The Essence of Man
Sacred Men's Business
The Masculine Wound
” In many tribal cultures, it is said that if the boys were not initiated into manhood, if they were not shaped by the skills and love of elders, then they would destroy the culture. If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they wil burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth". . ….Michael Meade
Boys to Men
Who is teaching our young boys how to be confident, healthy, honorable, life giving and emotionally available men?
Any indigenous elder will tell you that a boy does not grow into a man without the active participation and intervention of older men in their life and that it takes thousands of hours of boys being in male contact with other men, to grow a boy into a man. Without a father and a male tribe to bless him, honor him, challenge him, teach him how to be comfortable with his feelings, initiate him into his warrior energy, educate little princes on how to become Kings and provide guidance on how to navigate the inner terrain of the soul of a man, a boy becomes lost, lonely and isolated from the deep spirit of his manhood.
“In mythical stories and male initiations a boy is prepared emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, through a series of challenges that form a relationship with his warrior spirit, as well as a deep and forced discovery into his darker side. These initiations offer a man the energy he needs to live in this world. With the disappearance of these rites in the modern era, many men do not or cannot make the shift easily or gracefully from childhood to adulthood. They do not have the emotional or psychological support necessary to go from child to man. The result is that often men have become more thoughtful and more gentle, but not more free.”…Robert Bly
So where are the fathers that steward this teaching energy and where are our male tribes of support? Since the beginning of the industrial era men began to leave the family home to earn a living out in the world and the separation in the teaching relationship between father and son began to breakdown. Very few sons now stand side by side with their father, either in the field or in a workshop, and learn about masculine energy directly from him. Many young boys are growing up without male role models and are being raised by women. This is even more prevalent in this age of single parenting where women are now the primary role models for their sons. When boys see their fathers for very limited periods of time, they only learn to model limited aspects of masculinity and if the father is not involved in the son’s life at all, boys become over-mothered and under-fathered and the evolutionary process of developing mature masculine energies within boys becomes inhibited. This breakdown in the teaching relationship between boys and men also affects society as a whole. Men crave male attention at all ages however when there is very little permission in society that allows them to openly ask for it and seek it out, all relationships within their circles of influence are affected. ”When there are no kings, young warriors become savage and brutal.”
This absence of father energy in the family home has created a wound in the male psyche known as ‘Father-hunger’.
” Father Hunger is the deep biological need for strong, humorous, hairy, wild, tender, sweaty, caring, intelligent masculine input. For long satisfying hours spent learning to be confident and capable in the world, in the pleasure of doing and making, striving together and laughing at diversity, learning the joy of being a man from men that know these things and are willing to share them”..Steve Biddulph.
Father-hunger is primarily a wound of absence, (physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual) and it is a wound that is one of the most destructive, for girls as well as boys. It is also one of the most important factors that will shape and affect the male psyche. It is through the father-child relationship that a young boy is called forth to actualize his full masculine potential and a young girl falls in love with a man for the very first time. For her, all of her relationships with men will be shaped by the relationship she has with her father. Along with her sense of self worth and her trust in love’s protection, (being ‘safely held’) as she finds her voice and radiates her light into the world. For a young boy, it is his father’s mentoring, presence, direction and disciplinary love that offer’s him a crucial inner compass that will provide safe passage through life’s obstacles and the adversities that stand between who he is now, and the man that his life is calling him to be. It is also his father’s presence that will allow him to move through ‘boy psychology’ into ‘man psychology’. ‘Man psychology’ provides the spiritual maturation processes that allow a boy to enter into manhood through ego-death – which is death to the boy and his boyish ways and birth to the man and his full embodiment of the sacred masculine. It gives boys mature masculine potentials to grow into. Potentials that cannot be expressed if something vital is missing within a boy’s inner life. The pathway between boyhood and manhood that nourishes these potentials is men’s ceremony and rites of passage. However in the absence of a good father, a male tribe and initiation ceremonies, a boy remains within the internal state of ‘boy psychology’ and simply grows from a little boy into bigger boy that is living inside of man’s body. A boy growing up without good fathering will also grow into a man that learns to mistrusts male energy, (including his own), and he will feel inadequately equipped to have authentic relationships with other men, with women, with his children and with God/life/his soul. Because of this, he will feel unprepared to shape and determine his own destiny, unwilling to step into his spiritual responsibilities as a man on this planet, he will constantly battle with the fear of failure and will feel as of he has no map to chart the sacred geography of his life’s purpose.
The main differences between boy psychology and man psychology;
“A man who “cannot get it together” is a man who has probably not had the opportunity to undergo ritual initiation into the deep structures of manhood. He remains a boy – not because he wants to, but because no one has shown him the way to transform is boy energies into man energies. No one has led him into direct and healing experiences of the inner world of masculine potential”.. …Robert Moore
Power is for me
- I am ruled by my emotions
- I am the centre of the universe
- I take no responsibility for my actions
- I want a mother that exist to meet my needs
- I am magical, I am invincible, I will live forever
- Is constantly seeking approval, validation and acknowledgment
- I am curious, I am adventurous and I wonder about the world around me and inside of me
- Power is for sharing
- I can feel my emotions and hold space for their teaching
- I am part of the universe, part of the oneness
- I take full responsibility for my actions and I accept my spiritual responsibility to uphold the sacred lores that teach men about humility and the impeccable integrity of the sacred masculine
- I seek healthy relationships with the sacred feminine
- I have a healthy relationship with death and my own mortality
- I love and accept myself just as I am - I align myself with my purpose/ mission/ destiny
- I am that which I am seeking
So in a modern society where father hunger exists and there are few structures that hold the space for male initiation and masculine growth, how do our young boys and uninitiated men learn about the sacred masculine, and how do they find their purpose, their masculine warrior’s heart and the power to become Kings amongst men?
Our old masculine models of patriarchy and ‘macho-male’ stereotypes no longer serve men and new models that provide much needed leadership from elders and initiated men of power, men that understand and know how to transform the darker side of the masculine warrior, have not yet been collectively created. The result is that our uninitiated warriors, our young boy warriors - are still looking for their initiation.However, because our society has failed to preserve and maintain it’s stewardship of ‘father energy’ and teachings of the sacred masculine, and we have failed to maintain the rites of passage that this energy requires before a man can fully own its power, our young boy warriors are creating their own initiations.
One way they are seeking it is by forming gangs (tribal groups) within our communities, eg: hip hop, gothic, surfies, bikers, sporting teams, school yard bullying etc. Ritualistic acts required for entry into these gangs/tribes are a rite of passage and even though these rituals are often harmful and destructive in nature they provide a young boy with what his psyche is hardwired for, a way to mark his transition from boyhood into manhood.
These barriers to entry are also present amongst adult men in corporations, work sites, sporting clubs and military establishments where the boy inside of the man is still seeking his rite of passage amongst his peers/ male tribe. However, within all of these shadow forms of brotherhood the ‘boy’ is simply still fighting with his own inner demons that come in the form of his quest for his father’s attention, recognition, direction, discipline, approval and love.