The Great Mother: Analysis of the Archetype, E. Neumann – Session 19, The Lady of the Beasts

The Great Goddess is the incarnation of the Feminine Self. The archetypal psychical world which is encompassed in Her multiple forms is the underlying power which, even today, determines the psychic history of modern man and of modern woman (336). Our one-sided patriarchal development…no longer kept in balance by the matriarchal world of the psyche [prevents] the integration and synthesis necessary to develop psychic wholeness …

In our first session of the New Year we’ll explore the meaning of the Great Goddess as Lady of the Beasts who dominates and protects the animals. She is not in opposition to them as is the male hero and the male god in myth.  She appears as snake-headed or lion-headed, bird-headed, claw-footed, and as winged goddess, as swamp bird, ewe, fish, dolphin and bear. She sits enthroned upon her lions who provide support while she births the cosmos  and all life. “This divine principle, this woman, governs the animal world and dominates instincts and drives; she gathers the beasts beneath her spirit wings as beneath the branches of a tree…. In the matriarchal unconscious phase, a feminine self creates an inner hierarchy of powers. Her image in the human psyche manifests the unconscious and unwilled, but purposive, order of nature. Cruelty, death and caprice stand side by side with supreme planning, perfect purposiveness, and immortal life.” (277–278). Precisely where man is a creature of instinct living in the image of the beast or half-beast, i.e., where he is wholly or in large part dominated by the drives of the unconscious, the guiding purpose, the unconscious spiritual order of the whole, appears as a goddess in human form, as Lady of the Beasts.

Join us for discussion of this animal-human-divine archetype which has exploded from the collective unconscious in the 20th century–from Tolkien to Star Wars, Picasso’s Minotaurs to Wonderwoman, a cornucopia of otherworldly beings present themselves in science fiction, mythic fantasy, literature and cinema, poetry and drama, painting, sculpture, archeology and the multverses of our mythic imaginations.

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