My Year Ahead: The Emperor


Shadow work is the path of the Heart Warrior.
- C.G. Jung (attributed) 

Don't we all love these quotes that come out of nowhere and become commonly attributed to someone based on the assumption that it suits the person? Well, the quote above is most likely one of those, but it doesn't stop me from liking it. Seems like my February summary is bound to be quite jungian in its nature. Little did I know at the beginning of this year that this journey through my year ahead will prove to be so helpful and insightful - and this month certainly got me to pay attention.


IV The Emperor, Mary-El Tarot

Remember when I shared my story with smoking in January? I mentioned a course that I'm taking - Schultz's Autogenic Training in conjunction with jungian analysis, and especially that one meeting when we were doing some archetype analysis work. That's when the seeds of change were planted. Not only did I immediately quit smoking after years of struggling with it but a larger, deeper internal process finally got a green light to start unfolding.

That evening, we were asked to draw two images representing archetypes - one that's currently blocking us and one that is strenghtening us. For me it happened to be Shadow in the form of cigarettes and Self depicted as a vast ocean touching the sky with the sun illuminating it from above the clouds. After a thorough analysis of each of the participants' archetypes in the circle, it became apparent to me that there's a huge gap in between the archetypes that showed up for me - an element missing between two opposites, a bridge linking one to another. So I was offered to draw one more archetype - something that will help me form that bridge. It was the archetype of Collective Animus, the masculine principle in its strongest form, depicted as a marching army of men. It immediately made me think two things: 1) "Damn, this is the Emperor card from Japaridze!", 2) "Holy fuck, not you again, masculinity."


IV WAR (The Emperor), Japaridze Tarot

Yes, I did struggle with a strong internal conflict with the masculine for quite some time, and I still do. Being a woman who hated and repressed her femininity for many years of her life, when I finally managed to reclaim it a few years ago, I started feeling resentful of masculinity as a result. I didn't want to have anything to do with masculinity, I was tired of it, I simply wanted to wallow in everything feminine, as if I was breathing fresh air for the first time in my life. It was the Balancing Act - hugely nourishing but also bringing the shadows to light. That evening, when the Collective Animus appeared for me, I knew in my bones it was coming but I didn't feel ready for it. I realized that my resentment was a defense mechanism, and what was hiding underneath was actually fear of becoming dominated by the masculine against my will yet again. At that time, I didn't realize it was the feminine that was slowly spinning out of control, precisely because of that fear. And then February came, with the Emperor as its monthly card.

Things started unfolding on their own, without me noticing. I stopped doing Bereginya (gymnastics for women only) which I would normally do around 5 times a week. Instead, I got a gym pass and started working out in a more "manly" manner, got back into snowboarding as well. In general, I started doing things that required me to wear pants more often - literally and symbolically. Might not sound like a big deal exactly, unless you actually wear skirts and dresses exclusively (as in zero pants) for the longest time. (You can read about the importance of clothing in my native folklore and why I only wear skirts/dresses here: click.) Even this slight shift caused noticable changes in my mindset - and with changes came realizations.

If I had to boil it all down to a short note to self, it would probably be something like:

"Girl, without balancing the masculine and feminine,
you're fucked."

It is that basic, yes. And I'm not talking solely about the internal processes here. On the contrary! I need to be very careful and mindful about how I react to the emanations of both masculine and feminine in the outside world around me. Do I treat them equally? Am I siding with one or the other? Due to fear, or to prove something? Why? For me, one of the good indicators of the state of my internal balance is the way I perceive my parents. I've noticed years ago that it fluctuates over time depending on what "side" I'm leaning towards more. If there's too much Anima, I'll have an awesome relationship with my mother but will get irritated by my father, and vice versa. It might or might not work the same for others, depending on their unique family dynamics. Worth thinking through, either way.

Speaking of fathers, the Emperor from Mary-El Tarot was a game changer for me. (I'm actually obsessed with the entirety of this deck, but that's a topic for another post.) I'm infinitely grateful that synchronicity (named Alaina) was so generous to make this deck appear in my life precisely when I needed it. 


He is the earthly father archetype and king of kings, ruler of the four quarters of the earth, the four pillars that hold up the heavens, the four sides of a pyramid stable and square. He imposes order and harmony on the elements. (...) he IS the land, he and the kingdom are one, as if his own body were divided up into mountains and plains, oceans and deserts. The fate of the land is his fate.
/fragment from Landscapes of the Abyss by Marie White/

He IS the land. The fate of the land is his fate. - This pulled the right string somewhere deep within me and created an overwhelming wave of resonance, accompanied by visions of the archetypal figure of mature masculinity in its full glory. It makes me think of a father, working - sometimes beyond exhaustion - to transform the land with his strong and tired hands to provide for his family. It makes me think of that same father protecting the hearth and the land from outside danger at all cost. This tired gentle giant, with coarse hands and warm eyes. This is what I saw in my father as a child and I wish every child could see the same in their father.

Mature masculinity. Heart Warrior. Something to strive for - not to be afraid of. In a world of inequalities I sometimes think that it's the men who became victims of their own making. In a world where they feel that they need to be stronger - stronger than children, stronger than women, stronger than other men - it is a constant fight for survival. Holding onto power requires sacrifice. There's no time for rest, no time to take off the armor, no place for weakness. This huge amount of buried content (repressed emotions, guilt, fears, abandoned parts of Self) creates tremendous pressure over time, eventually leading to breakdown. It builds up for years to finally explode - usually around forties - into the infamous midlife crisis.

Isn't it funny that we usually equate a "mature man" with a guy that's 40+ years old? Seriously though, go to Google Images and search for "mature man" and see what pops up! Yeah, you guessed right - a lot of men with graying hair + mandatory beard. So it's socially (quietly) acceptable to be immature until we hit 40? To be, basically, immature until we can no longer pull it off without breaking down? Cause once we break down there's no going back, so we come out mature on the other side of the crisis. Involuntarily. Worth pondering on. 

The way I see it, to put it simply, is that every possible archetype can be perceived on a spectrum from Shadow to Self, where Shadow would be the least developed form and Self - the most developed, individuated. We could also equate Shadow to lack of consciousness and Self to consciousness. With all of the archetypes that we manifest, we usually start somewhere around the middle of the spectrum. The goal, ideally, would be to strive for individuation, to eventually reach the Self. Even though it is a life long quest, we begin maturing the moment we make a conscious decision to do the work. That is the path of the Heart Warrior - the path of the Emperor.

1 comment:

  1. WHOA. What a post. I need to read this a couple more times because the Emperor has been stalking me a bit. I definitely feel what you're saying about making the decision, taking the step, becoming the mature ME I am meant to be.

    Interesting how the masculine changes manifested in your life so palpably.

    Thanks for this post. So happy you're enjoying the Mary el :) x

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