Encountering the Animus

Journal Date: November 25, 2020

I decided to do some reading for fun, for myself, so I picked up Women who Run with the Wolves again. 

I’m picking up where I left off, in the chapter on nurturing the creative life.

And once again, I’m finding that it’s exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.

As I picked up where I’d left off, the theme of the chapter turned to the nature of the animus in a woman’s psyche.

This is something that has long interested me. I knew my inner masculine was far from healthy, but I was lost as to what to do about it. I think here, I have found a way to start.


“Animus can best be understood as a force that assists women in acting on their own behalf in the outer world. Animus helps a woman put forth specific and feminine inner thoughts and feelings in concrete ways.”

“He brings ideas from ‘out there’ back into her, and he carries ideas from her soul-self across the bridge to fruition and ‘to market’. Without the builder and maintainer of this land bridge, a woman’s inner life cannot be manifested with intent in the outer world.” 


Furthermore, Estes speaks of the distrust many women feel for the masculine, even within themselves.

“Generally, this wariness comes from barely beginning to be healed traumas from family and culture during times previous, times when women were treated as serfs, not as selfs.”

And it is not even “previous times” for all. Not for me. This treatment was for me, in my time.

I think that’s the core of the issue: I was denied the right to have a self. 

I was forbidden from myself.

I felt I existed only as a reflection, as a means to another’s end.

“It is still fresh in wild woman’s memory that there was a time when gifted women were tossed away as refuse, when a woman could not have an idea unless she secretly embedded and fertilized it in a man who then carried it out into the world under his own name.”

This has been the most painful part of it all: my alienation from self. My disconnection from my own body, mind, heart and soul. My self-betrayal and self-abandonment, based only on the assumption that I had less of a right (to think, to act, to be) than anyone else.


“The key aspect to a positive animus development is actual manifestation of cohesive inner thoughts, impulses and ideas.” 

The positive animus appears to be action oriented, concerned with bringing form to the ideal. It is practical, not simply theoretical.

“Archetypally, the King [representing the Animus] symbolizes a force that is meant to work in a woman’s behalf and for her well-being, governing what she and soul assign to him, ruling over what psychic forces are granted to him.”

Unfortunately, the masculine as I have come to know it is not this way.

I have experienced the masculine not as protector, but as perpetrator. As the source of violence and fear. As that which seeks to control, and to silence me. 

Even if only my own inner masculine, the animus which rules my terrorized interior world with an iron fist.


“But what if something takes over the creative flow, making it muddier and muddier? What if we become trapped by that, what if we somehow perversely begin to derive issue from it, to not only like it but rely on it, make a living by it, feel alive through it? What if we use it to get us out of bed in the morning, to take us somewhere, to make us a somebody in our own minds? Those are the traps that wait for all of us.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes

It is definitely a trap that I have fallen into. 

And haven’t really gotten out of.

Honestly, I’m still here, wallowing in it as we speak.

I think it’s a great question to ask: What purpose is your illness/inferiority complex/lack of creativity serving for you?

Because it does serve some purpose at this point.

First, it’s a great excuse.

It gives me all the reasons I could ever need for why I can’t do x, y or z.

It allows me to tell myself, “Well, my unhappiness/lack of success/whatever is because I’m not really trying. If it weren’t for this, it would all be different…”

It allows me to avoid taking responsibility for my own life.

I can keep blaming it all on someone else, and keep away from the recognition of how I continually give away my power.

Because yes, I do have power. Even now.

I don’t have to wait until everything is “perfect,” until I’m “fully healed” or have gained approval or validation or whatever it is I’ve been waiting for.

I could start now if I wanted to. If I chose to. 

I’m starting to suspect that I’ve always had more power than I think I do.

I must stop assuming otherwise. 

It’s not just out of fear, but laziness, that I do this.

Because assuming I am powerless amounts to an act of surrender.

By refusing to look at all the options I have to create and influence change, it is as if I were just handing over my life and my self to whatever it is outside of me that would have me in subservience.

It’s time for me to remember: I don’t have to do that anymore.

Richard Tarnas on the Planets in 2021

Last week I had the privilege of attending an online talk led by Richard Tarnas, author of Cosmos and Psyche, on the astrology of 2021. It truly an honor to be in the presence of a man who is widely recognized as one of the great minds of our time.

During his presentation, Tarnas chose to focus on three of the most significant transits of the past and current decade:

  • Uranus square Pluto, lasting from 2007 to 2020
  • Saturn conjunct Pluto, from 2018 to 2022
  • Saturn square Uranus, from 2019 to 2024

The Uranus-Pluto square brought to the surface many of the things which lay in the collective shadows. According to Tarnas, Trump was a potent symbol of the shadow side of this Plutonian energy—he gave permission to other to express many of the things which lay beneath the surface in our society (racism, misogyny, etc.), bringing them into open expression.

The Saturn-Pluto conjunction, which also aligned with Jupiter last year, was one of the most significant of our time. This triple conjunction saw discovery and proliferation of COVID-19, as well as a host of other dire effects. Whenever Saturn enters the picture, it brings with it a great heaviness and seriousness, during which judgements are made and there are consequences.

According to Tarnas, the triple conjunction of Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto in Capricorn was in many ways an initiatory crisis for us. In many ways, it provoked a moral crisis, an awakening which asked us to die to our old identity and be born into a life of meaning. Tarnas spoke of this on a collective level, but I also have felt this to be true on a personal level during the past year. By confronting death, I was able to see life more clearly, and was forced to find a way to live it more courageously and with much more integrity.

The two transits mentioned above are all coming to an end, and we are now left with the major, definitive transit of 2021, the Saturn-Uranus square. The transit will be exact on three dates this year: February 17, June 15, and December 24.

This is not an easy transit. However, Tarnas believes there is still more room to maneuver here than under the Saturn-Pluto conjunction of last year. The energies are now fully engaged, we feel less trapped and are more inspired to face the challenges directly. It’s as if we have gone through a near-death experience, and the life that remains has been imbued with greater preciousness and significance. We are willing to fight for the changes that we need to make in our lives.

Uranus, the unconventional, rebellious planet of change, will meet Saturn, the wise but severe taskmaster of the sky several times through this year, leading to an energy which is great for making creative structural changes in order to permit wiser living and greater freedom. It would be well-advised to make prudent changes slowly and gradually; if we choose to ignore the lessons imparted by Saturn and Uranus, we may find that a sudden break or collapse may occur when we least expect it.

As challenging and disruptive as this may be, the Saturn-Uranus squares of 2021 have the potential to be a sacred marriage of the past and future. If we use this time wisely, we may be able to carry forward what is most valuable from the past, discern what is most promising of the future, and together bring both into structural embodiment.

These crises can be opportunities for us to reconfigure our moral values and make creative, structural changes that will serve us well for years to come. Like with any difficult transits, the more consciousness, creativity, imagination, and courage that we can bring to bear on this situation, the better.

The Maze & the Labyrinth

Many of us consider a maze and a labyrinth to be one and the same thing, but there is actually a subtle difference.

LABYRINTH is the term used when there is only one fixed, or unicursal, path to the center.

A MAZE, on the other hand, refers to a multicursal path that may contain dead ends or different ways to reach the center, and where the possibility always exists to become lost within.

For example, the structure built by Daedalus to hold the minotaur in Ancient Greek mythology has usually been referred to as a labyrinth, but today we might all this a maze, as it was clearly multicursal, with many complex paths and dead ends meant to trap the minotaur.


The unicursal labyrinth is powerful symbol of spiritual transformation. The labyrinth was a symbol which combined the circle and the spiral into one symbol of wholeness.

The Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral

To move from the outside starting point of the labyrinth to the center, and then back again, is symbolic of the spiritual journey to the center of the self and beyond.


I found a lot of insight into the symbols of the maze and the labyrinth in the words Marion Woodman, renowned author and Jungian analyst:

“A maze is a puzzle to be solved. It has dead ends. You may get lost in a maze. You run into a minotaur and be killed.”

Marion Woodman

Like Woodman, I spent many years of my life feeling like I was trapped in a mazed, living as if in fear of a deadly minotaur, and confronting dead end after useless dead end.


“A labyrinth looks superficially like a maze, but it’s different. There are no dead ends, no traps. There is only one path, and it takes you by a circuitous route to the center.”

In her own life, Woodman found that when she at last confronted her deepest fears and faced death, she was also able to realize the perfection of her life experience and see the purpose of her path.

“I was finally able to surrender to life, because at long last I KNEW there was a center and that if I kept listening, opening, and walking forward, my path would lead me to that center.”

I am finding that the same is true for me. I am going to keep walking. I know the center is there, ever present, just waiting for me to open my eyes to it.

“This is our meditation practice as women, calling back the dead and dismembered aspects of ourselves, calling back the dead and dismembered aspects of life itself. The one who re-creates from that which has died is always a double-sided archetype. The Creation Mother is always also the Death Mother and vice versa. Because of this dual nature, or double-tasking, the great work before us is to learn to understand what around and about us and what within us must live, and what must die. Our work is to apprehend the timing of both; to allow what must die to die, and what must live to live.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with the Wolves

This is what I must do now.

This is a turning point for me, and I must choose what will fall away, and what I will carry forward with me into the future.

I’m starting to come to terms with what has happened to me. I’m starting to be ready to see where I need to go next. And who I need to be, in order to get there.