A.K. Reader: “This frozen male rage within us all”

This morning’s post on Joni Mitchell, her insightful perspectives on her many male/female relationships, I am reminded of my own. Just this morning, I was telling someone about how wonderful it is now, in my mid-70s, when the dramas of personal relationships are not experienced as nearly so intense. How I can play with them now, rather than take them seriously. Back in my 40s, I took them very seriously, as I took everything in my life. Meanwhile, I was consciously attempting to “take back my projections” each time I found myself “hating” a man, and to recognize the quality I despised in him as in reality an aspect of the male part of myself.

Still flinching while listening to videos of the last Sunday night’s semi-automatic gunfire in Las Vegas, I pray that more of us learn how to do this kind of inner work. Perhaps the “frozen male rage inside us” that more than ever threatens to gun down the entire world will finally be able to melt, gently, and thoroughly, so that the sweetness that lies underneath can well up into love.

So, here’s a piece from 1989, during a time when I was still in the throes of trying to understand relationships between men and women. It seems fitting that I present it now, just after the Aries/Libra Full Moon, and still inside the reverberations from the Las Vegas massacre. 

Note, BTW, that the piece speaks of what was then current, a rare conjunction among Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn in (sometimes frozen) Capricorn. Nearly 30 years later, primal Pluto is moving through Capricorn (2008-2024), eviscerating cultural and other structures, grinding them to dust.

 

THIS FROZEN MALE RAGE WITHIN US ALL

March, 1989

Welcome to Planet Earth

 

Note: The sign Capricorn is commonly associated with external government, something outside ourselves, controlling us. The recent actions of the dictator Khomeini offer a telling example of the terrifying excesses of which Capricorn is capable. From a more Jungian and/or metaphysical point of view, however, Khomeini holds up the mirror to humanity’s internal governance. I begin by discussing a typical incident in my own daily life.

Friday Night’s Dinner Party

 “What? Sam is no longer going with Marcia? Quick. What’s her phone number?” William turns to the woman next to him. “I mean it. What’s her phone number?”

He laughs, clearly savoring the moment. The rest of us are silent. The woman, my good friend Terry, looks shocked at this gauche display of male chauvinism.

I am sitting on the coach with another close friend, Linda, watching him perform. His behavior, of course, is acutely embarrassing to me. Immediately, instinctively, Linda and I turn to each other, recoiling. Our eyes meet briefly. I feel her knowing look, her sympathy. Tensed, I turn back to watch him. What will he do next?

“Just kidding, just kidding,” he assures us, having picked up the vibes. He laughs again, this time to cover his embarrassment.

William and I have been together for 15 months now. Our needs are beginning to shift. The initial time of intense privacy is no longer so compelling, and we are moving out into the world. This small dinner party is the first for the two of us with my friends.

Several more times during that evening, he mentions Marcia’s name, elbows one of the women there about learning her phone number. Always, he assures her, he is “just kidding.”

Afterwards, he struts around, asking me, “How did I do?” Clearly, he thinks he was the life of the party. I hesitate, and then respond tactfully, “Well, you certainly were ‘on’ tonight.”

By this time, I have forgotten the “Marcia” remark. Feel only a vague unease which I don’t bother to truly acknowledge. Spend the rest of the weekend with him, enclosed, as always in his wonderfully warm Cancer Sun womb. I bask in this love; it feeds me, replenishes me. After 46 years of denying my emotional needs, I cannot get enough.

Monday evening Terry calls me. She mentions the incident concerned Marcia’s phone number, and says she and Linda have been talking about it, how disgusting that remark was.

It doesn’t take much to refresh my memory. Suddenly, I am thrust back into Friday evening’s dinner party, and the hurt of that remark rises to the surface.

Impulsively, I call him, tell him what she said. Let him know in no uncertain terms that he was not the life of the party. There is a moment of silence. Then he explodes. “That was just a joke! You know that!” Pause. Then, “I am sick and tired of being scrutinized all the time. Just sick and tired of it.” He cuts off further conversation, says he needs time off from our relationship. I can just see him, scuttling into his Cancerian shell, licking his wounds.

My ego is feeling triumphant now, having just had the last word on the “Marcia” incident. The child in me is terrified. What if this is it? What if he leaves me?

Over the next few days, I go back through my memory of that evening, slowing it down like a film in the editing room, taking it apart step by step, frame by frame. I notice how, when he says that, I flinch. I notice how I feel the woman next to me on the couch flinch too, how we turn to each other for solace.

I notice the inside of my brain during those few tense moments, remember a fleeting point of decision, when I considered whether or not to call him on it, by saying, “Hey, do you realize how much that remark hurts me? Do you really want to hurt me that way?”

I decided then not to bring it up. It would have embarrassed him, and I didn’t want to do that. His Cancer nature is highly sensitive; had I criticized him in public, he would have been overwhelmed.

Thinking back on it now, I realize it would also have changed the mood of that evening entirely, to something much more serious and awkward. Earlier in my life, I would have relished doing just that. My first house Venus and Mercury in early Capricorn make an exact yod formation with both Pluto and Saturn: I used to love stripping the mask off so-called pleasant social situations.

But I am no longer so young, so radical. I am learning to let many things pass — at least until someone brings them up again.

And here I am now, faced with my memory, my pain.

Processing, Processing

Over the next few days, I continue to feel more deeply into the meaning of that incident, one small event in my life, one of thousands upon thousands of such tiny hurting moments. I notice how, by not wanting to embarrass him — though it was his intent to embarrass me, however unconscious he was, however much he didn’t “mean” it! — I was, in fact, colluding with him in his unknowing, but powerful denigration of the female. [Here I am falling into the pattern of the “woman who loves too much”: Venus/Mercury make a close square to Neptune at the Midheaven.]

Powerful, because invisible. Such incidents seem so trivial at the time, so unimportant; they slide back, submerging within the texture of our daily lives. We don’t notice such incidents; we dismiss them as too small to hold our attention, much less fuss over. We don’t want to appear neurotic or petty.

Powerful, because ubiquitous. These events blend into the background context of things; they color the very atmosphere within which everything else is noticed. They help define the parameters of what is possible, to say, to do, to be with one another as human beings.

I tell Terry what I am thinking. Tell her how I see that incident as symbolic of something much more insidious. That underneath, way down deep, William hates women! Tell her I see this not just in him, but in men generally. That this male rage against the female is all-pervasive, constituting the very texture of everyday life, only we don’t know it, so busy are we females in unconsciously colluding with their unconscious hatred of us.

Oh my God, she says, I think you’re right. I see that in my man, too. I think way down deep, he hates me.

I phone Linda, tell her, too. There is a long pause. Then, slowly, meaningfully: “Oh my God, I don’t dare touch that one. That one’s a can of worms. If I really allowed myself to get in touch with it, I’m afraid I wouldn’t let men into my life at all.”

I get off the phone and wonder about the passion I am feeling concerning this subject. What is going on here? This is no discovery; this is something we women have been talking about since the late ‘60s. Is this merely one more wave of feminism rising up within me? Am I just getting my kicks out of hating men?

If so, I think, it’s justified . . . or at least understandable! We females are full of rage, too — the rage of resentment, of the slow bitter burn — at them, for perverting the use of our female sensitivity to them by unconsciously requiring us to collude in denying the reality of their rage against us.

I think about the three men we are connected to. Though very loving, and liberated from the most obvious elements of chauvinism, William is old-fashioned in his values and lifestyle. He would be horrified if anyone lumped him together with me and others in the “new age.” On the other hand, Terry’s and Linda’s men are enjoying liberated lifestyles with their mates, and take pride in their “new age” attitudes.

Yet I see this pervasive, but hidden quality of fear and loathing of the female in all three of these men equally. It runs on beneath their conscious atittudes, it constitutes a substratum so fundamental that lifestyle and conscious belief changes do no more than disguise its most profound quality.

Back in the ‘60s, we newly created “feminists” were obsessively discussing societal roles, how unfair they were to women. We were dealing with the subject of male/female imbalance as if it were a social problem, to be solved by reforming society. How naïve!

In the years since then we have discovered that current social attitudes are nothing new. Feminist research into “herstory” has uncovered patriarchal values throughout “his story.” Indeed, we are beginning to realize that recorded history is the story of male domination over the female. In order to discover a time before that we must look back 10,000 years, to Mesopotamia, and the mother goddess cultures of those ancient times.

But that is feminist scholarship; of the mind. It merely scratches the surface.

What I am experiencing is visceral, compelling. I’ve fallen into the underworld, diving into the deep past as it is reflected in the mirror of the present. As I dive, I feel a great resistance. As if the water I am moving through has been compressed to the point of solidity, so that nothing can move.

I chip away at this ice of frozen feeling. I notice layer upon layer of it, the same thing, denial and resistance of feeling. Thousands of years of denied rage, of frozen energy, which, if only men — and our “animus” counterpart as women — could get in touch with it, would burn so brightly as to rival the sun. Would generate so much creativity that never again would there be a need for cruelty as its perverted expression.

And Yet More Processing

Then, last week, during the time that Pluto was stationary retrograde (around February 6, 1989), a series of dreams. Each of them a variant on the theme of male/female integration within myself. Some images from these dreams:

What looks like a faucet, but all that comes out of it is noise, a terrible nerve-racking hissing. I cannot turn it off. I can only turn it down . . .

The negative male energy inside me, my brain, obsessively thinking, ticking, figuring everything out. There are still times when I am insomniac for nights on end, my head buzzing with what I call “mind static.”

A large candle (in the dream it is orange, but in memory it switches back and forth between orange and green). The candle has a swiftly rotating disc attached to the front of it. (In the dream, I see it as the spinning earth.) The candle gets larger and larger. A fountain starts within it. By the end of the dream, it has transformed to a woman sitting on her heels. Her back is to me, and her posture is straight, upright, and gently arched to one side.

 The dream this image is taken from arrived immediately after the first one. I saw it as the promise of coming into the deep, receptive, spiritual, mysterious female aspect of my character. This dream was imbued with a sense of hope; unlike the other one, which felt futile. Stuck with the hissing. Having no way to turn it off.

Certain other images in these two dreams showed me that they had to do with the time of my first marriage, and the time immediately following — nearly 20 years ago — during he late ‘60s when I, along with thousands of others, was discovering feminism. My God, has nothing changed in me either?

My new visceral appreciation of the ancient roots of male rage begins to find its parallel in the ancient roots of my own life.

In order to contact deep female energy, I had to break up that marriage; but in order to survive in the world, I had first to contact the assertive, male side of myself.

Not surprisingly, my initial experience with the “animus” was difficult. In the process of contacting the male within, I first came up against the cultural forms with which this deep male has been clothed, most of which are perversions of what he is capable of. I became the hissing intellectual, going around the world obsessive scrutinizing. (The yod configuration: Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Pluto.)

A third dream coming the very next night solidified my sense of the other two and helped make sense of the task ahead.

I am on a pirate ship (like Bluebeard’s) on the high seas. I am in the captain’s quarters, about to give an astrological reading to a young couple. She is quiet, sweet, innocent and pure. He is elfin-like, magical, solicitous of her, and very glad they are to get the reading, as it is to be about him, and she will then understand him better.

 I begin by saying that he has Mercury in Libra, so is interested in cooperation, making peace, harmonizing, blending with her. Hearing this, he beams. But, I continue, you also have Mars and the Moon in Aries, directly opposite Mercury. I begin to describe his insensitivity, impulsiveness, his lack of responsibility. Now he looks shocked, alarmed. Suddenly, he freaks, and leaves. After he is gone I notice he also has Neptune in Libra, conjunct Mercury. So, I think, he has been deceptive to her, has been lying.

The woman within me is sweet and pure, but deceived: Venus square Neptune. She is asking to integrate with an aspect of my animus, the puer figure, magical and irresponsible: for me, Mars in Sagittarius is tightly opposed to Uranus in Gemini from the hidden 6th/12th house axis.

During the time of these dreams, transiting Uranus was, for the first (and only) time in my life, approaching exact conjunction with natal Venus in Capricorn. It is now time to integrate those two systems within, male and female, Mars/Uranus and Venus/Neptune.

I grew up with a powerful father, the senex, as opposed to the puer (so, of course, the puer is the shadow, the one who can only show up in dreams and, even then, he freaks and leaves). My father was a patriarch, of near-biblical stature and presence, and his Saturn and Pluto in early Cancer were both stationary direct when he was born and karmically placed, directly opposite my Venus/Mercury, triggering my Yod.

In defense against his relentless judgment and denial of his own feelings, I became the judge, denying my feelings, relentlessly scrutinizing.

William’s Cancer sun is also karmically placed, in the same point as my father’s Saturn/Pluto. He illumines the scrutiny and nourishes me to the point where it is no longer so necessary for survival.

William at the party was the puer male, acting out his ambivalence about being with me through his pretended(?) interest in getting another woman’s phone number. At first I was the passive, sweet and pure woman, eternally accommodating. Later, I became the senex, relentlessly judging, pinning him to the wall.

At other times, William becomes more female, reminds me of my mother, a sweet, pure woman, eternally accommodating. (Her Libra Sun is exactly conjunct both his Moon and my Neptune . . .). I am attracted to his gentleness, his acute sensitivity — and, it drives me crazy; I want to break him (me) out of it through some kind of intellectual shock (Mars/Uranus).

Superimposing our charts upon one another, William and I create a complete cardinal cross, the cross involving male/female polarities: Aries/Libra and Cancer/Capricorn.

 As Within, So Without

A few days after my three-dream sequence, my friend Susan called me to discuss a series of three dreams she had during that same Pluto turning time. Again, the theme seemed to be male/female integration, but with a difference. Rather than the puer (the child, Cancer or Aries), she was dealing with the senex (Capricorn); images of policemen, army officers, other uniformed authority figures crowded her dreams.

This is interesting, in view of the fact that her father was an inventor (puer) who gave her no discipline (senex), and mine was the opposite, a disciplinarian who seemed to have no imagination. Each of us is seeking a balance within, allowing the shadow aspect of the animus to come to the surface, integrating it with that aspect of the animus which has been more conscious.

On the international scene, during this same Pluto turning time, the entire human race encountered the terrible face of the senex archetypal energy in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s rage over Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Khomeini bears an uncanny resemblance to God the Avenging Judge in the Old Testament, as he fiercely and murderously and righteously defends the honor of his own bible, the Koran.

These private and public events all revolve around exploring the dynamics of various aspects of archetypal male energy, and Khomeini himself is the example in extremis of what the human race now attempts to transform within itself. As we look upon his terrible face, we see ourselves. All wars are religious wars. All wars rage against the female and our mother nature. War is possible only if we continue to be deeply unconscious of the long held and deeply rooted emotional patterns within ourselves, patterns which have been governing our lives for 10,000 years.

Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune now in the sign of Capricorn are putting us in touch with the structural characteristics of this internal government, how it has dominated us and each other through rigid forms of perception, precipitating literally constant scenes of violence, torture and death.

Mighty Capricorn! What, until now, we have only imagined, becomes present among us. The word becomes flesh. What we do now is irrevocable, and makes a difference. Each and every act carves reality into shape.

Pluto in Scorpio, moving to sextile these three planets in Capricorn, is the life force breathing the miracle of fresh energy into this planetary process, allowing us to contact, illumine and release these deeply buried patterns, this profound sense of separation between male and female, between humanity and the planet, this frozen male rage within us all.

 

 

 

 

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