Soon after an infant begins to discriminate itself from its environment, the first archetypal relation is actualized, the child-parent relation. Later, this differentiates into the child-mother relation, and the archetypal Mother, as ultimate source of care and inward relation to family, is projected onto the mortal mother. In effect, the infant has discovered the Mother Goddess, the source of the so-called Eros principle. Later, the child-father axis forms, and the archetypal Father, as source of order and outward relation to society, is projected onto the mortal father. The infant discovers the Father God, origin of the so-called Logos principle. (Whether these mortals are the biological mother and father is not crucial to the constellation of the archetypes.)
In the child’s discovery of the archetypal Mother and Father, we have the roots of sexual differentiation, and psychologists tell us that a child’s sexual identity begins to form as early as 18 months. As this progresses, the child’s contrasexual traits remain undeveloped in the unconscious. As a man has vestigial breasts and a woman a vestigial penis, so each sex has vestigial psychical characteristics in their unconscious. Jungian psychologists term this archetype the Anima in a man and the Animus in a woman.
The Anima or Animus has a genetic core, ultimately rooted in the sex chromosomes. However, we know that there is much more to sex than XX versus XY. The phenotypic expression of the genetic sex depends on many environmental factors, from the womb to the social environment. As a consequence, the Anima or Animus exists as both archetype and complex, that is, as both god and daimôn. Like all gods, the archetypal Anima has a somewhat different relation to each man, but is largely the same for them all; so also the Animus for women. On the other hand, the corresponding daimôns may be quite idiosyncratic in their traits, and have much to do with one’s personal relation to sex.
As, in many respects, the complement of the ego, the Anima or Animus is the nearest archetype of the collective unconscious. Therefore they are natural psychopomps, who may introduce us to the noeric order, where they and the other gods reside. (Recall that Hekate sits in the sphere of the moon, guarding the gate between the terrestrial and celestial realms.) Because of this nearness, the Anima of a man may serve as Muse, a source of creativity and feeling, a representative of the Eros Principle, leading the man to the unconscious and the soul. Indeed, Pythagoras adopted the Muses as the patrons of philosophy, a role reflected, for example, in Proclus’ “Hymn to the Muses” (Boyancé 1936); they are especially guides in the heroization, or deification, of philosophers. Analogously, the Animus of a woman may be a source of rational purposefulness, a representative of the Logos Principle, leading upward to the spirit. Perhaps, therefore, in a woman the Animus is more akin to a Hero than a Muse. This is appropriate, since in theurgy it is the Heroes who aid the ascent in opposition to the hylic daimôns (daimôns of matter).
Like all gods and daimôns, the Anima or Animus may possess or project, both of which are common in relations with the opposite sex. For these reasons it is important for people to be in touch with their Anima or Animus, but also for the purpose of establishing an alliance with the psychopomp, who may be a guide into the divine realm. This is especially a task for the second half of life, when the Higher Self (that is, the One) urges the psyche to reclaim its neglected parts — the ἐπιστροφὴ or turn toward unity; that is, the One calls us to ally ourselves with the divine and to put ourselves in service of Πρόνοια. (See E. Jung, 1957, and C. G. Jung, CW 9, pt. 2, ch. 3, for more on the Animus/Anima.)(continue to next page)