I have just returned from a workshop on male spirituality and it certainly has me thinking about the men in my life - especially my brothers, husband, sons in law (counting Erik now) and grandson.
This was required for my Wellstreams program and also open up to the community. There were about 16 women in attendance and 6 men. That is par for the course when you "talk" about male spirituality. Because male spirituality is very different from female - and usually involves more action than talk. Which is why churches are so full of women. And it is a problem.
We have been reading a fascinating book called "From Wild Man to Wise Man" by Richard Rohr. He writes this
"In almost all cultures men are not born; they are made......The boy had to be separated from protective feminine energy, led into ritual space where newness and maleness could be experienced as holy."
We had a lot of conversation today about male initiation rites - when does a boy become a man? And for a woman, the initiation rite is often her period. It is so clear. Not so for a man - especially these days.
We learned about the initiation rites of native American - kidnapped from their mother, a vision quest, learning wisdom from the holy men, a blood sacrifice and then they are placed in the world - as hunter or shaman.
And what I have learned over and over again is that so many men don't have mentors or father figures to guide them. We know that the appeal of gangs and even military experience fills that need - that father hunger. But too many men are not being led.
All of which made me think about Jackson and how good it is that he has such a strong bond with his grandfather, Thomas. Thomas is teaching him how to be a man - even though he is only 5 - there is something very good about that relationship.
We also learned about the male archetypes - that first men tend to be warriors, then lovers, then kings, then magicians. Very interesting - all of it. There is balance to each of these archetypes - for example king archetype out of balance is either a tyrant or he abdicates his power. It has helped me to reframe some of my understandings of some men in my life. And it may help me to become more compassionate.
There is much more that I am ruminating about on this subject - like the fact that when Jackson hits puberty he will have 20 Fold increase in testosterone. Wonder what that will look like?
All in all, I know this - men and women may share a common humanity but we are put together in very different ways. And we need each other but we also need to claim our own identities as men and women. In other words, there are times it is good for men to be with men and women to be with women.
Food for thought. All of it.