While baking bread this morning I was struck by the process being oddly familiar to my journey into men’s work. Mixing all the dry ingredients reminded me of all the years I spent as a dry man. Intellect, thinking, and living in my head were the guiding forces that directed my life, and that left me feeling isolated and disconnected on a heart level. It was not until deep discontentment, addiction, and loss, forced me kicking and screaming to find another way. It took a “Dark Night of the Soul” experience to find a different way to live.
As I added the water and yeast combination and blended it with the dry ingredients it formed a rich moist batter, all I needed to complete my creation was to put it to the fire. Men’s growth is similar to baking bread, without the moisture and fire in our belly we’re just dry ingredients.
After letting the bread rise, I placed the loaf in the oven, then sat back to reflect on all my gratitude for the men in my life who put me to the fire and who I call upon to witness my darkness and incompleteness, men who nurture me and share wisdom and strength with their authenticity, moisture and humanness.
The “Dryness” men experience is a common theme among men who have not allowed themselves to be nurtured or held literally or figuratively in the energy of what Robert Bly would call, the “Male Mother.” Dryness is about living your life in your head and being disconnected from your body; the inability to access your feelings and living life numb. The moisture can only be achieved through deep emotional work. It’s not in the realm of the intellect, you can’t achieve it by reading about it or studying it. You drop into it through experiential work with other men. This is the realm of the Magician energy, and the Lover. The Warrior is about action; the Magician is the discernment brought to the Warrior and King.
Recently I had an experience where I developed some physical pain and shortness of breath. The pain became so severe I went to my doctor to run some tests. While sharing it in my men’s groups, a man with a highly developed Magician said to me, “Sounds like you’re resisting some fear in your life.”
As I sat and internally processed his statement I felt my own Magician energy acknowledging the truth of his wisdom. My sister, who I dearly love, is dying of terminal cancer. She requested that I build her casket because she values and trusts me, knowing I’ll honor her request for a green burial. Although I’ve been processing her pending death with the men in my life, I was also able to discern that I was indeed still withholding a deep level of fear and resisting truly dropping into the dark well of emotional grief. Only after doing a significant piece of grief work was I able to release the pain in my body and regain my breathing.
Magician energy is about intuition and feelings as well as the knowing that comes from experience. That knowing is often gained through mentorship and initiation from elders who have worked the path before us.
The Magician also has a shadow side, and if we’re not careful the shadow can disrupt our lives and the lives of those around us. It happens through manipulation or by playing dumb.
You hear me talk about the importance of men connecting with other men doing similar work, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t stress the importance of accessing the guidance of elders or mentors. These are the men who have come before us in this work. It’s these men who provide the boundaries and initiation that keep us on the path to manifesting right relationships with other men. I have known men new to this work join other novice men in forming men’s circles or groups. Without the wisdom or guidance of experienced mentors or elders, these groups often fall apart when the men are confronted with conflict. Elders have the experience of navigating these waters and can guide you through the process of men’s work. It’s noble to seek out elders, they’re usually just a phone call away.
It’s the boy energy that doesn’t reach out, and too many times these men disappear from the Hero’s Quest without completion or closure. The mature energy knows if you desire longevity on your path in seeking the Grail, you don’t do this alone. Without guidance, support, and Magicians in your life you’ll lack the clarity, resolve, and wisdom necessary to complete the parts of yourself that still need healing.
We’ll talk more about the Magician and the energy of the other Archetypes at our Spring COMEGA gathering.
And don’t forget about the Pre-Gathering Workshop starting Thursday April 25.
See the details at www.comega.org
THE TIME TO REGISTER IS NOW! It would help tremendously if men would pre-register. It helps us with planning with Camp Hazen, forming team eights, and gathering team 8 leaders.
Remember: Hold the vision of 115 men for the Spring Gathering.
I also have a request. If any of you men have pictures from past gatherings and you would like to share them. Please send them to me at email@example.com . We would like more pictures for our website.
Thank you men,
Paul Gemme and the OC