Carl Jung Resources > Archetypes



Anima is, in short, the woman in men. There are certain secondary female sexual features in male. On the psychological plane we talk about the soul, or sensuality as opposed to rationality and reason (see animus ).

But anima is much more than the sexual and psychological features. It is relational. That is, the anima archetype rules over the relationship between men and women. It is a kind of innate guide that leads one through the ambiguous path of meeting the woman and interact with her.

The most known anima image is the mother archetype. It rules over the mother-son relationship. Therefore it is projected onto the mother image. We know of such female figures from the cultural and religious themes. Virgin Mary or Mother Earth and other such mythical figures may lead us to the mother archetype.

Just like any archetype, the mother archetype has a positive as well as negative side. Her positive side is the birthing, nurturing and care giving, the comfort she brings to all souls as the Holly Virgin. She is ready to sacrifice her life for the sake of her child. Or she is the savior of the decayed men - The Sophia or the Wisdom of God from the Gnostic mythology.

The other side, the negative one, is the devouring mother, depicted in such images as animals of feminine nature such as Gorgon. A few words about the Gorgon:

    In Greek mythology, a Gorgon [...] is a female creature. The name derives from the ancient Greek word gorgos, which means "dreadful". While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature and occur in the earliest examples of Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair made of living, venomous snakes, as well as a horrifying visage that turned those who beheld her to stone. Traditionally, while two of the Gorgons were immortal, Stheno and Euryale, their sister Medusa was not, and she was slain by the demigod and hero Perseus. (From Wikipedia)

Gorgons lead also to the seductive aspect of mother-son relationship. This is a very dangerous situation as the son will never be able to free himself from his mother eros thus being doomed to the psychological death or the loss of his capability to evolve, from child to mature person.

Carl Jung used to illustrate the destructive mother figure reminding us of She (That Must Be Obeyed), the heroine of the Rider Haggard's well-known novel.

Let me conclude with the phallic mother, a figure closer to the girl psychological history. She is the one who gave her daughter the envied penis. As such she appears in the daughters' dreams and fantasies.

In relationship with the boy, this figure represents a mixture of father and mother archetypes. Its constellation may be linked with the missing of the natural father in the son's life and the compensation it should bring.

Further resources

  • Carl Jung talks about his experience with anima in his autobiographical book: Memories, Dreams Reflections. You may order this book from here.

    See also the Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious providing a collection of Jung's texts,
  • A paper on the meaning of anima occurring in dreams is included in our Jung and Dreams email course. Learn more here or order only this paper from our paperstore here.


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