The modern age ill prepared men for what our post-modern times require.  A different meaning of masculinity is needed than we were instructed about in the modern era. 

“Long Lost Brother of Mine” by Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford & Howe. Uploaded to YouTube by MICROSTATE Company

A reptilian brain out of control and fired up by testosterone is not what the world needs today.  What do we need? 

We are speaking here not just about what real men do but about what real men are at the level of our beings

As Meister Eckhart put it seven centuries ago:

Worry less about what you do and more about who you are: For if you are just your ways will be just and if you are joyful your ways will be joyful. 

True action comes from authentic being.  A real man explores being and not just actions.  A real man acts but from his being not from mere action/reaction reptilian response. 

Soldiers turned peacemakers: Iraq Veterans Against the War marching in Boston at the New England Anti-war Mobilization. Photo by Jonathan McIntosh, CC-BY-3.0 on Wikimedia Commons

The ten archetypes I propose all speak to our beings as well as to our actions.  That is their power.  That is how archetypes are.  That is why they shake us up.  And our culture.  They transform us.  They turn things inside out.  They count.  They make a difference. 

Being makes a difference and spreads itself into activity and into aroused imagination which in turn overturns everything and spreads new seeds everywhere some of which, as Jesus observed, fall on rock or on hard ground and do not take root.  But some of which fall on fertile soil and do indeed take root.

Real men also deal smartly with shame and aggression.  The twin themes of Shame and Aggression raise their heads often when considering the ten archetypes of a healthy masculinity.  It stands to reason that these issues accompanying maleness will receive critique and insight from each of the archetypes. 

Father and son. Photo by Sebastián León Prado on Unsplash

Among these are the following metaphors: Father Sky; Green Man; Icarus and Daedalus; Hunter-Gatherers; Spiritual Warriors; Numinous Sexuality; Our Cosmic, Animal Bodies; The Blue Man; The Fatherly Heart; The Grandfatherly Heart.

If it is important, as Dr. John Conger insists, that we acknowledge that we are both images of God and images of the apes, then it is good that we reflect on how the ten archetypes offer insight about shame and aggression, those shadow sides of all of us that we inherit from our earlier primate brothers and sisters.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, pp. 284-296.

Banner Image: Friends enjoying nature together at the mountain. – Himachal Pradesh, India. Photo by Anand Thakur on Unsplash

Which of the ten archetypes for sacred masculinity listed here most appeal to you?  Which are you strongest at?  Which weakest?  Which is your culture strongest act?  Weakest at?  How to cultivate each?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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3 thoughts on “Healthy Masculinity, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you for today’s meditation Matt. It’s, very timely is my immediate reaction! I have just finished the J of N book and about to view session 5 in the online course ( it comes on at 1am UK time so I watch the post online version.
    Having read many of your books for years I honestly feel they are so much more ready to be heard by our culture today. ESPECIALLY the theme of masculinity. it seems to me so much of our problems have stemmed from unhealthy patriarchy. The Council of Nicea, Augustine, newtonian parts mentality – all of these seem to me to put the male empire front and centre and crush the feminine, the young, the poor and ultimately our planet and universe.
    I look forward to more meditation and re reading the masculinity book.
    Thanks again

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Mort, Thank you for your comments. I too, feel that this is a message which needs to be heard today as an antidote for a sick patriarchy. I remember hearing Matthew lecture on THE HIDDEN SPIRITUALITY OF MEN a number of years ago. I was so excited about having heard Matthew and read his book that I led a men’s retreat bases on his book !!! Read it and enjoy as I did !!!

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