The divine feminine within us offers compassion and nurturing to our frazzled being. She brings welcome and comfort to the places within ourselves which we can not welcome. She desires to hold those places and aspects of ourselves which we blame for our troubles, those places which carry shame, those places we cannot accept and she lets us know just how precious we are.
As we open to the embrace of the divine feminine within we set in motion the internal alignment of ourselves. Then, rooted in a more whole place we discover a different way of relating with others around us. The embrace of the divine feminine within, met by the divine masculine within, brings about a scared union. This sacred union lets us experience our sovereignty, knowing we do not need another person to complete us, but rather we become free to let love flow with another without grasping for the other or pushing them away.
Some of us live in painful self-imposed exile tormented by negative internal voices and judgments about multiple aspects of ourselves. These voices, these internal criticisms reinforce internal stories of abandonment, loss, why we don't belong, why we are not welcome. These voices, these stories are false, created internally many years ago in some fashion to protect ourselves or imposed upon us by family or society. The internal protective stories helped us survive at one point, but they no longer serve us. The external negative messaging never served us.
The loving divine goddess is here now, reaching her arms to us, offering her assistance, her love, her compassion to unburden us from this self-imposed exile. She longs to come into contact with us so we can experience the grace of her compassion, teaching us how to hold compassion for ourselves. She desires to teach us about healing self-compassion bathed in her love.
As we start to welcome all the banished parts of ourselves, letting go of the judgments with compassion, we can enter into a state of loving curiosity, becoming friends and allies of ourselves. Surrounded by her love, we come to realize we belong, all of who we are, and enter into the family of creation sharing our unique and necessary gifts.
Her gift of compassion, which we internalize into self-compassion, calms our anxiety, tells us deep inside we are OK, and gives us the opportunity to arrive more as who we really are. We are not our internal negative stories, we are much more glorious and fascinating. Take the risk to open to divine compassion as a path to self-compassion.
What do I mean when I say “Divine Feminine?”
"Where are the men?"
There is a powerful emergence of women stepping into their authority, embracing their leadership in the world, breaking the patriarchal shackles, claiming their untamed wildness and it is freaking awesome! As women step into their authentic selves, embodying the divine goddess within them, the question arises, "Where are the men to meet these powerful feral women?" Indeed, where is the complimentary emergence of the sacred masculine? How can there be a divine union of beloveds when only one comes to the feast?
I believe the emergence of the sacred masculine is happening. Born out of the mytho-poetic men's movement, the resurgence of ancient wisdom traditions, the call from the divine feminine for her beloved and the bare necessity of "what now?" as we gaze upon the burning wreckage of wounded masculinity. Men must find a way out of our desecrated inheritance of power abuse, unbridled consumption and crippling insecurity. Men must find a way of power informed and guided by love, a way of compassion with balls. A sacred masculinity which protects, provides and loves deeply. A sacred masculinity integrated with the flow of nature, wise in the ways of connection and tools. A sacred masculinity which is neither apologetic nor arrogant of its muscles and grit. A sacred masculinity which can meet and claim his beloved, sweeping her up in his powerful arms and delight in her without compulsion to control or abandon. A sacred masculinity which is present - wholly.
The journey to sacred masculinity is not easy but absolutely necessary and so worth it! The tools are here, the teachers are emerging, the next steps becoming clearer.
Men, if they so chose for it is all choice, need to take a good look at all they are with deep self-compassion and the intention of healing their wounds or more specifically the stories and beliefs crafted around their wounds. We also need to take a critical look at everything we have been taught about what it means to be a man because most of our societal lessons are shit.
Looking at our interior psychology and questioning our conditioning is a start. Reclaiming the lost parts of our psyche cast into the shadows, forming community, learning how to communicate honestly and from the heart are all part of the journey from wounded masculinity to sacred masculinity.
Sacred masculinity means being connected to a larger world including and beyond our awesome incarnate world of the five senses. Sacred masculinity embraces reverent relationship with all beings. A deep reverence for all. We fall madly in love with our selves and all other beings. The emergence of the sacred comes when we step into the vast expanse of the "other" while simultaneously realizing we are inseparable from the "other". The "other" is us, our friends, our enemies, the spirit beings of nature, the beings of other realms, the beings of the universe. Men walk very differently when they experience the seen and unseen world as living beings to be in relationship with rather than objects to be used.
The wounded masculine can take a few different personas. One, which I am most familiar with, is the collapsed male, another is the abusive male. Both the collapsed and abusive male have deep insecurities which drive strategies and manipulations to control women and cover up their internal shame. (Please humor me here, I realize we are far more complex than two simple models of wounded masculinity, I am presenting a few concepts to ponder.)
The collapsed male or good boy or pseudo-enlightened castrated man has shamefully absorbed the accurate feminist critique, girlfriend's and wive's stories of past sexual and psychological abuse and awareness of objectification, misogyny and patriarchy. The collapsed male vows to never bring harm to womankind by effectively castrating himself, distancing himself from all those "bad men." The collapsed male denies his sexual urges, buying into puritanical restrictions, denying his anger or fire or wildness. He becomes flaccid and apologetic. Sacred masculinity, brought to the collapsed male, acknowledges the harm done to women, but claims his fire, his strength, his balls infused with deep love, respect, kindness and a zeal for justice and repair. The collapsed male who claims his sacred masculinity rises to meet the world which so needs him.
The abusive male goes on the attack, misusing male power sexually and emotionally. The abusive male asserts power to control verses the collapsed male who withdraws power to engender pity or rescue. The abusive male is overtly sexual, drives a big loud car or truck, or works out to pump up his muscles as a show of force. When sacred masculinity emerges within the abusive male, compassion floods throughout him and the desperate need to cover up insecurities through force gives way to strength infused with love and kindness. Opening to sacred masculinity, the abusive male steps down and brings authentic listening while the collapsed male steps up and brings loving forcefulness. Both with the grace of sacred masculinity bring compassion, power and authentic presence. The journey from wounded to sacred masculinity yields worthy beloveds and partners of the divine feminine.
When men, with feet firmly on the earth, with heads held high, with muscles flexed with feral power flowing, enter into relationship, a reverent, sacred relationship with the people and world around them, then the gods and goddesses, and all of creation smile saying, "yes, we know this one!"
Doing "our work", healing our wounds, shedding the lies we were taught are important and the sacred must also be courted. The sacred masculine must arise. Then, the emerging divine feminine within all these gorgeous awakening women will no longer bemoan, "Where are all the men?". Then we may all meet as allies, partners, beloveds set to heal our world.
Blessed Be, Blessings, May it be so,
Our culture is obsessed with the light, the shiny, the bright and views the dark with fear or self-righteous superiority. Is not the dark to be vanquished by the light? Are not some things clearly "good" and therefore on the side of the light and other things "bad" and part of the loathsome dark world? Some emotions are viewed as "good" while others are "bad." Spiritual and physical states are categorized as good verses bad. Yet, forcing value judgements of good and bad upon integral parts of who we are has split us into pieces, that which is judged good is upheld and that which is judged bad is cast away, denied, outcast. When we cast away a part of us, it does not simply go quiet, it mutates, adapts and insists on being seen, somehow. We need to consciously hold both the Dark and the Light for our healing and wholeness.
We, as human beings, live within the cycles and vast, beautiful complexity of nature. We sleep and wake, we get wet in the ocean and dry in the sun, we are happy and sad, we are angry and compassionate. Yet being dry is not good verses being wet is bad. Angry is not bad and compassion good. Power is not bad and love good. The fight is not with our nature, the fight is not to get rid of my depression, but to hold my depression with curiosity and compassion. The Dark and the Light are integral parts of who we are.
My therapist would continually ask me, "can you accept that part of you" whenever I was struggling with a "bad" feeling. The wisdom of Buddhist meditation keeps asking me to observe and hold no judgement for all the visitors in my awareness. The poets in their dedication to the truth counsel holding all the guests who visit my rooms. This can only be done with a fierce compassion and a determined spirit to listen to these outcasts, these teachers, deformed, sometimes grotesquely from carrying a great load for me in the badlands. There are some stories we hold which are completely false, holding the dark and the light can help us unmask the lies and claim the truths.
The shadow (another word tainted with moral judgement) of our psyche holds these denied parts. There are great gifts in the shadow if we welcome them, listen to them and hold them. If we cannot hold the dark, if we continue to ignore these outcasts, horrific harm can come screaming out of an unconscious shadow. Witness all the sexual harm rampant in our Puritanical society where sexuality was cast into the shadow before landing at Plymouth Rock.
So if you're struggling with sadness, being pissed off, frustrated, feel like how you want to express your gender is wrong, then good, bring it on, I welcome that. I want to hear about where you genuinely are, in all your vulnerable seemingly screwed up state. There's nothing bad about you. I welcome your struggle with compassion. Embrace all of your magnificence, dark, light, all that grey and the staggering rainbow of colors.
So after all this talk about there's nothing bad about you, there are choices we all make and these choices can bring harm or whole-ing. I prefer to not use the religious or moralistic language of good or bad, but rather view actions and conditions in terms of supporting or harming the whole. The "whole" being all of us, including the earth and her other-than-human creatures. Clearly there are actions we do individually or collectively which cause harm, sometimes egregious harm. The fight at hand is to protest against and work to eliminate this harm in our world, the fight is not denying the dark within us. So yes, cut off the head of the black snake which threatens to poison the water, stop the violence which cuts down men of color, shut down the patriarchy which enslaves women and keeps them "in their place". Reach out to the purpetrators of these harms and help them too embrace the dark which they have denied.
At this time of Solstice, with dark and light doing their dance with each other, I pray we open to the possibility of holding both with reverence.
For those of you like I who have tended to stay in the darker palates of life's spectrum. Some thoughts my brothers and sisters:
There can be a seductive quality of the dark and we can insist on staying there rather than traveling around the whole wheel of life. There can be almost a loyalty we feel towards the feelings of sadness and loss. The neural pathways in our brains may have etched familiar patterns around overwhelm, feeling rejected or being unwelcome.
All these states and experiences are real and a part of us and we don't have to spend all of our time here.
I heard a very wise teaching called the "Four Shields' which describes various aspects or shields of the human experience. Each shield is associated with a cardinal direction, the west shield holding some of what we describe as "dark". A human's path is to develop all their shields, "walk the wheel" many times in their lifetime. Each of us may have different size shields, my west may be large because I've spent alot of time in the dark, the loss, the letting go, the adolescence, but it does not mean I need to stay encamped in the west. I need to travel through adulthood/wisdom in the north, birth/spirit in the east and play/sensuality of the south. Growing all these aspects of who I am is my journey.
So I get the allure of the dark and blessings be to the teachings of the dark. Try the other aspects of life as well. Blessings...
In Confessions, The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, we discover a man deeply committed to listening to Spirit and responding to Spirit’s call as a powerful advocate for justice. We encounter Matthew Fox initially trying to lay low and be an obedient priest, yet unable to turn a deaf ear to the hunger of the spiritual and marginalized poor. Instead of laying low, Matthew Fox responds to the hunger he encounters, be it in disenfranchised youth seeking relevancy in their spiritual quests, women subjugated within a highly misogynistic and patriarchal church, homosexuals shunned and shamed, or spiritual seekers of all faiths demonized by the political-religious amalgam of right-wing Christianity and the entrenched powerful elite. His response comes from a grounding in the roots of Christian mysticism, the works of great theologians, Fox’s own decades-long scholarship as a theologian himself and personal, embodied spiritual contemplation. Jesus said, “feed my sheep.” Matthew Fox has dedicated his life to spiritually feeding the people and in so doing, has angered many who benefit by keeping the people hungry. The book, Confessions, The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, takes us into a journey of discovery, faith, challenge, great joys and deep sorrows, all in service and response to life breathing herself into being.
Listening, for Matthew Fox, is listening across the centuries in his study of history and spiritual thought, listening to the people in his immediate surroundings and listening to the voice of Spirit within the silence of contemplation. Yet television evangelists and popes also claim to hear the voice of God. How can we trust anyone who claims such insights? I would look to the fruits of the tree. Are fear, mistrust and harm created or connection, empowerment and dignity imparted? I would say the fruits of Matthew Fox’s labor shine above the fruits of his detractors.
Listening without a response is only a half measure. Listening with an earnest response can lead to justice. Justice in Matthew Fox’s life is advocating for women’s rights: the right to the priesthood, the right to education, the right to lead. Justice is the dismantling of homophobia within the community, moving from the harm created by an “us vs them” mentality to a “we are all in god and god is in all of us” awareness. Justice is advocating for the earth, for all creation, for she is who we are, inseparable from creation. Justice is standing by all spiritual traditions for the gifts they bring. Justice takes strength, faith and the willingness to be knocked down, and then get back up again. Matthew Fox’s life is a study in standing for justice despite the cost. This cost has been harrowing for Matthew Fox and worth the subject of a whole other blog (read the book :-) ).
Spiritual renewal or spiritual awakening is accessed through the arts. Spirituality as the recognition and relationship of Life and Spirit indwelling and simultaneously surrounding us cannot be properly described or understood with words alone and by necessity needs the language of art. Matthew Fox recognizes the vital importance of art, poetry, song, dance, and clowning to enliven our relationship with creation and feed our longing for spiritual awakening. Art as the soul’s language is key to making the spiritual experience relevant and alive. The use of art to reinvigorate liturgy as expressed in The Cosmic Mass, a beautiful spiritual ritual midwifed into being by Michael Fox and some other great spiritual visionaries, also deserves a whole blog post.
Somehow in my own experience growing up Catholic, I was exposed to the inclusive mystical Jesus. The Jesus who welcomed women and outcasts, the Jesus who fostered love rather than blind adherence to the rules, the counter-cultural Jesus. I owe a debt of gratitude to Matthew Fox and the women and men of the 60's and 70's who rediscovered and articulated this Jewish mystical Jesus and then evolved the theology of the Cosmic Christ, the expression of the creator in all of creation (us included). Reading Confessions, I reflect on my own, less dramatic spiritual journey, from flirting with the Jesuits at Fordham, to seeking spiritual awaking, to embracing a cosmic, incarnate, creation-based spirituality. I continue to ponder my response, the praxis of my life. I am grateful for the language and guidance offered through reflection on Matthew Fox’s life. His autobiography is truly a spiritual resource for my own journey.
An autobiography traces the formative events in one’s life and the rich mosaic which creates who we express in this world. Hopefully, our true self, our soul shines through in this expression and not the restrictions, shackles, and stories fashioned by others out of fear, ignorance and control. Matthew Fox has listened all his life in an attempt to bring forth a genuine, Spirit-led response, to uplift the young and bring true healing and connection in a world desperately needing community. I would like to close with a famous quote from Thomas Merton who was one of Matthew Fox’s spiritual angels. This quote speaks of faithfulness and humility, both present with me as I read Confessions. Matthew Fox’s life is a testament to listening deeply and responding with courage and faith in service of all creation.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
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Jose Enciso is an engineer by profession, a poet by necessity and a seeker of spirit and soul. He brings a gentle presence and deep respect for the interior journey as expressed through creative and expressive arts. Jose is a skilled group facilitator who is committed to the spiritual and psychological growth of those around him. He trained under Francis Weller to lead men’s initiation groups doing deep soul work and is equally comfortable in managing complex technical projects. Jose is devoted to the emergence of the divine feminine, supporting women and men claiming their voice and power, and rediscovering the soul of masculinity. He is currently working on multiple projects including a book which seeks to encourage everyone to write their own poetry as a discovery of their own soul's truth.