Lion Goodman believes it’s time we embrace the virtuous aspects of the divine masculine, which are available to everyone, regardless of gender.
Interest in the Divine Feminine has grown since the earliest years of the Feminist movement. Merlin Stone, in her book, “When God Was a Woman,” explored the Paleolithic Goddess cultures, exposing the truth that God was feminine before it was masculine. Many authors have described the slow, steady decimation of Goddess worship by multiple civilizations in both the West and East. Today, there is a resurgence of attention on all aspects of feminine divinity, especially the Great Mother, nature worship, and the resurgence of interest in Mary Magdalene. Powerful forces can be unleashed when this feminine archetype is appreciated, elevated, and honored.
But what of the Divine Masculine?
During the past 5,000 years, men have dominated and controlled civilizations through the use of patriarchy, hierarchy, and imperialism. The Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – have honored only a masculine God. The force and power of the masculine is often seen as the chief cause of the destruction of cultures, the oppression of women, and the rape of all things feminine, including all our one true Mother, the Earth. To many people, masculine power looks more like a problem to be solved rather than an energetic force to embody.
In his book, “God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism,” Jonathan Kirsch describes the core value of monotheism as “exclusivism.” The Pharaoh Akhenaton in Egypt was the first documented “Exclusivist.” He intentionally destroyed all gods but his One God, Ra. This angered his population so much that he was usurped and slain after only three years in power. The exclusivist mantle was then picked up by the Hebrews, and was extended later by both Christianity and Islam. Monotheists believe that worship is to be offered to a single god – to the exclusion of all other gods and goddesses: Not only is our God the best god among the gods – He is the one and only God, and He is masculine. The extension of this zealotry is that all other deities are declared false, and non-believers are to be excluded, or destroyed.
Prior to the exclusivism of the Monotheists, there were hundreds of gods and goddesses worshipped in cultures throughout the world. There is evidence that the earliest Hebrews worshipped the goddess Asherah, alongside Yahweh, their male deity. The Jewish mystical tradition acknowledges Shekinah as the feminine principle of life. But even these Goddesses were eventually eliminated.
This history is expanded by Anodea Judith in her book, “The Global Heart Awakens.” She paints a visionary story of the changes that occurred as civilizations shifted from Goddess worship to gods-and-goddesses worship, and then to exclusively God worship. Judith declares, only half in jest, “A religion without a Goddess is half-way to Atheism.”
In cultures where both male and female deities are worshipped, there has been more parity between men and women. Since gods of every culture share many of the qualities of their human worshippers (including love, lust, rage, and jealousy), both men and women have been able to see some divinity within themselves.
When female gods were pushed aside in favor of God as solo act, feminine characteristics had to either be transferred to the masculine God or denigrated as evil. The male God became the source of life and salvation, responsible for fertility and creation (traditionally, and naturally, the role of the feminine). Women were shoved aside, and viewed as the source of danger and destruction. Eve eats the apple of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, bringing duality into the world and causing their ejection from the Garden by an angry God.
Our search for the Divine Masculine must extend out beyond traditional patriarchal religions. We must look elsewhere for our Divinity.
In their classic book, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine,” authors Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette make a distinction between “Boy Psychology” and “Man Psychology.” They write,
“Feminists have seen how male dominance in patriarchy has been oppressive and abusive of feminine characteristics, virtues, and women themselves. Some feminists conclude that masculinity in its roots is essentially abusive, and that connection with “eros” – love, relatedness, and gentleness – comes only from the feminine side of the human equation. In our view, patriarchy is not the expression of deep and rooted masculinity. Truly deep and rooted masculinity is not abusive. Patriarchy is the expression of the immature masculine. It is the expression of Boy Psychology, and in part, the shadow – or crazy – side of masculinity. It expresses the stunted masculine, fixated at immature levels.”
Moore and Gillette utilize Jungian Archetypes to distinguish the best qualities and virtues of mature masculinity, comparing them to their more immature expressions. If our Divinity is a reflection of our Virtues, we must examine the virtuous expression of masculinity to understand the Divine Masculine.
As with any path of virtue, there are many ways to go wrong. Our ego needs can take over and express the negative aspects of any archetype. The King can turn into a Tyrant or a Weakling Leader. The Warrior can become a Sadist or Masochist. The Magician can become a Detached Manipulator or Denier of Responsibility.
Historical patriarchy is an expression and function of these shadow aspects, not of true, mature masculinity in its fullness of expression. Imperialism, oppression, destruction of cultures, monotheistic exclusivism, uncaring exploitation of the earth’s resources, and domination and control of others are all expressions of the negative aspects of masculine power.
What are the positive, Divine attributes of these archetypal forces?
A divine King is a benevolent provider for his kingdom. He brings order and safety where there is chaos and harm, organizes culture to provide prosperity for all, and ensures a free flow of energy and communication to elevate everyone around him. He serves the people along with his Queen, who is equal in stature and partnership.
This benevolent leadership can be seen in many of our cultural heroes – Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, the Dalai Lama, and even some CEOs. Ray Anderson of Interface Carpets took on the mission of saving the Earth’s environment.
A divine Warrior is a protector, not an invader. He creates a safe environment in order for the people to thrive and grow. He defends his family and territory, which could include the whole earth, from destruction and exploitation. He is also an Inner Warrior, doing good battle with his own ego and psychology, fighting to strengthen his own divine nature against the inner forces of chaos and vice.
We have eco-warriors at the front of the climate-change battle, activists and environmental lawyers who are doing good battle with immense destructive forces. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org is one such example. Spiritual warriors such as philosopher Ken Wilber use their own strength and fortitude to discover the truth, including everyone and everything, leaving nothing out.
The Hero, a common storybook character is, curiously, part of Boy Psychology. He looks like a man, but is really a boy attempting to become a man. He journeys out to save a damsel in distress or fight a dragon to prove himself. His ego seeks acknowledgment and praise for being a hero. Military officers are often heroic types, and consequently can rationalize destroying a village in order to save it, as Lieutenant Calley did in Viet Nam. Most film heroes are of this ilk. Rarely, we see an example of the mature masculine in films, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, or the Seven Samurai in Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film.
A divine Magician uses his skill and knowledge to benefit humankind. Doctors, healers, scholars, inventors, musicians, and wisdom leaders are examples of the virtuous Magician. In it’s negative, egoic, or boyish manifestation, it may appear as a know-it-all, using knowledge to oppress, manipulate or brutalize others. Our divine Magicians are generous creators such as Deepak Chopra, who weaves others’ wisdom into popular culture, and Bono, the Irish musician in U2 whose social activism has brought international acclaim.
The divine Lover is a man of both heart and wisdom. In partnership with his consort and partner, he brings the fullness of love to all of life. An example of the Lover in his fullness is the common man who is a good husband and father, working hard to love and raise his family, or leading a non-profit organization working to heal the world. David Deida, a controversial teacher of Tantra, represents the divine Lover in his fullness, bringing the power of love to his work and life, and encouraging men and women to fully embody the divine forces.
It is important to separate masculine and feminine from the male and female genders. The virtues of the Divine Masculine can appear and have full flower in any body, regardless of the shape and size of its genitals. In the same way as the Divine Feminine has been recognized as a force that can be owned and embodied by both men and women, the Divine Masculine is available to all – because it is within.
As human beings, we stand between the earth and the sky. We are a product of both mother (Gr.: mater = matter, mother and matrix) and father (Gr: pater = pattern), a masculine God and a feminine Goddess, Creator and Creatrix. We are part of their divinity, and we are thus divine by design. When we actively practice and pursue our virtues, we become naturally caring, generous, loving, protective, encouraging, curious and creative.
Some virtues appear to be more expressive of the feminine, and others as expressive of the masculine, but all virtues are expressions of our divine nature. When we are in our fullness as human beings, we express the best of ourselves. Everyone feels cared for. Communities and cultures thrive.
Two traditional masculine virtues are required today: vigilance and fierceness. To maintain our freedom, we must be eternally vigilant, protecting ourselves and our families from the negative, immature qualities that appear in psychopathic leaders, corporations, or governments. We must bring our fierceness as well as our love and wisdom to educate and grow ourselves, our children, and each other.
Our job is to create a whole, balanced, and good life for all. May it be so, and may you be blessed on your journey.
Photo: Flickr/Ian D. Keating