In ancient Roman times, a woman’s soul was called her “juno,” after the goddess of the same name. A man’s soul was his “genius.” These weren’t simply two words for the same thing, but rather a “genius” had a masculine aspect and “juno” a feminine one. Well, we all know what happened. The word “juno” disappeared, leaving women without their souls. While the word “soul” is supposedly not for one gender or the other, the subservient place of women in many religions does seem to argue that perhaps the idea of our souls still lingers in obscurity.
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. I mean, we all know that we really DO have souls, and many of us do feel as if our souls do have a uniquely feminine aspect. But, when we lost the word for them, we also left behind perhaps outdated notions of what our souls are like and what we should be doing with them. And as long as no one was thinking about our junos, no negative connotations could be attached to them in the media or society in general, as they have to other feminine aspects of ourselves.
Which leaves us with an opportunity. We can imagine our “junos” in any way we wish, in any form that expresses our truest and deepest feelings about this essential aspect of ourselves. We can bring them into our lives however is most meaningful to us. We can give our daughters their “junos” from the youngest age as they watch us celebrate ours.
Let’s get started envisioning and celebrating our “junos” this coming month, June, the month sacred to the goddess Juno. Here are some things I plan to do:
Spend time thinking of an image or montage of images to use when I think of my juno. Of course, my juno already exists and I am quite familiar with her, having lived in close quarters for half a century. But sometimes, when we let our minds roam freely and pick up on what images wander past, we can find out things about parts of us that we did not consciously know. We might also want to periodically re-imagine our junos. I would think that my Summer Solstice season juno will be different from that I imagine on the Winter Solstice. For some reason, a butterfly has come into my mind this morning, so, for today, my juno looks like a butterfly. I’ll think about what that means.
Give my juno an opportunity to connect with other junos by going for a nature walk today. That way she can make friends with the junos of birds, animals, fish, and a wide variety of native wildflowers and trees. She will become part of them and they will become part of her, and thus me.
Express my juno’s passion for a better world by doing at least one activist thing (hopefully more). I do believe that most of our commitment to social activism comes from our junos. Our junos “hear the cries of the world” and need to do something. When we don’t answer their call to action, our junos become frustrated, sad, and depressed.
Celebrate the emerging junos of other women by going to a graduation party and a baby shower. I don’t have any June weddings to go to this month, but my friends and their daughters are making many new beginnings. Their junos are delighted and my juno wants to be part of the merriment.
Give my juno the mission of helping me get to know her better. As a 21st century woman who has just been introduced to the idea of my soul as a specifically feminine aspect, I haven’t had much time to contemplate all that this means. But the implications are vast – women are uniquely sacred (just as men are also uniquely sacred); women must be represented in all endeavors because we are the holders of the junos without which the world is unbalanced; when I explore my juno, I also come to understand my own spirituality and creativity in a way I could not have before, since both these come, I believe, from our junos.
If you have ideas about your junos I would love to hear them.
~ Carolyn Lee Boyd
Monaghan, Patrician. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2000.