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Enantiodromia; are we in it? We can hope so!

April 8, 2010 1 comment

It was a lovely day in Colorado after our snow on Tuesday which was enough to cancel one of our scheduled meetings. The snow is all gone, soaking into my grass to green it. Perhaps we can say in Colorado at this time of year we are in a period of enantiodromia: the warm spring 60 and 70 degree temperatures bring about the spring snow, and then we bounce back to the warm spring…

Wikipedia says this:  “enantiodromia is a principle introduced by psychiatrist Carl Jung that the superabundance of any force inevitably produces its opposite. It is equivalent to the principle of equilibrium in the natural world, in that any extreme is opposed by the system in order to restore balance.” I encountered this word in my current book on alchemy by Marie-Louise von Franz which I’ve mentioned before in these posts. And what in particular caught my attention was her reference to the rise of Isis in Egypt as a central Goddess, even the most powerful of all the gods/goddesses.

She first tells the story of the rise of the cult of the sun god, Ra, around 3,000 to 2,800 BC; sun worship gradually exceeded that of the moon and bull worship (end of the Age of Taurus), an enantiodromia. This gave rise to a patriarchal social and political order. As Ra became old and senile, Isis, using a poisonous serpent or worm and then healing him, tricked him into giving her his secret name, and thereby all his power. “…at the end of the Egyptian civilization there was a similar enantiodromia. Suddenly Isis got everything into her hands and the male gods faded – and it is interesting that that was at the end of the Aries age and that now we are at the end of the Pisces, the astrological fish age, and again a woman is gathering the harvest and the men are a bit tired.” Wow! Von Franz said this in 1959!

Is the patriarchal political and social order under which we have lived our whole lives truly at an end? Are the men “a bit tired”? And where is our Isis, our Inanna, when we need them?

The Isis story is certainly a parallel with the Inanna story to which I’ve referred before. Her descent into the underworld gave her king and husband, Dumuzi, just the opportunity he needed to take charge; and of course he did! This was an enantiodromia. But Inanna was able to come back from the underworld to rule again; poor Dumuzi had to spend half of each year in the underworld in exchange for Inanna’s rise. (And his poor sister spent the other half of the year “down there” representing a nice balance).

Do these myths and archetypal examples of enantiodromia condemn us to forever shift from one extreme to another as we struggle as a humanity for power and control? I say in my title “we can hope so” that we are in a period of enantiodromia; that we are experiencing tired men and the rise of the Goddess, the power of The Feminine.  I say this not because I think a feminist, goddess dominated matriarchal society would be better but because I have lived with what the patriarchal, masculine, “god the father” dominated society has generated. I am looking for balance; and maybe, just maybe as we swing back from the extreme through this enantiodromia principle, we can somehow arrest the pendulum’s swing more toward the center.

Can the “new human” figure out a way to share power and control without regard to gender? Is there a balance between masculine and feminine principles we can apply to our social and political struggles so they become less struggle and more cooperation?

As we move toward a new astrological age, the Age of Aquarius, let’s hope we are in a new period of enantiodromia but that the opposites move to balance!