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Enya and Carl Jung's Anima

Updated on May 31, 2012

The Etheral Enya

Symbol of Feminity

First off, Carl Jung, the sidelined father of psychoanalysis, who actually contributed more to the field of psychology than his one-time predecessor, Sigmund Freud, wrote volumes of work dealing with the human unconscious. Unlike Freud who coined the phrase subconscious, Jung found that the unconscious of the human mind held an equal standing with consciousness, and, therefore could not minimize its role in the psyche by the prefix "sub." For Jung, the unconscious was at parity with consciousness and required equal examination since this was the realm where a patient's impulses could be examined in order to give meaning to his/her conscious behavior.

Among just one of his amazing discoveries was the concept of the anima and animus. According to Jung, every man's unconscious contained an anima, and each woman's unconscious contained an animus.

These concepts could be pictographically demonstrated in the ancient Chinese symbol of the Yin and Yang -- two opposite shades contained within a circle, forever attempting to penetrate the other or perhaps merely coinciding along in harmony, with a dot of its opposite contained in both. This dot of the opposite co-existing in the male/female symbol is where Jung derived his concept of the anima/animus. To summarize Jung's long explanation of these terms, I will boil them down to this: Within each man is a feminine aspect, and within each woman there is a masculine aspect. For purposes of this discussion, I am limiting the topic to the animus -- the unconscious female element that dwells in every man.

Jung catalogs the number of ways that the Yin force influences a man's thinking and, more importantly his feeling. The animus can often reveal itself in dream, but sometimes is strong enough to rise to the level of consciousness and cause a man to "project" his anima upon a suitable object.

Even when the subject is aware of this mechanism, he is not able to simply shut down the process.

I will give you a personal example. Several years back I became aware of Enya's musical recordings. My conscious mind found her music to be very ethereal, spiritual, magical and highly artistic. When I viewed pictures of Enya, I was rather mesmerized -- she was certainly not a sex goddess -- no, she represented (for me) something deeper and mystifying.

For those who are familiar with her work, you will understand when I say that her vocals and electronic instrumentation are highly unique. The lyrics to her songs are also often vague and beguiling.

After a few weeks of allowing myself to become immersed in her recordings, I noticed that this woman (who I knew nothing about) was activating my anima. I saw this happening from the very start, and I was essentially helpless from the river that carried me forward.

Consciously, Enya seemed to represent the essence of femininity. I never held any realistic notion that this projection could lead to anything in the physical world, but I was like a bystander as my unconscious escalated the "idea" of Enya into my consciousness. I then sought out more information about her and located videos taken of Enya on YouTube. Her voice and face began to haunt me. I could look upon all this objectively, yet my best judgment was always forced to take a back seat. At night, like some love-stricken school boy I imagined meeting Enya or even being disallowed to see her and sleeping outside her gate in a puddle of mud. Clearly, she had become exalted and my ego subsumed.

It was all the stuff that young men experience -- the feeling of adulation toward a female with a lovely voice, lovely mannerisms, a lovely face. Collectively all of the adulation was too much to contain, and I found myself having difficulty sleeping.

On a "kitchen sink" level I knew all my romantic thoughts were simply absurd, but this did not stop my unconscious from circling around the object of my fantasies. Again, these were not sexual fantasies -- not at all. They were purely romantic -- and probably with a deeper infiltration into my soul than some transitory lust.

The infatuation lasted for at least three weeks (if not longer), and even today when I listen to one of Enya's songs I'm reminded of those misplaced stirrings of Romanticism.

None of this is probably surprising to other men who have had similar anima awakenings by the artistry of Enya (or some other entertainer). Knowingly or unknowingly, Enya made herself a perfect object upon which men can graft their anima. (I'm assuming that I'm not alone in my feelings and that Enya doesn't live in a castle with a moat for no reason.) Judging only by the videos of her singing, I witness a woman who appears to be both fragile and inwardly strong. A woman who is beautiful in the most purist sense, gentle, angelic. Someone imbued with artistic talent, a natural grace, and a damnable unobtainability. For reasons unknown the real-life Enya has never married. Who knows why. She leads a rather secretive, religious (perhaps almost monk-like) existence in her own castle. Her songs rarely make mention of men, romantic love or courtship. She exhibits some kind of consciousness that transcends these worldly entanglements. How is it that she hasn't been married at least a half dozen times?

I would love to write her biography. In doing so I think that I might be able to fully free myself of the mythos of Enya by discovering the real woman and her earthly weaknesses. Or maybe not.

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Jung Discusses the Archetype


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      joanne 6 years ago

      Enya has always isolated herself, even as a youngster when her sibs were outside she preferred to be inside playing her piano. Strange indeed.