A few years ago I did a meditation/ritual ceremony. We were all asked to arrive around five in the evening; to wear white and to have fasted since breakfast. Even the day before I felt shifts within myself; fear and excitement rising. I experienced the earnest desire to let go of some very limiting beliefs. I knew this could be beautiful and perhaps it would also be confronting as I dug deep to peel away layers that no longer belonged to me and no longer served me.
I thought about a few issues that I could work on; Mum and Dad always make the top five list along with intimate relationships and money and survival/purpose – the usual suspects. When I thought about some issues with more focus they seemed to spread, rhizome-like, at a rapid rate. My issues were interrelated and I was overwhelmed: It’s a familiar scenario.
Yet all was well. I knew exactly what to do here. To give it to a higher power: My higher self that is of, and in, the one great power. Call it what you will… I just needed to stop organising and controlling what was going to unfold. So although we had been asked to set intentions before we arrived at the ceremony, my intention was to let a higher power reveal to me what I needed to work on, what I needed to do and how I needed to respond in each present unfolding moment. My intention was to be spontaneous and to fully trust Existence (God, Life, Spirit…)
That brought relaxation. The fear and anxiety subsided and a smile appeared upon my face and within my heart. I truly felt blessed. I was now in safe hands.
Stepping Out and Stepping In
I parked my car and watched all the arriving men and women busy with their belongings, cushions, blankets, baskets, shawls, water bottles, flowers, musical instruments, their smiles and their furrowed brows. Their silence was palpable. We had been asked to arrive in complete silence. Some women hugged each other with those delicious long hugs and I wanted to slip in between and be held in the feminine. Some men shook hands, then with an almost mechanical realisation, pulled each other towards each other and hugged, heart-to-heart. I longed to slip between the handshake and their heart-to-heart embrace and be held by the masculine.
People of all sexes have the right to explore femininity, masculinity-and the infinite variations between-without criticism or ridicule. – Leslie Feinberg
I stepped out of the car. Looking down. Avoiding any eye contact. Not daring to ask for a hug. Not daring to show vulnerability. I noticed I was doing what I always do when entering a sacred group space; I freak out on the inside and image-manage the outside by giving off the vibe that I am in a prayerful private space hoping that a sweeter, ‘respect my space’, was emanating rather than the more authentic, ‘stay the hell away from me!’.
I looked up at the darkening sky and I said, “I am here. I may not be ready but bring it on.” The birds were crouching down to rest in their nests and preparing for another human spectacle of – well, in their perceptions, God only knows what? I thought of the mother and father birds explaining to their young what we humans were up to. I am sure they were laughing hard right until their true nature took them to the chambers of sleep. Father bird would sleep last making sure that all was well. Mother bird would have preened her young to sleep. There was certainty in their purpose and defined roles.
Finding My Place
I waited back until most people were seated. I, one of the last, stepped into the large rotunda with the open sky above our heads. All the stars were visible and clapping. At least I heard clapping. I again looked to the floor or to the stars above but found it hard to look at the circle of white that was forming. One of the assistants came to me and said, “Come!”. She took me by the hand and led me to the middle of a semicircle of men. I quickly looked back and saw a semicircle of women facing the men. My heart rate shot up. I began to sweat. And without thinking I said, “I don’t want to sit there. Not in the middle of all the men!” I didn’t know what was happening to me. It was all too fast to process. And again with no conscious thought I said, “I want to sit near the women.” I had always felt safer with women (and mostly still do).
And with a sweet sigh, she put her hands on her heart and looked up. She literally took a celestial pause. Then she opened her eyes and looked right into me, “I understand,” she said. Then led me to one end of both semi-circles. I was therefore sitting next to a woman on my left and a man on my right. “Here is perfect for you.” And in my trembling state. In my jumbled ideas of myself as never truly identifying with the masculine, and never truly identifying with the feminine, this was the Goldilocks place for me. I felt held by both the masculine and the feminine. Somewhere in the sweet spot, the centre, the neutral tipping-dipping point. The middle. The natural place of weaving the two polarities into one energy. An energy I knew deep inside and had always felt right, solid, kind and powerful.
And that’s how my intention manifested in resounding clarity. I would be looking with tenderness at my masculine and my feminine heart. Because of these times, the age I was ushered into – because of my English, white male, working-class conditioning I would journey into inauthentic bravado, into the confessions of privilege, the shallow but still present pools of misogyny, into flashes of unconscious entitlement, stir into a gilded framed mirror of male arrogance, the rusty and almost immovable colossal doors of male perception.
Masculinity is part of a binary and requires its opposite, since, in the absence of femininity, masculinity would have no meaning. – Sheila Jeffreys
My masculine heart came to me in a vision of pain all wrapped up in thorns, bleeding, out of rhythm and desperate to be free. My feminine heart appeared without drama. Unburdened by cliches and stale imagery. It was more a glowing heart, throbbing with purpose, potential and, above all, a radiating sense of wholeness and a presiding eminence of Love. My feminine heart was peaceful, free and alert. She was ready for right-action. Ready for rest. Ready for beingness. I had a sense of the fusion of divine mystery and trustworthy omniscience.
I had a very clear understanding that these visions of both the masculine and the feminine hearts were the same heart. There was no difference in the shape and feel and function of Love of the heart. The difference lay in the absurd conditioning of living in a patriarchal misogynistic culture. This had chained the ‘masculine’ heart in a vine of thorns. And a heart in bleeding pain is distracted from its purpose of amplifying Love.
To me the definition of true masculinity – and femininity, too – is being able to lay in your own skin comfortably. – Vincent D’Onofrio
By owning these qualities in myself and in all men, the grip of those thorns was loosened. As the visionary state came to a close and my body took my experience deep inside I reached for a pen and wrote this poem.
The Sacred Masculine
The quality I am is the elusive quality I seek
and cannot find …
The Sacred Masculine
I am inside and out
I am in this flesh — of it and in it
The unholy chest-beating man
bully, manipulator, aggressor, predator
can battle out of even my mouth
And The Sacred Masculine shies from me
I have seen him sometimes
or with just the right thing to say
to a dying friend
just the right touch or delicate or firm embrace
or saying nothing
whilst breathing deeply the scent of a rose
or sometimes in the shaving mirror
in the early hours’ light
and often in the roar between the waves
resurfacing exhilarated naked
shaking his head from side to side
and grinning from ear to ear
or puzzling over the process of procreation
before a man and a woman
before the sperm and the egg
there must have been a time
in evolution when we were one
There I see him brooding with intelligence
and looking for his mate
Taking care of the heart, this vessel of Love, is an immense privilege. Having the courage to slowly chip away at the sexing of the heart is a noble enterprise. Acknowledging the mistakes of our fathers and our forefathers is imperative. Forgiving us all, men and women, for perpetuating these myths, is a holy pursuit. We must first see the thorns clearly so we can remove them safely. Let us all find the one true heart in Unity, Peace and Amplifying Love in the Field of Transcendence.
Beloved Men and Women and Beloved Non-binary Friends,
Share your heart’s essence unshackled from having been sexed throughout the ages. Listen to the rhythm of your heart and tune in to the frequency of sameness and uniqueness, into the eternal pulse and the eternal stillness … let Love write something in the comments below.
Heart to Heart
Paul and Team UPLIFT
For more conversations, inspirations and wild imaginings of how to tend to the masculine heart, please join our sponsored event A Gathering of Stories on February 6 & 7, 2021.