Two archetypes in particular speak to the healthy masculine that feeds a healthy seventh chakra.  I am speaking of the spiritual warrior we are all called to be; and the hunter gatherer also. 

Painting by Wang Zhong-Yi, contemporary Chinese artist combining principles of Kung-fu, Traditional Chinese Medicine, folk customs and poetry in his work. Photo by Phil Robinson on Flickr.

Regarding the spiritual warrior, let us consider what Hildegard of Bingen teaches—and she is talking to her sisters often about this topic so once again we recognize that the sacred masculine is as much a women’s need as it is a man’s need.  Hildegard identifies virility or manliness with virtue.  Both contain the word “vir” or “man.” 

Following are some ways to bring the spiritual warrior alive in oneself.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1.    What inner work am I doing?  Around joy?  Around creativity?  Around moral outrage?  Around finding the “spark” hidden in the depths of my and others’ soul?

2.    What cares and concerns am I standing up for and being heard about?  What is holding me back?

3.    Have I found my voice?  How?  If not, what is inhibiting me?

Buffy Sainte-Marie performs “My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying” on Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Quest. Video by Ready Aim Sing

4.    Have I confused “soldier” and “warrior” in the past?  Am I over it now?  Do I see our culture and media confusing the two?   If so, what am I doing to set them straight?

5.    How can I encourage young men to be warriors and not just soldiers?

6. What am I willing to sacrifice for values I believe in?  Does this include my job?

7.  What warriors do I admire?  List them.  What do they teach me?

Trailer of the documentary JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE, chronicling Lewis’ 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. Spectacular Magazine.

8.    Do I recognize the prophets as warriors?  What do they teach me?  Do I recognize Jesus as warrior–what does he teach me?  Do I recognize Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Dorothy Day and Sojourner Truth as warriors–what do they teach me?

9.    How have I learned courage (a big heart)?

10.    When was the last time I stood up and stood out and took a stand?  What was the cause?  How did it make me feel?   Was there a reality of solidarity in the experience?  What price did I pay for this action?  Would I do it again?

Trailer for Malala Yousafzai’s masterclass in fighting injustice in the world and in your everyday life, starting with your own community. MasterClass.

11.  Who are my “enemies” (not personal but as carriers of principles I cannot go along with)?  Am I proud of the enemies I have made?  Why or why not?  Have I thanked them lately for making me strong and clarifying my values?

12.  What do my enemies teach me and bring alive in me that is positive?  

13.  Am I living out the Four Paths that develop a warrior within me?  Which paths am I strongest in?  Which do I need to develop more deeply?  

To be continued.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, pp. 301f.

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

Banner Image: Ancient image of the sacred masculine: Cernunnos, god of the wild and wildlife, from the Gundestrup Cauldron, c. 150-1 BCE. Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Which of these practices speak most deeply to you personally?  Which do you think are most needed in our current culture?

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

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12 thoughts on “Ways to Develop the Healthy Masculine”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today before I get to our Queries for Contemplation I’d like to point out that you teach that one of the healthy archetypes for men to use as a model is: the spiritual warrior (though not the soldier). The spiritual warrior only metaphorically fights injustice–they fight like Gandhi and Martin Luther King’ Jr., through non-violent protest, and through organizing for these kinds of “wars,” the Vietnam war was ended, and civil rights were won at least to a greater degree. The question is how do we do that in our current situation, with Russia and the Ukraine, and with gun violence in our country? Hildegard identifies virility or manliness (the spiritual warrior) and with virtue (or the virtuous man). Both contain the word “vir” or “man.”
    Queries for Contemplation are: “Which of these practices speak most deeply to you personally?” 1. The inner work am I doing besides Lectio Divina, is dealing with my moral outrage through writing–they say the pen is mightier than the sword, and I have a book I have just finished that I have written to express my moral outrage at the Patriarchal and Hierarchal orientation of the Church–and churches in general–and their totalitarian approach to “governing their members minds.” 6. “What am I willing to sacrifice for values I believe in?” Most everything except my family, but I would lose a job if it conflicted with my values, and I know when my book comes out I will probably lose some friends, and many readers who do not know me. 7. “What warriors do I admire?” The prophets as warriors I admire are: Jesus as warrior and Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Dorothy Day and Sojourner Truth as warriors. They teach me determination, patience and perseverance, to love justice, and do mercy, and to use my gift of writing to make known what I have to say, just as they did in their own time and in their own ways. 9. I feel I do have courage to engage with social and religious protest regardless of the cost. 10. The last time I stood up and stood out and took a stand was at a church I served as Senior Minister in Southern California, and we had a homeless problem. The Church Board kept calling the police to drive the homeless people away, while I allowed them to sleep on our church’s covered porch, which it could sleep about four or five people. And I told the church, “As often as you drive them away, I will keep inviting them back. And if you don’t like it, just ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do?'” That church which I left some twenty years ago, now has a chain link fence around the porch. When I moved to Northern California, I immediately started working with the local Catholic priest and other ministers to take care of the homeless, and we now have a number of programs in our community that we have helped to start. 11. My “enemies” are those whose principles I cannot go along with. Am I proud of the enemies I have made because it shows that I did something right. But what I haven’t done, and I thank you for reminding me, is how they have made me strong by clarifying my values. 13. I am living out the Four Paths that develop the warrior within me, and thus far, the Via Creativa is the path which I am strongest on–also the Via Negativa for I also work with the dying, and it is there that you learn the importance of silence, stillness, letting be and letting go, and the need to help the dying affirm themselves with confidence and hope!
    “What do you think is most needed in our current culture?” The virtues of: wisdom, respect for the sacred, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, faith hope and love (See: Isaiah 11:2-3 and 1 Corinthians 13:13).

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    Jeanette Metler

    When you are a spiritual warrior, as Mathew stated, you sacrifice alot. You also suffer unjust consequences. Often you stand alone. You find your voice and you courageously speak truth to those in power… and you pay a price for piercing others conscience. You are labeled a rebell… cause you won’t play the game… holding firm to what is of true value within the depths of your soul. You draw strength and wisdom from those whom have walked in this way before you… reading of the testimonies of their spirit… and they become your mentors. You get knocked down, bruised and beaten, physiologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually… as you fight the good fight… in a nonviolent manner. You do all of this out of a genuine compassionate love for those whom are vulnerable, weak, abandoned, and dying. I know these things to be true… for I am a spiritual warrior… whom has spent the past 16 years of her life doing exactly this… advocating, taking care for and tending to the needs of the elders in retirement long term care.

    In this particular season of my life, although I am still caring for and tending to the elders… I have transitioned to a smaller facility, in which the atmosphere is more in alignment with my core values. This has created space for me to now focus on actually LEARNING to care for myself and be cared for. I need time to heal, to recover, to rejuvenate… to reclaim what I somehow lost throughout this arduous, often painful journey. I’m rebalancing, refocusing, surrendering to this new rhythm… rediscovering so many other things that are also meaningful and purposeful… reawakening to the beauty all around me and within me… finding a new passion for life, in the simplicity of good things that bring me joy. In this season of my life, to be completely honest… I’m learning more about being, rather than doing… and in and through this transformational process I’m learning to really, for the first time in a long time… to love myself!

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    For those with eyes to see, there is an integral relationship between the ‘divine spark’ (or fire), aggression, and the warrior. The latter two derive directly from, refer to, and are energized by the former, the holy spark (fire) that it hidden within each soul and every religious tradition. In aggressive form, this fire is a derivative of light energy that in healthy expression is gathered up by, fuels, and serves the 7th chakra for healing, wholemaking, relationship, and the greater good of community. Wisely and steadily directed, the outworking of this holy energy (spark or spirit) enhances life in all its hosts and recipients. It gives impetus to healthy activism, fuels warriorhood, and inspires creativity in all it forms, making sacred the mundane, and renewing life in the lifeless. In shadow form, the same energy expressed and directed in toxic ways diminishes life in every conceivable way, inspiring toxic activism and aggression (brutality), and utilizing creativity in the service of wrongdoing in all its malicious or evil forms. In each instance, in righteous or unrighteousness, good or evil, wise or foolish expression, it’s the same light energy discharged, directed, and utilized for different aims, interests, and purposes in its application. One to enhance life, the other to diminish or destroy it. So what begins as good energy (original blessing), or the holy spark in each soul, can be misdirected (hijacked or hacked) to serve a lower purpose (darkness) within a soul or society via evil thinking, seeing, speaking, and doing. Say, in the same way the value or ‘goodness’ of one’s one’s personal identity or bank account can be stolen and utilized by electronic thieves to enhance their evil ways. The latter was seen in the fate of Adam’s choice, Lucifer’s (whose name means ‘light bearer’), that of Judas, and the lot of humankind (like our electorate) so inclined. Light wantonly deployed is darkness. Said Jesus, speaking on the the evil eye and will so inclined, “if that light in you be darkness, how great is that darkness indeed” (Matt. 6:22).

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    In answer to Questions 1-4, I offer this. In 2017, I interviewed myself. (Yeah, weird I know, but it helped me focus on what I was doing at the time to resist evil and effect change and what I continue to do now.) Rereading it, I see how innocent I was–that I did not foresee at the time how bad things would get during and in the wake of our former president. It might be worth a read.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      I read your interview and was especially moved by the following words that I found: “Words are all we as playwrights have to work with, but that can be a powerful force. Spiritual leaders throughout history have gotten their message across through stories. We, as writers, may not be spiritual leaders (though some might be inspired by higher teachers), but we get our messages across through stories. It’s one thing to talk about such things as the need for good-paying jobs and financial security as politicians do; it’s another thing to see how the lack thereof affects individual people. We all know how the photograph of a single man holding a dead child on a beach or a little girl running, her back afire from a bombing, tells more about the horrors of war than nightly news replete with statistics.” In my comment I spoke about the old adage: “the pen is mightier than the sword” in affirming that even in writing we can protest what is going on politically in our world. Thank you for sharing !!!

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        Thank you so much for reading my interview. I’m glad it resonated with you, as you too are trying to move people with your words. This weekend and next, one of my short plays is being produced in Scottsdale, AZ. It is truly based on Matthew’s Four Paths, and is also available as a reading on YouTube.
        I’m sorry to hear about your experience at the church in Southern California. Boy, they really didn’t follow Jesus’ example. My church in So Cal is First Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Orange, CA, a mile from Chapman University. I remember a while back as they were considering what else might they do for the homeless, they decided they could get a shower RV so that the folks could get clean. I’m not sure if they did that as I’m in Arizona now. I should ask. Anyway, I’m so glad you found a church that better suited you and Jesus. 🙂

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    Thank you Matthew for also reminding us that there are also many examples and variations of the Sacred Masculine, the archetype of the spiritual warrior, especially in your book, “The Hidden Spirituality of Men… “ All of us, men and women, in the uniqueness of our Soul, need to integrate and manifest/embody the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine / Our Loving Creator Spirit within us on our spiritual journeys. Personally, the mystic as spiritual warrior speaks to me the most because the inner spiritual journey requires a deeper awareness of God’s Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Truth~Peace~Healing~Justice~Compassion~Sadness~Joy~Creativity.
    within us in order to be personally healed, spiritually transformed, and Being-becoming more compassionate/One with others and All Creation guided, strengthened, and graced by God’s Living Loving Spirit Every Sacred Present Moment… This deeper spiritual awareness process requires a deep faith/trust/wisdom/courage because becoming aware and letting go of our conditioned/unconscious/ignorant/shadow self is not easy, and why we also need God’s Grace towards this spiritual transformation and consequent deeper compassionate action in our lives with others because we’re then truly Living and Being God’s Divine Loving Oneness with-in All ongoing co-Creation~ Beloved Cosmic Christ Consciousness….

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      For the sake of accuracy, Damian, much like God, Spirit is undivided and without gender, though it’s energies can be distributed, channeled and take a variety of forms and expressions traditionally associated with gender. That is it can be seen (divided) into behaviors and expressions ascribed to and designated as feminine and masculine. But God and/or Spirit are essentially One and undivided, seeking reconciliation and integrated expressions if Itself via unitive consciousness in a divided world. God is One, yet exists in varied expressions of Itself, say, the way electrical power coming into your home is one, expressed via multiple electrical outlets and appliances served by it there. There is no ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ electricity. The same electricity than runs a woman’s curling iron, can also operate a noisy jackhammer. It is the mind that divides. The mind is like a laser or scissors, splendid at cutting and dividing things, useless for putting them together. The post-modern mind, unreconciled to Spirit and aided by science, has something of this character. In the whole (holy) person, as in Jesus, there is no “divine masculine”or “divine feminine,” there is only the divine — period. The names, attributes and gender qualities assigned to it come later, but only after the dividing mind gets hold of it. Yogi Berra one ordered a whole pizza. Famished, and fully Intending to eat the whole thing, he requested it be sliced into 6 pieces instead of 8, because he didn’t think he could eat 8. Likewise, creation is one and whole, no matter how u many pieces the mind slices and dices it into.

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    !Thank you again Matthew!
    I appreciate so much your inclusion of Buffy Sainte-Marie. I don’t recall her powerful warrior song/lament in today’s DM. It seems somewhat serendipitous that Canada Post recently issued a special stamp in her honor. She was given the ‘Order of Canada’ award for her ballads, anthems, and songs of social and political commentary.
    I also appreciate the inclusion of Malala whose book I have read and whose ongoing work is still so important given the horrors that the Taliban continues to inflict on women and girls, some of whom have come as refugees to my community in Northern Ontario. Their stories are harrowing.

    Another warrior who has influenced and inspired me is American scholar Jane Schaberg whose book THE ILLEGITIMACY OF JESUS [1987] provided full encouragement for me to continue research on both Jesus and John the Baptist. I published my book in 2000, 13 years later. Schaberg risked her sterling professorial career to publish this book. She was sidelined and harassed both in and outside of academia but she ‘stuck to her truth-telling guns.’

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, I read the review on the link you provided for Jane Schaberg’s book, THE ILLEGITIMACY OF JESUS. It sounds fascinating and sounds similar to what John Dominic Crossan has expressed. Thank you for sharing !!!

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    Jeanette Metler

    I too was particularly moved by the Buffy Saint-Marie video in today’s DM, and her courageous truth-telling, through the creativity of song and music. She was the first concert performer that we took our son to hear, when he was 12 years old… over 20 years ago. I also appreciated the other video clips… as they we also very empowering. Just want to take a moment to express my gratitude to all those whom help to create these DM’s and the beautiful ways that you tie in the images and videos with the message Mathew teaches and the way it impactfully synthesizes everything being shared… which reaches my consciousness in a wholistic way. Thanks!

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