Male-Female Symbolism


by Michael Maciel

In mythic stories, such as the ones we find in the Bible, different characters symbolize different aspects of ourselves. When we read about Jesus, for example, every character in the story represents aspects of our personality, both conscious and unconscious. The relative importance of the characters in the story, the actions they carry out, and the relationships they have with the other characters, all describe our inner strengths and weaknesses, the places where our inner aspects work together well and where they are at war with each other.

tarot-cardsWithin this symbolic method of storytelling, male characters represent the conscious mind, whereas female characters represent the subconscious mind. This is part of the basic framework of Tarot symbology, as we are all well aware of. Nothing new here. What isn’t so obvious is the WHY part—why are male characters used to symbolize the conscious mind, and why are female characters used to symbolize the subconscious mind?

This is a complicated subject, so I’m going to give the outline version, so to speak, for the sake of brevity.

Basic premise: we ALL have both male and female aspects, so this is NOT about literal men and women, except in those cases where people are spiritually asleep and need to live out the drama of the mysteries in their daily lives. They are compelled to do this so they can learn the lesson by acting it out physically. The more we deny the opposite gender within ourselves, the more we are obligated to play out the game in physical terms.

Point of Inquiry: what is women’s role in society and their hierarchical relationship to men. HOW does the symbolic drama play out in real life? Is there anything generic about human psychology that reflects this forced subjugation of women in the social hierarchy, given their role as the subconscious mind in the larger narrative?

OsirisReasonable assumption: this framework, this grand symbolic narrative, describes an aspect of psychology that is SUBTLE, meaning that it’s not obvious, nor is it understood to the extent that we can adequately articulate what we know about it.

Simple version: we know that we are either spiritually awake or asleep. Being spiritually awake implies that we have at least some UNDERSTANDING of our purpose in this life, that there are soul-development issues at work, and that we need to approach our living with these in mind. We have to have some kind of PLAN, a cognitive schematic that points the way towards the realization of our highest potential.

This usually includes a set of IDEALS that not only benefit us as individuals but benefits our society as well. Another way to put it—the Rule of Law, moral and ethical codes, and clearly defined roles in the social hierarchy. This last point—clearly defined roles—is the leading edge of the current evolutionary advance and is, therefore, the most contested.

These ideals come from the subconscious. They are as yet unarticulated “dreams” of a higher, more harmonious life that exists only as a potential, just as a woman’s womb is the possibility for the realization of the potential of the entire human race. Everything that is good and perfect WILL COME FROM HER.


Understanding Patriarchy involves the following:

  1. our lives must be guided by our connection to the past.
  2. we must be fully awake to our current conditions (conscious mind, science, logic).
  3. everything we say (logos) and do (policy) must support our vision for the future.

Roughly speaking, these are Tradition, Civil Law, and the Arts. Together, they form an overall PLAN, a Grand Narrative—the New Jerusalem, the Body of Christ, the Church.

The vision comes from DREAM, the domain of the subconscious. Dreams take everything we have learned and extract the value out of the “big data” collected by the conscious mind. The subconscious is fundamentally GOOD, meaning that it is always projecting itself into the MOST optimal future for the race. It is not trying to orchestrate its own demise. Nothing in Nature suggests that it is self-destructive.

BUT HERE’S THE RUB: While the subconscious is the domain of the Great Unknown out of which comes both visions and nightmares, it does not function well in the light of day. Conscious intrusion only interferes with its processes. The subconscious, while superb at synthesizing, is not so good at taking the initiative. It gathers—it does not hunt. As Ernest Holmes put it, “It knows HOW to do; it does not know WHAT to do.”

long hair

Artists are the portal in a civilization through which the Dream emerges. But, practically speaking, artists don’t make good leaders. Neither are they good at enforcing public policy or drafting laws. Laws get in the way of the creative process, which is always venturing out into the unknown, into lands that have no laws or have laws that are different. The subconscious (creative expression) MUST NOT BE CONTROLLED. Its hair must be allowed to grow uncut, as Saint Paul put it.

Laws (and the visions they are designed to support, inasmuch as those visions can be articulated) must be continually adapted to changing conditions in the physical world. Laws have the tendency, however, to spiral out of control. They get burdensome if they are allowed to expand too far into their logical ramifications. In Paul’s analysis, “men [the conscious mind] must cut their hair” if they are to be responsible leaders (administrators) of the Church (organized humanity).


THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE: It is very likely that the next avatar for the human race will be female. From what we know, the Egyptian goddess, Isis, preceded Jesus, and so the next Lord of Earth will probably be a woman.

I have been attending a local church, The Gnostic Sanctuary, that worships the Divine Feminine. It is run by a woman, Rosamonde Miller, and the altar is adorned with Feminine iconography, including the Black Madonna. But the liturgy doesn’t focus so much on the Feminine as it does on RELATIONSHIP. Heading into an era where the Feminine is coming back into the foreground does not mean an abandonment of the male or the sole supremacy of the female. It means that a workable solution to the male/female dyad must now be sought in earnest.

Frank Forest and Lief Meadows have a blue AND a red eternal flame on their altar. When I first saw it, I resisted, thinking it was a violation of the “norm.” But now I see the wisdom in it. And in a silly, overly practical way, I also thought, “These full-sized votives are expensive, so now we’re going to have to buy TWO of them???” But this just shows that we will, in fact, have to double up on our investment in our pursuit of the Sacred Marriage. It can no longer be business as usual. The subconscious is being flooded with light, and like it or not, “that which was hidden will be SHOUTED from the rooftops.” And isn’t that what’s happening now in the domain of male and female relationship?


About Michael Maciel

Michael Maciel has studied the Ancient Wisdom Teachings and symbolism since the early 1970’s. He was ordained a priest in the Holy Order of MANS in 1972. Check out Michael’s YouTube channel The Mystical Christ with Michael Maciel, along with The Mystical Christ Academy on Patreon.
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3 Responses to Male-Female Symbolism

  1. Bruce H McCausland says:

    Very helpful analysis. Thank you!

  2. annehjulmand says:

    Hello Michael, red and blue make purple so if you want to save on all those red & blue candles then just one purple candle . Take good care, Anne Hjulmand.

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