Posts Tagged ‘Anima’


Technological Terror

October 12, 2009

“The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force,” intones the menacing Darth Vader as he stands in the Death Star conference room. And so it is — even a Dark Lord of the Sith can recognise this fact.

The Force is “an energy field created by all living things” — it is the vitality of life itself: that ground of being that is accessed through mythological motifs, prayer and meditation. The Death Star, on the other hand, is the antithesis of the experience of living, snuffing-out any bright flame of hope in the galaxy.

Admiral Motti and Darth Vader debate the effectiveness of the Death Star

Admiral Motti and Darth Vader debate the effectiveness of the Death Star

This is the line drawn between the feminine and masculine principles. The feminine is passive, introspective and compassionate, exemplified by none other than Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. The masculine, meanwhile, is active and aggressive, operating from the head instead of the heart.

Woman represents life: she is that from which all life enters the world. She is creative and organic, symbolised by Mother Nature herself; she is the Force.

Man wields the symbols of death: the spear, the sword, the gun. He is the warrior: the ultimate destructive force. What he creates is artificial, towering over nature as a monument to the ability to harness and dominate.

In our Western culture, it is no coincidence that we worship at the altar of a masculine God. Unlike nature-based Goddess religions, our spiritual heritage is one where nature is a corrupting influence, where man is separate from nature and both are separate from a jealous God. Indeed, man has dominion over the natural world itself.

And what is the price for this warped view of our place in the world? Global warming, mutually assured destruction and a disposable consumer culture where two all-beef patties serve as the foundation for a nutritious meal.

The Death Star is that masculine principle writ large without any balancing feminine influence. Instead, the feminine is subjugated within it, held captive and tortured while men in monochromatic costumes debate the sheer effectiveness of this instrument of fear.

What is the first target to test the Death Star’s destructive capabilities? It is Princess Leia Organa’s homeworld of Alderaan. Firstly, Alderaan represents Leia, the feminine, the Anima; secondly, it is a modern yet natural, organic planet (as seen in Revenge of the Sith), symbolising the ability to embrace life on its own terms; and thirdly, it is a key component in the Rebellion’s plan-of-attack, thus acting as a proxy for the Force itself. All three are in conflict with the callous ideals that the Death Star embodies.

The Death Star approaches Alderaan

The Death Star approaches Alderaan

Initially, high-tech might wins out over the creative life-force, and Alderaan is destroyed. But, as Vader points out, the Force is stronger than even the greatest intellectual construct.

It is not technology, nor conscious skills, that win the day for the Rebels and help them to destroy the Death Star. It is the Force itself, with one young man letting go his “conscious self” and surrendering to the impulse of life, using the Force and taking a leap of faith.

Life — the Force — resists the urge to be bent, twisted, moulded to suit the purposes of the intellect. You may succeed briefly, but in the end, your “moment of triumph” is mere illusion.


Oedipus the Sith

June 14, 2009

The archetypes of the collective unconscious are vessels into which we pour our most formative experiences. The Ego: that with which we begin to self-identify. The Shadow: that which threatens our self-identity. The Persona: the mask that society imposes upon us. The Self: totality, wholeness, completion. We each build our own personalised images of these primordial forms, but the universal qualities remain underneath, like hidden treasure buried under the sand.

For men, the gateway to the unconscious is the Anima, encapsulating femininity in the male psyche. She represents all that he is not, in terms of a masculine/feminine dichotomy: if he is logical, she is emotive; if he is active, she is passive. The Anima is forged from the raw materials of early feminine presence: the mother, the sister, the young female teacher. And so the man is then forever in search of that perfect woman who embodies this idealised image. But who could possibly compete with Mother? It is an eternal quest to find a woman able to live in Mother’s shadow.

Father, meanwhile, is the competitor for Mother’s affections. He is the lover who threatens the harmony of relationship between mother and son, standing for patriarchal rule and law. He is a cruel and merciless tyrant, offering shoulds and oughts over the child as he grows into a man.

We find the young boy trapped in this Freudian nightmare, wishing to kill his father and marry his mother. He is locked into the ancient myth of Oedipus the King.

The two trilogies of Star Wars play out this Greek tragedy beautifully. Anakin is haunted by the image of his mother, turning to Padme Amidala when he can no longer find solace in his mother’s arms. Is he looking for an equal partner? No, he’s in search of a mother, and Padme, it seems, is a suitable substitute.

Anakin, gripped by the tragedy of his mother's fate

Anakin, gripped by the tragedy of his mother's fate

Who is the father? As in so many great mythic traditions, Anakin has no father. But “Father”, in psychological terms, is a relationship, not a biological fact; here, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin’s Master and mentor, is the father-figure. Anakin sees Obi-Wan as a threat, both to his ability to save his mother and to his attempt to connect with Padme. Obi-Wan represents the Jedi Order and all the rules and restrictions contained in their code.

Naturally, then, Anakin marries Padme and tries to kill Obi-Wan. The tragedy of Oedipus reaches its terrible conclusion.

Fast-forward some 20 years later and Luke, Anakin’s son, finds himself in a similar predicament. Luke is captivated by the hologram of Princess Leia Organa, dressed in a virginally white gown and begging for assistance. Here we have a very literal case of Anima projection, with the maiden being held captive by the demonic father-figure of Darth Vader.

Luke's first glimpse of Leia, his Anima, embodied

Luke's first glimpse of Leia, his Anima, embodied

Luke, of course, learns over the course of two more movies that Vader is his father and Leia is his sister. Furthermore, she is his only connection to Mother — Anakin was the boy without a father; Luke, the boy without a mother. Lightsabers clash once more between father and son, again over the affections of the mother-figure.

Yet Luke succeeds where Anakin failed. Anakin’s vice was attachment: the proclivity not to love the other person but to own them; Luke, on the other hand, was a man of compassion, loving the other person out of respect for their humanity, not out of a selfish desire to have them love him back.

In the end, Luke is able to both accept and grow beyond his Oedipal fixations. He recognises Leia not as a object of desire but as his female counterpart. Once we own the Anima as a part of our own psyches, it turns from a jealous desire into the creative force of life itself. It is that which connects us to the larger spiritual world.