When John Lennon left the Beatles to partner with Yoko Ono, the pair merged male and female energies, commercial and experimental artforms, and Western and Eastern cultures.
Veteran San Francisco media personality Steve Wagner was co-host, writer, and executive producer of the Bay Area television programs Reel Life and Filmtrip.
Steve has ghostwritten several published books, contributed articles on music, film, and popular culture to numerous publications, and presented lectures and workshops on music, art, and mythology throughout the U.S.
His book All You Need is Myth: The Beatles and Gods of Rock (2019), a study of the classic rock era through the lens of classical mythology, is the product of ten years of research and composition.
Day nine (#9, #9, #9…) of our twelve days of rock archetypes commences with The Lovers, John & Yoko, who represent the balance of male/female energies. This concept is mythically expressed in the Yin/Yang and Sri Yantra symbols in the East, and through the notion of hieros gamos, which derives from the Greek expression for “sacred marriage.” In psychological terms, Jung labeled these energies the anima and the animus, which he explained as the masculine energy in the female psyche, and the feminine energy in the male psyche. Yoko summarized her view of their relationship as a harmonizing of these sacred energies: “I almost think that we are just one body, but just for convenience we are taking two bodies. … To have a dialogue you have to have two bodies.” Below is an excerpt from All You Need is Myth: The Beatles and the Gods of Rock, where we explore the transcendent relationship of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Everything we experience in our material world is realized and created through a dance with its opposite. In myth, the notion of duality is often represented by male/female couplings. In Hinduism, there are god/goddess consorts, where each major male deity has a female partner or counterpart. The female aspects can be understood as the physical manifestations of the abstract concepts associated with the male god. For instance, Brahma is creation and Saraswati is music, art, and language; Vishnu is sustenance and Lakshmi is wealth, health, and prosperity; Shiva is destruction and Kali is the warrior and death.
Never had John or any of the rock gods so intentionally wielded their own mythology.
When John Lennon left the Beatles to partner with Yoko Ono, the pair merged male and female energies, commercial and experimental artforms, and Western and Eastern cultures. Ono’s concept of “life as art” brought to the partnership—and to Lennon’s creative process—the abstract (masculine/art) expressed as the physical (feminine/life). No longer was John content to simply drop acid and sing about love, now it was his and his wife’s mission to help love manifest in the world.
Never had John or any of the rock gods so intentionally wielded their own mythology. John and Yoko were intensely aware of the power their unprecedented fame had bestowed upon them and used that influence with more directed attention than any of their contemporaries. Assuming incomparable notoriety as an adult (she was thirty-three when she met John), farseeing Yoko provided a perspective on the potential of John’s (and now her) opportunity that was perhaps unavailable to a man who had it all by the age of twenty-two. He admitted as much: “I learned everything from her. … It is a teacher-pupil relationship. … I’m the famous one, the one who’s supposed to know everything, but she’s my teacher.”1 John may have had the insight that he was “more popular than Jesus,” but Yoko understood the implications and responsibilities of that reality.
Transcending the sense of underlying energy and the point of direct experience that is beyond the physical world, the logic of the brain, and, most frustratingly, language.
Representing the deeper feminine qualities of inner wisdom and intuitive process, concerns of ecology and equality, possession of hidden knowledge, and emphasis on truth and integrity, attributes of countless mythic goddesses of the ancient world.
Even more than her music, it was Janis’s seemingly possessed delivery that captivated and entranced her audience.