According to Clarissa Pinkola Estes an inspiratrice is

“a person who when you are near them make you feel as though you want to create. The person has the gift of being an inspiratrice will fire up other people to not conform but to perform. To perform the greatest creative deeds in life according to their soul’s sides.”

Toni Wolff who seems to have performed this role in Jung’s life also describes this muse figure beautifully in her description of the “hetaira” whose function was ‘to awaken the individual psychic life in the male and lead him through and beyond his male responsibilities towards the formation of a total personality.’ In other words she is typified in the muse, companion, lover and ‘other’ woman.

She is an archetype that has haunted me for many years, both as ally and at times internal enemy. For my natural inclination in both my working life and romantic life has been to embody her, often finding myself perplexed that I have become the ‘other’ woman in relationships or drained by the process of facilitating another’s creative process. Psychological perspectives have been incredibly helpful to me in giving a name and a voice to this underground archetype who has no recognition in the outer world of roles and responsibilities and is in fact often rejected or annihilated by her opposing force who is in Wolff’s eyes, ‘the wife and mother’. I have come to understand the payoff and the deeper reason why she so appeals to the soul despite the difficulties she faces in the outer world. For like her ancient counterpart, Aphrodite, this archetype remains free and retains her autonomy despite all that she gives of herself to another emotionally.

To inspire is to elevate, to awaken, to grow the soul life of another through seeing or touching what is eternal and creative. To love. In the book “Four Eternal Women” by Mary Molten and Lucy Sikes, this figure is explored through the lives of three women; Lou Andreas Salome, Simone De Beauvoir and Toni Wolff herself. All women that i have the utmost respect and admiration for, not only for their supreme intelligence but for the courage to live the role of femme inspiratrice completely. For though she is only often discussed in relation to her male companion, who is of the utmost importance to her, in this case Rilke, Satre and Jung, she is a phenomenal figure in her own right and too often outrageously misunderstood.

We seem to live in a time where a woman who has a natural inclination to this archetype struggles to try and fit herself to the ‘wife’ believing this to be the only ‘acceptable’ path to take in relation to a man and left bewildered and bereft when she is rejected more often than not by society and the ‘partner’ rather than the man himself who seems to instinctively, if not overtly, understand his need for her. We all need her for she is the wind itself, the very air we breathe. The creative principle, pure inspiration.


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