The other day, I was reading in the living room when my 3-year-old son River paraded through the doorway wearing a dress with glittering sequins on it. “Daddy, look at my superhero outfit!!!”
I hadn’t seen that piece of clothing since my wife was in her twenties. How and where he dug it up was beyond me.
“Awesome suit, Riv!”
Staring into his bright blue eyes, I know I am learning from the greatest teacher the universe could have sent my way. I’m curious about all aspects of his beautifully inquisitive life. He sees the world with limitless vision, poking and prodding at anything that interests him, uninhibited by the expectations of others.
Looking at his pureness of spirit, I try to remember how old I was when I first began hearing things like, “Boys should only play with trucks, not dolls” or “Girls always like pink the best”. These subtle cultural expectations seemed so normal thirty years ago, but they have no place in the life I envision for myself and my family now.
When did our views become so rigid?
In the shamanic healing traditions of the Amazon, there is a strong emphasis put on the need for harmonious balance between the masculine and feminine forces that exist within us. In ceremony and other healing rites, physical and mental illnesses are often traced back to compromises we’ve made with one of these two divine archetypes.
“The true feminine brings a deep wisdom rooted in trusting one’s intuition and heart. It is a passionate, creative, and life-giving force. The true feminine supports deep heartfelt nurturing of all creation and the passing along of traditions from one generation to the next.”
“The true masculine is characterized by confidence without arrogance; rational thinking without a need to control; honor without a desire for war. It provides stability, strength, and courage in an ever-shifting world.”
– Arkan Lushwala, Indigenous Leader & Ceremonialist
This cosmic dance of the binary soul is not just found in the tropics of South America, it’s embraced by many ancient wisdom traditions around the world, from Hinduism to Traditional Chinese Medicine to the Mossi and Ba-Huana tribes of Africa, to name a few.
The Western Jungian belief is that each of us carries gender traits that are the opposite of the physical body we are born to inhabit. Carl Jung said that if we are truly in balance with both the internal masculine and feminine (animus and anima) then we’ll be balanced in all areas of our lives.
Much of the healing I’ve done in ceremony has been focused on reuniting these two forces and learning how to hold them both while I walk through this life. One thing is for sure, untangling this type of imbalance is much tougher as we get older.
So for now, I treasure watching my son play freely. His superhero thrives in a magical pink dress today, and it will be fun to see what tomorrow brings. No matter what, I’ll always do my best to help him understand the dualistic forces that are part of his birthright.
A question for you – how do you relate to these two complimentary forces? Do you sense there is only one in you, or do you feel a balanced presence of both?