The Function of the Wife & The Anima (As Told in “The Odyssey”)


Francis Chantrey- image in the US public domain

I receive a lot of questions regarding the subject of the wife and the co-wife (or concubine). I wanted to delve a little deeper into these mysteries and their cosmic significance. In the Tarot, it should be understood that the princesses and queens represent these concepts as part of a cosmic formula. In the Greek Epic "The Odyssey" we find the Hero/Protagonist, Odysseus, attempting to return home to his wife, Penelope, after the Trojan War. The idea of "returning home" to one's "wife" is a metaphor for attaining liberation, as it is only by reuniting with one's twin in an alchemical marriage that a person completes the cosmic journey of nakshatras, which is analogous to this spiritual voyage. When a man enters the renunciation stage of his life, he is beginning his own personal odyssey, or voyage, and this story is a metaphor for a man entering that path. The many tribulations that he and his wife face are the spiritual ordeals and tests that each party must overcome to finally reunite, as Penelope and Odysseus do at the end of the story. On the course of his journey, Odysseus faces monsters and other obstacles. Eventually he becomes enchanted by an immortal sea nymph, Calypso, and for 7 years he is literally held on her island, captivated (although not totally unwillingly) under her spell. Calypso represents a man's Anima or co-wife, who inspires and acts like a muse and artistic and creative companion for a man, but is not his alchemical twin that the wife represents. He stays on her island with her, sleeping with her often, until finally he cannot bear being separate from his wife anymore and prays to the Gods to be set free from her power. Fortunately, just like everyone, Odysseus has a patron God/Goddess who intervenes on his behalf; for, it was due to Odysseus' sin for having not made an offering to the sea God, Poseidon, before trying to return home, which allowed him to fall into this captivation by an oceanic being. Through him praying to his patron, she pulls the strings to save him. Athena arranges for Odysseus to be set free from Calypso's island, which prompts the rather humorous reaction from Calypso, in which she becomes angry that the Gods always intervene when an immortal like her falls in love with a human, and wants to keep them for themselves. Calypso, however, is ultimately the positive manifestation of a man's Anima figure, and this is why she gives him supplies for his journey when he is leaving. It is interesting to consider that many people confuse Calypso with Circe, who is a witch on another island that Odysseus also runs into, who represents his negative Anima figure. In a spiritual sense, they are one and the same, for if Odysseus had been unable to remember his wife while encountering Calypso, she would have become "Circe" for him and enslaved him into his animal nature. This is why Circe turns all of Odysseus' companions into pigs, but Odysseus, being truly virile, was unable to be conquered by her magic. Although Calypso is the more positive form in a certain sense, she still represents another test and temptation regarding an illusory form of immortality offered to him by his concubine... that should he accept, would result in loss of his wife and soul forever. She is the other dangerous aspect of his anima and, although less overtly sinister, is an even more difficult test that Circe. All men, if they wish for liberation, must prove themselves worthy and encounter their own enchantress; it is how they react to her that proves whether she will be a "Calypso" or a "Circe" to him and his wife. He sleeps with Circe as well, and this is the only way to deal with the challenge a man faces when encountering his Anima. In reality, the man's Anima figure is the "daughter" of his wife in a spiritual sense, and this is why in the Tarot it is said that the man must "redeem" the princess (who represents the "fallen" part of his wife) through his virility. While Odysseus is sleeping with and avoiding Witches, and battling monsters and sirens who obstruct him from returning home (the male path in a nutshell), his wife Penelope has her own problems. During his long absence, many suitors seek to marry her, and she resorts to much trickery to avoid them (rejecting unworthy men being a key element of the female path). The story shows the immense obstacles that "twin souls" must go through if they wish to eventually reunite. This is known in the Occult world as studying and understanding the mysteries of Chastity. Through the training from his journey, and especially at the hands of his Anima, he finally returns home to his wife. For a man approaching the mysteries, it all comes down to how he uses his sexuality. In the old temples, aspiring spiritual seekers were approached by dancing priestesses. If he was indifferent to their charms or (refusing to be played with) engaged in virile sex with a dancer, he was accepted. It was only when he was aroused but did nothing that he was castrated and shoved into a fissure in the ground as a failure, due to him exhibiting no willpower, which is necessary for all who wish to enter the path of the mysteries and the Moksha houses. Odysseus and all of his struggles, etc. symbolize what a man must go through to complete the great work, overcoming all of the obstacles blocking the divine alchemical union with his heavenly spouse. The Anima figure is then understood to be an extension of his "wife", her spiritual daughter, and connected to his wife in this way. In a man's life, this is what the "younger" wife represents and is shown in the Tarot by the Lust card. It is through her that he gains all of his power-- through overcoming her-- and thus she becomes a positive, "virilizing" force. Through her challenge, she teaches him how to overcome his enemies and obstacles, so that he can return to his wife. This alludes to the fact that the 5th house of concubines and courtesans is 12 away from the 6th house of enemies and obstacles, and so drains them away. Because the 6th house is 12 from the 7th house, enemies, debts and 6th house issues are the main things which threaten a happy marriage, and so it is ultimately the cosmic role of concubine or courtesan (tempting the man) that makes a truly happy marriage possible through strengthening him. It is through venturing into the wilderness in search of Moksha that he meets his Anima which is his own animal nature and totally controls it. This is required for a man to achieve liberation and thus having proved himself, he returns to his wife and embraces  her as finally a full man with no uncontrolled animal aspect to himself. His wife then kisses his forehead and solidifies his Kundalini at the Ajna, which grants him inability to lose control of is animal nature ever again and they embrace finally whole.

**"Devdas" Spoiler Alerts

For a "failing" version of the Odyssey (where the hero ultimately does not succeed), watch the movie Devdas, in which a man desires to marry a woman who is deeply in love with him and keeps a lamp lit for him... symbolizing her guiding him home and to protect her chastity. However, due to caste, a fight breaks out among the parents and they do now allow them to consummate the marriage. Thus, the hero must undergo his own Odyssey and ends up living in a brothel with a prostitute (like Calypso). However, due to his inability to control his animal nature and his own grief regarding the obstacles that separate him from his wife, he succumbs to the negative side of his anima, symbolized by him becoming an alcoholic, thus failing to control his animal nature. His real wife is then married off to a widower who does not love her, which parallels the suitors trying to get Penelope to break her chastity with Odysseus in the Odyssey. However, unlike in the Odyssey, due to him failing to overcome the test with his anima, when he tries to go back to his wife (who is living at the other man's house) as he is dying from alcoholism; as she rushes out to try to save him, the gates close and she is unable to reach him and her lamp goes out, thus symbolizing failure for him to return home to his wife.  

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