Through a Jungian Lens

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Luna, Goddess of Night

with 8 comments

It took some time, but finally I got a photo of the moon.  As you can see, it was a clear evening.  I considered the break in the weather allowing me to finally photograph the moon as “Luna’s” Father’s Day gift to me.  Who knows, I might just get enough photos for my SoFoBoMo project before the middle of July.  The moon is growing and will soon become a full moon.  I had hoped to get an earlier photo of the first crescent of the new moon, but this photo will work to introduce the idea of Luna as the feminine, unconscious half of the psyche.

“. . . it is the moon, the mother of all things, the vessel, it consists of opposites, has a thousand names, is an old woman and a whore . . . it is wisdom and teaches wisdom, it contains the elixir of life . . .” (Jung, CW Volume 14, par 15)

The moon has caught human attention from the beginning of consciousness.  We worshiped the sun as a god and we worshiped the moon as a goddess.  Under the light of the sun we build our communities, and under the light of the moon, we build our families.  “Sol” gives light in the daytime, an intense light that often becomes harsh.  “Luna” gives light at night, a gentle light that caresses and invites intimacy.  The image that Jung gives us of the moon as containing “the elixir of life” is a powerful image, one that resonates for a man.

The search for the fountain of youth, the elixir that would ward off death has occupied much of our history.  While older men went on searches to various parts of the world, young men went in search of this elixir in women.   It was within the embrace of the feminine that a man felt “fully alive” and complete.  Under the softening light of the moon, a woman glows invitingly promising a paradise that can never be seen in the harsher light of the sun.  Drawn like a moth to a flame, man enters and fills the vessel only to be drained as he dies.  His only hope is to once again come to fullness and be called to do his part in the creation of life.

There is something so primal in the moon softly glowing in the surrounding darkness.  There is something so powerful in the moon that even has the oceans of our world moving in an attempt to reach her.


8 Responses

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  1. It is interesting that the moon is seen as ‘the feminine’. Interesting in that the light from it is merely a reflection of the masculine; that the light is often seen as cold, not warming; that the full moon can make people crazy.

    We have much romance surrounding the moon as well, so there is a tension between the ‘soft’ side of the moon and the ‘dangerous’ side.

    Why do we continue to use ancient mythology to nominate male and female? Why do we not reverse this pairing, or indeed move away from it to see the pairing as Earth and Sol, with the moon as their child?

    By choosing to see the moon as ‘feminine’ and the sun as ‘masculine’ are we embracing the idea of woman as weaker and dangerous? Are we afraid that if we choose the sun as female, because of its nurturing warmth, essential for crops, that we give women too much power?

    Lotus Eater

    June 21, 2010 at 9:19 am

    • Hi Lotus. Thanks for challenging my thinking. Perhaps I don’t have the right words to draw upon as I try to become more aware of my own “self.” There are two sides of the sun as there are two sides of the moon. Sun is logos/conciousness Moon is eros/unconsciousness. All humans (not genderized) have a conscious ego and an unconscious shadow and anima/animus. Since I can only speak from a man’s point of view I am dependent on women speaking from the other point of view. In Jungian psychology, the masculine and feminine is contained in every human. The ideas aren’t about men and women, but about masculine and feminine – within self. I do have to admit that Jung did a poor job of developing his “psychology” in terms of women. I think that there is a need for women to speak loudly for themselves in claiming their psychology as their own rather than as a borrowed subset of Jungian psychology. I do hope that you continue to challenge so that I, and others, realise that I am presenting a lopsided version of human psychology. 🙂

      Robert G. Longpré

      June 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm

  2. the archetypal energy of Sun = masculine and Moon = goddess = feminine is as old as human history. That is why it is archetypal. Despite what ‘modern’ spins we sometimes want to do to the archetypes, they exist.
    I can’t think of a culture in history that had the sun/moon reversed viz. sun is feminine and moon is masculine. Probably due to the synchronicity of woman’s menses to the phase of the moon.


    June 21, 2010 at 11:47 pm

  3. In the Native American system I learned there are 7 directions and colors. The system always begins in the west, the black, the Buffalo direction, move then to the north, the red, the White Buffalo Calf woman direction, then east, the yellow, the Elk, dawn, awakening, new beginning, then south, the white, the Coyote, tricksterism and scampsterism, then the blue, the Above, Father Sky, then the green, the Below, Mother Earth; finally draw three lines, west to east, north to south, Above to Below, these lines meet at one point(the final direction), the purple – The Human Heart.

    John Ferric

    June 22, 2010 at 11:26 am

    • Thanks for adding this, John.

      Robert G. Longpré

      June 22, 2010 at 11:50 am

      • Let me pick up where I left off with my previous post. With the “Below, green” direction being “Mother Earth,” it our connection with her IMO that offers a clearer concept of the male relationship to the female. Here is the online Merriam-Webster definition of husband:
        “Main Entry: 1hus·band
        Pronunciation: \ˈhəz-bənd\
        Function: noun
        Etymology: Middle English husbonde, from Old English hūsbonda master of a house, from Old Norse hūsbōndi, from hūs house + bōndi householder; akin to Old Norse būa to inhabit; akin to Old English būan to dwell — more at bower
        Date: 13th century

        1 : a male partner in a marriage
        2 British : manager, steward
        3 : a frugal manager

        — hus·band·ly adjective”
        The second and third definitions provide the background. A husband is a “steward” of the earth. The “Green” mother earth is what he must “husband” by managing, conserving, attending to, taking care of, honoring. This term later came to describe his relationship to the woman he married. Many ancient rites and rituals were aimed at keeping humans relationship with “Mother Earth,” in balance.

        John Ferric

        June 23, 2010 at 9:07 am

  4. Urspo – there are differences in attribution of sun and moon to male/female archetypes.

    “The Purum, like the Japanese and Germans, take the sun as female and the moon as male. What is more familiar is the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek assignment of the sun as male. For the Egyptians and Babylonians the moon was also male, but the Greek view of the moon as female has now been enshrined in the modern “valorization of the feminine” because of the correspondence and quite reasonable comparison of the lunar month to menstruation — menses is simply the Latin word for “months” (sing. mensis). It is noteworthy where we get these kinds of variations cross-culturally and where we don’t.”

    Right Hand, Left Hand, The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures, by Chris McManus [Harvard University Press, 2002, pp.25-28].

    Lotus Light

    June 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    • Thanks for bringing this quote forward, Lotus. I knew that there was the opposite take on the masculine and feminine images, but didn’t have the reference points. 🙂

      That said, I again want to bring the thoughts back to the logos/eros, conscious/unconscious polarities and masculine/feminine polarities as being within the self.

      Robert G. Longpré

      June 23, 2010 at 8:21 am

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