I never much identified with other boys or men growing up, at least not any that I met in the waking world of direct and tangible consequences. Sure, I spent some of the countless daydreaming hours of childhood in roles that were decidedly masculine such as saving princesses or leveling battlefields single-handedly, but in most cases I was riding my dragon friend, exploring fantastic new worlds, hanging on every moment of my imaginal high-adventures and even in those hetero-boy dreams the enemies I was leveling were representations of phenomena I was gleaming from waking life observations about human habit and character, and the princess was almost always a swashbuckler like myself. It was not uncommon for me to imagine myself being saved by said princess-wizard or princess-witch, or even princess lizard-warrior-person; whatever I was into that week. I think it was about the intimacy of trust and surrender, more than anything; things I couldn’t find in waking life when I was young.
My brief foray into team sports was forced upon me and consisted of a constant barrage of the very worst of homophobic slurs and hate-speech and a whole lot of chewed-up sunflower seeds projectile-launched into my hair and face, all straight from the mouths of creatures who called themselves “boys” but seemed to me more like mistakes that we had collectively made as a species and a prime directive for birth control for future generations of forward thinkers. Yes, I was that cynical when I was twelve.
Years went by and there was a brief time when I thought it reasoned out for me to forego the title of “man” altogether. Gender-fluidity is an attractive creature. We are all a compilation, an unique master-cut gem composed of varying quantities of elements and minerals, forever blessed with striking the eye differently depending on the light, depending on the angle. In this sense gender fluidity is more honest and more accurate for every human person, but eventually it occurred to me that this distinction is only necessary due to the horrific reduction of “male” and “female” down to an harmful obtuseness, an archetype to which autocratic control of the idea is relinquished.
I mean to say that I could take a stance on the way “men” are overwhelmingly problematic by refusing to identify as one, but therein lies a failure on my part be active within the solution: I disagree with, and take offense to, the common conception of what a “man” looks and acts like, but when I choose to identify as something else all my efforts to re-pattern are no longer working towards the reformation of that definition of man. In essence, it’s just easier for me to abandon the man-ship than it is to fight that current and stand for a better idea of what men can be, how they can think of themselves, and how they can be nurturers as well as protectors. Hell, they can even still engage in psychologically healthy, culturally sensitive, well-placed violence when another man is giving us decent broheims a bad name, whether that be through physical conflict (which is another area seeming to lack an abundance of nuanced non fear-based analysis/thinking) or through strategic blog-posts and simply living well and treating others with respect and consideration (but with that secretly satisfying internal victory over all those who threw abuse in my general direction and expected me to become like them.)
I’m not asking anyone to change anything, to be clear. I just feel that this thought process has something worthwhile therein. The areas that need the most attention are the easiest to abandon, and I get that the concept of imagining a better male archetype is not a one-person job. It’s not even a one-generation job, but it’s one that inevitably needs to be done or I presume the collective spiritually conscious “we” will always be fighting the “men” in one way or another. We may not be able to change hearts and minds, but we are certainly familiar with working with ideas as living things. Perhaps that is an apt place to start. I’m not super comfortable with the versions of male archetypes that are running around in minds at-large these days and I’ll bet you’re not either, but if you believe like it do that the imaginal is a real place that is ever-presently interactive with the tangible, then we have a responsibility to start enforcing better ideas. If we abandon the masculine to the erroneous masses, we allow those archetypes to continue thrashing about throwing tantrums disguised as chivalry unchallenged and unchecked throughout the unconscious. We magicians have the upper hand in the realm because we know it’s real. Use it. Feed the good “guys.”
I know for myself Serapis has been a place to begin because, as it turns out in most cases, the fewer stories there are about a male deity the less there is to dislike.
I would love to hear about your own grapplings with masculinity in the comments. No rules just right.
Anyway, it feels good to talk about this. Because as much as I would love to just opt-out, the facts remain that I’m Man. Now it’s a question of how to nurture a non-toxic version of that and manifest it here in waking life as a collective activism and a living example to the emotionally underdeveloped, the testosterone-tweaked, and the just plain ignorant. Every domino that falls may knock two more down. Every time a decent man can show strength in vulnerability, he does the others a favor in striving for balance and providing an example. If enough of us acted as such, the tyrants could find no purchase on the climb to dominance.