Animus, Shadow, and Other Jungian Archetypes

Last week I came face to face with my animusshadow, and wise old woman thanks to one of my colleagues at the Transpersonal Therapy Centre, who led our class through a series of art exercises inspired by Jungian psychology.

My animus emerged as a guttural caveman, eager to go out and spear a boar and then come grunting home to the cave.

My shadow image–an evil, silent, laughing clown–still makes me screw up my mouth in discomfort.

And my wise old woman glowed with calm, presence, and beauty, sending the blessing “Peace Be Upon You”  to all she met.

What to make of all this, and what part might be useful for you, dear internet surfer?

Anima/Animus

As I understand Jung, I need to understand and incorporate my animus (my inner masculine side). I’ll need to do some work to find out where I see this fierce, inarticulate provider/caveman come out, and understand how I can draw on that as a positive energy.

For you:

If you are a woman, what traditionally masculine qualities do you notice inside you?

If you are a man, what traditionally feminine qualities can you find in yourself?

For both, what about those qualities could be of service to you at this point in your life?

Shadow

I need to examine my shadow to find the hidden parts of myself that I disown. As I learn to accept these uncomfortable parts of myself, the shadow will lose its power over me and I’ll even be able to find the gift that (Jung says) resides in the shadow. Perhaps this means owning up to an evil silent part of me that laughs at others, although right now I can’t fathom the gift in that particular shadow.

For you:

Here’s a question that might point you toward your shadow -> imagine the most annoying person at a cocktail party, the person you are going out of your way to avoid, the person you most definitely do not want to talk to. Got a person in mind? Write down five adjectives about that person.

Now, ask yourself, “How is it true that I am [adjective]? What would be helpful about being [adjective]?”

Ask these questions separately for each of the five adjectives that you came up with.

Wise old man/woman

The Wise Old Woman is the image of Self that I am moving toward. Sometimes this peaceful, blissful, blessing-generous being seems very distant to me; other times I can sense her, right here, just beyond the veil, waiting for me to step into her comfortable–yet stylish–shoes.

For you:

To get in touch with your inner wise old man/woman, here are a few starter questions:

Who and what are you when you are at your best?

Where in your body can you feel/sense your ‘wise voice’, your ‘inner wisdom’?

What do you need to raise the volume on that voice?

Finally, one tool I’ve found helpful for getting in touch with my own personal wise woman is the Future Self journey I learned at The Coaches Training Institute. If you’ve never experienced the Future Self journey, drop me a line to book an appointment, and we’ll travel there together.

Laura McGrath, CPCC, is a Toronto-based co-active life coach who helps smart people to live from their hearts. Let's talk! You can subscribe to Ready for Change news to receive thoughtful notes on personal growth, and you can contact Laura to find out if coaching is right for you.