Tag Archives: masculinity

8. Keep a Private Room Behind the Shop

It used to be that men had studies, libraries, dens, offices. Now there are “man caves”. As if the whole of the outside world isn’t already about patriarchal, testosterone-driven, sports metaphor-laden male dominance, for better or worse. Honestly, anyone who feels they’re being deprived of their manhood in today’s uber-macho, Art of War, Machiavellian study in pissing contest one-upmanship has no idea what being a man entails. Or maybe I don’t. That’s probably more the case, as I feel I’ve been disconnected from what society calls “masculinity” for almost my entire life. When I think of a private room, I envision a place to think, to read, to create – to work. I think of my father’s office, lined with books; and his workshop, filled with tools, various and sundry hardware, and projects in various states of construction or completion. I think of a garage or shed for doing your own auto repairs. Not a place where you can retreat from the female kingdom of your home – the kitchen, the bedrooms, the children’s rooms, the “parlor”, and gather with your so-called adult male friends to drink beer, eat junk food, and participate vicariously in simulated war games called sporting events, all the while avoiding either direct parenting, spousal interaction, or being forced into watching “chick” flicks or the Disney channel’s constant repetition of episodic inanity. That sounds like the modern equivalent of the Little Rascals, building a treehouse and then hanging a sign reading “No Gurls Aloud”.

What is this conception of manhood that always must include some minimum level of physical intimidation, hyper-competitiveness, vulgarity, and ultimately anti-social behavior – and often, an exaggerated sense of self-importance, an illusion of superiority, and a chance to unveil the worst of ourselves as humans: our resulting bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and innate mean spiritedness and poor sportsmanship? Even male nerds, geeks, and dorks participate in these rituals, at least privately, while publicly claiming abhorrence for them. By the way, for the purposes of this discussion, there is an easy way to discern between the intelligentsia’s nerd, geek, dork caste system. I call it the LOTR, or Lord of the Rings test: anyone who has read and can quote portions of the Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy can be assumed a nerd. Any nerd who can quote, read or write those portions in the Elvish language may be considered a geek. Any nerd who has on more than on occasion donned a pair of Elf ears, or otherwise actually imagined themselves an elf (or hobbit or dwarf, although there are limits) is probably best classified as a dork. Me? I am only a nerd. But then again, gaining eyeglasses, braces, and violin lessons at age eight probably predetermined that result.

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In Defense of Pan

I wouldn’t want my son to have Pan’s attitude towards women…after all, he had quite a reputation for chasing women

I respond, not a Pan lover, but as one who has recognized his positive influence on my own life. And as I recall, Pan usually didn’t have to chase those women very far – he didn’t pursue anyone that wasn’t interested in being caught. Further, Pan paid his dues – he was the servant of Artemis, and as payment he received time to sport with the her nymphs [and as you know, it is not a spectator sport]. Besides, an interest in and appreciation of sex are both healthy and natural for men and women. It is only when the human being’s natural inclinations are sublimated by taboo, restriction and the mores of society and community that sex becomes unnatural, its participants objectified, and its purpose corrupted. When viewed in the context of a balanced and harmonious life, it is a powerful act of everyday magick, a joining together in spirit and flesh of two equals for their mutual pleasure and/or perpetuation of the species. It is a celebration of life, of our absolute interdependence upon each other as genders, and of our connectedness with all forms of being who share with us the process of creation, evolution and eternal existence.

But I think it is other factors that cause people to fear, or shy away from, the Horned God (be he known as Pan, Cernunnos, Herne, or by myriad of other faces).

Primarily, I think it is fear that recognition of the Horned One’s influence in our lives is an epiphany that there is something outside this perception of an ordered universe that we use as a crutch to connect the fabric of our lives – the feral, dark, uncharted and dangerous swampland of our unconscious selves that we try so desperately to hide away when in the company of “polite society,” that religious teachings have told us are “not spiritual”, and that the women’s liberation movement has often seen as necessary to the enlightenment of women, but improperly used and maliciously exaggerated in men.

Secondly, but no less important, is the fear that we, as men, by recognizing, nurturing and embracing our wild nature, must take full responsibility for all our actions, and must also accept the role that the Horned God assumes – that of the sacrifice. By taking Pan as a role model, we are emulating the only immortal that ever died. To accept the awesome task of “marrying the earth” and to be responsible as its nurturing father and protector is to reject machismo, bullying, pridefulness, one-upmanship and superiority. They have no place in true man’s actions or character. The God is consort to the Goddess, her servant, slave, lover, brother, father, and son. Not her master. Not the law-giver.

That is the lesson of Pan, and his model for humankind:

For men, to treat all women as your mother, sister, daughter or wife-partner;
For women, to treat all men as your father, brother, son or husband-partner;
For all, to see each other as parts of a sacred whole, and see the lines for what they are – areas to color beyond.

24 JUL 2001

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Mother Father Breathing

With each breath, opposites are reconciled:
like the unconscious seeping under the door
that the river makes as it rises during the night,
then at first light ebbs slowly away
as the sun’s heat pulls it into its glowing bosom.

To dub the inhalation Da, to sense its quiet strength,
then name it Ma as it comes forth from the lungs,
its motion merged with infinite atmosphere,
warm tendrils seeking out atom by atom
the molecules that shape the space,
flesh out the illusions of matter
and the world’s wide mask of being and nothing,
is to lower a string into a lake
and think you’ve split the water.

There is a moment, between sighs,
where there is only one expanse of air,
samadhi in a pregnant pause;
and in that instant what divides
a flame from its penchance to burn
becomes the only line between
the different forms of god.

22 DEC 2004

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