She is the destructive illusion that lures men into suicide, which makes her the demon of death. In stories the anima is often depicted as a mermaid. Through her enchanted singing, she lures men into the depth of the sea where she will devour him. The anima tries to trick men into falling in love with her, so she can live in his world. She is the illusion of beauty and safety that lures men away from reality, and when they fall for that illusion, they will drown and die. Other anima figures are redheads, muses, nymphs, fairy's, witches, women that are half-animal (mermaid or swan princes) and often they appear with three of them. The anima also makes appearance as an animal; a predator, like a snake or a lioness. This is the primitive feminine/nature.
The anima is the feminine archetype, and thus of a nature that goes beyond the personal level. A part of the anima is personal, and should be integrated by men. But when they can't make the distinction between the personal anima and the Great Mother, then they will become anima-possessed. Men that are anima-possessed are often very spoiled by their mothers, which makes them effeminate, jealous, mean, sensitive, vain, irritable, sentimental and unable to cope with the hardships of life. Sometimes they even wish to change into a woman through castration. These men are not developed and the anima appears in their dreams as their mother, or another large woman. Another kind of anima-possession is excessive erotic fantasy. This is a very crude and primitive aspect of the anima. It makes men day-dream compulsively about pornographic material.
Men are sometimes inclined to project their anima upon a woman. They call it 'love at first sight', but in reality it is an anima-projection. They feel like they know that woman and she is 'the one'. They can become obsessed with her, but all that they see is their own anima. (That is why the anima is often depicted with a mirror, or looking at her reflection in the water.) She is the part that was missing; the feminine part, the emotional and compassionate part that can see beyond the general rules of life. The part that swims in the deep oceans of mystery. These men only have to realize that they can find this part within themselves. That way, they won't project their anima onto others anymore. However, some men are terrified by their anima, because to them this femininity is demonic. They will project their anima onto women, who they will see as witches. This happend a lot during the Middle Ages.
The fist step to establish harmony with the anima is for the man to take his fantasies and feelings seriously. He has to start realizing that there is more than his conscious and reason. This way, a man can discover what his anima means as an inner reality. But the anima is a very delicate and vulnerable phenomenon. If you are too harsh on her, she will disappear into the depths of the unconscious again.
The anima will go through four stages. First it is an Eve-figure, which represents pure instinctual and biological relation. In the second fase the relation to the anima is more romantic and aesthetic, but still characterized by sexual elements. In the third fase the anima is like the Virgin Mary; she raises love to spiritual devotion. In the final fase the anima is pure and sacred wisdom. She has a prophetic gift and she is divine inspiration. She is the archetype of life, the light of nature. Since light can't speak, she will appear in the unconscious as the Logos; the word of God.