Archetype of the Animus – Jung’s view of the male in the female

The male within the female, shown as a man in a woman’s dreams. Physically a woman is predominantly female, but also has a clitoris and produces some male hormones. Psychologically, we may only express part of our potential in everyday life. In a woman, the more physically dynamic, intellectual and socially challenging side of herself such as assertiveness and taking charge of situations may be given less expression. Apart from this some features, such as innovation and creative rational thought, may be held in latency. Even if this is not true for the modern woman, there are features of her full potential that are held as secondary or latent characteristics, and are depicted by the male in female dreams.

In general we can say the man in a woman’s dreams represents the woman’s mental and social power, her ability to act creatively in ‘the world’. It also holds in it an expression of her complex of feelings about men, gained as experience mostly from her relationship with – or lack of relationship with – her father. The animus is also a synthesis of all her male contacts. So the whole realm of her experience of the male can be represented by the man in her dream, and is accessible through the image. Femaleness or maleness must not be confused with personality as expressed as her body. The conscious personality is a very flexible and shapeshifting thing. It can be male or female in quality no matter what the body gender. But in dreams, the male is the facet of dynamic action that projects into the world of this shapeshifting personality.

The animus can be depicted in a dream by an heroic or spiritual male figure, by her brother or father, a giant, a lion or bull. The animus can be wonderfully creative or powerfully destructive, depending upon ones relationship with it. Cultural symbols one may use are of leader figures from either national or religious backgrounds; a male dwarf; a medicine man such as a shaman, or a man the woman is marrying. The negative aspect of the animus may show as the seducer, the man who imprisons or leads her into danger or tortures her. The positive animus shows as the man who solves problems, shows how things work, exhibits love despite trials, and is the deliverer from death. P. W. Martin says that more than anything else the animus figure has two characteristic marks: energy and ambivalence.

Marie von Franz says of the animus that it often takes the negative form of a ‘sacred conviction’ in a woman rather than erotic fantasies. When a woman has such an animus impulse working in her she may be recognised by the way she preaches her particular ‘sacred conviction’ in a loud and sometimes masculinised voice. She may even impose such beliefs on others in ‘brutal emotional scenes’. Such a woman may be at times obstinate, cold and inaccessible. An example of a woman with such a sacred conviction is Joan of Arc. While Bluebeard is an example of a negative animus figure.

These convictions a woman may hold are related to the present situation or the woman’s own personality. They simply ARE. The negative animus may also lead a woman into destructive relationship with her husband or children. Von Franz quotes the story of a woman who showed her a picture of the woman’s son who died by drowning at 27. The woman commented that ‘I prefer it this way: better than giving him away to another woman.’ Such hidden possessiveness and domination can lead to awful situations in those related to such a woman, making it difficult for children to become independent, and husbands to become men.

Good relationship with or marrying the man

Shows the woman integrating her own ability to be independent and capable in outwardly active terms. This makes her more whole, balancing her ‘female’ qualities. She would then be less dependent upon an external male to feel whole. It also shows the woman meeting her experience of her father in a healing way. This enables the woman to have a realistic relationship with an actual man. It also brings a sense of connectedness between her conscious self and what she senses as the ‘commercial’ world. See: Archetype of the father.

This marriage – a sacred marriage – may take many dreams and personal growth to find an actual full marriage in ones inner world. This can be seen also in the integration of the female in the male. See Integrating the female in the male

Example: The girl was confiding in me; telling me she’d met the man of her dreams and she was so happy. The man turned out the be a married man in his 70s whom I would probably characterise as being a good, kind person but who is also rather bound up with getting things ‘right’ – he likes loads of meetings and organisation. The young girl who was called Mary was naive, bubbly and not particularly bright.

Maybe there is a clue in the name Mary. The old guy, Joseph married the young girl Mary and couldn’t or didn’t father the child. So she had a virgin birth. But such stories are actually fables, that need to be understood. Joseph worked with wood, the already grown – the intellect. As your dream suggests, more interested in organising and getting things right, all typical of an intellectual approach. Mary, as a young girl represents someone who is not conditioned by pre-conceived ideas. In effect she is a virgin ready to receive something special. So if we consider that your dream has a little of that in, it certainly doesn’t suggest the old man and the young girl getting together. Also I think you may be looking at this from an intellectually analytical viewpoint. And maybe the young girl has a lot of possibilities that you could mature with some patience. Maybe even to a virgin birth of wonderful new possibilities, when you let go of preconceived ideas.

A vast number of myths and fairy tales tell of a prince, turned by witchcraft into a wild animal or monster, who is redeemed by the love of a girl-a process symbolising the manner in which the animus becomes conscious. (Dr. Henderson has commented on the significance of this “Beauty and the Beast” motif in the preceding chapter.) Very often the heroine is not allowed to ask questions about her mysterious, unknown lover and husband; or she meets him only in the dark and may never look at him. The implication is that, by blindly trusting and loving him, she will be able to redeem her bridegroom.  But  this  never  succeeds.  She always breaks her promise and finally finds her lover again only after a long, difficult quest and much suffering.

The parallel in life is that the conscious attention a woman has to give to her animus problem takes much time and involves a lot of suffering. But if she realises who and what her animus is and what he does to her, and if she faces these realities instead of allowing herself to be possessed, her animus can turn into an invaluable inner companion who endows her with the masculine qualities of initiative, courage, objectivity, and spiritual wisdom.  Quoted from The process of individuation  by Marie von Franz in Man and his Symbols by Carl Jung.

Example: I told my family members…they were all sitting at a large dining room table…that I was marrying Jesus.  It was an odd dream as they were all there in one place…they were mostly the women in my family who have neither been strong for themselves or supportive of me…pretty toxic.

In this dream the woman is taking a real step to integrate with her ideal man – Jesus often represents the best in us. There are still things in the way though, the opinions and influence of her family.

Here is a dream of the union achieved.

Example: In my being I am Radha and Krishna.  In me they both live in a wonderful union of bliss.  I am both the incarnation of godhead and also the worshipper before that wonder.  That this wonder can live in me is beyond my understanding.  I feel all this because I am that blissful union of Krishna and Radha.  In myself I know the union and the love.  I have been and am that sweet love forever joined.


To be in conflict with the man, or unable to make real physical and pleasurable contact with him

Suggests difficulty in meeting what may have been a painful or threatening experience of father or some other man. This can lead to lack of ability to make clear judgements, and lack of decisiveness in areas outside of feeling values. She is prone to acceptance of collective or long held social norms without question; family or national attitudes not applicable to present situations; and ‘reasoning’ which actually arises out of emotions connected to such family or social norms. Actual relations with men will be difficult, or entered into simply as a duty. Emotional or intimate merging is threatening because it brings the woman close to the conflicts and pain connected with father/man. Sex may be possible but not a close feeling union. See: man.



Useful Questions and Hints:

Am I still at odds with my internal male – if so what still stands in the way of unity?

If I have found unity with my inner male what has this brought into my life?

Is my form of reasoning really a form of intense emotional conviction?

What are my dreams saying about how I can find a greater unity with my male self?

Try these to work on or heal any aspect of the animus – Talking AsProcessing DreamsActive Imagination.



-francesca 2014-11-16 10:39:09

Hi, Im a 32year old, single mother of 3. When I was younger I used to dream that I would go to the toilet in my primary school, id stand up to the toilet and a penis would grow, I would pee then leave as a girl child again.
what does this mean?
also, last night I dreamt that my chin was the focal point in a mirror and I had a single strand of weak feeble hair growing out of my chin, it grew and I cut it, it grew and I plucked it out, it grew again and I left it to grow. It stopped after a while and I looked at my reflection to see that I had a deformed nose, a wart on my cheek, my skin had turned a blue/green. I went to walk out of the house and I woke up.
could you please help me to work out what this dream means… thanks.


    -Tony Crisp 2014-11-16 12:41:41

    Franny – Well Freud would have said you suffered from penis envy. But I think there are several other explanations. For instance I have often dreamt of having a vagina, even having a baby, and that could be because we all unconsciously know that it is only our body that gives us a particular gender, and basically we are both. See http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/archetype-of-the-animus-jungs-view-of-the-male-in-the-female/

    But it could also be that boys were given so much attention that you could be a tomboy. Something that happened to me when my daughter was still only small was that one day while I peeing in the toilet my daughter came to me and said, “Why has Mark – her brother – got a willy that sticks out and I haven’t got one?” My immediate reply was that she had a Mary – a name my mother called her vagina – and that meant she could have babies and Mark can’t do that.” She never again worried about it.

    Maybe you mother never explained it to you. But remember that angels are both male and female – hermaphrodites. To quote form Edgar Cayce’s philosophy: “The nucleus of the soul was in balance, positive and negative force in equal power, producing harmonious activity: the positive initiating, impregnating, thrusting forward; the negative receiving, nourishing, ejecting.

    Your other dream was of the mirror which usually suggests your image of yourself and examining it. It suggests that you have a rather twisted image of who you are, probably started when you were young. So work on the image until you can recognise that you are beautiful – and I am not talking about your body or positive thinking. See http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/secrets-power-dreaming/



      -Carly 2015-01-20 9:34:40

      Hi tony
      The last few nights I have dreamt of making love with a black man.when I was a teenager I always dreamt of running from a black man or being chased.
      In the first of the recent dreams he was warrior like,indigenous & stood above a cave he held sacred knowledge we made love silently.in the second I sat next to a large black man like a gentil giant in a university lecture.i had a vivid vision of his big black hand holding my white one. Then he led me up the back of the room where first I comforted a very white blond woman stroking her hair as she grieved then the man & I made love.


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