The typical splitting of body and spirit into a pair of opposites, though useful in contrasting gross and subtle expressions of energy, reinforces a spiritual prejudice against the body, encumbered with its instinctual life. Most spiritual traditions, while tolerant of life in a physical body, place a premium on sacrificing carnal life for the betterment of spiritual evolution.
Furthermore, the physical world is typically associated with feminine energy, which is equally devalued or seen as subservient to the superior masculine spirit. The body, with its instinctual inclinations, is associated with evil and passions, that which must be sacrificed to achieve spiritual advance.
This stripping of the physical body and instinctive mind of divine association has been the prerogative of ego consciousness, which has the ability to exercise its will over instinct and the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Most profoundly has been the explosive growth of the rational mind, with its associated prefrontal cortex, which claims absolute power over the belief systems of modern humans.
It can certainly be argued that the one-sidedness of modern ego consciousness matches the one-sidedness of our early ancestor’s absolute dependence on instinctual guidance. However, this modern one-sidedness has clearly reached the tipping point, as the world is currently being reshaped by the breakthrough of repressed instinctual forces of destruction.
Marie Louise von Franz, Jung’s most valued associate, reflected on a Romanian fairy tale about a 17-year-old princess who was turned into a cat via a curse from the Virgin Mother, Mary. The curse required that both her cat tail and cat head be cut off by a prince for her to be restored to her human self.
This association of witchy behavior with the Virgin Mother is highly unusual. Von Franz believed it represented the repressed state of the feminine by the Catholic Church. Mary’s shadow delivered a curse intended to fully redeem the feminine.
Von Franz associates the cat’s tail with its dominant animal instinct. Symbolically, the cutting off of the tail represents a humanizing ability to successfully handle the threat of being overpowered by one’s instinctual feelings and sensations. Feelings and sensations are a divine gift, but to be received in a fully human way they must be refined from their overpoweringly compulsive control and integrated as part of a balanced self.
Men who struggle with premature ejaculation learn to breathe and get calm to be able to tolerate and savor the feelings and sensations associated with sexual activity. Divine union must include the wholeness of feelings and sensations.
Cutting off the head addresses the one-sidedness of mental control by ego or the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Most times, the experience of anxiety is the consequence of the projection of an archetype onto a person or situation one is confronting. Thus, if one’s boss evokes anxiety, it is likely that one is dealing with the image of the destructive side of the Great Mother, or wrathful Yahweh, which must be cut off before one can have a human interaction.
Shamanic journeys, active imagination, and dreaming all offer venues to heroically confront and ‘cut off’ the influence of these archetypes that overshadow human interaction. Breath work, yoga, and meditation provide pathways to gain control over the central nervous system to again cut off the power of the archetypes to possess human life.
Similarly, romantic relationships can’t progress to true connection if one can’t cut off the control of an Adonis or Aphrodite mental projection onto one’s human partner. One will always feel less than when their partner is experienced as divine. Mythology is very instructive in pointing out the pitfalls of human and godly union.
While fully appreciating the attraction and beauty of each other, a couple can truly communicate in a real, down-to-earth human way. Thus, the intensified experience of a divine connection with another human being is truly possible if one communicates directly with the actual person they are with.
Mental presence, unencumbered by divine projection, in combination with matured feelings and sensations is the key to divine bi-spirituality. Our spiritual essence is both body and spirit equally engaged, equally valued, equally matured.
Our collective world shamanic journey of now beckons us to retrieve the lost and captured parts of our wholeness, in particular, our feminine and animal selves.
The body is as much spirit as the spirit itself. It must be granted its true value and raised to its highest spiritual potential. This is the essence of divine bi-spirituality: as above, so below.