In this interview Jutka takes us into the archetypal realm of the Feminine. She explains its meaning for women at different stages of life, and shares her experience of turning 60.
Since the mid-1980s, Jutka Freiman has guided women on the journey from self to soul. A psychotherapist and group facilitator with degrees in psychology and anthropology, Jutka has many strings to her bow. She is an expert in the fields of archetypal psychology, psychodrama, Gestalt, somatic psychology, art therapy and the Enneagram. Jutka is wise, deeply creative and an inspiration for any woman wanting to embark on the heroine’s journey.
The return of the Feminine
KRIS MCINTYRE (Sacred Women’s Business): I think there is a kind of rising consciousness about the Feminine in our culture, where we are coming out of a period where the Feminine has been exiled not just in yourself, but in a broader sense. Would you agree with that?
JUTKA FREIMAN: Oh, yes. I think the Feminine was exiled a long time ago. I think in our parents’ generation – or my mother’s generation – she got sold the myth that if you just keep everything clean and hygienic and pop out a couple of kids it’s all going to be fine. That was less so in Europe where my parents come from, but it was still a pretty strong, pervasive myth.
I think my generation did all that liberation stuff. We cut our hair and burnt our bras and basically castrated a whole lot of men along the way. And absolutely lost sight of the Feminine and found a very strong political fierceness for equality and fairness. God bless us for that because we need that too, but we let something slip by the wayside. And then we all started walking around asking, ‘Why are men so wimpy?’ and it was because we were strapping our balls on every morning and basically crushing everything in our path.
But it wasn’t until we started to feel like we were drying up that we stopped blaming them. We started to get into the lament of the Feminine itself. It’s like, ‘Oh, where is my soul? And how am I going to survive if I’m going to prioritise my soul, without falling back into that submissive way of being?’
KRIS: So, how do you describe the ‘Feminine’? Because it’s not about being female, or being ‘pretty’? So how do you describe the Feminine and how it shows up in the world?
JUTKA: I would like to say in a nutshell, the Feminine is the relational aspect. I know that sometimes there are people who look like they are being relational, but they are being strategic and that’s not really the Feminine. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just not the Feminine.
The Feminine in the purest form I understand is the open, the receptive. And the masculine is the operational, the directive operational. And we absolutely need both. Everything needs the polarity. If I break my arm, I can’t be open and receptive to healing, I’ve actually got to get some medicines and a splint. Time isn’t really going to heal it without the proper care. So I need to bring both in.
Our whole orientation in our first world culture is very much toward our Yang, or Masculine, or operational and directive self. We built that very well, which is great, but we also need to move into a healthy relationship with our relational self, which is enormously inconvenient for the operational ego. Because it has a different rhythm.
If I’m going to connect with you, I’ve got to slow down, come into my body. I’ve got to just be with the function of being with you. And any man can do that, any woman can do that, and any other person in between can do that. It’s really a way of being that we are describing. And it is a particularly strong need and function in women and we miss it.
KRIS: Yeah, and many of us don’t know it, which is fairly unfortunate.
KRIS: So you’ve recently had a significant birthday?
JUTKA: I have indeed. I turned 60 and you know I was a little nervous because I have to say I was the most reluctant star at my party when I turned 50. In fact, I spiked a fever and had to go home – it was a moment of creative genius! And despite the endless rituals that my friends kept giving me to come into my wisdom, I just didn’t want to. I was upset! I didn’t want to be 50 and they thought it was very ‘un-together’ of me, but that’s what was going on. So I thought, “Oh no what’s going to go on at 60?” But it was absolutely not that at all.
As I approached 60 I was more and more curious about 60. For me it’s been just the most remarkable moment. I’ve taken a bit of a sabbatical and it’s a moment to pause and I think a privileged moment. I think in your 50’s you look around and go, ‘This is not my picture. I know I’m supposed to be grateful and I’m going to learn how to be grateful. I’m going to get a gratitude journal and do my affirmations, but really underneath it all, I’m not sure that this is my picture!’
But at 60, it’s like, ‘I am actually very grateful to have gone through my 50’s because there are some massive lessons there. I’m grateful to have gained some of the wisdom. I’m more invisible to those for whom I was possibly never visible to anyway, and much more visible to myself – because I have more capacity to be vulnerable and human’.
And my ego is kind of relaxing and it’s had a bit of help on the way of course, because you are more invisible, you’re a little more lined, a little fatter perhaps, much greyer. I think that what we learn as we get older is this capacity to ‘be with’ whatever. We talk about presence a lot, don’t we? And mindfulness. And I often think it is really the capacity to really be with right now, fully, soulfully.
KRIS: And a big part of that being with ‘whatever’ is yourself. I had my yoga teacher, Lisa Foster, in here earlier this morning and she said she’s in a space now, at 51 where she’s had her baby, she’s been of service continuously but now ‘it’s about me’ – so now it’s about ‘I’m going to make a cup of tea for me first, I’m going to do what I want’. Is that part of that knowing yourself as well?
JUTKA: There is definitely some part of me that is prioritising me, but I wouldn’t say so much that its about me. I think there has been way too much ‘me’ in my life anyway! It’s more about something to do around being present. I remember years ago, when I first heard about mindfulness, I used to practice mindfulness as a concentration practice. It was like, ‘right, now I’m going to be mindful’ and I’d be watching the breath. What I’ve realised now is that I was being very strict with myself from my super ego, from my critic.
Now what I realise is that if I just pull back and expand then it’s a relaxation to be mindful. It’s not a concentration practice. It’s actually an open, dissolving practice that requires all of my vitality and all of my being with, but it isn’t that harsh. And I think that is what 60 has brought for me anyway – it’s not that harsh anymore.
KRIS: So that’s a surrendering that feels very much like the Feminine that you were describing earlier. Where are the places that we find the Feminine, that we can tap in to understand it?
JUTKA: We need to be careful of allowing the ego to jump in again. I’m not about trashing the ego, but I think one of the great perils is this thing called our identity, who we take ourselves to be. If something called ‘Tantric goddess’ is getting a lot of action, then our ego can go, ‘right, that’s who I’ve got to be. If I’m lonely and I want a partner, I’m going to drop weight, put a ruby in my belly and gyrate. That’s not the Feminine. That’s the strategic aspect of us trying to attract a polarity, but it’s an identity that we are trying to put forward.
So the Feminine is again something more essential and it’s not an effort into anything. It’s moving from our intelligence to our wisdom or ‘big mind’ and big heart. So again it’s relocating in soul and I don’t believe that we really can do that on our own. We can’t really do it through reading, but we can start to open a portal to wanting that.
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