Every life, if it is going to be fulfilled, is a journey. It is a journey from one state of being to another. It is a journey through the death of an old way of life into a new one.
Women, over the centuries, have been unfairly victimized, misused, belittled, and considered to be inferior human beings. This blaming and belittling of women, and also of the feminine principle, still goes on in this century and in some countries is a common way of dealing with women. Unfortunately, this is our modern form of the plague.
I have worked with woman after woman who was intelligent, capable, even professionally trained, and yet was still paralyzed when it came to pursuing her life with a sense of authenticity and security, grounded in her own ability. I am even more saddened to see how our ability to love and be loved, and to be whole people in relationships, has been frozen by the Death Motherʼs influence in our families and in our society.
Every myth represents a treasure-house of wisdom regarding the world and our personality. And, the way to these treasures is difficult and tangled. All too often when it seems like the mythic map is clear, we suddenly discover that there is a whole new level of the myth before us. Myths are meant to take us beyond ourselves, beyond the ways we have looked at life and particularly at our difficulties and struggles.
The myth of Medusa is an extraordinary mythic story from our collective past. What it can tell us today is as sacred as any religious parable. This myth is a symbolic story of how the patriarchy has abused and banished the feminine, how it can be redeemed, and the tremendous healing and instinctual power that can be freed in this process.
As we are touched by the feminine and are able to step outside of our traps of rationality, efficiency, and “things that have to be done,” we become more open to our innate wisdom. An awareness of our innate wisdom helps us understand the language of love, the mystical, art and poetry—the language of symbolism, metaphor, meaning, eternity, and, most of all, the real language of stories.
Many of my female analysands painfully confess that they no longer have an idea of what it is to be feminine. Over twenty-five years ago, the Jungian analyst June Singer, in an article titled “The Sadness of the Successful Woman,” said that she believed that such women are suffering from a particular form of depression: They are mourning for their lost femininity.