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Posts Tagged ‘anima’

Listening to the Beatles

Sgt Peppers cover

 

“… the anima is the archetype of life itself.”

C.G. Jung (CW 9i, par. 66)

Last week I talked about the animate power of the Beatles’ music. Their songs sing themselves through our lives. So, let’s continue our exploration of soul by listening to their music. The Beatles were aware of Jung’s writings for if you look at the cover of the Sgt. Peppers album, you see Jung’s picture between those of W.C. Fields and Edgar Alan Poe! Perhaps the Beatles were avid Jungians for many of the photos on this album cover are of people who strongly affected them.

As I mentioned in my last post, the Beatles’ music follows Jung’s description of anima development. Anima is the feminine archetype within us representing soul. The important role of the feminine in the Beatles’ music is no accident (are there accidents?). Both John and Paul lost their mothers at an early age. Jung points out that the earliest anima form within us arises from the mother image. So the loss of ones’ mother often leads to a strong yearning for a connection to the lost feminine.

The first stage of anima development is the biological drive of blind love. Close your eyes now and reflect back on your youth. Imagine sitting in school (elementary, middle or high?) and bring before you the image of that special one, boy or girl, with whom you fell in love. Remember that feeling of first love the dreamy state of walking on air. The image of that person still lives within you for we never forget our first love. Listen to this Beatles’ song and remember back to that moment:

Ask Me Why

The second stage of anima development is about maturing relationships. We are no longer fearfully falling into blind lascivious love, but beginning to recognize the other person for who they are, not for who we want them to be. This realization requires us to pull back the projections we have been placing onto the person. This moment of seeing the other as an individual is an eye-opening experience. The moment when we wake up one morning, look at our beloved and ask, “Where did my true love go?” Our initial inclination may be to run away and find a new someone to project onto. Listen to this Beatles’ song reflecting the second stage of soul development:

I’m Looking Through You

The third anima stage is one of spiritual mediation. For Jung, the anima connects us (our ego) with our inner Self, the archetype of wholeness. When this connection occurs, we experience the numinous. Sometimes this experience occurs in dreams. Paul composed a couple songs from his dreams like the melody of Yesterday. Yesterday is the second most covered song (a song played by other artists) in the history of music, while the first place most covered song is Eleanor Rigby. The universal appeal of these songs to other artists is yet another indication of how the Beatles’ music is archetypal. Paul composed the song Let It Be from a dream of his mother, Mary. Here is his song representing the spiritual mediation stage:

Let It Be

The fourth and final stage of anima development is one of transcendence. Jung (CW 16, par.361) says this stage, “illustrates something which unexpectedly goes beyond the almost unsurpassable… ,” in which the anima represents an expanding spiritual state that includes the universe. Spiritual transcendence was a central theme of the sixties. Eastern religions flooded into the West to meet this yearning for transcendence and the Beatles played a critical role in opening the doors to the East. Their travels to India to visit Maharishi Mahesh Yogi raised interest in the power of meditation. The Beatles’ experiences with LSD led the sixties generation into a new psychic space of expanded consciousness. Listen to this song written by John representing the fourth stage of transcendent non-ego experience:

Tomorrow Never Knows

india

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Meet the Beatles

Please

“Nobody can understand [soul] unless he has experienced [it] himself. I am much more interested in pointing out the possible ways to such experience than in devising intellectual formulae…”

C.G. Jung (CW 7, par. 340)

“[Woman] becomes [a man’s] companion… she produces an imago … that has to be kept associated with … Woman is and always has been a source of information about things for which a man has no eyes. She can be his inspiration…”

C.G. Jung (CW 7, par. 296)

I enjoy giving public talks on Jung’s ideas. One of my favorites is on ‘Jung Meets the Beatles.” In this talk I look at how the development of the Beatles music fits perfectly with Jung’s ideas on how the anima develops in us. Anima is Jung’s term for the feminine part within us, our soul. Anima connects us to the deeper parts of our selves. As such, the anima connects us to creativity. If we find our soul, then we are animated about life, we play. Artists are in touch with anima. They allow their soul to work through them to bring creation into the world. The Beatles were certainly a group who felt the presence of soul.

February 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles recording of Please, Please Me. They recorded ten songs in a single session to produce much of this album. The song Please, Please Me quickly reached the top of the charts in the UK. The album was released in March and became an instant hit. So began Beatlemania! Soon after this album the Beatles released the With the Beatles LP. I remember buying this album taking it home and listening to it over and over. Until the Beatles appeared popular music was dominated for the most part by American groups. The Beatles brought a new energy to music and their personalities brought a unique playfulness to the world of the early 60’s. Many of the songs on Please, Please Me are about falling in and out of love, similar to many songs of that time. This early stage of their music falls under the first anima stage of biological attraction. It’s all about the hormones. Their later music continues to parallel the developmental stages of the anima from biological attraction, through relational awareness, spiritual mediation to the transcendent. The development of the feminine within the Fab Four is mirrored in the songs they were writing and playing over the lifetime of the band.

I love giving my “Jung Meets the Beatles” talk just to see the reaction of the audience. The presentation is full of Beatles songs. To stand back and watch the power of their music on people brings wonderment to me. The audience becomes so animated. All ages love their music. A few years ago I was in a music store and a teenage girl had headphones on and was listening to their music. She was singing word for word one of their songs. Imagine someone who was not even around when the Beatles wrote those songs being so touched by their music. Fifty years after their music first appeared we still sing their songs. Think about this… in 1963 how many people were singing songs from 1913? Yet, the Beatles’ music is as exciting today as it was back in 1963. Our soul is eternally touched by their music.

Let us celebrate 50 years of Beatlemania… Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles

 

 

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