INDIVIDUATION AND THE SYMBOL OF THE LION LADY
The encounter with the shadow is a vital step on the path of “individuation“. The “Lion Lady” symbolises my shadow, both personally and collectively. I am using “shadow” in the sense articulated by C.G. Jung as being the aspects of one’s personality or culture that have been hidden from view because they are deemed incompatible with one’s conscious self understanding. These unknown and feared qualities are often encountered in the form of a projection. Once again I use this term in a Jungian sense. This means that I find in another person or culture, qualities that really belong to me – if only I could broaden my self-understanding to embrace these new qualities. As long as projections remain unconscious, I will depend on or be strongly attracted (or repelled) by the person or culture that is carrying my projection. In my case, in a simplified form, my personal shadow is the idea of myself as a powerful woman artist and thinker. My collective western shadow concerns my relationship to God, the body and instincts. Although Christian doctrine asserts the full humanity of Jesus Christ, the cultural pictures of this humanity are restricted to male humanity and within that, the sexual or instinctive dimensions of this ‘universal’ humanity are hidden. In contrast, Hindu images express the divine incarnation in both male and female forms. The instincts are kept in view in the form of animal or half animal deities such as Narasimha, the Man Lion, the animal vahanas (vehicles) that carry the deities and in the Linga-yoni – the stylisation of the phallus and vulva that is placed at the centre of temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Since 1995 I have been exploring my shadow and attempting to recognise and integrate these parts of myself. Looking back over the process that is still ongoing, I can see certain stages that have been revealed through inner journey paintings and in public sculptures. The following images are selected from four different series of inner journey pictures.
When I first experienced my inner “Lion Lady”, I could not see her. I felt out of control and I took my revenge – not on this harmless but perhaps dim, Red Woman, but on myself. I threw myself down where I shattered into many pieces. I kept this wounded part buried under the black earth so that neither I, nor anyone else could see my fragmentation.
Fig. 2: Lion in the Wound Cage – No. 31 in The Heart Garden
At this point on my inner journey, I had become more aware of my wound. The shattered part of me buried in the earth has moved up to become a female lion enclosed in a dark cage. In the foreground she comes out of the cage. The part of me that is terrified of this red aspect is depicted as a grey woman, leaning back and with scraped back hair. Once this figure begins to fly with the Lion Lady, she changes her form.
All my red-ness or life-force has been projected out onto the Red Man. He appears to me as a terrifying tyrant – in fact a violator or even rapist. He embodies my negative animus or masculine side of me.
The wounded buried qualities gradually come back to life, yet they are still not accepted by me. Thus I represent myself as a sculptor in a mythological form – as a miniature Lion Lady who has to stand on a stool to reach her work. Next to her is the Party Girl. She is the one who blamed her exuberant openness for the “Fall” depicted in Fig. 1. Here the Blue Man plays a classical role as the positive animus or masculine side of a woman who acts as a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious parts of her personality.
This woman has become a creative human being. Her humanity is rooted in the western Judeo-Christian tradition in the divine female figure of Wisdom, who in Proverbs 8 v. 30 is described as a master craftsman beside God and daily his delight, rejoicing before him always.