"The Medial Woman…a representation of the strong-sighted and deep-hearted self who lives simultaneously in the world of light (our conventional, daytime domain) and the world of dark (the hidden realm of potential, the depths of the Soul and its making of things to bear, balance, unleash in goodness in the topside world)."-Clarissa Pinkola Estes
During a time of so much upheaval and disruption in the collective, some of us may feel things more intensely than others. We may experience what occurs outside of us is inside of us as well and sometimes not able to differentiate the two. It often feels as if the anima mundi, soul of the world, or zeitgeist lives through us as us. Why is that some people are deeply impacted and more attuned to what is happening in the collective than others?
Those of us with this sensitivity may think of ourselves as introverts, HSPs, or empaths, but what we share bridges worlds. While discussed by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run With the Wolves, this term describes a bridge between worlds. And anyone who can relate to this as a blessing and curse to have this sensitivity. Medial comes from Proto-Indo-European root *medhyo- meaning "middle" also related to the words medium, meso, mediate, etc.
However, for Toni Wolff--a Jungian analyst and student/lover/muse to C.G. Jung--this permeability of psyche relates to what she called the medial nature. This tendency shows up often among healers, therapists, astrologers, etc. It goes by many names: visionary, healer, seer, witch, psychic, medium, etc. Though the term medial nature may be the best description I've heard, as to me it speaks more of an inherent dynamic deep in the soul.
In honor of Wolff's birthday, I want to bring attention to her incredible theories that often gets overlooked. Her complicated relationship with Jung informed much of their professional work and I find gets overshadowed. And in many ways she was his muse--both personal and impersonal as an anima figure. While Wolff's theories focus on women, I see the archetypes she alludes to as referring to any gender identify. Rather as an aspect of the soul that we may lose oneself around others and absorb energies and feelings from around us. One of our greatest lessons then becomes this distinguishing of inner and outer worlds.
“The medial woman is immersed in the psychic atmosphere of her environment and the spirit of her period, but above all in the collective (impersonal) unconscious. The unconscious, once it is constellated and can become conscious, exerts an effect. The medial woman is overcome by this effect, she is absorbed and moulded by it and sometimes she represents it herself."-Toni Wolff
Wolff's theory of the "four structures of the feminine" feel incredibly resonant for the ways archetypes become personal and the tendencies for certain people to operate on different levels of consciousness and understanding. It's important to note that these structures are not mutually exclusive, and most individuals have a combination of these aspects within their psyche. The prominence of each structure can vary over a person's lifetime or in different life situations--and to me this has astrological correlations that I won't go into here. Wolff's model provides a framework for understanding and appreciating the diverse expressions of the feminine within individuals, acknowledging that each of these structures contributes to the richness of human experience.
These structures are not rigid categories but rather represent archetypal patterns that can manifest in various ways in an individual's personality. For Wolff individuation was best achieved by not over identifying with one of the four aspects but rather allowing all to co-exist within us. This could also be similar to Jung's idea of the four functions coming together for integrated Self.
Below is the list of each, hoping you as a reader can see where you might identify or connect or where you find balance.
The Amazonian Structure:
The Amazonian structure represents the more assertive and independent aspects of the feminine psyche.
Individuals with a dominant Amazonian structure tend to be strong-willed, self-reliant, and oriented toward achieving their goals and ambitions.
They may excel in traditionally masculine domains and exhibit characteristics associated with competitiveness and leadership.
This structure does not negate the presence of the other structures but highlights the assertive and action-oriented qualities within the feminine psyche.
Examples: Artemis, Athena, Hermione, Oprah Winfrey, Ruth Bader Ginsberg
This structure strives for consciousness and offering gifts to the collective in public life.
2. The Motherly Structure:
The Motherly structure embodies nurturing and caregiving qualities often associated with the archetype of the mother.
Individuals with a dominant Motherly structure are caring, compassionate, and empathetic. They may have a natural inclination to take care of others and provide emotional support.
This structure encompasses the capacity for nurturing not only children but also people in general and even creative or professional projects.
The Motherly structure represents the more traditional feminine qualities of compassion and love.
Examples: Diana Princess of Wales, Demeter, Mother Mary, Mother Theresa, Emma Jung
Deeply focused on relationships...specifically to children and family.
3. The Hetaira (Courtesan or Lover) Structure:
The Hetaira structure is characterized by a focus on sensuality, sexuality, and the pursuit of pleasure.
Individuals with a dominant Hetaira structure are often comfortable with their sensuality and may have a strong need for intimate connections and emotional depth in their relationships.
This structure is not limited to sexual aspects but also encompasses a broader appreciation for aesthetics, beauty, and the sensual aspects of life.
It represents the archetype of the lover or seductress and is associated with qualities of allure and emotional intensity.
Examples: Lou Andreas-Salome, Aphrodite, Helen of Troy, Monica Lewinsky, Cleopatra, Toni Wolff
I also see this as related to the anima complex and sacred prostitute or someone who tends to center romantic love, not necessarily friendship. May take on the identify of the partner rather than remain orbiting herself.
4. The Medial (Wise Woman or Mystic) Structure:
The Medial structure represents the more introspective and spiritual aspects of the feminine psyche.
Individuals with a dominant Medial structure are often drawn to inner exploration, intuition, and a quest for wisdom and self-understanding.
This structure can manifest as a deep interest in esoteric or spiritual matters, a connection to the unconscious, and a sense of being in touch with a higher purpose.
It embodies the archetype of the wise woman or mystic and is associated with qualities of insight and intuition.
Examples: Madame Blavatsky, Liz Green, Hecate, Quan Yin, Wicked Witch of the West from Wizard of Oz:)
The medial's goal is to communicate and translate the realm of the hidden to the collective through tapping into the collective unconscious.
"The overwhelming force of the collective unconscious sweeps through the ego of the medial woman and weakens it."-Toni Wolff
I tend the most towards the Medial Woman and Hetaira but with my work and business lean more and more into medial nature daily. Career paths associated with the healing arts naturally lend themselves to the medial nature. And during times with a lot of upheaval in the collective, it is exhausting and overwhelming.
Wolff believed the balance to the impersonal and unconscious aspects of the Medial nature was the Amazon. For those of us who over identify with our medial nature, we need the medicine and strength of the Amazon, or what I would call Virgin. With this archetype comes discernment, boundaries, and focus. In addition, Four Eternal Women points out the two types of Medial Woman:
1) Has a specific ethereal muse or "other" that guides her. As if a mission from beyond that gives her the information needed to be an oracle and seer. Voices and visions come from this place to be disseminated to others.
2) The other version has a tool of divination such as tarot cards, herbal essences, or in my case an astrology chart. The craft becomes the connection to the other world.
Work on the archetypes within the female psyche is nothing new, I do feel Wolff's early work influenced many depth psychologists and archetypalists today.