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June 1, 2012

Emerging Archetypal Themes: LadyHawke: The Union of Opposites, Gemini & The Lovers

By Cathy Pagano

Richard Donner's 1985 film LadyHawke speaks about degrading love and the violence and separation it causes before we can achieve the ultimate re-union of Love. Patriarchy has not been kind to Love, giving it hypocritical lip service, but degrading and prostituting it to serve the needs of the system rather than the flowering of the individual soul.We cannot grow into our wholeness without learning the lessons of love.



If I had to pick an archetypal embodiment of Gemini, it would be the Bards, those ancient and modern storytellers and wisdom-keepers who inspire their people with imagination and hope.   Bards understand what people are going through - they create, paint, dance and communicate what they see through stories and songs to help people connect to the great Mystery of Life.   This is Gemini's soul task -- to experience, learn, remember and share cultural wisdom.   The Beatles are modern Bards, passing along to the rest of us music and stories which embodied the new vision of life we were exploring in the 60s.   They gave us a new template for life.

What happens when our collective wisdom no longer serves life?   What happens when there is a split between our beliefs and our actions?   That's when Bards and their stories become important.   They take us to the archetypal realms, to the rich storehouse of ancient wisdom that can help us accept and embody our individual purpose and power.  

Something new arises.   A new perspective achieved.   Growth.   Consciousness.

The Sign of Gemini

The sign of Gemini, the divine and mortal Twins, not only speaks to how we learn and perceive the world, but also symbolizes our dualistic world, the 0's and 1's of our binary code.   Our fifteen billion year old universe gave rise to the dualities of life and so we perceive things through the lens of day and night, sun and moon, good and evil, life and death, conscious and unconscious, right and left, male and female. 

   In Tarot, Gemini is represented by the major arcana card, The Lovers.   When we look at the possible meanings of the Lovers, they all hint at the union of opposites, the great alchemical transformation which gives rise to the Self, the Divine consciousness within us.   Gemini and The Lovers seek synthesis, combining the head and the heart, feeling and intellect.   And they represent male and female coming together as two equal, complementary and yet opposite energies.   And of course, this bond includes sexuality, which is the most intimate form of bond between these opposites.   What forms the real bond, though, is Love, the divine connector.  

   Unfortunately, patriarchy through its religious institutions has marginalized the truth of love at the same time as it has glorified it.   How can it be otherwise when the only god-image we are allowed is masculine?   Our old patriarchal paradigm of partnership is innately imbalanced, giving greater weight to masculine, rational, solar consciousness than to feminine, imaginative, lunar consciousness.   Love and relationship are the most sacred experiences of Life, and yet as we see in the myth of Psyche and Eros , we are most often left to stumble into love without any real knowledge of how to act and what it means.   Our world is sorely in need of a new paradigm of partnership, an equal and balanced union of masculine and feminine consciousness, of left and right brains, and of men and women.    

This imbalance between the sexes and modes of consciousness has given rise to a dominator mentality, regarding life and love.   Raine Eisler's Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body,   lays out how important it is to understand the way society uses pain or pleasure to motivate human behavior, which determines how it evolves.    Traditional Christian imagery, which is the basis of western civilization, sacralizes pain rather than pleasure, especially in choosing Christ Crucified rather than the Risen Christ as their central god-image.   Women's bodies and sexuality have been demonized by Christianity and therefore rigidly controlled. And so, we have a society where there is mistrust between men and women and control issues in our sexual relationships because of this longstanding religious mistrust.

Ms. Eisler speaks about two different models of sexuality, the dominator model and the partnership model.   In the dominator model, men dominate women and other men through fear and force.   They equate sexuality and pleasure with pain and domination -- i.e., violence and pornography -- and block the natural bonding that the giving and receiving of sexual pleasure brings.    The partnership model is based on equality between all people, but especially between men and women, and the bonding through sexual pleasure is held sacred.  

When men and women work together, nothing can stop us.   But we've been separated for a long time now by religious belief, domination and violence, genetic inheritance and soul history.   The power generated in equal measure by masculine and feminine spirit can enliven the re-birth process we so desperately need for ourselves and our world.   Conscious women and men working together can re-birth the world.

So for Gemini's movie theme of the union of opposites, we'll let the story of LadyHawke enchant our minds and open our hearts to the possibility of breaking this ancient curse between the sexes and reclaiming the most powerful gift of life -- LOVE.



   Richard Donner's 1985 film LadyHawke speaks to this theme of the degrading of love and the violence and separation it causes before we can achieve the ultimate re-union of Love.   Patriarchy has not been kind to Love, giving it hypocritical lip service, but degrading and prostituting it to serve the needs of the system rather than the flowering of the individual soul.   We cannot grow into our wholeness without learning the lessons of love.   It's part of our DNA, and the most beautiful gift of Spirit in our sojourn here on Earth.  

The ways of love are many.   They include the ways we connect through the heart to children, parents, siblings, family, friends, lovers, communities, the world, art, ideas, Nature, visions, stories.   Love fills us with pleasure and pain in equal measure, but always teaches us lessons.    So never let a chance to love slip you by!   There's always a gift and a sacrifice involved.   So let's see how these themes play out in our tale of cursed lovers.

LadyHawke is a story of two lovers who are cursed by a powerful bishop because the woman, Isabeau, does not love him, but loves Navarre, the captain of the guard of Aquila.   The curse the bishop casts is heartbreaking:   by day, Isabeau is a hawk and at night she resumes her human shape; Navarre keeps his human form by day and at night he becomes a wolf.   They are cursed to be separated forever.   Then one day, a young thief becomes Navarre's companion and their fate starts to change.   Gaston becomes their go-between, bringing them hope in their darkness.    And with the help of the priest who unknowingly betrayed their love, a way out of the curse is found.   During a solar eclipse, a day without night and a night without day, a time between times, they can both stand before the bishop and break the curse.    It is during solar eclipses that old patterns of behavior and thought can be broken, and psychic structures hidden in the unconscious can take on new life.   LadyHawke is a reminder that the cosmos supports love and can break the spell old ideas and beliefs hold over us that no longer serve life.  

LadyHawke is a magical story about the Mind's ability to overcome the ancient "curse' of our religious beliefs and the ultimate triumph of Love.   There are four main characters that drive the story: the Bishop who curses, the lovers who bear the curse, and the trickster who comes along and changes their story.   While dogma has cursed lovers with separation and denial, the fresh, original Mind/Heart brings them together again.

The Dogma of Disconnection

   The Church as embodied by the Bishop (a wonderfully evil John Wood) is hypocritical, refined, all-powerful, lustful and authoritarian, vindictive and cowardly.   He represents the dogma of both church and state, the dominator mentality that believes it has a divine right to whatever it wants.    This Bishop thinks he loves Isabeau, but when she refuses his love for another's, he would rather see her dead or cursed than to see her be happy with someone else.   This is the selfishness of dominator love -- the beloved becomes a possession.   To oppose the Bishop's will is to court disaster, for he is willing to use all the power at his disposal to keep the lovers apart; he's even willing to use the sinful (for his Church) tool of magic to achieve his revenge.   However, when he curses the lovers to take on the form of animals, Nature herself ultimately opens the door to the possibility of breaking the curse.  

In the same vein, this month's Gemini solar eclipse opens the door to our own transformation.   The solar eclipse blocks our ego consciousness (sun), so new archetypal possibilities (moon) can take root within our psyches.     One task all of us share for this lifetime is to break the chains of violence and possessiveness that is patriarchy's response to sexuality and love.   Heal your own inner Lover by breaking the old spell at the eclipse.

The Trickster Mind

Opposing the Bishop/Church is our little thief, Phillipe Gaston, aka the Mouse (a delightful Matthew Broderick).   Over against official dogma is set the inquisitive and questing mind that nothing can imprison.   This young man embodies the qualities of Hermes the Thief, the ancient messenger god who, under his guise of Mercury, rules over Gemini.   Gaston frequently talks with God, using Him as therapist and spiritual director, promising to change his ways as he escapes through a drainpipe from the inescapable prison of Aquila or when he sees something his rational mind can't comprehend.   Uniting both common sense and spiritual insight is the goal of the Gemini mind.   Gaston's communication with Spirit takes a turn when he meets the monk Imperius, the priest who foolishly told the Bishop of the lovers' intentions.    The guilt of having been the cause of the curse drives Imperius to find a way to break it.   When the lovers refuse to believe the traitor priest, Gaston takes up his cause and uses Imperius' knowledge to help them break the curse.  

  Gaston is the trickster mind which looks outside the box to previously disregarded or forbidden knowledge which can be used to unite these lost lovers, bringing messages of hope and eventual redemption. He brings a new awareness and consciousness to the lovers, who have been isolated from community and in exile from each other.   Through him, they start to communicate and once again see the possibility of re-uniting.    

Gaston's Mouse totem gives him the ability to focus and pay attention to details.   This attention to detail is Hermes' gift to thieves.   And these details help break the curse in the end, because it looks at the parameters of the curse and finds out that it can only be broken when there's a day without night and a night without day -- the magical time between times of a solar eclipse, when the conscious authority of ego and culture is overwhelmed by the needs of the psyche and wholeness.

The Lovers and the Curse


Etienne Navarre (a dashing Rutger Hauer) is the captain of the guard in Aquila, the region the Bishop rules.   Isabeau (a haunting Michelle Pfeiffer) is a beautiful young woman whom the Bishop lusts after.    After Isabeau confesses her love for Navarre to Imperius (a marvelous Leo McKern) in confession, he in turn drunkenly reveals their secret to the Bishop.   Here is the dilemma our religious institutions create -- on the one hand, the authority of the Church wants to possess all beauty and goodness for itself.   All love must be directed to these religious beliefs, making human love secondary to a supposed love of God.   On the other hand, the Church itself values marriage, but only on its terms.   The idea that all marriage must be sanctioned by religious dogma is hypocritical, especially in light of the revelations of priestly pedophilia.   The Bishop, who is supposed to be celibate, lusts after women and feels it's his right to possess them as his handmaidens.   This kind of spiritual hypocrisy leads to the separation of lovers rather than to their love's fulfillment.     The Church has fostered suspicion and misunderstanding between men and women and we see this today in the many marriages that end in nasty, resentful divorces, rather than with understanding and compassion.   

We often don't realize how our unconscious beliefs shape our lives, especially our beliefs about partnership and marriage.   While we give lip service to equality, many men still believe it is their right to dominate their family and abuse their wives because it is sanctioned by their religion.   And women add pain and bitterness to the mix when they don't know how to stand up for themselves and meet their partners as equals.   Our culture is so unbalanced because of religious beliefs that said women are irrelevant except as helpmates to their husbands.   And this led to the devaluation of feminine consciousness, the right-brained consciousness of connection, imagination and soul.   While we might not consciously think this, our unconscious motivations are often still unchanged.

We can see these cursed lovers as symbols of the left and right brains.   The left brain is a scientist and a mathematician.   It is the brain that looks for the familiar, that categorizes, that is linear, analytical, strategic.    It's the practical, realistic, in control part of the brain.   It is a master of words and language.   The right brain is a free spirit, seeing connections with others and spirit.    It is creativity and passion, sensuality and movement.   It takes joy in vivid colors, art and poetry. It is the source of imagination and heart.     We need the higher Mind (the neocortex) to unite these separate sides of ourselves.  

With Navarre and Isabeau, the curse separates them into Hawk and Wolf.   These totem animals are wonderful expressions of the left and right brains as well as the innate gifts of men and women.   Let's take a look at their symbolic meaning.

The beautiful Isabeau is human at night, the realm of the feminine Moon.   She becomes conscious under the moonlight.   Feminine consciousness has been repressed in patriarchy and so it is most often unconscious.   It comes to us through dreams and visions and feelings and imagination.   So Isabeau learns to live in the darkness of this kind of consciousness.   By day, she is a hawk.   Hawks are strong totems, keen-eyed and swift.   They are the messengers of spirit and vision.     Hawk's power puts us in touch with kundalini energies that can open us to higher psychic awareness.   Hawk can help us balance this life energy so that we can achieve beauty and harmony and discover our life's purpose.   Hawk brings messages from our soul, which is Spirit incarnate, so we can use our creative energies to manifest our destined purpose.   Hawk stimulates this kundalini energy, giving us greater physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy to use in our lives.   It urges us to stretch our imaginations beyond cultural expectations. Hawk catalyzes us with hope and new ideas.   This powerful totem symbolizes the ability to connect our human consciousness with spiritual awareness.   And this is the innate power of feminine consciousness that women have been denied by patriarchy.   Women can bring this night vision into the light of day as the wisdom we need to heal the world.1

Navarre is everything we would expect in a knight.   He is dashing, brave, powerful and protective.   And he's got a magnificent horse!   He loves and yearns for his Beloved.   He follows the hawk and protects her.   But he also despairs more than Isabeau, because he is human in the daytime reality of the Sun.   He can only see what is in front of him, and that is the reality of never breaking the curse. That's why he wants to go kill the Bishop and die himself. He has lost his vision and his hope.   He has lost Isabeau.

But at night, under the Moon, he becomes a wolf.   In his nighttime shape, he reverts to the animal that is most often misunderstood and reviled.   Wolves have gotten a bad rap from humans.   We send people out in helicopters to kill them in the snows and think it is a worthy occupation.    While our stories about them are full of terror and cold-blooded violence, they are really the exact opposite of how our stories depict them.   Rarely, unless they are wounded or starving, will a wolf attack a human being.  

Wolves are friendly, social and highly intelligent.   They can even be joyful!   They are loyal to their families and packs and live by defined rules and rituals. There are alpha males and females who rule the pack, and every wolf has a place and function in the hierarchy of the pack.   There is a balanced mix of alpha authority and democracy in the pack, which makes their way of life flexible.    They rarely fight, going out of their way to avoid one.   Through glances, growls and postures, they assert dominance and keep the peace.   They use a complex body language to communicate with each other as well as their famous howls and growls.   They have strong senses of smell and hearing. They are attuned to the particulars of their world.

Wolves are the wild spirits of the animal world, which is why our culture fears them.   If we were all free to be our wild selves, we could not be controlled by religions, governments or corporations.     That freedom, though, comes through discipline and a sense of order.   Wolves offer us an image of the right kind of rituals that shape a good life.2

One thing that wolves share with hawks is that they mate for life. As Navarre stays to Gaston, he didn't even leave us that.   We could say that wolves love, because they deal with their pups with affection and playfulness.   They protect their families and share in taking care of them.   If only our society had these qualities, our divorced couples and their extended families would take better care of their own children.

Navarre's wolf totem is a wonderful symbol for our left brain.   Their intelligence, their ability to form emotional attachments, their rituals and sense of discipline and order reflect the left brain at its best.   And they are wonderful examples for men, because we need men to be the loyal, loving, joyful and disciplined protectors of life.

Dreams of Separation

So many people today find themselves divorced from a person they thought they loved.   While baby-boomers have led the way with their longing for soul-mates, our children have looked for both independence and transformation from their partnerships.   So many of us have only found disappointment.   But how can we really find soul-mates and freedom and equality in partnership when we haven't had those types of partnerships in the past, either our own past lives or our family history?   We have to work on healing the male-female relationship before our yearnings for a true soul-mate can be realized.   We too, have to break the curse.

When my own marriage was starting to break apart, I had a dream that was very telling.   I am in a beautiful green meadow filled with people I know.   I find out that I have to sacrifice myself for them.   I am to be be-headed.   I accept this as my fate and go around saying goodbye to everyone.   Some of them lovingly hug me; some tell me I don't have to do it.   My mom begs me not to do it.   When I come to my husband, he is lying on a Roman-style couch and he ignores me.   I go and kneel down and a man with a black mask over his head comes and swings an ax.   Next thing I know I am standing and a round object comes flying into my hands and I wake up.

This dream marked an acceptance of the dissolution of my marriage.   That divorce ended up being what I needed to grow into myself, although it was a long, hard lesson.   But I had to accept that I couldn't find myself within the marriage -- my husband had already gone away.   He no longer cherished or wanted to protect me.    This is unfortunately the case in many marriages.   But perhaps Spirit needed women to learn to survive on our own so we could become the equals of our men, while men needed to continue the search for their Beloved until they could become the loving protectors they are meant to be.

I hope you take this chance to watch this movie and let the story sink in.   LadyHawke is an archetypal tale of the power of the Mind and of Love to break the curse our unbalanced religious beliefs have caste upon relationships between men and women and masculine and feminine consciousness.   We can use the power of this story to help us meet this month's solar eclipse in Gemini with the strength and purpose to release old perceptions and categories about relationships and let the power of Love through the power of the Mind awaken us to new possibilities.   It is time to unite the opposites, both within and without.   We need men and women working together, using their own specific gifts in freedom and joy, to change our world.

And so the tale ends . . . to be continued.

Cathy Pagano


1.      Ted Andrews, Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small.

(Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2008). Pp. 152-155.

2.      Ibid.   pp. 323-325.

Submitters Bio:
I am a Jungian psychotherapist, astrologer, teacher and storyteller. Our collective stories are not feeding the souls of the world because of the corporate ownership of the media. So it is up to storytellers to understand what stories can enhance people's lives and find alternative ways to tell them. It's all about opening the imagination - we just have to make sure we stop feeding the collective imagination on violence, prejudice, stupidity and macho heroism. The world is changing and people need stories to help them not only cope with the changes but flourish. It is up to storytellers to imagine a way through this death of our culture to the next one - a peaceful, creative way.