Sunday, May 23, 2010

Men Are Hurting

It was my distinct honor this weekend to emerge a group of men from the Integral Warrior Men's Process. I was asked by the men and by their friends and family to furnish them a copy of the welcome speech I gave before the men self-initiated men themselves as Integral Warriors and Shamanic Priests.

Here is the text of my presentation.

There is no renewal in the universe without a preceding loss. Even the sun is dying every moment. If anyone tells you that you can be reborn, saved, go to heaven, or be born again,  and does not first speak to you very honestly about dying, do not believe them. You cannot be reborn to the new if you aren’t willing to die to the old first. There is no such thing as a “prosperity gospel.” Death and life are an eternal embrace, two sides of the same coin. It is the one common theme in every initiatory process, in every initiation rite. Any initiation process that does not teach this mystery is not an initiation at all.

There's an old blues song by William Bell called, “You don’t miss your water until your well runs dry”…Unless a man has been involved in the human struggle, he probably won't know what is missing in his life, because we can only miss what we have experienced. Not only is classic mens' initiation sadly missing from modern and postmodern life, but postmodernism has completely deconstructed the initiation process.

Even our animal brothers make it clear that juniors need elders ….Humans and animals are imitative and mimetic. Several Years ago National geographic did a special on elephants, focusing on at a pack where all the elder bull elephants had been killed. The younger bulls, who had not developed tusks, began acting out, crushing cars, knocking down fences and huts, damaging crops, and more. The solution? Older bull elephants were helicoptered in to the herd, and because they would charge the younger elephants, trumpeting and bluffing, the younger bulls stopped acting out.

In the human realm, using archetypal terminology, if there are no kings, warriors become brutal, magicians behave as charlatans, and lovers are soon addicts.

Young men do not become responsible men without boundaries and identity.

We are not a healthy culture for boys or men. Not the only reason, but surely one reason, is that we no longer have a culture of elders who know how to pass on wisdom, identities and boundaries to the next generation. Most men are under-fathered and over-mothered – now even more in an age of single parents. We are a society without fathers.

We’ve created boys who never grow up and want to marry mothers instead of wives, and girls who want securing and affirming daddies instead of risk-taking partners.

The current older generation of men in the United States has, to a great extent, not been mentored by their own fathers. They were usually given necessary messages either in quick male style or translated through the experience of women. Women have been training boys to be their version of men, or men who have not been mentored have been modeling at a teenage level of development. Neither is what we need.

Men can only pass on what they themselves know. They can only lead their sons and daughters as far as they have gone. Men who lost their fathers at an early age may do fine with their own sons up to that age, and then often lose self-confidence in their parenting abilities.

The patterns of failure in young men are staggering and frightening: Level of depression, suicides, drug abuse, alcoholism, and violence are all exponentially rising. 94% of all inmates are male. Men live an average of 7 years less than women, suffer far more from ulcers and stress-related disease than women, and are more likely than women to die from the 15 leading causes of death.

Over 80% of all suicides are men. In the 20-24 age bracket, males commit suicide six times as often as females, and over the age of 85, men are fourteen times as likely to commit suicide as women.

Men are hurting.

For the past twenty years we’ve been told our education system favors and is based on success of boys, but the results appear to be exactly opposite. Women are surpassing men in leadership positions, valedictorian addresses, graduation rates, jobs after graduation, and now, even saleries.

In his book, “The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit” – Joseph Chilton Pearce say we have 5 brains altogether and that they build on one another at years 1, 4, 7, 11, and 14-17. at each of these milestones, there occur brain surges where all past experiences are stored and secured, or myelinated. He reasons we transcend each brain stage by being around models of higher brain functions, and if there is no modeling, neural pruning occurs and millions of brain cells die off. This is what’s happening to boys of all stages who don't have the next developmental stage modeled for them.

Despite postmodernism's search for unisex everything, feminist denials, anger at maleness in the past few decades, and even men’s doubts about themselves, the grand nature of the male soul is self evident. We like it, hate it, we fear it, we disseminate it, we push against it, we take it for granted.

So many people are so angry at Patriarchy, or false male power, and rightly so, that it makes them afraid to recognize the good power and the good passion of men. We have all found love at the male banquet. Maleness is half of the mystery, and if we do not enjoy it, we are missing half of who we are, whether we are a man or a woman.

Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette have found that the characters in male myth, legend, and story – the universal images that attract men – invariably circle around four constellating images, which some call archetypes or ruling images. Images of a king, a warrior, a lover, and a magician or wise man, seems to be four parts of every man, our primary fascinations, the major quadrants of our souls…..they challenge us, they fascinate us, threaten us, and yet we are unable to totally ignore them. When we do, or when we over identify with one or the other, they invariably take on dark and compulsive sides. But the mature man honors and integrates all parts of his soul. They seem to naturally balance and regulate one another, and they make a man whole and Holy. It has been called the very shape of masculine holiness.

Each of the men that have gone through the Integral Warrior Mens' Process have completed the four initiations, called in and claimed their king, their warrior, their lover, and their magician, so that none of them dominates the others, but rather, balance each other in perfect masculine harmony.

This is a remarkable achievement in that, historically, most cultures only affirmed one or two parts of a man - usually the Warrior or the Magician. Our job today, as Integral Warriors and Shamanic Priests, is much more difficult because we must affirm, educate, and validate all four archetypes, letting them simmer and grow together to create a full man. Now we need enlightened and transformed magicians, lovers of life and beauty, and strong non-violent warriors to produce truly big-picture men - or kings.

In the Emergence weekend, men who complete the Integral Warrior Men's Process, will self-initiate one more time, proclaiming their gift, as men in service, to the world: they will emerge from the process in front of their family and their friends, as Integral Warriors and Shamanic Priests, and claim the big-picture masculine that is every man’s birthright who is willing to die to the old and be reborn to the new as these men will have done.

Note: Much of the information, and even some phrases were taken directly from Richard Rohr's book, Adam's Return: The Five promises of Male Initiation. Get a copy. It's excellent!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Developing the Postmodern Shaman in the Male Psyche

The task of the post-modern Shaman/Magician initiation is more challenging than ever before in human history – and more important for the human future: our very survival as a species depends on it.

From Robert Moore and Douglas Gillettes' book, The Magician Within,  here are seven ways men can develop the shaman, better known as The Magician in the realm of the four primary masculine archetypes:

1. Schedule into your life times of retreat and reflection on a regular basis. Consider it life-maintenance to keep your energy and development on track. The magician/shaman must have time to re-energize.

2. Begin to work toward finding and ritualizing your own Sacred Places and times for inner work. Do you have an altar in your home? Special retreats away from home?

3. Work toward a disciplined utilization of dream interpretaion and active imagination (see Robert Johnson’s excellent book Inner Work). I use The Inner Guide meditation to develop and ongoing relationship with my wise man within.

4. Begin to keep a personal Journey as an ongoing container for your work. Don’t like to journal? Consider starting a blog.

5. Find an ongoing men’s group that is seeking to develop masculine potentials in its members and that is not afraid to experiment with creative ritualization. The Mankind Project is an excellent place to start. For keeping one grounded, there's no better place than a mens' group.

6. Defy those that would shame your intellectual abilities or who would seek to limit the scope and/or depth of your studies. Claim the two-million-year-old mind that is your birthright!

7. Keep your “bullshit detector” in good working order. In the coming years, you will need it like never before.

Mature shamans in the future must seek the wisdom and vision to be EarthShamans. Anything less will be a betrayal of our species.

Photo by DrugArt