Appropriately, we are discussing the Sacred Masculine and the lack of it in this season of January 6, a Feast Day of the Epiphany which is the last day of the Christmas Season but which converted one year ago this day to a manifestation of toxic masculinity and the reptilian brain unchained and storming the nation’s capital.

Metropolitan Police attempt to hold back the insurrectionist mob, January 6, 2021. Photo by BlinkO’Fanaye on Flickr.

In yesterday’s DM, we asked why it is that many men do not manifest their spirituality more publicly.  One reason, clear on January 6, 2021, was that many men (and some women) are filled with rage and anger and resentment that gets readily fanned by political demagogues.

We continue to probe that question here–Why are men so often out of touch with their spirituality?  Maybe because:

–Language for talking about our deepest experiences, those of profound joy and of the deep darkness of the “dark night of the soul,” are lost in a culture whose religions are out of touch with their mystical traditions. 

–Modern culture held mysticism “up for ridicule” (Theodore Roszak) during the modern era in academia and culture at large.

Spiritual director Craig Malpass speaks on the importance of meditative spaces for men, in particular why meditating with other men is an essential part of any man’s practice. Video by The Big I Am.

–Clergy themselves have not been trained to elicit and support  mysticism and the spiritual practices that develop it.

–The taming of the reptilian brain, one of the accomplishments of spiritual practice, does not happen in a culture that rewards reptilian brain accomplishments and identifies them with masculinity.

–All spirituality is ‘hidden’ insofar as it explores mystery and the “unnameable” aspect of Divinity.

–Spirituality is right brain work which is so often ignored in Western education including religious education. 

Poet/author/artist/life coach Rick Belden explores why men do not talk openly about their experiences in processing grief.

–One of the highways to the heart is Silence.  And silence is the language of secrets.

–Other highways to the heart include both joy and grief and they too remain hidden especially since men are supposed “not to cry” or to feel deeply.

–When culture and religions are practically mystically illiterate, we lose our mystical memory and connection to our mystical ancestors.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. xiif.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Man meditating. Photo by SBT4NOW on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Which of these causes of the repression of men’s spirituality speaks the loudest to you when you look at American culture today?  What can we do to alleviate it?

Recommended Reading

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

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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9 thoughts on “Additional Reasons Why Men Hide Their Spirituality”

  1. Avatar

    Unfortunately there is not much offered to men, with regards to providing them with a safe and sacred space, in order for them to explore and release their anger and the fear of all that lies beneath this. Men need an actively engaging bonding element in order to do so, such as a canoe trip out in the wilderness, or a motorcycle road trip, or the building of a sweat lodge together. Just coming into a circle, and talking most often doesn’t work for men, as the archetypal energy of the Sacred Masculine is active and conceptive in its movements. Once this active, conceptive energy is engaged with, the brothers bond together, and then they can begin to open to the receptive and reflective energy of the archetypal energy of the Divine Feminine.

    Brothers need to lead other brothers into this safe and sacred space, which requires brothers to risk leading in a different way than what society or culture has taught them. Earth based spirituality can be of assistance in providing brothers with the knowledge they need, in order to create the kinds of rituals and ceremonies that they would most benefit from in their healing journey together. Brothers making connections with the elders, the Grandfathers would also create much needed mentoring relationships for the brothers of all ages.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, I’ve led men’s retreats based on Matthew’s book, THE HIDDEN SPIRITUALITY OF MEN and my experience is that compared to women’s retreats, men do not seem to come out as readily as women to do inner work. Yes, there is a need for more opportunities for men to gather to do spiritual work, but our society has MANufactured men who tend to focus on work, and when there is time to do other things it seems the majority seem to watch sports…

  2. Avatar

    In light of the fact that both males and females have a ‘reptilian brain’ I wrote this poem/question many years ago:

    Dark Matter?

    What could be the matter?
    Our planet           
    a nothing speck in a             
    nowhere place reeling             
    round in vacant space
    staggering between bombs
    fires and mutilations spinning
    high winds in earthly devastation

    Is this the matter put darkly?           
    our sin-sinning explodes in to           
    a whole universe born from           
    dark-darking hearts             
    the worm in the rose

    Downunder it is written             
    destruction is an equal match             
    for creation but up here our odds             
    on favorite is destruction             
    at least thus far

    Goody-two-shoes blossoms pale to
    vapour beside the big bang of a
    Little Boy bomb searing tearing
    eyes and organs into some Real
    sense of themselves               
    I destroy therefore I Am

    Phalluses blast sweet temples and
    little girls dazzled by the power packed
    in their tiny dark hearts tear strips from
    each other’s souls on the way to
    school where nuns parrot parables of
    love  love  love                 
    so anemic beside hate                 
    so uncrystalled in a world                 
    of hard knocks                   
    so unshapely beside the                   
    concrete bunkers of crematoria

    Super naturally some choose
    to just eat it
    consume it 
    the Darkness that is
    swallowing very hard ’til
    the Light hits their eyes 
    and they see the
    Rose birthing a
    thousand thousand suns

  3. Avatar

    We need to take mental illness seriously, especially in boys and men, and stop averting our eyes to the evidence of its presence. We urgently need to fund more outreach services, especially in rural areas, minority communities, and to homeless and prison populations.
    We tell ourselves that we care about others but hide our eyes from those who most desperately need help, and then we throw our hands up in shock when prisons fill with mentally ill people and suicide numbers skyrocket. Just because mental illness is an uncomfortable subject and suicide is a painful horror, this doesn’t give us permission to pretend it’s not an urgent crisis that we must act upon immediately. We must face the issue head-on.
    To start with, we must educate ourselves in the ways people express depression, delusion, paranoia and sociopathy so we can better recognize when someone is sliding into unhealthy threat, coping and crisis. We must also demand that mental health services be fully funded. We can’t count on a vague “someone else” to deal with the problem, hoping it will magically just “go away”. And we can’t just continue to throw pennies at the problem and say we’ve taken care of it.
    Mental illness, especially in boys and men, is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge. Men insist they’re all fine: it’s all just normal healthy rage. We know that’s a dangerous delusion.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew for helping us become more aware of destructive toxic masculinity in human history in our patriarchal cultures that undervalue the feminine, egocentricity and selfish values, and even biologically with our aggressive reptilian brain and instincts. These long-term negative influences continue to destructively affect us, all life, and Mother Earth… Fortunately, human history, our mystical spiritual traditions, indigenous cultures/spirituality, and faith also gives us hope that our souls and spirits are still healing, transforming, evolving, and creating with God’s Spirit of Love~Light~Life within and among us to co-Create God’s Kingdom of Love~Wisdom~Peace~Justice~Creativity~Joy on our eternal spiritual journeys with one another “on earth as it is in Heaven…. “

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