We are easing our way into the important—indeed species-saving—topic of the Sacred Masculine which must, along with the Divine Feminine, return to awaken humankind.
Synchronistically, with the passing of shaman and ritual teacher Malidoma Somé and his ally, Robert Bly, in the past two weeks, we have had a glimpse of what a healthy masculinity can look like. We have also introduced the Cosmic Mass and the importance of ritual to heal souls, because Somé warned us of the importance of ritual and Bly used to say that “men learn only from ritual.”
If our rituals are not alive and well, deep and demanding, bodily and participatory, we have a lot of dumb men around running things. Especially when Patriarchy itself–a centuries-old philosophy of self-hatred and control compulsions–is the very bubble in which we all find ourselves living.
One way to discern a spiritual concept—and the Sacred Masculine is a spiritual concept—is to go to its opposite first. So we will first be discussing the opposite of the sacred or healthy masculine. The opposite of something spiritual is often more familiar than the real thing. So beginning there makes sense.
I employed this methodology in my first book, originally called On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear: Spirituality American Style (now called, more soberly, Prayer: A Radical Response to Life), where I went through seven ordinary definitions of prayer in chapter one before I explained and arrived at a naming that seemed to me to identify the real meaning or bottom line behind prayer.
Just have we have examples of the Sacred Masculine in the work and person of Malidoma Some, Robert Bly, Thomas Merton, Meister Eckhart, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Walt Whitman, Howard Thurman, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and so many others we know and can name, so we have its opposite incarnated in men who fall short of real manhood today. Some in very high places of power.
See Matthew Fox, Prayer: A Radical Response to Life, pp. 1-26.
And Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Angry young men in service of the shadow masculine: masked Proud Boys stand at a protest in Raleigh, North Carolina in November 2020. Photo by Anthony Crider in Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Bly that “men learn only from rituals”? If this is so, how healthy is our training of young men today?
Prayer: A Radical Response to Life
How do prayer and mysticism relate to the struggle for social and ecological justice? Fox defines prayer as a radical response to life that includes our “Yes” to life (mysticism) and our “No” to forces that combat life (prophecy). How do we define adult prayer? And how—if at all—do prayer and mysticism relate to the struggle for social and ecological justice? One of Matthew Fox’s earliest books, originally published under the title On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear: Spirituality American Style, Prayer introduces a mystical/prophetic spirituality and a mature conception of how to pray. Called a “classic” when it first appeared, it lays out the difference between the creation spirituality tradition and the fall/redemption tradition that has so dominated Western theology since Augustine. A practical and theoretical book, it lays the groundwork for Fox’s later works.
“One of the finest books I have read on contemporary spirituality.” – Rabbi Sholom A. Singer
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