The Hindus say that without Shakti, the personified feminine life force, Shiva, who encompasses the masculine ability to act, becomes a corpse. She is the life energy that animates the male principle, and the male principle in turn animates action in the world. ~Clarissa Pinkola Este.
According to Carl Jung the psyche was composed of three components: the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. The ego, in its multiplicity, represents our consciousness. The shadow, in its multiplicity, represents our personal unconscious. And the archetypes represent our collective unconscious. The archetypes animus and anima emerged as Jung observed the mingling of his male and female clients, in the hopes of understanding the human condition in a deeper more self-actualized way.
The best way to imagine the anima animus is to picture a yin-yang in your mind. The anima is the black dot on the white side, and the animus is the white dot on the black side. Men are like walking white-sides with black dots. Women are walking black-sides with white dots.
An individuated man will have a more prominent and magnanimous black dot, just as an individuated woman will have a more prominent and magnanimous white dot. In less psychologically healthy people their dots are mere pinpricks.
Basically, the anima is the unformed feminine that’s forming within a man. The animus is the unformed masculine that’s forming within a woman.
The psychological unity which enables us to think of ourselves as individuals is in some ways vulnerable (Feminine/Shakti) and in other ways robust (Masculine/Shiva), but never either/or (or neither/nor).
The Eternal Feminine is all that is vulnerable and impregnable within us, all that is wild and fertile: our inner-garden. The Eternal Masculine is all that is invulnerable and impregnable within us, all that is structured and firm: our inner-strength. Our full potential as individuals, whether male or female, is an amalgam of these forces, and a balancing of these sacred energies.
Jung’s goal with developing the archetypes anima and animus was the unburying of the wild and innate aspects of the self. It gave us something to leverage soul against ego, an existential tactic that cracks open the ego so that soul can emerge in an authentic way. It gives us a door to open into the deeper self.
This deeper self is the health of all humans, the balance between nature & the human soul, yin & yang, man & anima, woman & animus. When Man does not meet anima and Woman does not meet animus, only one-dimensionality reigns. But when anima meets Man and animus meets Woman, the tacit, prescient, visceral self becomes multidimensional, and a kind of existential double-jointedness occurs.
Animus/Anima archetypes in Jungian psychology
Even more amazing is the alchemy that occurs when a woman’s animus engages authentically with a man’s anima. Paraphrasing Jung, No man can converse with a woman’s animus for five minutes without becoming vulnerable to his own anima.
And so, no woman can converse with a man’s anima for five minutes without becoming vulnerable to her own animus. And suddenly our romantic relationships are deeper than we could have imagined before.
We are suddenly able to tap the philosopher-stone of Her animus with the cornerstone of His anima, and we gain the almost alchemical ability to turn the tables on the polarity of the universe.
This kind of multidimensional power opens up everything, cracking our old, stagnant world view right down the middle and revealing that everything is connected just as everything is moving. Shiva moves in and out of Shakti.
The sacred masculine moves in and out of the sacred feminine. Darkness moves in and out of light. Inner moves in and out of outer. Everything moves in and out of nothing. It’s all one big beautiful bouncing dance between the God-that-forgot-it-was-God within Him and the God-that-forgot-it- was-God within Her. And oh, what an amazing dance it is.