The male mysteries have always had their place in the many expressions of pagan religions. Pagan men seek inspiration from the various male pagan gods and other spiritual beings; reaching within to embrace a vision of wisdom, strength, and love. The Men’s Movement is a gathering force world-wide and is a more general expression of a newly-awakening male spirituality. Men are questioning the roles given them by society and are looking within for a new understanding of the male spirit.
In searching for a deeper male spirituality, men’s traditions of spiritual expression take many forms. Some men work within established pagan traditions, while others have created specific male mystery groups dedicated to exploring men’s relationship with the divine. Some male mystery groups have turned to the ancient myths and traditions of tribal society and others to the ancient pagan initiatory cults such as those of Mithras, the God of the Roman legions. Some other groups base their work on the literature of R J ‘Bob’ Stewart.
The Mithopoetic Men’s Movement is a worldwide force of gathering and is a more general expression of a new awakening of male spirituality. Men question their roles given by society and look within for a new understanding of the male mind. The movement is based on spiritual insights derived from psychoanalysis, especially the work of Carl Jung. It is less political than any pro-feminist or men’s rights movement and has a self-help focus. It’s called “mithopoetic” because of the emphasis on mythology communicated as poetry, with some aspects derived from mythology and indigenous knowledge, for example, from Native Americans. Robert Bly, a leading mithopoetic, has criticized “soft men” and argued that boys need to be initiated into manhood, in order to possess “Zeus energy,” which Bly considers “male authority” which itself “encompasses intelligence, robust health, compassionate decisiveness, good will, generous leadership” Mithopoetic men place emphasis on honoring elders, recovering fathers, and unleashing the wild man inside, but with an emphasis on the impact of the state of being without a father on men’s psychological development. Masculinity is seen to include deep unconscious patterns and archetypes that are revealed through myth, story and ritual, supported by theories developed in analytical psychology.
Besides the poet and author Robert Bly, in his book “Iron John“, another man who had a strong influence on how men seek to be included is psychologist John Rowan with his book “The Horned God”. Both are contributors to the book “Choirs of the God” which explores male spirituality.
The search for alternative images of male divinity begins for many men with the pagan gods and mythical figures suppressed by Christianity. Celtic mythology and Western occultism underlie several recent attempt to re-vision masculinity. To sense ‘Male Power on Earth’ or contact ‘The God Within’ brings home the reality of maleness in the modern world, while giving us the visions – from the past, the unconscious, or the realm of the gods – of a different way of being men.
John Matthews ed, Choirs of the God: Revisioning Masculinity, Mandala, 1991.
For a Pagan, the masculine is essentially beautiful, lithe, strong, burning with a deep passion calling out in the joy of creation.
‘I am a stag of seven tines,
I am a wild flood on the plain,
I am a wind on the deep waters,
I am a tear the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk above the cliff,
I am a salmon in the pool,
I am a battle-waging spear,
I am a wave of the sea,
Who but I knows the mystery of the unhewn dolmen?’
From The Song of Amergin, Celtic Traditional.
Robert Bly: IRON JOHN: MEN AND MASCULUNITY.