The Eternal Dance of Yin & Yang
Updated: Feb 10
Self-realisation mentoring involves a rich understanding of duality and its fundemental role within existence. So lets have a deeper look at the engine of personal evolution.
In all of life, wherever we look, if we look openly, we see evidence of the dance of eternal opposites; in the cycle of day and night, sleeping and waking, working and resting, birth and death, the attraction of opposites in relationships, down to the regular in-breath out-breath and the beating of our hearts. We feel this innate part of life reflected in the way that hot feels opposite to cold, the way the warmth of the sun feels paired with the cool light of the moon, how water feels very different from fire and how darkness is the sister to the light. This duality is, when we think about it, quite essential to our everyday existence because without it the potential to choose would not exist, and life as we know it, with its comings and goings, dreams and longings, desires and achievements would simply not be possible. Duality is so natural to life, that it’s easy to take it for granted and in fact to hardly be aware of it at all. Yet in my experience every time we deepen our understanding and appreciation of this natural law of life, the act of making this eternal dance more conscious can activate more wholeness in our lives; I believe it to be a quintessential part of the self-realisation process, and the journey of Individuation.
The Eastern Yin-Yang symbol conveys the nature of this process very well; masculine energy (yang) and feminine energy (yin) are so much a part of each other, that they are equals in the game of life, each one essential to harmonious flow, creating the raw vital force that drives evolution*. Yet the 2 dots provide a poignant reminder, that no matter how different male and female energy appears to be, they are merely different sides of the same coin; different faces of the same one energy.
*In Tarot, the yin-yang symbol encapsulates the first four cards of the major arcana: The Magus, The High-Priestess, The Empress and the Emperor, which together represent the transition from Zero-Point Unity to Duality.
This primal pair is in a sense in an endless conflict or energetic argument within all living things and more broadly within all of matter; forever changing in a dynamic creative, ecstatic relationship that is the engine of life, a principle encoded into the 7th major arcana card of the tarot called 'The Chariot'.
We are built to experience a dual nature, and our very existence is alchemical; humanity is entrusted with the task of self-realisation through the reconciliation of these apparent opposing forces. Ideally we need to relate to both the masculine and feminine equally, for without the masculine, there is no activating principle to ignite life, and if we lose touch with our masculine, we lose desire and we forget what desire is. Without the feminine, there is no creation to be ignited and no form to manifest, and losing touch with the feminine, is losing touch with our Source, and we forget where we come from.
The symbol of the caduceus, often attributed to the androgenyous god Hermes, known later by the Romans as Mercurius, embodies this prime wisdom suggesting to me that the awakened individual (regardless of their sex) must master both sides of this creative force as represented by the two serpents shown in balanced symmetry coiled around a central column topped with a vessel or grail.
The tree provides an apt metaphor for the human process; a tree can be seen as a trunk with branches above and roots below. The tree can only flourish if there is a balance between root growth and branch and leaf growth. In this metaphor, the root development beneath the surface down in the dark earth belongs to the feminine, and the growing of branches that reach up into the sky, producing leaves that draw energy from the Sun belongs to the masculine.
Yin & Yang in more detail
Yang – Masculine – Animus The masculine principle is the urge to move away from one’s own source, to separate and to individuate in order to develop a singular defining identity that can ultimately reach a state of pure experience of All-That-Is, what we might commonly call “enlightenment”. Yang energy holds no pattern and naturally disrupts and breaks down structure, pattern and stagnancy. Within us this energy always moves away from the subjective to the objective, and is dynamic and can be violent, aggressive, volatile, competitive, and alienating in the negative, and assertive, dynamic, idealistic, visionary, and healthily detached in the positive. Too much masculine energy, without a balance of feminine, leads to a growth of power in the extreme where we lose perspective of what is most important and forget the values and principles that seeded the quest for Self in the first place. Equally we can get caught up in the future, fixated on our fantasies and desires, without actually taking the time to do what is necessary to manifest and experience them.
The masculine is associated with the colour white representing day or blue representing the sky, the elements fire and air, and with the Sun.
Yin – Feminine – Anima
The feminine is characterised by an impulse to return and move inward, to dissolve uniqueness into sameness. Through the archetype of the feminine we are able to relate, to include, to contain and to live, die and re-birth. It is through the yin energy that healing and transformation occur. This energy within us can express as jealousy, rage, vampirism, all devouring and overly protective when negative, and can be harmonising, nurturing, compassionate, receptive, accommodating and inclusive when positively expressed. Too much feminine energy, can lead to such a deep sense of presence that we forget to initiate the causes today that create the effects we want to experience tomorrow; we can get grounded so deeply in the present, passively going with the flow of things, that our lives become overly determined by external circumstances of which we have no control.
The feminine is associated with the colour black for the night or red for the earth, with the elements of earth and water and with the Moon.
Solar Cultures and Distortion
Modern western culture is solar in nature and as such it has a bias toward the masculine. In fact the feminine is greatly feared by our society. The mythic tale of St George and the Dragon was brought to Europe from the East by the crusaders, and tells of how St George offered to kill the dragon in the name of Christianity.
At an individual level, this image represents the triumph of a healthy ego over destructive psychic energy. Inner growth and self-maturation processes demand that we face the demons within, often an heroic struggle that eventually makes possible the establishment of a strong identity with high moral values and virtues*. Regardless of one's sex, the masculine individualising aspect has overcome the domination of unconsious collective forces represented by the dragon.
*This is part of the call to individuation.
At another level I also see a dark side; culturally and collectively the elevation of the masculine over the feminine is reflected throughout modern life today. On a gross level we know it well as the ever-increasing exploitation of planetary resources driven by profit, or as the ambition of the few to control the many. On a more personal level we see it in ourselves as an overemphasis on doing and thinking and a lowered capacity to connect with our emotions, trust in life, and let things unfold in their own time without trying to make them happen. We see it in the way it makes sense to us to send our children to school at ever earlier ages, sometimes as early as 3 years old, in order to get that competitive edge; to get ahead of all the other kids. Yang dominance favours the intellect, so children get to play less and less, while they learn to perform mental tasks like maths and spelling. It shows up as lack of empathy in people all over the world; in the way young boys especially aren’t allowed to cry or feel emotions because they are thought of as weak, when quite the opposite is true. We see it in the way women are almost always sexualised in the media, used to sell products most of which have nothing at all to do with sex.
When energy is repressed for too long it becomes distorted and expresses in destructive ways. The stories we tell and the narratives we follow have a powerful influence on how we operate both as indiviudals and collectively. For example the common interpretation of the Garden of Eden myth has resulted in a negative judgement of the feminine and by extension women in general that has been ongoing for several thousand years. But it would be a mistake to assume the prime issue is just about gender and sex equality, afterall both women and men experience and embody both masculine and feminine modes of being; yin and yang energy flows through everyone.
Although in recent years we have been seeing the ascendency of women in western society, this does not necessarily mean that we are culturally moving toward yin-yang balance, its more that we are seeing a change in the roles without a significant elevation and respect of the feminine. In order for the masculine mode to be valued more, the feminine must by default be repressed, and in as much as we may easily recognise the dominance of the masculine mode, we may not so easily notice the distortion and darker face of the feminine in society. For example the ubiquitous practise of lies and deception in politics and journalism, the normal use of images and symbols to manipulate us through advertising, and the notion of ruling elite groups manipulating world events from behind the scenes, as well as the existence of the deep state (an unelected shadow government running things without the majority knowing). It is also evident in the motivation of some groups to enforce sameness to the degree that gender and sex are reduced to nothing more than social contructs, whereby differences in biology e.g. genetalia are seen as irrelevant.
In social politics it is noteworthy to see how the progressive liberal movement, which initially had a more inclusive, tolerant, feminine quality, has now began to flip into a strong masculine mode as it inadvertantly drives to label people and separate them through intersectionality.