What is the Difference between the Feminine and Masculine Archetypes?

Question from E from last Beginner’s Corner on Archetypes

What is the difference between the feminine and masculine archetypal energies? 

The more I have been studying the archetypes, the more rich and whole they seem, but also more alike. It is becoming more difficult to see the difference between them. Can you explain a little bit more. 

Thanks for having this space to clear our doubts. Blessings, E

The Archetypes Beginner’s Corner article is here, if you missed it or want a reminder.

What is the Difference between the Feminine and Masculine Archetypes?

Great question E! It has made me think and dive into this topic more deeply. At first, I wondered if masculine and feminine are even archetypes? There are many archetypes that fall into masculine or feminine energies, such as the crone, maiden, grandfather. There are certainly ones that cross into both, such as warrior, mystic, shaman. But, are feminine and masculine archetypes themselves?

Then, I went back to the definition of archetypes from Dictionary.com: 

  1. (in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern or thought, image, etc. universally present in individual psyches.

I would definitely count feminine and masculine in this definition, both the Sacred Feminine and Sacred Masculine, as well as the patriarchal overlays on these energies that we have all been subjected to for the past several thousands of years. This is just like the essence vs. current cultural content that I wrote about last month, where we project present day misunderstandings onto the original essence of the astrological archetypes. We definitely do this with the feminine and the masculine – big time!

I think the best way to approach this topic is to think about the Chinese Yin and Yang symbol.

Yin, the black half, is the feminine energy. Yang, the white, is the masculine energy. With our vast patriarchal overlays on the masculine and feminine, I find it easier to ponder the energies in terms of Yin and Yang, as I don’t have the same charges around these words. The latter help me get to the essence more easily.

Traditionally in Chinese medicine and religion, Yin is receptive, dark, negative (in polarity, not disagreement – even here we start to see our societal projections rise up) and Yang is active, light, positive (again in polarity, think electricity, not better). Right away we can see these definitions challenge our views, such as light is better than dark, positive is better than negative. Neither of these statements is true. They are just new age concepts that most of us have fallen victim too. As patriarchy took hold we turned our backs on the Sacred Feminine (and really the Sacred Masculine) and banished the dark aspect of the Goddess. Darkness became unsafe. We ran from the all-important shamanic death and rebirth cycles. Luckily, we have Shamanic Astrology to bring us back into the beauty of the darkness, where so much of the juice lies, in the underworld! 

I believe the concepts of the energies of the feminine and masculine taught in the Yin Yang symbol give us the best understanding of the immense powers of these two primordial archetypes. It is just in our judgements that we think one is good or better than the other. We need both, always. And, we are not limited by our gender to be one or the other. We are both, always. It is a complicated topic for sure. Look at how we subjugate women in our society and in the backlash to that how we are so down on men equating them erroneously with the patriarchy. Or, try this on… substitute Black for dark and white for light and see how quickly we subscribe to racist ideas. Yet, when we look at the Yin Yang symbol we see beauty in its wholeness. We find life by dealing with our shadow. We grow and find ourselves more deeply in a Pluto cycle. Light polarization is just another way to support the patriarchy and racism if you really get down to it.

We need both for balance

We need both for balance and that brings us back to the archetypes. I love how the Yin Yang symbol has small dots of the other energy present within each half, showing there is not a clear-cut difference. It isn’t linear; It’s a circle where each contains parts of the other. Just like the systems of the body, you can not truly separate any one out from the others. They are completely intertwined and connected to each other, within the whole. Just as E has posited in her question. Following one thread, say the feminine or Yin circles us right into the masculine or Yang, which then circles us right back into the Yin, continuously, forever. They are two sides of the same coin. Just like women and men can both be Pisces, Cancer, Aquarius or Aries. We are both at the same time in our wholeness. Yet, each can be experienced individually.

For example, we just moved out of yang energized Aries into yin energized Taurus. You can feel the shift, right? I experience it as moving from activity and doing into being and receiving. For some of us on a more masculine or evolutionary journey, shown within our charts, Aries season might feel better to us. For others on a feminine or involutionary journey, Taurus might be a welcomed respite. The point being we are complex creatures, with layered paths and experiences that challenge our perceptions of the archetypes as we search to find the essence of the energies within and without.

These are just my musings on E’s question, by no means the definitive answer or truth. What are your thoughts on the topic? Comment below. Send me your questions or thoughts for next time at the email above. Until then, sending you wholeness and love in your explorations of who you are.

Here are two additional resources from Daniel Giamario which discuss gender and sex specifically: Spring Equinox course and Daniel’s Sex and Gender vlogcast.

If you would like your questions answered, send them to beginnerscorner@sheridansemple.com.

Sheridan Semple


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