Three things happened to me a little over a year ago that corrected and changed the course of my life. In overlapping succession, I had a dream in which a rose appeared in my hand; two, I met Dr. Howard Teich, an archetypal psychotherapist and author of Solar Light, Lunar Light; and, three, we agreed to exchange dance lessons for his interpreting of my dreams.
I learned that the rose symbolized my “reddy-ness” (my wordplay) to meet my solar feminine. Even before I fully understood what on earth Dr. Teich meant, I experienced a shift in consciousness that filtered through to my search, online and offline, for a man. Under Dr. Teich’s tutelage and reading his book, I learned that I had neglected my solar feminine—in part because our culture erroneously imprints a gender label on the sun as masculine and the moon as feminine.
Such labeling is recent and confined almost solely to western civilization, Dr. Teich writes in his book. He says that nearly every ancient culture, from Egyptians to the Hopi, has honored twin gods, representing the sun and moon archetypes. “In those cultures,” he told me, “the sun and the moon are both masculine and feminine,” a seemingly small point but hugely significant in its impact on our psyches. He explained, “Solar traits, are expressed when one is direct, logical, and goal-oriented. Lunar traits show up as emotion, intuition, and visioning.”
I recognized instantly how my imbalance toward the lunar had been shaped by a patriarchal Sicilian culture that discouraged the former and valued the latter traits in women. Dr. Teich, said, “denying either men or women the dual influence of solar and lunar deprives us all the richer, more creative, and integrated life we deserve.” Small surprise, then, that Dr. Teich wrote of how he hears dream after dream from his analys ands who go to sleep at night only to have their unconscious reach for the solar or lunar aspects denied them by day.
If I harbored any skepticism of Dr. Teich’s philosophy, within a month of starting dream work with him, a stunning synchronicity put it to rest. I met my man, Harley. He was a prince, and I met him offline, doing what we shared a passion for—dancing. A year later, we are still happily together. I’m not superstitious, but Harley happened to be the seventh man of the year—the prior six, all near misses, turned out to be frogs.
Or were they?
Could it have been my unexamined solar feminine–deficiency that sabotage a relationship? Interpreting another dream I had just before I met Harley, Dr. Teich told me that I was ready for the Virgin Spirit, whom he described as “she who is not caught in expectation, and has purity all around herself.” I thought I was looking for my soul mate, but Dr. Teich used a term, “twinning,” to describe the dynamic of searching within—not outside—for the lost or repressed parts of our Self. It seems that when we are whole, we are truly ready for intimacy with other.
I could only really grasp the idea of the Virgin Spirit when things started to go south for me and Harley, about six months into our relationship. Dr. Teich says this period is inevitable in any physically intimate relationship. He labeled this phase as that of the “dark lover.” Harley and I encountered each other’s shadow, the hidden self, doing battle supreme. Dr. Teich had already given me the antidote, a multi-step process he describes as “reverse-engineering of anxiety.” It involves identifying the “expectation,” (which is always at the root of our suffering in intimacy); putting it in a fire to demolish it, and waiting for the image my intuition or unconscious puts forth. It took me a while to trust the deceptively simple exercise—explained in detail in his book. But it has worked so far. Did I say give up expectations for a lover? Scary, scary, scary . . . then liberating.
I can only wonder if I had known about this psychological medicine—and my Solar Feminine and the Virgin Spirit—would I have remained with one of the frogs? On the other hand, it seems I had to wait until I was out of everything, out of courage, out of consciously creative ideas, and had to trust the images that arrived in the dark of night. Why not add expectation to the trash heap of self-generated attempts at happiness?
I highly recommend Dr. Teich’s book, Solar Light, Lunar Light (www.fisherkingpress.com); see his website: solarlunar.com. At his site, he has a fascinating tool called the PACE profile (Purpose, Action, Change, Empathy) that measures one’s balance of lunar and solar traits.
Camille Cusumano is the author of the memoir, Tango, an Argentine Love Story. A former editor for VIA Magazine, she has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, National Geographic Traveler, and Islands Magazine. Learn more at: www.camillecusumano.com