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The Archetypal Wedding – Why are Weddings So Magical?

June is the most popular month for weddings. Perhaps this is due to June being named after Juno, the ancient Roman goddess of marriage. Romans chose to honor this goddess by having their weddings in June and believed they would be showered with luck and good wishes if they did so.

Although referring to the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, singer-songwriter Jim Cuddy stated, “I’m not usually interested in that [wedding] stuff, but I was entranced.” Indeed, weddings often captivate our attention when otherwise such romantic notions would not. What makes weddings so magical?

Cuddy’s song, “Everyone Watched the Wedding,” gives insights into the attraction to weddings. Whether it is Kate and William or our niece and her fiancé, the union of bride and groom temporarily propels us into the mythic realm. Cuddy writes that even observers of the wedding can be raised to mythical heights – “At least for one moment we were right there up above.”

On a psychological level, the desire to relate in love is an outward expression of the universal need for connection. Due to our childhood separation and subsequent angst from the original mother-child bond, we begin to seek love and relationship outside of ourselves.

Symbolically, the outer marriage represents the inner one – in which masculine and feminine psychic forces are integrated into our consciousness. This means that unconscious male and female roles and expectations are not projected onto partners but are acknowledged as parts of us to be further developed.

If the man’s inner feminine (which Jung called ‘anima’) and the woman’s inner masculine (‘animus’) have matured beyond stereotypical and restricting states, then these no longer interfere with outer relationships. We will not fall under the spell of unconscious gender based roles by playing the mother, little boy, bread-winner, supporter or seductress or expecting our partners to uphold similar roles.

Ideally, partners are equals and mutual guides rather than rescuers, heroes or the one who will ‘fix,’ ‘save’ or look after us. Each person honours his or her authentic self without changing to ‘be’ a certain way for the other, and supports the partner to do the same. And, if we do not resonate with what is presented we merely move on.

Images of the joining of opposites such as the sun and moon, the yin and the yang, and of king and queen symbolize this union of psychic forces. Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss is a lovely image of the combination of anima and animus, known as ‘syzygy.’

Through the individuation process previously disowned (and usually opposite gendered) qualities are integrated into our consciousness. We become whole or complete on our own and thus, have found our mate within.

Fairy tales and myths often symbolically represents the individuation process and purpose. Although the stories may end ‘happily ever after’ with marriage, it is only after the protagonist has ventured alone, undergone tasks and attained lost or newly revealed parts of him or herself.

As Rumi wrote, “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere / They’re in each other all along.”

We’ll look closer at the anima and animus over the next two weeks.

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Diane Hancox, MA, CCC provides counselling services to Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo and Vancouver Island.