by Dr. Jean Benedict Raffa, author of The Soul’s Twins: Emancipate Your Feminine and Masculine Archetypes.
“I’m more open to new ideas and theories that are personally meaningful.”
“I’m more open to new ideas and theories that are logical and can be tested using the scientific method.”
This pair of statements is one of 20 on Part I of The Partnership Profile, an informal self-assessment in my new book, The Soul’s Twins: Emancipate Your Feminine and Masculine Archetypes. It’s not always easy to choose one statement in each pair, because sometimes your preferences change depending on the situation. So it can take some self-examination to decide which one you usually prefer. And that’s exactly the point of this exercise: To encourage you to reflect on who you are, why you act in predictable ways in certain situations, and what inner forces have the most influence on your choices.
The Soul’s Twins highlights eight fundamental archetypes that humanity tends to associate with the binary genders. The reality is that every human embodies the same archetypal energies. Yet, despite the rapid expansion of our psychological knowledge over the past 150 years, our cultures still tend to discourage us from using certain aspects of our natural potential and apply pressure on us to develop another potential — which may or may not be of interest to us — because of our gender.
Certainly, there are physical differences that predispose us to fill certain societal roles at certain times in our lives, and each individual is born with a unique personality with its own set of interests, skills, and preferences. But the fact remains: We all have the same psychological potential. The same emotions, drives, instincts, archetypes, and goals. And when we repress any of these to fit cultural stereotypes, we do our souls a great disservice.
Every psyche contains two basic drives — a yin force and a yang force — that continually interact to create and replenish our psychological energy. Yin is our lunar, feminine drive for species-preservation. Yang is our solar, masculine drive for self-preservation. We function at our best when we avail ourselves of both as we go through each day, allowing them to balance our priorities and influence our thoughts, emotions, actions, and relationships.
We’re also born with five basic instincts: nurturance, activity, reflection, sex, and creativity. These, too, impact our daily lives in myriad ways. For example, your instinct for nurturance is triggered by hunger pangs. When this happens your instinct for reflection prompts you to consider options: Shall I finish this project or eat lunch first? Your instinct for activity nudges you to get up, walk into the kitchen, and open the refrigerator door. Your instinct for creativity imagines which ingredients would make the most satisfying sandwich. Your instinct for sex urges you to make the most sensually appealing and pleasurable concoction you can think of! Hmmm. Maybe chocolate for dessert?
Imagine that all the qualities associated with each instinct are arranged on a continuum between a lunar archetype at one pole, and a solar archetype at the other. Your ego has its own comfort spot between them. In the case of your instinct for nurturance, your lunar archetype is Mother and your solar archetype is Father. Every child is born with an archetypal pattern for Mother and Father. Think of these patterns as images in a child’s coloring book. Because of our personal experiences with human mothers and fathers, no one fills in those patterns the exact same way. One person might put a smile on Father’s face and a scowl on Mother. Another might do the opposite. You may imagine Mother bustling around in the kitchen and recall wonderful smells. I may have similar associations for Father. And my neighbor may not picture either of them in the kitchen.
The fact that archetypes are universal patterns doesn’t mean everyone has the same associations or preferences for them. Cultures vary in their attitudes toward the archetypes and individuals vary in their experience of them. Take a moment to reflect: Where do you sit between Mother and Father? What images come to mind when you think of Mother? What feelings and emotions? What memories? What qualities do you associate with Mother? Are they mostly positive? Mostly negative? A mixture of both? Now ask yourself the same questions about Father.
This exercise may have aroused some painful feelings like resentment, anger, mistrust, fear, bitterness, disgust, or sadness. You probably also felt some positive ones like trust, warmth, comfort, affection, joy, or peace. Did you ever meet someone new and take an instant like or dislike to them because they brought up some of these feelings in you? Of course. Because some people remind you of qualities your personal mother and father had that were instrumental in shaping your own personality. But there’s a whole lot more to the archetypes than what your parents showed you. And not all mothers and fathers have the same bright and shadow sides that yours did. Remembering this can prevent you from acting on your projections.
Think of the recent presidential election in the U.S. Historically, presidents have been males who personify the Father archetype. This is why we’ve given George Washington the title “Father of our Country.” And when we have a woman president, history will no doubt call her our Mother. Archetypes live in our unconscious, so it comes naturally for the collective unconscious of our citizenry to project the Father archetype onto our first president.
Some of us may think highly of Donald Trump, while others despise him. This is likewise true of Joe Biden. Which of these leaders has qualities of one of your parents or caretakers that you have unconsciously adopted? Do you like these qualities or not? How did they influence your vote? To all appearances, Donald Trump and Joe Biden couldn’t be more different, but they’re both examples of the Father archetype, and they both contain all the positive and negative potential of this archetype, whether they manifest it in their words and behavior or not. Moreover, they also contain the bright and shadow qualities of the Mother archetype.
Essentially, you voted for the candidate who makes you feel protected and safe. You did that because the Mother and Father archetypes are embedded in your psyche. Snakes don’t have an archetype for Mother or Father. The female simply lays her eggs and slithers away leaving her little snakelings to fend for themselves. But humans hang around to protect our young because we must. Do you see the power your archetypes have over you? They’re what make us human, with all our heartbreaking vulnerability, crude folly, and exquisite beauty.
Archetypes are mental images of your physical instincts. They don’t have egos or consciences. They are nature, like animals who simply follow their instincts. Humans are nature too, but we’ve bitten the apple, so we know about good and evil. When you created your self-image as a child, you left out parts of yourself you didn’t like or were taught to think of as bad. But they didn’t go away. What you disowned grew stronger in your unconscious. It’s still there, and it still causes painful conflicts. To resolve your conflicts, you need to accept that you don’t know everything about yourself. You need to recognize your shadow when it shows up and allow it to humble you instead of projecting it onto others. Then you can choose not to act on your negative impulses.
Your Mother and Father archetypes are your soul’s sovereigns. When healthy, they serve humanity’s need to nurture and be nurtured. Mother compassionately protects and serves the physical, psychological, social, and emotional welfare of all that is young, new, innocent, needy, and vulnerable. Father nurtures by perfecting his skills and promoting his selfhood to become a just and morally virtuous leader who provides group stability and sees to the needs of all who depend on him.
Together Mother and Father work to provide the comfort and safety you, your family, and community need while encouraging the fullest development of your individuality and mature selfhood. Sometimes you act more from your Mother archetype; other times from your Father. But in the big picture, it doesn’t matter. Your soul does these things instinctively, to insure the survival and welfare of you, your family, and the next generation. You need them both. Does it make any sense at all to repress one of your soul’s twins because you associate it with gender?
Here’s a summary of all four archetypal pairs described in The Soul’s Twins:
- Mother and Father represent your instinct for nurturance. They seek lawful order and moral virtue.
- Queen and Warrior represent your instinct for activity. They seek power and success.
- Mediatrix and Sage represent the instinct for reflection. They seek release from delusion.
- Beloved and Lover represent the instinct for sex. They seek love and pleasure.
The Soul’s Twins is a guide to understanding and accepting your soul’s twins. It will help you distinguish which archetypes are essential to your soul’s purpose, which need more attention, and which are content to stay quiet. Examples from mythology and history illustrate how the archetypes have played out in the lives of others. Suggested exercises help you take steps to change what isn’t working. This knowledge will help you work toward healthier relationships with yourself and others.
As you accept your archetypal twins, embrace their strengths, gentle their shadows, and integrate them into your awareness, a new image for your fifth instinct, the instinct for creativity, gradually emerges at the center of your psyche. This archetype is the Couple, a new name for your spiritual center and your whole, authentic Self. The goal of the Couple is conscious oneness in loving relationships. Evolving into the Couple’s unitive consciousness is your reason for living, your magnum opus, your gift to humanity, and your path to individuation and enlightenment.
Think psychologically. Live spiritually.
Enjoy this brief exploration of The Soul’s Twins:
About the Author:
Dr. Jean Raffa is an author, speaker, and leader of workshops and dream groups. Formerly a television producer and college professor, Jean changed directions in midlife to write about her passions: self-awareness, Jungian psychology, empowering the feminine in all of us, and psychological and spiritual growth. Her previous books on these subjects are The Bridge to Wholeness, Dream Theatres of the Soul, and the Wilbur Award–winning Healing the Sacred Divide. A mother of two and a grandmother of five, she and her economist husband live near Orlando, Florida, and Highlands, North Carolina. Her blog, Matrignosis, can be found at www.jeanraffa.wordpress.com. Her website is www.jeanraffa.com.