary. Achievement of goals without the ability to enjoy what one has achieved leads to chronic dissatisfaction and meaningless change for its own sake; while an enjoyable life without accomplishment can be marked by meaningless self-indulgence, superficiality, and stagnation.
The endless addiction to progress – bigger, better and more – resulting in urban sprawl; the aspirations of empire and conquest of neighboring lands; and the imbalanced amassing of obscene levels of wealth are all expressions of the wounded Masculine at the fiery, hot and fast end of this particular spectrum. At the other end, we have the complementary wounded Feminine expression of mindless consumption; entangled unchanging histories of perpetual cycles of attack and retribution such as those that have decimated the Middle East for thousands of years; and global, almost epigenetic conditions of chronic poverty and cultural malaise.
The wounded Masculine tends to be balanced and complemented by the wounded Feminine, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle. In order to break the cycle, both sides must work toward healing and internal balance.
The next post in this series is The Biology of the Archetypal Masculine.
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