In an earlier note, I talked about the Greek experience of heiros gamos, the idea of a sacred marriage between an archetypal feminine and masculine. I likened it to the union of our ego, our conscious being, and our authentic self, the deep elements of who we really are. It is the union that we begin to achieve as we pursue a life of committed sobriety and service to others, that process that comes by working the Steps and connecting with the Fellowship of recovery. But there is another way to look at the idea of heiros gamos in our individual conscious beings.
Regardless of whether we are woman or man, we have archetypal elements of both genders in each of our individual psyches. Carl Jung spent a good part of his analysis of the human psyche on this, naming that the masculine elements of the feminine psyche as the “animus,” and the feminine aspects of the masculine as the “anima.” Jung saw these elements as largely part of the unconscious but they are clearly elements that we are to strive to keep in balance to achieve a level of wholeness in Jungian terms.
The masculine elements can be seen as those qualities of physical and emotional strength, accountability and responsibility, and the propensity for heroic acts. The feminine can be seen as those qualities of tenderness, compassion, sensitivity and loving nurturing. It is not to be inferred that either gender lacks what the other exhibits, by any means; it is only that the ones mentioned tend to be dominant for the particular gender.
In the alcoholic or drug addicted personality, the feminine or masculine elements of the representative gender can be grossly outsized, so much so that the individual is dysfunctional as a man or a woman…too aggressive and domineering or completely wimpy and ineffective…no matter what the gender. Our pursuit to sobriety is meant to find the right balance so that we can be of service in any and all ways that might be needed by the societies and communities to which we serve. We need to find a true marriage of the masculine and feminine parts of us to achieve the fully committed life of service that we crave and that puts us in the place we were meant to be.