Exploring Gender in the Psyche

Two weeks ago, I blogged about a dream of having no pants on. I touched on my quandary – what is the meaning of pants missing as opposed to top? Being a person who embraces the notion that our dream images are the language of the deep self, I find it fascinating to give voice to what images are trying to tell us. I’ve read the suggestion that the woman’s upper body and breasts may tie to a woman’s feeling of nurturing.

Pants missing, for men and women, might have more equal connection to our standing in the world, our “walk” in life, especially in today’s world.

Often when people do dream work, they draw on old icons of gender—logical vs. intuition, outward vs. inward, active principle vs in the home, nesting, nurturing. Some of those attributes are still encouraged more in one gender than the other, but that leads to people not following their natural instincts at times, hiding those qualities, or overemphasizing what isn’t really comfortable. Gender has some meaning in our psyche but it’s hard to know how much is conditioned in, how much depends on the culture we’re raised in and the values of our family.

I took a look at the Faeries Oracle tarot to see how masculine and feminine are sorted in those cards. Among the Sidhe (“shee”) or faery folk, there are Bright Mother and Himself. Descriptors for Bright Mother are creativity, nurturance, productivity, intimacy and sheltering. Earth mother is mentioned, as is the moon. Himself is potency, livening spark, laws of nature. Other pairings are: Lady of the Harvest and the Sage; the Green Woman and the Piper. I combed through all these figures and there’s really not one trait that couldn’t be applied to both women and men. We’re more alike than we are different.

In dream work, it’s important to look at our collective archetypes, as a species, and our own personal responses and values based on our life experience. Caught with my pants down: what does it mean to most of us? We weren’t prepared? Surprised in an embarrassing or guilty situation? Why in a laundry room? There are clean clothes, no “dirty linens.” Sometimes we can understand all the characters in a dream as parts of ourselves. Tall fair-haired, European men who glance at me and say nothing might be hyper-critical voices in me. We can be so hard on ourselves with our inner judges. But Jung would have encouraged active imagination, dialoguing with those silent men who entered the back door, asking what was on their minds, why they showed up.

Since I had further thoughts on this dream, I thought I’d share them.

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