faith, feminine, glorifying the masculine, Heathen, masculine, mrm, Pagan, real men, Religion, sacrifice
I’ve ranted about this before, and I’ll rant about it again. (And no, I’m not going through the archives to pull up and link the before. I’ve got something like 450+ posts after nearly two+ years. I get archive panic from myself now!)
I’m not sure why this is hitting my at the moment. Maybe it’s the exhaustion, the having to give up my job for health reasons, and the fact that my own personal experience in this matter has lead me to greater revelations about what it means to be a man. Maybe it’s the fact that I see a lot of injustice behind the shadows of life, that people either ignore, don’t see, or see and try to share but are ignored themselves.
Three things bring forth this little rant.
1) My dad has been there to help me out through all the bad things that have happened to me over the last few months. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him, and there’s probably a number of people who would be in the ground if not for his helping me.*
2) Someone posted this video of Chris Rock on a thread that I nominally pay attention to. There’s some foul language, but some hard truths too.
3) This article by Fox News. And yes, I can already hear the outraged cries. Shut it. The fact that someone wrote it shows that there are people who believe it is true and act on it as truth. And I can verify that a lot of stuff it says is true. For those who don’t want to click the link, it’s called “Why Women Still Need Husbands.” It’s main points are as follows: A) women want balanced lives, to work but also to be home with their children, as well as have a social life and do other activities. B) Men define themselves as “bread winners” and their identity “Based off their paychecks.” Neither of which point is wrong. The conclusion it talks about many women reaching is a return to “leaning on one’s husband” to make the bread, while basically getting to have the cake of a profession (if only part-time) and eat it too (having time for family and a social life, while hubby works).
There’s a lot of people out there asking “Where the Real Men are at?” It’s all over TV, in books and magazines, the radio, internet, etc. For the longest time men were driven by a sense of duty, that it was a man’s job to provide for his family. In return his reward was that…he got a family. And in a good family, he “got the big piece of chicken.” But he never got thanked for it. Boys and girls aren’t taught that they should thank their dad for their home, the utilities, the tv, etc. Since we grow up with these things always in place for the most part, they’re as much a part of the environment as the sky and the air, and we take for granted. We do not give thanks. The closest we get is Father’s day, which with its socks and ties and cheap trinkets, is a pale shadow of Mother’s day with its breakfast in bed, jewelry, flowers, candy, and glorious presents.
I remember one argument I ended up having with my ex. I don’t remember what started it, probably that I was unhappy about something, but in the end she was tearing into me about what I wanted and I told her. It was simple. I just wanted to hear a thank you. Thank you for working hard to support us while I’m trying to find a job. Thank you for bringing me into your home and trying to make this work. Thank you for the money that buys us food and lights. I was angrily told that that was my “job” and people don’t get thanked for doing their job. It is a scene that I’ve seen and heard tell is all too common.
Is it any wonder then, that so many men look at the thankless existence and say fuck it? Especially in the face of a near 60+% divorce rate where you’ll keep having to do the duty, but loose what little you got in the way of rewards?
It’s a realization that sometimes leaves me desperate to show my dad how grateful I am for all that he does for me.
Of course, I’m sure people are wondering what this has to do with Paganism. Paganism is supposed to be about the balances of nature, to respect both the Masculine and the Feminine. All too often though, it seems we focus more on the Goddess rather than the God, at least across the board. Thankfully there are paths that strike a balance, but when you run into a generic Pagan gathering, or on the Pagan websites and Facebook groups, 70% of it is about the Goddess. 20% is about the Earth. 8% is coexistence.
Generalizing here, but 2% is about glorifying the Masculine, or more likely, working to just remind people that the Masculine should also be remembered. That’s how it seems, anyways. In Wicca, one of the biggest traditions in Paganism, the God and the Masculine plays second fiddle to the Goddess and the Feminine. The High Priestess is the one who runs everything and has the power, the High Priest, who should be her equal, is second in power to her. We allow and promote women sacred places, but when was the last time you heard about a male sacred place that actually glorified heterosexual males, which is the “traditional” definition of masculinity.** Indeed, in my own local area (as I have mentioned before) attempts were made to get more “masculine” energy into the covens and groups by pushing the men to be more manly. These initiatives had women leading the charge rather than men (unfortunate implications all around, namely that you can’t be a man without a woman saying so, or that men need permission to be manly), and occurred three times. All three times, the women got together and crushed the male group that they had started, when the men started acting dominant and powerful, taking charge and organizing things (embracing the sacred masculine traits that have allowed humanity to survive at the cost of blood for thousands of years).
Conservative Christians get a lot of stuff wrong. But there’s at least a couple things they get right. One of those is that Family is Central to Faith. And while there can be single parent families, the model that has shown the best success over the course of human history is a two parent model. Children need a “Father” and a “Mother.”*** Without a balance of Masculine and Feminine, we spin out of control into sustainability. The Feminine teaches us compassion, to seek to give people a balance and softness to life, to “have our cake and eat it too” if you will. But the masculine has always been about the sacrifice required. The sacrifice of cutting down the forest to make the farm which grows the grains and sugars needed to make that cake. The sacrifice of violence to defend the home needed so that one can eat it without fear.
People like to believe that women have it harder. Either they stay home and have to deal with the kids and keeping up the house while the husband goes to work all day and doesn’t have to deal with the chaos. Or women have to balance work and home, and men have it so easy with just having to balance work. But I think this is a falsehood. Which is harder, to spend your day in your home, guiding your children, playing with them? Maybe working a part time job so you can say you have a career and a bit of extra money, then going home to be with your children? Or to spend 40, 50, 60+ hours a week fighting for every success, throwing everything into your job because if you don’t, there is no house, there is no lights, no hot water, no food. Burning yourself down in a castle of high stress, poor food, long hours, all to support a family you virtually never get to see, to come home to a wife that all too often will complain that you’re never there to help her, or show her that you love her, or listen when she wants to talk, all the while knowing that if you don’t spend time with your family, it is like a ticking time-bomb of your wife walking out, taking the kids, most of your paycheck, and possibly your house, car, possessions, and everything you’ve spent decades trying to build, just like you see happening over and over with your co-workers, yet knowing that if you ease up at work, if you slow down, you might miss that paycheck, that raise, that promotion, that lets your child play sports, get braces, go to college, etc.
I ask you, which is harder, to be with your family in the home…or to be denied your family so they have a home? Is it harder to deal with screaming children, or to miss your children growing up and looking at you like you’re a stranger, and know that in the event of a divorce they are likely to hate you because Mom is the one that was there for them, while you were always gone to work when they might have needed you?
Is it any wonder, then, that men aren’t signing up for the “big piece of chicken?”
But we Pagans and Heathens can deal with this in our community. We need not give up hope as either men or women. What we need to do is what the Pagans of old did, celebrate the Masculine. Recognize the sacrifice of Men. Ancient Pagans knew well the sacrifices that fathers made for their families and celebrated it. For every “Venus” statue that glorified the feminine, there was a statue of Freyr, or other Gods, with their massive erections. Romans used to hang Penii (I’m going with the Latin) up as symbols of good fortune and luck, because they understood that fortune and prosperity came at the sacrifice of men who instead of laying back and taking it easy, instead of spending all their time with their families, went out to hunt, farm, grow, and war to provide safety and prosperity.
WE NEED TO DO THIS AGAIN. We need to look at our ancient holy days and find the masculine in them and glorify it as much as we do the feminine. We need to set up holy days that glorify the masculine alone, just as we have holy days that glorify the feminine alone.
Because if we don’t, my generation of Pagan and Heathen men will not do what our Religion needs us to. We will not sacrifice ourselves for nothing, not even in the names of our Faiths, but rather we must be given gifts as we give our gifts. As we toil away in a world with shrinking hope and shrinking prospects, we need to know that all we suffer, all we sacrifice, will not be in vain. That those we trust to marry and have families with know what our sacrifice means, and will not turn their backs on us for personal gain when they might have to make a sacrifice, or uphold and honor us. Treat men as Gods, as you would have us treat women as Goddesses, and you shall find them to be mighty men. But treat them as less than the land from which you grow your food, give more glory to the planet that has its bounty than to the man that calls it up from the earth and places it on the table he has forged and under the hall he has erected, and you will find that there are no halls, no tables, and no bounties to be had.
I dedicate this rant to my male ancestors, and to my Father. For I know their sacrifice and honor it, hoping that someday I too may be honored if such sacrifices are called on for me to give.
*I abide by the social contract of society because it benefits me the most. I freely admit that if I could no longer abide within that social contract I would break every rule of it and then some, starting with eliminating the cause of the issue so that it didn’t threaten my kin.
**I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes here. But in Pagan circles heterosexual men are typically the ones most beaten up or called ill suited for the path or magical workings. I remember hearing about one male practitioner of flexible orientation who said that “any man who has not been penetrated (sexually) cannot act as a proper vessel for the divine.” Sadly, this attitude is all to common in my experience.
***As long as one parent is willing to take the role, this is not a difficulty in families based on same sex relationships.
Thank you so much for a good rant, and a statement that I myself most wholeheartedly would agree too ! I feel very thankful, knowing that there at least is ONE Heathen out there, who shares my view for the most part – it makes my life so much bearable to know that. I think the subject has a lot with general sociology, or the development of most industrialized countries since of the 1950’s and 1960’s and onwards – the situation could be said to be the same everywhere… In my own parent’s day and age, over in Sweden, where I live, the ideal was very much “Villa, Volvo, Vovve” (meaning a private home, a Volvo car, 2 kids and a dog) and if you or your spouse couldn’t abide by this rule, you had almost no value at all in the eyes of mainstream society. Not being married past 25 years of age was seen as highly suspect, and indicative of some sort of character flaw, or even illness. Single mothers weren’t looked upon in a favorable light either – they all just had to be “bad” in some sort of way. Things have changed greatly since of then, but over in the Asatro world, and especially in the narrow, constricted, almost sect-like “fornsed” environment, I see many people still preaching this dated philosophy and outlook on life – all you should do is marry and reproduce, reproduce, reproduce, and if you don’t have children (one is not enough, neither is two enough – you must have a whole bunch of them ), then, something is deeply wrong with you…. Some “fornsed” elders (or those who pretend that they are, even though they are hardly past 40..) and especially one woman who calls herself “rådsgydja”, “rådgydja” – sometimes also priestess, whatever that is supposed to mean – and who comes from a christian background even seems to hold the idea that women who do not reproduce, and have at least 3-4 children, have no value for society at all – it’s a return to the Nazi “Blut und Boden” philosophy of the 1930’s which saw women mainly as a sort of child-rearing machines, or the “Kirche, Kinder, Küche” (Church, Kitchen, Children) ideal of the 1800’s Germany, or the Victorian age as a whole, when it comes to the role of women in society. Even as recently as this fall, there are books published on the subject, which beg to differ, and whose authoresses do argue that a childless woman might actually be happy after all.. (see this recent swedish language newspaper clip http://www.dn.se/insidan/inte-sjalvklart-att-barn-gor-oss-lyckligare/ ) “It is NOT self-evident that children makes you happier” the headline says…
And over in the US, i’ve also seen a few “family and marriage” fundamentalists, whose views – maybe I got the wrong impression here – but anyhow – do seem faintly similar to for instance those of the Amish people… http://www.asatrublog.com/2013/11/05/heathenry-isnt-for-you/
Now, look to our myths and the Asatru of our ancestors !
Ever noted that Freyja is a single mom ? She has two daugthers, Hnoss and Gersimi, but their father is nowhere to be seen. Od, her beloved – and the only man who truly ever understood her – is absent – ultimately, the will rejoin, but that lies in the far future.
It doesn’t exactly stop her from being a Love Godess, and one of battle as well.
Skadhi – previously married to Njord – is a divorcee. She lives alone, all by herself, in the ydalir, and she has no thoughts whatsoever on marriage, or getting children, as she is the goddess of the hunt, and of the winter.
We have Loke and Sigyn, whose marriage is an outright disaster. To hear Loki himself, there isn’t even one woman among the Aesir he hasn’t bedded, at some point or other, and he was even unfaithful unto Sigyn by Svadlifare, the stallion belonging to Mundilfare, the Jotun who built Asagard for the Gods. (Sigyn might endure many things, but this must have been the final straw – you cannot have a greater insult than that – being unfaithful with a horse, even !)
Lastly, of course, Hel is unmarried too, but this doesn’t stop her from viewing all of humanity – at least the ones who are no longer alive – as her own children…
Very clearly then, the myths speak of several other ways to live your life, and if we do believe in polytheism – why should these ways suddenly no longer be available, or an option to us ?
Likewise, some people – in some professions, and in some parts of the World – shouldn’t really and can’t really marry, or produce lots of offspring, for obvious reasons. Even in a reasonably secure country, there are some ways to make a living that positively forbid this kind of a relationship, and which makes children a considerably less likely option. Risks are that you would make them orphans, if you indeed had any. Look at individuals involved in law enforcement, for instance, ambulance, medicare or rescue services of some kind, the military, or even occupations in which you work night shifts, or very irregular hours.. Does raising a family really work well in this siutation ? As for my own self, I rise 0530 every morning, I’m home from work around 1830 hrs, and I have exactly 3 hours of free time, every 24-hour period except weekends, in which I have time for anything else than eating, sleeping or taking care of some vital function or other. My father, incidentally, during his working life, was exactly the same – and his family life (or what he had time for) wasn’t exactly happy. I rarely saw him at all, growing up, except for saturdays. This is not to say that this sort of life excludes marriage altogether, though. A coleauge of mine – nominally christian, but heathen at heart – and from Gävle (a very pagan town) is married to a moslem woman of pakistani heritage. She works abroad, currently in Jordania, close to the Syrian border. They see each other perhaps 4-5 times a year, hardly ever for more than a fourthnight, because of the sort of life we live here. Some still point their fingers, but who are they to say ? I for one can swear that I never saw a couple as happy, secure and generally at ease, even if it’s hard for my friend, meeting her folks – in another part of the world – as he doesn’t even speak one word of Urdu – and her relatives, speak nothing but…
My father, when he died – was 64 years of age. He survived his second wife by exactly four months, and his retirement by 6 weeks. She died of cancer, induced by smoking – and he was finally claimed by the same disease, although at the time of his death, he thought himself free of it. One of his dictums were “you should never abandon a sick person” and another “de år då man inte längre kan tjäna samhället – eller sift land – är bortkastade år, och då kan man like gärna ge fan i att leva !” (the years you no longer can serve your society – or your country – are wasted years – and then – damn it – you might as well stop living altogether !” ). I found him on his own bathroom floor, early one summer morning, in June, shortly before Midsummer. Thanks to my training, I know CPR, and I got as far as him opening one eye, and looking back at me. Fortunately enough, he lived close to a University Hospital, and after about 20 minutes, I had one full team of Paramedics with me. It was all to no avail. What he suffered from, was a massive heart attack, massive enough to rupture the walls between both chambers of the heart, and for that sort of condition, there is no cure. I had some five minutes, alone with him to say good-bye, for a final time – I had to request this – formally ! – and I did a very simple “closing a circle” ceremony over him, same as you would do in the field. A sort of “Asatru Chaplain” service, if ever there was such a thing. He was autopsied the same day, and I signed the reports as a witness. In his lower brain, there was a small tumor hardly the size of a pea, but had this grown, his going away would have been a very drawn out process. Better for him, then, to die in the arms of his only son, at home, the way he did, than alone, and at a hospital. Never told this story in Asatru circles, not in writing, at least, except only once, but some time, I might write about it in blog form, even.
I held the sermon over him, myself, in a christian church – and mentioned my Gods – although he, for his part, had no God at all, being a confirmed atheist, down to his last day. But, perhaps I digress. Who said that our lives are easy – and if it’s hard being a man at time, supposedly “real” or not, my way of life has its small compensations. I still have pea soup with pork, every Thursday Thor himself does send, and so do all my friends, co-workers and those that are with me… Three pancakes afterwards – with jam – but never more than that, except on special occasions. As much work as there ever was, 3 hours of free time, the earth and sky, and sometimes the sea to sail on. Who then, could ask for anything better – but no – family life isn’t for the likes of me..
I’m not really sure I can follow a comment like that. Wow. Seriously, no sarcasm… wow. I don’t even.
I really do understand large parts of this rant, even agree with them. There are a few notes that make me kinda grit my teeth but that’s to be expected. The Divine Masculine does not get enough recognition in most of the pagan circles I frequent. As someone who currently works with more gods than goddesses (other teaching spirits typically manifesting as a specific gender follow the same pattern) I see this as a problem. Since my own perspective and approach to life are totally androgynous, I really don’t get why there is so much focus on only one energy type.
I wonder if a large part of the problem you’re seeing (that men are expected to be men only on womens’ terms and never on their own- in total defiance of the nature of the Masculine element of the universe) is also because women’s roles have undergone such a drastic shift in recent decades. I personally am thrilled that women are no longer property, thank you very much. At the same time, I’m not thrilled that half of the population has been demonized in retaliation. There are a wide variety of mythological examples of manliness and womanliness across different spectra. We’ve focused in on a couple of examples and seem to have decided that any others are “less than” somehow.
It blows my mind, really.
Example? I get pretty sick of being treated “less than” because I have two X chromosomes but physically can’t produce children. Like that’s the only definition of womanhood.
I think there are serious issues in this confederacy of pagan paths, especially regarding our perceptions of sex and gender. I’m losing hope that there will be significant improvement any time soon.
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
I’d like to know more about the notes that “grit your teeth,” partially cause I wish to learn and partially cause I’m always looking for something to write.
On the one you mentioned, about men not being allowed to be men based on the evolution of gender roles for women changing…no. I can honestly say it has nothing to do with that. For two reasons. One of course, is the cultural. In the Norse, free women have never been property, had rites of divorce, and held the keys to the house’s food and gold. So from a cultural stand point, women with power had no effect on the ability of men to be men. The second is that the whole “needing women’s permission” and “women crushed the group when the men ‘acted like men'” is directly stated from the female elder who told the story. The women wanted their men to be manly, to bring male energy into the imbalanced space, so they pushed the men to do it. Then, when they didn’t like the growth and evolution, rather than find a balance of power, the women united it and crushed the men’s group to a man. Three times they did this. So sadly it is not my “personal view” of events, that’s exactly as it was described by those involved.
As for the “not being treated as a woman” that you have experienced…I am right there with you. There is more to being a woman than having children, just as there is more to a man than his labor to support a family. Sadly people often treat us as the basest part of our “Gender Roles.”
That was part of the motivation for this rant. We shame men, for not being there for their families and supporting them, but we rarely if ever thank them for when they do.
We Pagans need to stop this.
As for something changing…I would like to hope there is a chance. That being said, I do believe that part of the reason the Pagan paths aren’t changing is partially because we live in a “time of peace” if you will. We live lives that, while not always easy, aren’t fraught with the difficulties of our ancestors. We don’t have to rely on the person next to us like they did. I think that if we had to rely on each other more, or face utter destruction…we would be willing to evolve and adjust to better gender roles, like our ancestors had. That is my thought, at least.