This blog, Matrignosis, (Mother Knowing) is based on my profound need to understand and empower the wounded feminine in myself and society. The same theme is explored in my three psychologically-oriented books. Although the most recent one is about creating equal partnership between the healthy masculine and feminine, in this book too I emphasized the feminine side of the equation. That seemed the most pressing need.
But recent dreams and outer events are making strong statements about certain masculine wounds. Robert Bly, one of our most eloquent voices for healthy masculinity has written, “By the time a man is 35 he knows that the images of the right man, the tough man, the true man which he received in high school do not work in life.”
Women know this too, but immersion in a culture whose institutions are based on distorted images of masculinity blinds both genders to healthier images. Knowing in our hearts that something is wrong is one thing. Acting on this knowledge when no one around us appears to see this elephant in the room is quite another.
A boy is filled with excited anticipation about his first hunting trip. If he misses (deliberately) the graceful doe he’s told to kill, he’s taunted and shamed for being “a girl.” If he cries, the adults are disgusted. If he dutifully kills her he earns their respect and praise. They’ve been through this themselves and see it as a rite of passage that will toughen the boy up and prepare him for “real life.” It may do that, but at what cost? Of what value is a hardened heart that cannot feel its pain or empathize with the pain of those who have no voice?
A young athlete succumbs to the temptation to take illegal performance-enhancing drugs. When he wins he enjoys his success and ignores the shame of his pricking conscience. Is being victorious over others truly the only valid definition of success? Sure, when human rights are in the balance, only the worst among us would argue that victory over oppression is not a successful outcome. But how about when greedy, fearful masculine-oriented egos conquer conscience, compassion and consciousness? Is this a successful win?
Catholic theologian Richard Rohr says a basic difference between the feminine and masculine psyches is that for the masculine it’s either win or lose. But the feminine, the Mother, can’t choose between winning and losing. All her children have to win! For her, win-win is the only justice. Psychologically, everyone has a masculine (animus) and feminine (anima) side; but only our masculine side is vulnerable to obsessing over winning at all cost. This happens when he mindlessly aligns his natural love for winning with patriarchy’s five-milliennia-old obsession with subjugating our inner feminine and the outer women who remind us of her! At all cost!
How do we bridge the seemingly irreconcilable divide between our inner masculine and feminine? Our egos must invite the disowned Feminine Spirit Warrior, the Mother, into our awareness. She’s strong enough to feel the shame of our pricking conscience. Brave enough to suffer when we’ve caused others pain. Tough enough to admit our fallibility. Caring enough to love and serve all our children. Becoming an undivided Spirit Warrior who lives with compassion and balance while causing the least amount of harm to others is the true meaning of winning.
How might your life have been different if you’d been taught to respect the feminine instead of how to win the respect of a wounded, dysfunctional culture?