Saturday, October 2, 2010

Open Practice - Reclaiming Anima Projections

Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. and Arjuna Ardagh recently posted a manifesto

- The Conscious Man's Manifesto - over at Facebook. The manifesto came out of a discussion around Ardagh's column at Huffington Post called Why It Is Wise to Worship a Woman. For a variety of reasons, it doesn't sit well with me (nor does the manifesto).

Here is a piece of what he wrote in that original article:

First, do you get what I'm talking about? Does it jive for you? Does it make sense? And second, if yes, how are you going to get from where you are now to being able to the full capacity of your heart to love for real? I'd be glad to share more about this if we get to know each other better, but here's how you get started.

First, do what I did, and create an altar in your room dedicated to Divine Feminine. Put only symbols of the feminine on it. I have a painting called "Beatrix" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I have a statue of Quan Kin. Populate your altar with anything that reminds you of the feminine, and spend a few minutes of the day in worship. Yes, worship. Adoration. Devotion. Offer up rose petals. Offer poems. Offer everything, and beg Her to reveal Her innermost essence to you. This will work miracles whether you're single and waiting to meet the right woman or whether you're already in relationship and long to meet your woman in a deeper way.

The second way to get started: make a practice, a discipline, of telling your woman, or any woman, ten times a day something which you adore about her. "I love the smell of your shampoo." "I love the way you laugh." "The color of your eyes is so beautiful." Of course, you need to keep it appropriate. You can go as far out on a limb as you like if you're in relationship with a woman, but with anyone else remember the gates. Keep you communication appropriate to the gate number that you find yourself at. Appreciation the curve of a woman's breast, for example, if she happens to be the cashier at the supermarket, would equate more to harassment than worship.

OK, seriously, all I hear in reading this is "worship" blah blah blah "goddess" blah blah blah "divine" blah blah blah "feminine" blah blah blah. The second part is better - we need to show our affection for our women, with words, but also with touch, our eyes, and every other way we can.

But the first part, the worship stuff? Been there, done that - had the painful break-up to show for it (to each woman I did this to, my sincerest apologies).

When we treat women as the goddess or divine feminine, more often than not we are projecting our sense of our own feminine, the anima in Jung's terminology (literally, Latin for soul), onto the human woman in front of us.

It's been my experience (and so if you are a woman reading this please correct me if I am wrong), that most women do not want to be idolized as goddesses or the divine feminine or any other pre/trans New Age object of devotion. Well, OK, maybe once is while, but not a standard part of the relationship.

In my experience, most women would love it if we could simply see them and appreciate them exactly as they are - beautiful, female, sexy, smart, funny, sensitive, wounded, insecure, strong, growing, anxious - the whole human mix. When we can see them and hold them when they are hurting and needing our strength as a container, and yet KNOW and SHOW that we do not see them as weak or broken, but as WHOLE human beings, the woman will feel safe to be open and vulnerable, and there is no better way to create intimacy that to be open with each other, fully and humanly open.

And here is the real secret guys - we have to do the same thing. We want to be seen as strong, powerful, directed, and focused, but we also have fears, anxieties, insecurities and if we can share these with our women, they will feel safe to share with us.

Real, strong, lasting intimacy is built on being vulnerable with each other - and that means being able to see the other person in all their complexity and love all the scars as well as the strengths, and to be able to show all our strengths and scars.

When I read stuff like this, from the manifesto, I see why so many relationships fail:

It’s Time To Usher In A New Era Of Goddess Worship

It’s our belief that the next step in our evolution as men rests in a restoration of our appreciation of women. By devoting ourselves to the worship of the divine feminine we discover the divinity of the masculine. By ‘worship’ we draw on two dictionary definitions: 1) we approach you with the reverence given a divine being, and 2) we pay you extravagant respect and admiration.

I call bullshit on this kind of anima projection - it is NOT what men need and it is NOT what most women want. I know because I have done this - and the women end up feeling as though I was in love with some idealized image they can never live up to.

And in reality, when we worship women as goddesses we are worshiping our own projected feminine - in a psychological sense, it's a form of narcissism.

What we really need, in my opinion, is to usher in a new era of emotional honesty and relational intimacy between men and women - and that means we must fully show up as men, and that we must allow our female partners to fully show up as women, and not confine them to a box of goddess worship where we do not really see the human being who needs our love, not our worship.


Luke said...



Well said, Bill.

william harryman said...

thanks, Brother - I was hearing crickets chirp after posting this.

kyle Graser said...

love it. shined some solid light onto some of the extremist pot holes people can fall into. The Anima thing is interesting...a projection of our own hungry deprived feminine side...explains why I can fall in distant love with girls I simply make eye contact with...
Well written and good awareness.