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The Mythopoetic Men’s Movement and My Personal Experience within it

April 15, 2010 4 comments

I have been less active on this blog this week; I’ve been recovering from a mild stomach bug, probably picked up in all my travels earlier in the month to LA, then Baltimore, and home again. While I was resting I took the opportunity to plunge into Joseph Gelfer’s book: Numen, Old Men Contemporary Masculine Spiritualities and the Problem of Patriarchy. Joseph brought his book to my attention while commenting on an earlier post. It took some time for me to get it and then to get into it, but here we are. I will offer some thoughts this week (and probably next) on this provocatively titled book, and from my initial read.

Before I explore the book I’ll begin with a personal account of encountering the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement, one of the subjects of Dr. Gelfer’s review.

My early involvement with Robert Bly started with his interview with Bill Moyers in 1990: “A Gathering of Men.” This was perhaps a natural extension, both for me and many others, from our experiences growing up in the 60s, of our activism, our idealistic hope for change and and a strong desire to be part of that change. My personal men’s movement started as early as 1967 as a peace corps volunteer to Ethiopia where I experienced relationships with men that seemed unthinkable in the US. I formed strong bonds with several men, Ethiopian and Indian colleagues with whom I taught. By 1990 I had been re-culturated into American society, married, had two sons, divorced, remarried and added a step-daughter. Yes, I was well integrated into the “American Dream” at that point. But I knew too much, had seen and experienced too much to think that this dream is all there is to life on Planet Earth.

I went to a Bly/Michael Meade event in Washington, DC in about 1990, called “A Day for Men.” A thousand men gathered and crammed into Lisner Auditorium of George Washington University to listen to these two poets/storytellers spin a yarn and teach about what it might be like to grow into a modern man in late 20th century America. It was an awesome experience and I can still give myself goosebumps recalling pieces of the day. It hooked me into the “movement.”

I have since had several more experiences with Robert, did a weekend workshop with Robert Moore, another luminary of the early movement, read all the books with eager enthusiasm and finally made it to one of Robert’s annual gatherings in Minnesota, the Men’s Conference in 2002. (I had planned to attend the one in 2001, in fact was at the airport in Colorado to fly into Minneapolis, when the planes hit the towers in NYC; I didn’t go anywhere that week!). It was at the 2002 conference that I met Martín Prechtel, one of the conference leaders that year. I enjoyed this event so much that the following year I took my older son; we enjoyed the 2003 conference, especially doing it together. Maldoma Somé was a key leader and my son made an immediate bond with him.

Since that time I have continued reading and thinking, writing and reviewing material on all these subject lines that I first encountered with Bly, Meade, Moore, Prechtel, et al. I continue to study with Martín in his school, Bolad’s Kitchen. I do not consider what Martín is now doing part of the mythopoetic movement. First it is not about men but humans; second, it is definitely about spirituality, especially native spirituality as a guide to find our indigenous souls; third, it doesn’t really address the principal topics of the movement.

The movement has had many critics. Feminists voiced concern that it championed a return to strong patriarchy; there was a fear that Bly’s “soft male” would become hard and violent. I believe there was a lot of misunderstanding by those who viewed the movement from the outside and through the literature only. Myths and archetypes presented within the movement were never meant to be models for behavior but teaching tools to gain a deeper understanding of who we men are in an evolving and ever more complex society. We were learning to be present and participating men rather than the absent and withdrawn, or violent and domineering. My wife encouraged me to participate in the movement; her women’s book group read Iron John with enthusiasm and reportedly gained much understanding of their husbands, sons and even daughters.

I do not now consider myself part of the mythopoetic men’s movement (if, in fact, it still exists as a “movement”). I learned a lot from the leaders and teachers within the movement. What I gained drew me into areas of study and thought which continue to evolve and grow. Jungian psychology and archetypal investigations still hold my interest. The next book on my reading list is Matthew Fox’s The Hidden Spirituality of Men Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. His ten metaphors are archetypes. And whether these archetypes are real and “hard wired” into the human psyche (as Robert Moore professes) or simply metaphors by which we explore human behavior to learn how to improve it, I believe modeling that behavior is instructional and important for the evolution of consciousness and spirituality.

I will never apologize for my participation within the mythopoetic men’s movement. I gained too much, became a better man through its influence. But it was only one of many stepping stones. The movement was a beginning to open men to their higher potential. It was never meant as a be-all, end-all approach, but an awakening. Since the early days of the Vedas and Buddha we are all, as humans, called to awaken. For me the men’s movement was part of that call and part of my awakening process.

Tomorrow I’ll begin my review of Dr. Gelfer’s book. As a preview I will tell you he is quite critical of the  movement. Stay tuned!

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What’s All This Hype about 2012? What’s the Basis for it and What Do We Think Might Happen?

April 14, 2010 4 comments

Rosemary and I lead a Spiritual Exploration Group in Colorado Springs; we meet once a month to discuss topics of mutual interest and always have a lively discussion on a wide variety of spiritual subjects. For our April meeting we had a great discussion on this post’s subject. Since the subject is relevant to the Mystic Message from The Divine Feminine this week (www.wisdomconnections.net), I’ve included some notes from our meeting here and a couple of references to books Rosemary and I used to prepare for the discussion.

The basis for the 2012 date becoming so prevalent and popular is the cycling of several calendars around the world. The predominant one is the Long Count Mayan calendar which ends a 5,125-year cycle on or around the winter solstice of 2012. The longest time-period examined is the 26,000 year precession cycle we are moving through; this is the length of time it takes for the zodiac wheel to complete one full rotation through the sun-signs. This is all about moving into the Age of Aquarius. This cycle also brings the solar ecliptic into alignment with the galactic equator. I don’t want to go into all the details here, but to offer a hint as to the significance of the time-period we are in. There’s a lot going on out there!

But more importantly what does this all mean to us, the community of humans? I think there is a collective sense that something is happening. There are many signs. There is an increasing polarization of thought which seems to become more extreme with every newscast. People seem to be dividing; issues are discussed in black and white terms; compromise seems to be an approach of the past. It’s as if two worlds are beginning to form. People are being presented a choice. One of the books we brought up is one Rosemary has been reading: 2012: You Have a Choice!  Archangelic Answers & Practices for the Quantum Leap by Sri Ram Kaa and Kira Raa. Whether anything happens to the physical planet or not, it is clear that choices are being presented and we need to be ready to make those choices, not from fear but with open minds and hearts, consciously.

Of course, we did discuss the movie, a typical disaster scenario which seemed to exploit the hype around 2012 rather than reveal any truth. But there are possibilities of physical earth-changes discussed in the many books on the subject of 2012. Everything from moving into and through a photon belt to a polarity shift of the earth and a shift of the earth’s axis are explored. The fact is we are in the middle of earth changes. Whether we call it global warming or global climate change; whether we believe it is human caused or a natural cycling, changes are apparent. The polar ice sheets and glaciers are melting, the oceans are warming, and our computer models used to predict outcomes of these phenomena are not programmed to cope with the extremes; i.e. we aren’t sure what’s going to happen as a result of the real and current earth-changes we are experiencing.

But this is not cause for fear. It is rather an opportunity to remain open to the possibilities. Change is inevitable; it’s called evolution. And we are called to consciousness and choice. We are called to a higher vision of what is possible.

Another good reference for 2012 is a collection of essays I discovered in my research for the discussion: The Mystery of 2012, Predictions, Prophesies & Possibilities, a publication of Sounds True; contributors include Gregg Braden, Peter Russell, Daniel Pinchbeck, Joanna R. Macy, Ph.D., John Major Jenkins, and many more luminaries on the subject.

You may wonder what all of this has to do with the Goddess. It is more about time and time cycles, but part of the cycling we are in is an enantiodromia period (discussed in earlier posts). 2012 is clearly an element of the shifts expected as the pendulum swings from patriarchy toward a mid-point, balanced sense of equal participation by the feminine. The Divine Feminine and rise of the Goddess are giving momentum to that swing!

Stay tuned tomorrow as I wander back to an earlier subject of “men and spirituality” and I explore my experiences with the so-called “mythopoetic men’s movement” followed by my exploration of Joseph Gelfer’s critique of the movement and his search for a truer emergence of masculine spiritualities.

The Mystic Message of the Week: Are Your Thoughts Filled with Light?

April 7, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s Wednesday and my time to comment on The Divine Feminine’s Mystic Message which Rosemary channeled for this week. (www.wisdomconnections.net)  And the message reminded me of one of my earlier posts on a Korean Zen koan I often use when I need to pause and consider an idea or thought that pops into my head (www.menandthegoddess.com).

The koan question  is very simple: “What is this?”  When something arises in us, especially during mediation, this question is a perfect one for drilling into it, be it a thought, a sensation, a disturbance, even a doze or a dream. And when an answer comes drill down to a deeper layer: “What is this?” The question The Divine Feminine give us is: “What is the source of this thought?” This is more specific and more complicated. It addresses thoughts only and asks for the source. Where does that thought come from and what are the tests I need to apply to it?

The Divine Feminine urge us to a practice of examining our thoughts, testing them, determining not only their source, but also their worthiness compared to our current experiences. Did the thought come from a long held belief? If so, does that belief still have value in my life today? If not then perhaps the thoughts has no value either. When we are willing to examine and test the sources of our thoughts we move through life with open minds.

Creative thoughts need to be tested as well. These thoughts come from “connection to the All, to the Cloud of Knowable Things, to the Source within the Universe.”  But a clear channel to Source is required for clear and creative thinking. Marie-Louise von Franz said: “any kind of mental insight comes from the unconscious.” But the collective unconscious can be considered to contain all of the thoughts, images, dreams, concepts, ideas – good and bad – that humans have experienced across the millennia. The archetypes within this collective are the basis for structures which have been time-tested. I don’t mean to imply here that new archetypes don’t arise; however, existing archetypes can provide initial testing constructs to ensure creative thought is compatible with existing thought and not so outlandish as to be rejected from the beginning.

The Divine Feminine provides us with another test for our creative ideas: are they filled with light? “Learn about yourself by being in a curious state.  Wonder about the root of your current beliefs.” Clarity comes from this inner examination, this curious state. Ask, “What is this? What is the source of this thought?” Challenging ourselves and our beliefs open us to the cloud of knowable things and Source. Being curious about our ideas, thoughts, dreams, experiences and testing them using the archetypal structures of the collective unconsciousness can easily identify the Light-Filled thoughts.

Hold onto these Light-Filled Thoughts; write them down; nurture them; for they are the building material for the continuing evolution of consciousness.

Alchemy and the Goddess

April 6, 2010 Leave a comment

My posts have been sparse lately as we travel coast to coast and back home. Experiencing all these climates has been enjoyable but a bit hard on the environmental body controls. Rosemary and I are both a bit under the weather (so to speak) from the changes. It was good to get home to Colorado last evening and back to our regular schedules. My posts will be regular again as well!

Last night Rosemary and I hosted our “First Monday” Spiritual Exploration Group meeting here in Colorado Springs. We had a good turn out for our topic of the month: What’s All This Hype about 2012? What’s the Basis for it and What Do We Think Might Happen? I found some interesting references to both Alchemy and the Goddess in my readings in preparation for the discussion. There seems to be a strong synchronistic potential at work in my life. The books I am choosing to read and the topics I am choosing to write about and discuss all align with the topic of this post. More of this as we work through the week

The first story of my current book on Alchemy (Alchemy, an Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology by Marie-Louise von Franz) is from the Codex Marcianus. It is called The Prophetess Isis to Her Son and is about Isis seeking the secret of “the holy technique” – the preparation of gold and silver. Interestingly Alchemy and the Goddess are immediately linked not only in my mind (see my post on March 25) but in the very first material I take up on the subject!

The story itself is fascinating: Isis encounters an angel who wants to have sex with her in exchange for the knowledge of alchemy. She puts him off until she obtains the knowledge; then he admits this is above him and he needs to hand her off to another more powerful angel. The next day the more powerful angel appears; this one too wants to have sex with Isis. Again she refuses until she receives the secrets of the preparation of gold and silver. In the story the recipe is actually presented but the names of the various substances used are so arcane as to be not identifiable today. But Isis does obtain the secret knowledge and is allowed to share it with her son, Horus.

The significant part of this is where von Franz takes the discussion: she draws the parallel between this myth and the creation myth of the Bible where Eve is the source of the “fall” when she suggests Adam eats the apple whereby they gain knowledge. Of course the Isis story is a positive one: not only does Isis succeed in gaining the information she sought, but she also avoided payment for it by not having sex with the angels. The Eve story is negative: the payment for the knowledge gained is expulsion from the garden. Von Franz would say both stories are archetypal and related; they likely have the same source. The Biblical story is much younger than the Isis story. How is it that the newer story was twisted to have a negative outcome to the gain of knowledge?

And this becomes the crux of the evolution of western civilization, even consciousness! There was an ancient track that seemed to consider knowledge as good. And women were the seekers and keepers of knowledge. This track was diverted a few thousand years ago to declare knowledge as evil; and the cause of this evil was Woman! What is this all about?

Is knowledge good or evil? You might think this is a silly question in the post-modern world of today when science and technology are supreme icons of advancement. But this debate continues. How many people today would still say Eve was wrong in offering the apple, knowledge, to Adam? How many people today deny the science behind the evolutionary process? Believe it or not there is still a sizable portion of the population of this country that believes the Earth is the center of the Universe! (And I suspect these people do not want to discover anything that would contradict their beliefs.)

Is knowledge evil; is ignorance bliss? The question is not as simple as it seems. My posts will continue to consider the question – as we seek answers through knowledge!

Are your conversations from a Conscious Perspective?

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Sorry to have been absent for the past couple of days. We were first in California; we left just before the rains, so experienced some beautiful days with lots of sun and highs in the 70s. We arrived in Maryland last night just after the rains; today we are experiencing lots of sun with highs in the 70s! (Perhaps my practice of alchemy is beginning to work magic on the weather around us!)

With Wednesday comes my commentary on the week’s mystic message from the Divine Feminine: “conversations from a Conscious Perspective” (wisdomconnectons.net). It seems the Nation is engaged in a “conversation” with a lot of energy but I don’t believe the vibration is very high. When the dialog degrades to name calling and invectives: high energy, low vibration. When the conversation turns to finger pointing and blaming: high energy, low vibration. When the emotional component of exchange turns to fear and panic: high energy, low vibration. Are we being conscious in our name-calling, finger-pointing and fear? Are we even aware that we are often repeating falsehoods and fabrications? Have we taken the time to fact-check and pause to consider alternative possibilities?

I’ve found most often that good dialog depends on good listening. Good conversation is not about how energetically you get your point across but how much exchange there is between, or even among, points of view. There are many views of the world; perhaps as many as there are people. That’s the beauty of human consciousness. Realizing there are differences in how we all perceive the world is the first point of departure in beginning to accept others as they are. The second point of departure is to consider the truth of others’ perspectives. They are at least true for them, even if their truth is not relevant to your own.

What if we all came at an issue by first listening to the other view, then accepting it as “the other view”, then listening for the “truth” of that view? Let’s just call this “the pause to consider.” When we pause to consider we can have considerate conversations. Whether discussing a philosophical issue or a personal problem listen deeply and then consider the issue, the question, the observation, the viewpoint. Then from a point of centeredness, from a position of “higher vibration” offer a response. Breathe into your offer, give it life, prana. Likewise if you are offering an observation, a point of view, asking a question or expressing a concern do so from that centered place we have discussed before and then listen carefully to the response from the other. Consider the “truth” of their response. Remember that even if it is not fully your truth, it is theirs assuming it is coming from their center, their heart.

It is not always possible to have a heart-centered conversation with some people. True dialog requires an acceptance on both sides that there is truth to be gained in conversation. Are you engaging in heart-centered conversations?

Alchemy?

March 25, 2010 1 comment

Rosemary and I are moving into the “scurry” phase of life getting ready to travel for the next 10 days. We are going west first for a workshop for “holistic practitioners” to gain traction in the market place. Since I left the field of marketing in the corporate world more than two years ago I have learned a great deal about how to market in the new world of Web 2.0 and all that goes with it. One of the purposes in my retirement was to devote full time to getting the word out about Rosemary and her gifts. And I’ve been scrambling ever since. I frequently tell people “I don’t know how I ever found time for a 9 to 5 job before retiring!

From the west we are heading all the way east for some family time and to plan a wedding for some very dear friends of ours. So, if you notice a day or two of missing blog posts you’ll know why. (I thought another thing I had  retired from was frequent travel! I retired from an airline communications company for which travel was second nature. That nature seems to have followed me into retirement.)

I am the blessed and frequent recipient of Rosemary’s gifts! Last night she hosted “Conversations with The Other Side,” one of her regular events where participants get messages from The Other Side – from loved ones who have crossed over, angels, guides and spirit guides. It is always a good time with some laughter, some tears, and deep wisdom.

And true to form I did receive some fascinating messages last evening concluding with a visit by a “wizard from the middle ages”! And, yes, historic personalities, real and legendary, do show up from time to time; we also had John Adams make an appearance last night. The message from my wizard guide was to take a close look at alchemy; to “tune into the teachings of alchemy at the very deepest levels. Understanding of alchemy, about what we can do with ourselves, is becoming more and more needed on the planet because the whole evolution of human consciousness is relying on alchemical shifts within human beings. That’s how the energy shift is going to happen.”

OK, then! No problem here; I’ll get right on it! Seriously we do have several books on alchemy which I’ll be taking with me  as I travel. And I do have a background, my first degree, in chemistry (not sure if this gives me a head start or not!).

Actually the real head start I have is a book I’ve been reading by Joseph Donlan: “Ordaining Reality.” (It’s now actually three books, the unabridged version and two abridged versions for people who want to get right to the meat.) Mr. Donlan states his purpose behind the books “is to explain the underlying laws of nature supporting the theory that positive thinking produces positive results. This knowledge will significantly enhance your ability to bring about desired changes in your life.” And if I hear my “wizard guide” correctly, alchemy can be used to bring about these desired changes. What I’m thinking is Mr. Donlan’s book is about the underpinnings of alchemy.

One of Rosemary’s favorite expressions is: “change your mind, change your life, change the world.” And I’ve seen this work time and again. Mr. Donlan’s work explains why this is so. Clearly there are alchemical processes at work here, and I’ll do a lot of further reading to not only discover these processes, but put them to work in my life and let you know how to activate them in yours!

At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with “The Goddess.”My message from “my wizard” was to investigate alchemy not for curiosity’s sake or for the academic enjoyment of the pursuit of knowledge. He said I need to help people “understand how alchemy happens in the 21st century – how people can get rid of the lower vibration of lead and turn it into the higher vibration of gold.” This is the ascendant story all over again; this is Inanna, born a Moon Goddess, descending to Earth to bless her people with growth, descending to the lower world to appease the Goddess Ereshkigal, rising again to reestablish her rightful place and ascending to the upper world again in her cycle of birth, life, death and new life. Lead vibration to gold vibration is part of this cycle. The golden grain from the fertile Earth is part of this cycle. The moon phases and Sun seasons are part of this cycle.  My adventures into alchemy parallel my adventures with The Goddess.

Stay tuned for my further adventures!

The Mystic Message of the week: Listen to the “cosmic beings” – the Children!

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

On Wednesdays I take the opportunity to provide my own comment on the Mystic Message of the week which is published in Rosemary’s Ezine on Fridays and then posted to her blog on Mondays. (You can sign up for the FREE Ezine to receive “guidance for conscious living” including the Mystic Message from The Divine Feminine at www.rosemarybredeson.com. And you can subscribe to www.wisdomconnections.net to receive the blog posts each week.) You can read this week’s message at:  www.wisdomconnections.com.

I hope you are in frequent contact with children. They do have a lot to teach us! I’m reminded of the old Art Linkletter phrase, and name of the segment of his TV show: “Kids say the darnedest things.” Yes, they do, and what made that show funny, and the things kids said priceless was the profound truth that so often underlay the cute answers coming from those young mouths. Listen to your kids, no matter their ages; and if you are as fortunate as I, listen to your grandkids; they have so much to teach.

But while we are listening for their “bon mots” it is also important to consider what we have to offer to our children and grandchildren. It starts with support and encouragement. In her Ezine and blog Rosemary referred to our granddaughter who sees fairies. Yes, she does. And whether we can see them or not is irrelevant both to us and to her. We’ve encouraged her to describe them, draw them, talk to them. She is also able to give messages to people from their spirit guides.  (Like Grandma-Mimi, like granddaughter!) Again, we’ve encouraged this and she has had fun with it; and her audience is always appreciative.

Dreams are also very important for kids to explore. Listen to their dreams with appropriate attention. Too often I’ve heard someone say: “it was only a dream.” Dreams are our Higher Conscious Minds speaking through our unconscious minds; and whether these come through children or adults, they are important messages. Yes, often these are personal and apply to the individual. But whether personal or profound they deserve attention and exploration. Listen for meanings and magic in children’s dreams.

We can also support the children by offering them a structure for their questions, explorations, and dream interpretations. “Why?” is a frequent question I hear from kids. And sometimes I also hear an adult become exasperated when the question is too frequently repeated in a spiraling fashion which seems to lead nowhere. But pay attention here; listen for the question which may lie beneath the “why?” And listen to your own answers – are they appropriate, or are they designed to get off the subject!

Our answers need to be genuine. And maybe our answers can be designed to draw from the child the motivation for the question in the first place. Again, listening for the motivation may provide the wisdom that is there to be gained by both child and adult.

Frequently the questions and answers dialog with kids can lead to stories. And the stories can be jointly created during the conversation, or the child may be interested in creating the story, or the adult may lead the dialog into a story to incorporate the question/answer or the subject under discussion. Stories offer wonderful teaching moments (remember I’m saying here that this teaching is bi-directional). First we listen to the children’s stories; then, if appropriate, we offer our own stories to reinforce or expand the teaching.

It is good to have a collection of stories to share in this way. One of my teachers, Martín Prechtel, teaches almost exclusively through stories and riddles; very powerful! This past summer I read one of his stories: “The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun” to our granddaughter at bed-time; she thoroughly enjoyed both the story and the conversation we had about its meanings. The myths of goddesses and gods survive today because they offer deep lessons from our collective unconsciousness.

Do you have a good repertoire of stories at the ready to join in significant conversations with kids?