Plato and Aristotle’s identification of the two ways of thinking I call logos and mythos was based on the human tendency to perceive and classify all phenomena into pairs of opposites. Since ancient times, the supreme pair of opposites under which we have categorized all others has been the metaphors of masculine and feminine. When used as metaphors, these terms are not about gender or sexuality, but ways of helping us categorize related ideas.
When Jung set out to better understand the psyche he used the same metaphors to express the findings of his research. One of his major conclusions was that the psyche is a union of conscious (masculine) and unconscious (feminine). An even more ground-breaking discovery was the fundamental archetype composed of the union of the masculine and feminine. He called this archetype of wholeness the Self, with a capital S to denote its difference from the ego self, and defined it as our God-image.
Like Plato, Jung also thought of the masculine principle as logos, but he named the feminine principle Eros, after the Greek god of love. For him, logos represented all the spiritual phenomena of life (including mental discrimination, judgment, and insight), and Eros symbolized all physical phenomena, i.e. the things we mean by the term soul, including matter and our physical bodies with their instincts, emotions, and capacity to relate. While readily admitting that these concepts cannot be defined accurately or exhaustively, Jung believed they had great practical value for clarifying a field of experience that is particularly difficult to define.
One stumbling block for some Jungians is the use of the name of a masculine Greek God (Eros) for the feminine principle! This is why I prefer the term mythos, which is non-gender specific. A related issue is that associating “spiritual” phenomena with the masculine principle removes the feminine from the spiritual playing field. Today, however, science has dramatically refined these concepts with new research in brain-lateralization.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Leonard Shlain notes that the nonverbal “feminine” right hemisphere of the brain integrates feelings, recognizes images, and expresses being. More often than the word-oriented “masculine” left hemisphere it generates feeling-states like love, humor, or aesthetic appreciation, all of which are non-logical. These feeling-states are authentic experiences that are verified beyond debate by an internal voice. Among other things, they allow us to have faith in God.
In sum, associated with all that is mysterious, unconscious, felt, organic, imaginative, and personally compelling, mythos is the non-verbal way we experience the truths of spirit and soul. Moreover, using mythos to explore the enigmas of the outer and inner universes brings enormous psychological and spiritual advances because it is inherently integrating and self-validating. And it is the birthright of every brain, male and female alike.
Increasingly over the past five thousand years, we have exalted logos over mythos, repressing our “feminine” ways of thinking and imagining God in left-hemisphere ways. But we are living in extraordinary times. With the marriage of science and religion we are unveiling our unconscious and undeveloped feminine dimensions and integrating the wisdom of Sophia, God’s feminine side.
I too have suffered from despair since childhood. It began at the age of 11 when my father died. To this day there are many occasions in my daily life when I cannot get excited about something because I know it will not last and my pleasure will not last and I will die and nobody will care and nothing I have done will make any difference, and so what?