As poet Walt Whitman once wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes.”
There’s a reason why this simple yet beautiful verse has reverberated across history: it contains immense truth. We all contain multitudes.
We’re all a divine amalgamation of water and fire, soul and spirit, yin and yang.
Ultimately, when we can look deeply into the nature of everything within us, we can see that all human beings contain two types of energy: that of the feminine and masculine.
In psychology, these two polar opposite forces are known as the Anima and Animus.
What’s fascinating is that both Eastern and Western teachings promote the need to connect with, explore, and balance each of these seemingly polar inner forces to find true equilibrium and wellbeing.
Perhaps even more important than finding a sense of overall balance, learning how to connect with the feminine (Anima) and masculine (Animus) face of the Soul is a crucial part of the spiritual awakening journey.
Table of contents
What is the Anima and Animus?
First coined by famous psychiatrist Carl Jung, the terms “Anima” and “Animus” refer to the indwelling masculine and feminine energies that we all possess.
Specifically, the anima is thought to be the feminine part of a man’s Soul, and the animus refers to the masculine part of a female’s Soul. Both the anima and animus are ancient archetypes (or raw forms of energy) that every being contains.
Free Anima & Animus Worksheets!
Want to explore your connection with your Anima/Animus? Get your FREE worksheets!
Let’s explore these parts of us more in depth:
The Anima Explained
Derived from Latin meaning “a current of air, wind, breath, the vital principle, life, soul,” the Anima refers to the unconscious feminine dimension of a male which is often forgotten or repressed in daily life.
As it’s generally considered taboo to embrace one’s inner female side as a man in patriarchal society, men often fail to fully embody and embrace this fundamental energy within their Souls. Sadly, if a male does embrace his Anima, he is often criticized as being “a wimp,” “a sissy,” “a pussy,” and other derogatory names.
However, in the perspective of psychology, in order to fully step into a mature masculine role, a man must go on a quest to explore this inner Divine Feminine energy. In other words, he must unite with the other half of his Soul.
Often, this quest results in some sort of projection, that is, trying to find the ideal lover or soulmate in the form of another idealized person. But he can never embody the Anima through another person – only through his own concerted efforts.
The key realization here is that he must find this force within himself, rather than disown it onto another.
As described by Jungian Psychologist Dan Johnston, the man who has connected with his feminine Anima displays “tenderness, patience, consideration and compassion.”
However, repression of the female element within males often results in a negative Anima that emerges as personality traits such as “vanity, moodiness, bitchiness, and sensitivity to hurt feelings.”
Indeed, a man who has failed to embody his Anima also tends to fall prey to emotional numbness and toxic masculine traits such as aggression, ruthlessness, coldness, and a purely rational approach to life.
The Animus Explained
The Animus, which is a Latin word that means “the rational soul; life; the mental powers, intelligence,” is the unconscious male dimension in the female psyche.
Due to societal, parental, and cultural conditioning, the Animus, or male element within the woman, is often inhibited, restrained, and suppressed (just as the Anima is within men).
However, the Animus isn’t always repressed – sometimes, it is actually over-emphasized and forcefully imposed upon women. Take Western society for example. Here we have a culture that ruthlessly imposes toxic masculine ideals such as workaholism, productivity, emotional numbness, and ruthlessness as ways to excel and succeed in life.
All of these external elements can contribute towards a negative Animus, which can reveal itself in a woman’s personality through argumentative tendencies, brutishness, destructiveness, and insensitivity.
However, integrating a positive Animus into the female psyche can result in assertiveness, levelheadedness, objectivity, and rationality.
Becoming Whole = Reclaiming the Inner Feminine and Masculine
In the mind of Jung – who derived many of his thoughts and teachings from Eastern Philosophies – in order for a person to be whole through the process of “Individuation” (i.e., inner evolution), a person must encounter, and work to embrace, their internal Anima or Animus (or Feminine and Masculine energy).
As Jung goes on to explain, the process of this becoming whole (or Individuation) can be described as:
… becoming an “in-dividual,” and, in so far as “individuality” embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as “coming to selfhood,” or “self-realization.”
Thus connecting with our inner male or female energy – the “other half” of our Soul – is essential for the development of self-awareness and understanding, which are important components of inner work and deep spiritual growth.
Soul Loss and the Anima / Animus
Perhaps one of the biggest signs that we’re disconnected from the “other half” of our Soul is a feeling of lethargy, aimlessness, loneliness, and overall unease.
This malaise is what I call Soul Loss, and it emerges when we’re so rigidly stuck in one mode of being (either yin/feminine or yang/masculine), that we can’t access the fullness of our sacred wild True Nature.
The longer we’re operating from this limited, one-dimensional place, the more likely we are to fall into a crisis of some kind like the Dark Night of the Soul whose function is to essentially “shake us to awaken us.”
But we can lessen the likelihood of experiencing such an extreme crisis if we learn to embrace the fact that we are multi-faceted beings and ‘retrieve’ the lost side of our Soul.
Nothing to Do With Your Sexuality or Gender Identity
Before we explore how to reconnect with the other side of our Soul, I want to highlight something important.
Connecting to your inner Anima or Animus does not require you to become homosexual, lesbian, or possess a non-binary/trans identity, as some might think. And if you identify with either of these sexual orientations or identities, it doesn’t require you to become heterosexual or cisgender/binary either.
The Anima and Animus energy within us has nothing to do with sexuality or gender identity. Instead, it’s all about creating balance.
In essence, what we’re striving for is to balance the opposites within us to create a sense of Wholeness. In other words, what we’re practicing is a living form of spiritual alchemy. The point isn’t to give up your sexual preference or identity, but to become a more mature human being.
How to Connect With Your Anima or Animus
So how can we connect with the inner Divine Feminine (Anima) or Divine Masculine (Animus)? Here are some suggestions:
For Males – Connecting to the Anima
Connecting to the Anima for males is about getting in touch with the inner feminine energy which manifests itself as passivity, sensitivity, and emotionality. Suggestions for getting in touch with your Anima include the following:
- Practice the art of listening with concern and compassion
- Rediscover your passionate side through romantic gestures
- Take care of/nurture something (like a plant, lover, or animal)
- Practice thoughtfulness and consideration of the needs of others
- Express your inner Anima creatively, e.g., music, art, sculpture, poetry, dance
- Practice mindfulness, meditation, and other ways to get in touch with, and understand your emotions
- Expand your hobbies or interests to incorporate feminine energies in your life
- Practice self-love and self-care
- Find a historical female figure (or male with a strong Anima) who you admire and use them as a role model
*You can also read our article on the Divine Feminine for more guidance.*
For Females – Connecting to the Animus
For females, connecting to the inner Animus is about understanding masculine energy which manifests itself in an active, dominant, and logical way. Suggestions for getting in touch with your Animus include the following:
- Practice assertiveness
- Adopt a role or position that puts you in authority
- Learn to take charge of something in your life
- Discover and develop your leadership abilities
- Read non-fiction instead of purely fiction
- Become more self-sufficient and self-reliant
- Learn masculine skills, (e.g., fixing car problems, learning to use a drill, fix broken appliances, etc.)
- Gain more emotional balance by practicing mindfulness, meditation, and self-exploration
- Find a historical male figure (or female with a strong Animus) who you admire and use them as a role model (see my archetypes article for more guidance)
*You can also read our article on the Divine Masculine for more in-depth guidance.*
For Those Who Don’t Identify With Either Gender
If you don’t identify as either male or female (e.g., non-binary/genderqueer individuals), try working with the type of energy that you feel most estranged from or uncomfortable with.
For example, if you struggle to connect with yang energy, focus on connecting with the Animus face of your Soul (and vice versa with yin/Anima energy).
If you don’t feel particularly disconnected with either, choose any you like! You might even like to work simultaneously with both energies, and journal about your discoveries to keep a record of your journey.
For Masculine Women and Feminine Men
Obviously, not all women possess traditional feminine energy, and not all men possess traditional masculine energy. I would consider myself a more masculine-oriented woman and I’ve had many yang-type female friends who struggle to “get along” with the softer face of the yin/feminine.
If you’re a masculine-oriented woman or feminine-oriented man, my advice is simple:
- For masculine women, work with the Anima (yin) side of your Soul
- For feminine men, work with the Animus (yang) side of your Soul
Once you’ve allowed more space for yin or yang qualities to emerge within your psyche, you’ll eventually find yourself being drawn toward the opposite energy. And like a pendulum, you’ll dance between both types of energy until more equilibrium, harmony, and inner balance is reached.
The spiritual awakening journey is about finding sacred balance. When we lack a strong connection to either the masculine or feminine part of ourselves, we suffer. Remember that your Soul contains both sides. You deserve to have access to all parts of your inner Self.
Thankfully, all that is needed to get back into balance is simply observing your life and making some changes. First, ask yourself what side of the spectrum you’re leaning more toward, the Anima (feminine) or Animus (masculine)?
Second, introduce some simple changes into your mindsets and habits. For example, do you need to bring in more assertive Animus energy? Do you need to make space for patient and gentle Anima energy? Creating a balanced self is always contextual and will shift and change throughout your life.
What energy do you struggle to feel connected with? Why do you think this might be? I’d love to hear below.