Influenced by International Women’s Day and delivering leadership programmes on emotional intelligence to mainly male audiences, I found my attention tuned to the representation of masculinity and femininity in the eternal city.
Carl Jung wrote about our masculine (animus) and feminine (anima) traits, the archetypes of the unconscious mind. Regardless of our gender, we have both.
Going by the number of statues celebrating masculinity (in more ways than one), we can say that our society has a developed animus. Where traits come from a place of strength and are associated with values of initiative, courage and rational deduction. And where there is a deep belief in the value of one’s own life.
Like the goddess figures in Roma, our feminine side, our anima traits seem to be less visible. Less celebrated and more hidden in society. But they are there. These are the traits with a strong emphasis on the outward expression of feeling. Of connection and sensitivity to events which impact on the inner lives of friends and acquaintances. These come from a place of goodness, where there is a deep belief in the value of the life of others.
In successful relationships, partners possess proportions of these qualities in equal measure. Arguably a successful society does too. It seems however, that as a species occupying this world, we continue to face a serious imbalance.
How can we access our feminine traits to bring about more balance? Here we can draw inspiration from the Italian Renaissance and Tarot cards. Tarot cards as archetypes describe the essential human traits, experiences and patterns of development. We connect with them because of the shared meaning between the images of the cards and the events in life. During the Renaissance, these images were used for meditation. To help raise individual consciousness and to connect oneself with one’s true essence.
We can therefore use them to reflect on the feminine figures such as the Empress. To remind ourselves of our life giving qualities. The value of our body and our senses. And our bond with nature. We can contemplate the High Priestess and our connection with the mysterious inner world. And our powers of intuition. We can ponder on Temperance and our function of feelings and our desire for harmony and cooperation. And we can muse on the Moon, comfortable in that space of confusion, fluctuation and uncertainty.
As women and men, if we seek to balance ourselves and our relationships, we give hope to creating a more balanced society. We offer the possibility of a more peaceful and just world by considering what is good for people and the planet, not just profit.