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A Man's Movement

Posted January 4th, 2011 at 08:57 AM by chas
"The savage mode does great damage to soul, earth, and humankind; we can say that through the savage man is wounded he prefers not to examine it. The Wild Man, who has examined his wound, resembes a Zen priest, a shaman..."
--Robert Bly,
Iron John: A Book About Men, 1990

"Too much fire and a man becomes rigid...Too much water and he never gets to the point...When a culture forgets that men need to go back and forth, it polarizes into violence on the one hand and passivity on the other."
--Michael Meade,
Men and the Water of Life:
Initiation and the Tempering of Men, 1993

In the early 1990s, some brave men who had been looking for a new paradigm for masculinity, began reconnecting with the ancient path of male initiation and created The Men's Movement. Publically it would only last a short time. Many people only heard vaguely of men getting together and drumming in the woods. But it would create an energetic network among many men who used it as a vehicle of liberation. The Woman's Movement of the Sixties had led females to a questioning of their role, and during that time many found both individual answers and social strength. Men had to find a Way, but it would be a different one for them. The poet and the Buddhist drummer/storyteller quoted above, along with Jungian psyhologist James Hillman, held conferences across the country. Living in NYC, I managed to attend two of them, and a third related poetry performance. I was part of a local men's group for several years as well. Men who had had no mentors and few friends in this modern materialistic and nonspiritual society attempted to make positive friendships with other men in an new mode.

The leaders had studied the old "fairy tales," and reconstructed their functions as teaching stories. They found many of the old legends of world cultures could still be 'translated' as deep psychological messages in a bottle from their ancestors. At the conferences we drummed, chanted, listened to stories, and thought about them. We honored older men, and their long life experiences. Although young men participated as well, not until about the age of forty could a male draw serious conclusions about his life of the kind that would nourish him internally and allow him to mentor others through a recapitulation of his own healing process.

Both men and women should have their own Societies, where members of the opposite sex are not allowed. That helps build up the individual in strength of many kinds, so that he or she will be ready for a relationship with the Mysterious Other. This was the Old Way, which we have forgotten. It is remembered today in the Men's Poker Night or the Girls Night Out.

"What will you take as recompense for your father's death, to end our feud?" asked Odin.
"I'll settle for a husband and a bellyful of laughter!" replied Skadi, Princess of Giantland.
--The Marriage of Skadi and Njord

I rarely participate in spiritual rites myself, whether conventional or unconventional. My love is for the mythology and the deep knowledge, sometimes only partly conscious, that comes from reading it. The particular GODDESS I "serve" through meditation is the opposite of what I am in this world. I started with a soft, 'feminine' personality, and learned how to be a male as more of a job. I consider my own individual self as a role I am playing, for it is not all that I am. As an overly intellectual chap, I took a year of Kung Fu, and it changed the very way I walk. That's not very long to study a martial art. On the other hand, all the others who started with me dropped out way before a year was up. I am careful what I get involved with, because I like to finish what I start, at least to a recognizable end.

SHE is the blonde Scandanavian version of Xena, Warrior Princess, and Patroness of the Northland. A fierce giantess who issues her battle challenge under the very walls of the Gods. The Snowshoe Goddess, who hunts among the snow fields on skis. Yet make her laugh, and she is yours. And from her are born the most beloved twins of all.

So we criss cross back and forth between strength and yielding from the perspectives of our opposite sex roles, both of which seem contradictory to our inner natures. I have honored her by telling my own version of her myth. She honors me by accepting who I am, and working from there. One Skandanavian Theosopical authoress has translated her name as "The Wounded One." Together we look at life, and between us, consider What Is To Be Done.
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