The hermaphrodite is a being that overtly embodies both male and female characteristics. The name itself is the merger of the male god Hermes with the goddess Aphrodite. In ancient alchemy, the hermaphrodite symbolized an important stage in the merger of chemical products leading to the ultimate goal of the alchemical opus, the creation of gold or a diamond.
The significant achievement of the hermaphroditic stage during the alchemical process was the incorporation of opposing elements into a single entity. This incorporation did not ensure a fruitful union of these elements, called the conjunctio, however, it did set the stage for this possibility by ensuring that all the opposing or warring elements were present to undertake that unifying process.
At present, America, indeed the entire world, is sharply divided into opposing, warring factions. The only hope for future progress, even saving the world, may be predicated on an hermaphroditic container that can set the stage for a unified whole.
Also at present, Donald Trump has embodied an exaggerated defiant masculine energy that relegates the feminine to a youthful sex object. Beneath the surface, however, he is driven by a Dionysian energy that promises renewal through the destruction of the gridlocked established order. His appeal touches those who identify with the beleaguered masculine, as well as with those excited by the spark of spontaneity he offers and the change it promises. Mr. Trump expresses no interest in integrated wholeness. He boldly extolls the one-sided solution of masculine power, control, and domination. Mr. Trump does not contain all the elements of the hermaphroditic symbol; he represents one exaggerated side only.
Hillary Clinton has been dubbed the establishment politician, identified with an untrustworthy old order that needs major revamping. Of course, this characterization is highly suspect and lacking of many facts. However, the public has been highly conditioned to view her through this filter.
Though far from perfect, Mrs. Clinton does present as a mature, steady person who embodies the caring side of the feminine and the clear thinking side of the masculine. With respect to the feminine, Hillary does not present as a mere sexual object but rather as a wise and stately, beautifully aging crone. I assign her the symbol of the hermaphrodite for her ability to incorporate both the mature yet opposing elements of the masculine and the feminine, the unity of which has the promise of leading toward a reconciling process for America and the entire world.
The other night, the collective unconscious sent me a dream to weigh into this process. I was in a YMCA gym. In one corner of the room, a woman’s basketball hoop was centered on one wall. On the other wall a men’s hoop needed to be put up, centered, and anchored. The set up made no sense. If the men and women played at the same time they would occupy the same space, clashing into each other. It became my job to put up the men’s backboard and hoop. I lifted it up and walked up a ladder to set it on the wall. As I got to the top of the ladder I realized that the backboard was wobbly and unstable. I took a hammer to pull out a flimsy nail, thinking I would set a screw in its place, when the entire thing suddenly fell. Immediately, the scene shifted. Now I was on the roof of a ten-story apartment building. A young teenaged girl was sitting on the ledge of the building. As the backboard fell it turned into a flat TV screen, hitting the girl. Both the girl and the TV screen plunged to the ground, ten stories below. I woke with a start.
The salient feature of my dream is its “cornered” setting. First, there is no escape; the masculine and feminine basketball players cannot escape each other. They must contend with each other as they occupy the same space. Secondly, the fact that the masculine and feminine occupy the same space points to the alchemical hermaphroditic container of both masculine and feminine features in one being.
The central problem in the dream is the masculine backboard; it suffers a weakness and ultimately is raised way too high—ten stories—clearly a very unbalanced state of inflation that must be brought down to earth. Here we see Trump’s bombastic inflation, symbolizing the high and mighty abuse of masculine power. This inflation is then characterized as a projection—the TV screen—and a teenaged girl, what the exaggerated masculine, in its high and mighty state, reduces the feminine to, a sex object. The death of the young girl and that projection point to the need to destroy that projection, allowing for the mature feminine to assume its rightful place. There was, in my dream, after all, nothing wrong with the sturdy women’s backboard!
The backboard and hoop are the circle and square of the mandala, the ancient symbol of wholeness that points the way to individuation. The appearance of this symbol and the action connected with it—a repair that destroys an immature feminine projection and brings the exaggerated masculine down to earth from its highly inflated state—are the necessary actions to create the hermaphroditic condition of equally containing these opposing forces in one being, i.e., in one space, the shared basketball court.
Of course, this containment is not the final resolution. One can imagine that once the hoops are properly mounted according to my dream—in the corner—that the masculine and feminine players will have to find their appropriate places and relations with each other to reach a harmonious solution to their competing needs in order to play the game in that cornered situation. This indeed will be Hillary’s task should she be elected. The Dionysian energy demanding genuine change that Trump has tapped into, that is indeed needed, must be incorporated with the balanced steadiness of her mature mind. This will be an evolving process should it come to pass.
On the other hand, Trump’s one-sided passion is such a throwback to the ethnic cleansing of Hitler’s regime, a volatility that the world can hardly afford in our fragile times. The challenge to world survival requires world unification. Only leadership that begins with hermaphroditic inclusiveness has the potential to evolve into a much-needed union of masculine and feminine. May the right being be elected.