The news of the death of the mythopoetic giant, Robert Bly, on November 21st, aged 94, came to me after I had already decided to share about a fabulous and important book that I have recently read. Synchronicity can be quite an astonishing thing. The book is “Toni Wolff & C.G. Jung: A Collaboration”, by Nan Savage Healy (2018). It is truly amazing how these themes weave together, for me, as well as the inspirations for important features of the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm ™.
Robert Bly, a gifted poet, author, anti-war activist, counter-culture figure and transcendentalist, has come to be best known for his book “Iron John”. Bly was credited for inspiring a nascent men’s consciousness movement, which generated both praise and criticism and somewhat diminished his earlier work. I had the great good fortune of attending many of his workshops, particularly when he collaborated with Tai-Chi master Al Huang. What is considerably less known is that Bly was an early advocate for expanding the perception of women’s archetypes, particularly the dark chthonic feminine. Poems such as “The Teeth Mother Naked at Last” and his essay “I Came Out of the Mother Naked” were highly influential to me and to others who were reformulating mainstream astrology in a more feminine direction, considerably less patriarchal in flavor. But the greatest gift of all that I received from Robert Bly, and from others in those halcyon days of cultural renaissance, was his efforts to bring to the world’s attention an essay by Toni Wolff: “Structural Forms of the Feminine Psyche”. This had such a profound impact on me that it has remained the foundational bedrock of my understanding of the full spectrum of the archetypes of the feminine (and similarly influencing my view of masculine archetypes).
This brings me to the book I have just finished reading. Finally, here is a book that delves comprehensively into the story of the woman, whom Jung referred to as his “second wife”. She was the medial psychopomp for his many descents into the underworld in the 1910’s and 1920’s, and the mainly un-credited collaborator to his famous “Red Book”. She was Jung’s main collaborator in his theories regarding anima and animus, psychological types, archetypes and analytical psychology. She faded into the background and has been largely written out (including by later “Jungians”) and not much talked about, until now. Few of her essays have yet to be translated into English. The book is amazing, bringing essential background to concepts that have been uniquely incorporated in the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm ™. I also have often tried, for many years, to bring to the attention of our students and teachers the great importance of Toni Wolff (and obviously Jung).
Most importantly she saw the foundational structure of the feminine archetypes as a fourfold structure on two axes. The Vertical axis was the personal one with the “hetaera” at the top, and the “maternal” at the bottom. The horizontal impersonal axis had the “medial” woman on one side, and the “amazon” woman on the other side. This understanding was highly influential to me, and in a foundational way, allowed me to expand this to 12 authentic expressions, a full spectrum, of the archetypes of the feminine. This approach is far more useful than the more widely known use of the three-fold triple-goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone. Two of our online courses expand on this in rich detail – CLICK HERE to learn more.
I want to especially honor the contribution and brilliance of Robert Bly, who died at his 8th Jupiter return! I am going to include here the charts of Bly, Toni Wolff, and C.G.Jung, all three such remarkable and important contributors to our school and paradigm. I strongly suggest seeking out Nan Healy’s book should these subjects be of interest. I believe the subject matter to be rather important in these times.