To honor: to hold in high regard, to give great respect to.
America became a nation long before it had a chance to know itself as a land. One of the most masculine and patriotic acts you can offer is to come to intimately know the land, nurture your relationship to the Earth, and become a lover and protector of the Earth. In addition to gaining an ecological literacy – understanding the Earth systems that sustain us – we must move into a way of living where one can commune with the land. Leading by example and providing role models for young men in this regard is perhaps the strongest of male traits we can embrace. This kind of work to build positive male culture calls upon intuition and the kind of knowledge that is centered in the heart. This intuitive heart work naturally honors the universal feminine.
This is not to say we should abandon logical and rational thought. Using rational and logical thought processes is crucial in today’s society that devalues facts and science. However, in Western society, we have an addiction to rationality as a male trait that views and dismisses intuition as a silly, weak, and unknowable female trait. This is a deeply cultural mistake that leads men to become addicted to rationality and control and results in a one-sided way of thinking and living.
Valerie Andrews writes in A Passion for the Earth: Exploring a New Partnership of Man, Woman, and Nature,
“We insulate ourselves from life with logic and with reason. And, we try to reassure ourselves that the world is benign.”
Living only from this one-sided way of seeing the world is destructive and self-centered. The world is not benign, but alive with a wild heart and an insatiable desire for creating new life. We must move from our self-centered egocentric view to adopt a broader eco-centric worldview if humans are to survive and thrive.
In the journey toward becoming wholehearted human beings, we must know ourselves not simply from a rational, egocentric, “strong man” viewpoint, but also from a connection with the feminine, wild Earth and our place within it as a steward of life. Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder has taught,
“To speak of wildness is to speak of wholeness. And, we come from this wholeness.”
Rather than continuing to control and manipulate the world and the feminine Earth, men instead have a responsibility to humanity to take the mythic male journey that expands the seeker’s inner world increasing relatedness to the Earth, inner consciousness, respect for the psychic power within humanity, and human relatedness to the spiritual life of nature.
It has been said that women, and the feminine, are born from nature and men are made by culture. As women everywhere are finally and rightly seizing the day, male culture has descended into crisis mode. In the face of this crisis, some men are choosing to retreat into a smaller and smaller fortress of the old patriarchy – ready to defend it to the death while refusing to honor anything feminine. I sense that many men are in limbo not sure of whether to muster the courage to step outside the crumbling fortress and make themselves vulnerable to their peers and the world. The paradox is that such courage and vulnerability is necessary in order to develop wholehearted men.
Robert Lawlor writes about insights gained from Australian Aboriginal male culture in his book Voices of the First Day chronicling a sustainable lifeway developed over a 60,000-year period of time. That’s 3,000 generations of human families. In Aboriginal culture, the primary masculine role is not to act upon the material world, but rather to participate in the balancing of natural creative forces. Aboriginal men learn to use practices of introspection to control and direct one’s own thoughts, and they say this is far more effective than dealing with thoughts after they have been expressed.
Lawlor compares this with the modern male crisis in Western society,
“Modern men are no longer initiated into the knowledge that enables them to enter the deep states of consciousness in which the pre-manifest world can be perceived and acted upon. In its place, modern men attempt to dominate the physical world; constructing, regulating, analyzing, mechanizing, and taking other desperate measures to control the natural world, which is the domain of the life-giving, life-nourishing Universal Feminine.”
This universal feminine energy doesn’t have to do anything – it simply is. It is all about being. Yet, it is not passive – but open. Sara Chatlein provides insight into universal feminine energy in her article The Power of Stillness:
“Female energy is the stillness in our lives. Stillness is powerful – it is the precursor to creativity. It is the point of greatest intensity before the bursting forth of new life. Feminine energy is not the weak energy. Feminine energy is the seed, enveloping life and potential, yet not fully manifest as a plant. It has all of the intelligence of life and creation. It sits quietly and awaits the correct environment. Once the seed bursts open, it is the male energy that spreads out into the world.”
Similar to Lawlor’s findings of female and male Aboriginal culture, Chatlein explains that the divine feminine energy is still, open, patient and receptive. The male energy is active and positive. The feminine principle is matter and form. Matter and wisdom are feminine. The masculine principle is spirit and life. We need to properly join the masculine principle to the feminine to become whole.
One example of neglecting to honor feminine energy with men is that the average man is terrible at taking care of himself and his health. We honor the feminine by loving ourselves and taking care of our bodies and spirit. We honor and love ourselves by dedicating our lives to conscious and spiritual growth and development. As Kyle Mercer writes,
“Men who are guided to their highest calling by the feminine become courageous protectors and courageous creators.”
Our culture desperately needs men who are courageous protectors of the entire Earth family and are also courageous creators. For an increasing number men and women who have abandoned their parent’s religion, or the religion of their own childhood, there is a yearning for spiritual grounding and connection – without the patriarchal superiority and born-a-sinner-and-destined-for-hell shaming that traditional religion uses to control people. Theologian and elder, Matthew Fox, has shown a bright light on a pathway that encompasses wholeness in spirituality and our human connection to Earth the creation. He has concluded in his landmark book Original Blessing and elsewhere that our birthright is to embrace our role as spiritually focused co-creators in the evolution of the human community.
To actively honor feminine life-giving energy and wisdom means to respect life, all life, and hold in the highest regard the inherent value of life. Embody this in your daily decision-making. We all live as a result of other life energy being consumed by us. Hold in high regard the life energy that is found within our food, housing, transportation, clothing, and other materials we consume. Let go of destructiveness as a male characteristic. Instead, use your own powers to support life and help it to flourish. This will honor the feminine Earth.
In my own journey working hard to show up authentically and support my own and others’ wholehearted masculinity, I believe that honoring the feminine Earth is a crucial action. I outlined aspects of this in Re-imagining Masculinity: Ten Powerful Actions to Transcend Conquest Culture and Embrace Compassion. Listening to Women is action number one (read Part 1 and Part 2), followed by this topic of Honoring the Feminine Earth (also see Part 1: Honoring the Feminine in Humanity). You can read more about re-connecting the human spirit with wild Earth at my blog, EmergeWild.com