Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
July 07,   2009
Where Hides the Spirituality of Men

 

Where Hides the Spirituality of Men?

Henry Reed

 

It used to be, when I felt like crying, I'd get angry instead. During the discussion of the aftermath of the devastation I had created by my anger, I would learn that I had actually been sad, lonely, or hurt, and wished I had realized that earlier. It took me many years to recognize the anger signal, to look within, and to discover my tears.

Times have changed, and the image and expectation of "manhood" has evolved. Thanks to the poet Robert Bly, and his book Iron John: A Book About Men (Da Capo Press), we've drummed our way past the "soft male" stage of transition. We are now cultivating the balanced male, who can integrate both hard and soft. What a journey!

The art of balancing the soft and hard dimensions of maleness requires an understanding of spirituality and how it manifests in the Yangness of creation. Robert Moore and David Gillette, in their book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine (HarperOne) made some progress with that question, bringing to our attention important mythologies regarding men and their archetypal roles in life. As important as those myths have been to men, to have only four to choose from may seem a bit limiting. Today, Matthew Fox, the ex-Catholic priest who developed "Creation Spirituality," has added to our understanding with an expanded inventory of natural male archetypes. His new book, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine (New World Library), offers us a little deeper look into nature itself to find the spirit of the male.

Fox defines spirituality as "giving life one's all." He sees that many men are actively engaged spiritually, whether they realize it or not, yet the spiritual dimension remains hidden. He lists numerous reasons for this predicament, and points to several repercussions, such as the higher rate of adolescent suicides among boys and their much lower rate of graduating from high school. By pointing to several archetypes of male spirituality, he hopes to bring this essential reality out into the open in a way that might enable and inspire men to claim their birthright. He believes we need that connection in order to confront the many challenges that face the planet today.

To give you some idea of his approach, I'll list the ten metaphors that he discusses: 1) "Father Sky: The Cosmos Lives!" 2) The Green Man 3) Icarus and Daedalus 4) Hunter-Gatherers 5) Spiritual Warriors 6) Masculine Sexuality, Numinous Sexuality 7) Our Cosmic and Animal Bodies 8) The Blue Man 9) Earth Fathers: The Fatherly Heart 10) Grandfather Sky: The Grandfatherly Heart. Fox points out that these gender metaphors from nature apply not just to men, but to humans, male and female. He sees these as ways humans can connect to the Yang energy within themselves. He believes we all, male and female alike, need to relate to both the gods and goddesses within to achieve the integration and balance required to move into a healthy future.

What I find interesting is that Fox derives his metaphors largely from nature itself and our relationship to that reality. To take the most obvious example, the Green Man is the symbol of our oneness with nature. To find the Green Man within us is to discover the unity between our own nature and the greenery around us. For myself, to use an example, I've discovered that I can "connect" with a plant and find in my own spontaneous imagery information that is congruent with the actualities of the plant. This discovery tells me that somehow my imagination--such an intimate part of me--is actually an aspect of nature itself. The Green Man is about wisdom, rather than knowledge. Fox points out the evident wisdom of plant life, for they developed photosynthesis and learned "how to eat the sun!"

Plant life is the result of the marriage of Father Sky and Mother Earth, Fox reminds us. He uses that fact to show how the true male archetypes contain both yin and yang qualities. His interest is in developing the spiritual male qualities in us so that we can marry them to the spiritual female qualities. He believes that the spiritual feminine has gained a greater foothold in our consciousness, and awaits a worthy consciousness of male spirituality so that the sacred marriage can take place. Thus his book is not just for men, but it is men who carry the greater responsibility to take the time and have the courage to make manifest this needed "other half" of the spirituality that is growing within us today.

 

To order the Hidden Spirituality of Men from Amazon.com, click here!

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