The old, patriarchal paradigm as expressed in the U.S. hinges on ideas of dominance and difference. It’s a highly destructive, unsustainable system and many of its citizens’ constant call for a re-evaluation. However, critique itself is destructive. I hope for something less damaging, less polarizing.
This idea of being out of balance, or need to achieve balance, would require moving away from a bilateral model of good-bad, right-wrong, my way or the highway thinking. That is, we shift from an either-or position to one of both-and, according to Howard Teich, Ph.D., a professor and therapist whose work “Solar Light, Lunar Light: Perspectives on Human Consciousness” has begun to deeply inform how I view myself and my work in conscious business coaching.
Generally speaking, Teich tells us that we carry within both solar and lunar archetypes we can retrieve from the collective unconscious (he’s a Campbell and Jung scholar). Whether we identify as masculine or feminine becomes less important than the balanced presence of solar-lunar traits in our psyche. When we activate these traits, he suggests, the results include a range of expanded possibilities for solutions to real-world problems.
In the “out of balance” paradigm, the solar traits of a person who lacks lunar traits is described as ego-driven, dominating and disconnected or isolated from others, abrasive, inflammatory, obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist, authoritarian, rigid and unable to adapt, and cocky. In other words, it’s the “masculine” model, and it’s broken.
In this reality, lunar without solar is described as: self-deprecating and doubting, appeasing others and not taking a stand for values, lenient or lax, lacking in focus and willpower, living in a fantasy world, following the herd, aimless, and a helpmate. In this case, the “feminine” model, and it, too, is fragmented.
Many of us today are resisting these old paradigms, Patriarchal models because they are unhealthy for individuals and the society at large. But individuals who embrace these either-or tendencies are exhibiting traits which stop evolution individually and for the collective. Teich’s work may then be understood as a type of archetypal re-membering, of putting the lost pieces of solar and lunar back together again so we can evolve.
Whether our outer world gender identity is masculine or feminine, each of us with has both masculine and feminine, solar and lunar qualities. If ours is a path toward wholeness, this reintegration of our missing pieces needs to occur.
In this new “achieving balance” paradigm, the solar traits and lunar traits replace the out of balance, gendered stereotypes with a “both this and that” solution.
In the solar, traits we may cultivate include: confidence or the courage to enact our ideas, strength in our convictions and a willingness to take action; responsibility, a desire to achieve and maintain high standards, orientations toward goals, and a sense of self that’s powerful, structured, and carries conviction.
The lunar traits co-exist alongside the solar, complementing the active elements while covering the different ground. The lunar traits we may wish to cultivate in the search for wholeness and balance include a willingness to admit limitations or mistakes, cooperative and collaborative endeavors to achieve results, empathy, the ability to connect the dots, to fail and be vulnerable. The lunar realm is visionary, compassionate, flexible, receptive.
Ultimately, Teich’s view of the solar-lunar archetype and its effect on consciousness is co-creative, asking each of us to participate in the creation of new reality. This present time requires that we reject polarization as “unnatural.” Instead, we may choose to integrate and prepare for an initiation into a new mode of consciousness through specific types of actions.
The Act of Naming
“How we name and describe ourselves, how we tell our stories, shapes our intellectual consciousness as well as our emotional lives,” says Teich.
Whether recounting family history, sharing our experience, or watching television news broadcasts, the stories that we hold as true shape our thoughts and feelings. We are individually and collectively responsible for the stories we tell, the mythologies we reinforce, and the stereotypes we perpetuate.
The Act of Initiation
Women’s mythologies should perhaps be at the forefront of the discussion of initiation. The women’s movement is often described in “waves,” but may also be understood as a recurring pattern of initiation cycles which find their source in original archetypes.
“Culture can repress an archetype, but it cannot kill it,” Teich writes. “The archetype will return with a vengeance and burst forth with renewed strength.”
Certainly, today, the day after the inauguration of a President who brags openly about his deeply objectionable treatment of women, the archetypes of women warriors and sovereigns burst forth with a vengeance and renewed strength. As I write, women are pouring onto the streets in hundreds of cities across the United States to protest the unmistakable and omnipresent War on Women.
The Act of Relating
In Western culture, there is a tragic “disdain of the solar feminine, in how a woman relates to herself, to other women, and to men,” Teich writes.
The maltreatment of women on the basis of gender or gendered identity is perhaps the greatest tragedies of our time. This once great nation now falters, its future in the hands of a patriarchal figurehead the citizens will likely refuse to follow. In personal, political and professional arenas, I believe our greatest trials are now our greatest opportunities for triumph.
May each of us claim our wholeness and strength for the journey ahead.