The Androgynous Form of Shiva and Parvati (Ardhanarishvara) LACMA M.82.6.1.jpg

On March 9, 2017,  the Jung Society of Utah hosted an event called The Shadow Dance of the Masculine and Feminine, featuring Depth Psychotherapist Theresa Holleran.  The Saltair Room at the A. Ray Olpin Student Union at the University of Utah was filled to capacity for the program.

In addition to storytelling techniques, music and art, Theresa Holleran used poetry to illustrate the integration of the masculine and feminine within every human psyche, particularly the dark aspects of the masculine and feminine. She stressed that each individual, no matter their identity, has some balance of both masculine and feminine traits. Only by recognizing those traits, especially the darker traits, can we harness their power for creativity. The audience was encouraged to participate in an exercise designed to identify those traits they may be lacking. Most of the participants were surprised at the results.

The multi-media presentation included video of Maya Angelou reading “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman.” Also on video, a group of men were brought together to read Eve Ensler’s “Man Prayer.” Throughout her presentation, Theresa Holleran sprinkled in verses from Rumi, Hafiz, Walt Whitman and T.S. Eliot to emphasize her points. She concluded the evening with “When Death Comes” from Mary Oliver.

Since the program was only an hour and a half long, Theresa Holleran certainly couldn’t include every example of the theme of masculinity and femininity that poetry has to offer. Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock,” for example, portrays Belinda as a military general, displaying all of the darker masculine characteristics, and all of the men quailed at the prospect of battle. In “Three Women,” Sylvia Plath explores the theme of female creativity, but cannot fail to include harder, masculine traits to drive that creativity.

It was an evening full of interesting insights and perhaps more the beginning of an inquiry into the shadowy side of the masculine and feminine than a complete program. There certainly is a whole world of poetry to explore on this theme.


Lisa Connors – guest blogger for ProvoPoetry.org

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