So many natural phenomena support a bipolar view of life that the number two has come to symbolize a very important reality: the opposition and conflict that initiates all development and leads to equilibrium. The creative tension of two-ness pertains to both the outer and inner life. When applied to the inner life, two-ness prevails at many levels. For example, not only does each masculine archetype have its feminine partner, and vice versa, but bipolarity is also the essence of each individual archetype as it stands alone.
Every archetype is bipolar in at least three ways. First, at any given moment in the life of the psyche, each archetype has both an unconscious and a conscious aspect. The ego is simply not strong enough to contain the full reality of the archetypes for very long. Even if it were, it would be impossible for us ever to know an archetype in its totality. Regardless of how aware we are of some aspects of an archetype at certain times, the remaining aspects are always submerged in the unconscious. Thus, with every archetype, the potential for unconsciousness and consciousness always exists.
Second, as the psyche grows and changes developmentally, so, apparently do the archetypes. Or at least they appear to us to change. Probably, as basic forces of Nature, they do not change at all but merely “unfold,” presenting new faces to us during our different phases of development. Probably it is only the ego which evolves. Be that as it may, we can safely say that each archetype appears to have an immature and a mature aspect. In between these two poles there is always a third, intermediate space wherein transitions take place.
While a given archetype might seem quite mature—i.e. highly activated and well-integrated into consciousness—our ego always has the potential to backslide into habitual unreflectiveness, in which case the archetypes will appear to have regressed to their immature states. This is why we need regular practices like meditation, journaling, and dreamwork which aim at training the ego to become mindful for longer periods of time. This ceaseless movement between the two poles of unconsciousness and consciousness, immaturity and maturity, provides the necessary mental energy that keeps us alert and growing. Without this growth the soul is essentially dead.
Finally, each archetype has both positive and negative potential. For example, whereas the positive King is a nurturing and morally noble sovereign who is concerned about the abuse of power and uses clear, discriminating thinking to find fair and just ways to apportion it, the negative King is a rigid, rule-oriented, dominating and uncaring dictator. Likewise, the positive Queen is a caring and forgiving nurturer of culture, but the negative Queen can be a dangerous, manipulative witch.
Two-ness is the natural condition of the human psyche, especially during our youth. Thus, Carl Jung suggested that there are two basic aspects or roles inherent to the Masculine Principle, i.e. the Father and the Son, and two to the Feminine Principle: i.e., the Mother and the Maiden. Yet, the psyche is made in such a way that three-ness is also a possibility. Under certain conditions, three-ness can even replace two-ness as the ruling dynamic of the psyche. More about this next time.
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The end-goal of every psyche is to become more conscious and self-aware. You were made to want oneness, a doable antidote to the divisiveness that plagues today’s world. Self-awareness — by which I mean the acceptance of the opposites within ourselves — when combined with a sincere desire to bridge the divides between them, is the bridge to consciousness. And consciousness is the bridge to psychological and spiritual oneness. Your purpose in life is to do whatever you can to build these bridges. You’ll never be happy if you don’t at least try.