A couple of weeks ago I was asked by a man in the community, who leads Rights of Passage (ROP) initiations for young men, to gather a small group of wise women to speak with the new initiates and the men who are supporting them.
He asked that the women come forth and speak about a wound, a blessing and share some wisdom around what we feel young men need to hear from us. As the young men are 14 years of age he gave us an hour to honor their attention span.
“So, you want a group of women to come together around a fire, share a vulnerable story and the wisdom from the story in an hour?!- perfect. We will be there”
The women had our hesitations. First, we did not want the young men to feel like they were being cornered or shamed. As a young (mostly white and privileged) male, the message that they inherit is that the Earth that is suffering, the mother that is wounded and the women/cultures/species who have been marginalized and, in many cases destroyed, is their fault. This alienates them from ever inhabiting a healthy masculine part of their psyche that is needed for Life to truly thrive in, around and through them. A healthy man- with a healthy masculine presence does not equal pain and suffering.
“It is not your fault”
This invocation creates a space for all human bodies to feel deeply into the parts of us that are connected to the same wound so we can begin to find our common grief, gratitude and a new way to be on this sacred ground again.
Second, we were attuned to the imbalance in the group dynamics. Ideally, the wise women would arrive with newly ROP initiated young women. However, we don’t have a paralled ROP program for our young women. This challenges the young men, who are now filled with new knowledge and awareness of their place on Earth, to stay in touch with, and integrate, their initiation. As budding forces of procreation, their interactions with young women will be where this recent ROP work will be most palpable, and likely most important, in their lives.
Essentially, we were educating them in ways of being with a woman that the young women in their peer groups don’t even understand. Our young women, large in part, are raised to disassociate from their sexual/sensual/intuitive/animal body and objectify themselves. It felt awkward, and maybe backwards, to ask these young men to be the ones to hold the entire space of honoring sacredness, consent and awareness of the female body.
But that is where we are currently. Working with the openings we have in front of us, seeing the blind spots, the disconnections and filling in the gaps as we go. And we must go.
The next layer of concern was around sharing a wound. This was too vulnerable for some of the women. We also agreed that it is not helpful to share a wound unless there is an awareness of why the wound happened that can gift greater understanding and counter shame. Simply telling a young man, or any man, about how wounded we have been holds little intelligence and can provide almost zero wisdom. And yet, we need to keep telling our stories and sharing our voices so we can all heal. But there is a way to tell a story that re-myths it through a lens of revelation and connects us rather than separates us.
In the 6 minutes I had to speak I did choose to share a small portion of what I share here through the experience of my 14 year old self. This is vulnerable territory for me as it gives great insight to one of the most tender and terrifying parts of my life…
I was a sexually alive young woman. Like most of us, I did not have the parents, ROP programs or teachers that could help me navigate the wild ecstasy in my body. As adolescence struck, I was in full blossom by 14 years old. I had not menstruated yet but everything else had filled in. I had always noticed boys, but now my body noticed boys. And boys noticed my body.
My first encounters with young boys were no more than most girls exploring; making out at movies, undressing one another at parties and exploring each other’s sexual bodies. However, unlike the other young girls, I was targeted as someone to abuse. The young boys I explored with would viciously, verbally attack me in hallways at school. I was once punched in my right breast by one of them- hard. The girls would join in because we are taught that we are objects and must compete for men- the wound around trusting women has taken 42 years to extract.
These formative events planted an energetic upon me that followed me through high school. Many days I would not go to school. A few times my house was attacked when my body couldn’t be attacked. I lived in a small town and couldn’t go anywhere that the story didn’t follow.
(I will interject here that I was subject to a very sick man growing up until I left my home at 16. This helped in directly pushing me towards more abusive scenarios around my sex, my worth and seeking approval through pleasure.)
Yet, I didn’t stop engaging with my sexuality. I didn’t stop seeking pleasure even when I knew the consequences. There was this part of me that I was fascinated by- a piece that held zero shame and had some deep root in an understory that wove its tendrils into all of us.
I could feel something in these young men that they couldn’t speak on- I knew that they were hurting inside to hurt me. But they didn’t have any other outlet of expression than to abuse the very thing that represented the confusing feelings they were having. I was curious.
What I could feel then but couldn’t articulate until decades later was the wound that bound us together.
We both had a role. Their role was to objectify women to hide feeling. My role was to objectify myself in order to receive feeling. We both had lost our voice, many parts of our soul and all initiatory pathways that could guide us through the most potent transition time in a person’s life.
Men have been raised to forgo any emotion in fear of being shamed and emasculated. As puberty hits, their bodies are flooded with wild penetrative energies looking for outlets of expression. As they begin to explore sexually with women, these intense emotions rise even stronger in them.
It is not possible to engage with the body of woman and not be changed, charged, enlivened and moved to deep emotion somewhere inside.
Overwhelming Life expressive emotions open in us in these sexual encounters. We begin to feel “love”. Love is an “emotion”. Emotions are bad so women must be bad since they cause this huge, and too beautiful to name, emotion. “We must hurt women to hide our confusion and numb our heart’s true desires.”
Women are raised to objectify and commodify our sacredness. We cannot expect our men to approach us with anything less than a false and objectified sense of themselves as well- thus perpetuating separation.
I wanted to apologize to the young men. We, as women are still getting caught in the seductive patriarchal web of objectification- disguising itself as the many alluring “spiritual” “Goddess” “Divine Feminine” pathways. I call this the commodified Goddess (next blog).
If you knew She could feel you would stopKogi Tribe Elder
I would say- “If you knew She could feel, you would know you could feel and you would stop”. I speak to all.
She is Earth Mother, mother, woman, and the She inside of You.
It is no one’s fault. There is truth that “it”- or, as Lyla June Johnston says “the forces that wish to do harm” began somewhere. And, from what I have been shown is that it is woven into our creation story. The medicine created the wound. Ancient cultures understood this mystique which is why ROP ceremonies were a necessary foundation for growing a heartful human aware of this insidious mysterious force.
A year ago under the late summer eclipse I held an overnight ritual for myself. As I was cleaning up my altar the next morning I was “hit with this vision”. There was a pain in the right side of my back. At deeper inquiry I was taken to a time before patriarchy. I was enrobed in maroon and praying in front of a pool of water. Suddenly, I felt a blade in my back and I fell face forward to my death. As I fell, I wailed in deep grief. I was not grieving my life. You see, the blade in my back was thrown by my beloved. A man who knelt with me and prayed to the Earth forces every day. A man who honored his life and the energies that granted that life. I grieved because in that moment I felt a great split in the male bodied psyche. For a man to destroy the very bodies of what birthed him, makes love to him, nourishes him and that he is encoded to protect and honor, there must be something so incomprehensively riddled with fear that we have had to erect great Myths to explain this force to ease the insanity and inner scream that lives in us all.
The male body holds the dominant penetrating force in the reciprocal laws of Life. When natural penetrative expressions are shamed, in many cases of our father’s and grandfather’s eras- beaten out, then this intensity flares inside and we see war, rape and gun violence as surrogates for the natural penetrating energy men are here on Earth to share.
The code of honor in all male bodies is so primordial and necessary, that when it is desacralized it will cause an insanity and energetic split in the male psyche. The wounding of such vital wiring leaves an ease way for predators to manipulate that code of honor. This is why the military is so appealing- even with men I would never suspect wanting to support such entities. It feeds directly on the broken code and seductively takes the place of the oath and initiation into walking a path of true sacred honor.
There is a place inside of women that can never be touched and destroyed. This is why that “force that wishes to do harm” attached itself the predominantly masculine bodied people. The womb energy of a woman contains an oath that, in its pure capacity cannot be penetrated by anything that does not uphold the sanctity of sovereign law. (I understand that this language may sound new to you, but how does it feel?)
Infecting the men with a broken code would strip a vital piece from the feminine that we need to safely bring forth the gift of creation and divination that was Life inclusive at all times. This force could then penetrate the women with fear, rape and oppression through the men. Infect the men- infect the women- control Life.
Without the feminine a man does not know his place on Earth.
When all women are giving their blood to the Earth again all men will come home from war”Hopi Nation
II invite you to hear the words between this statement and let them penetrate you.
It is up to the women to bring our communities on Earth back to balance and wholeness. The men can gather, go through their ROP but they can never fully walk with their codes of honor, sovereignty and reciprocity in tact without the women stepping forward to mirror them, see them and remind them of their oath. We must live it. Women are the stewards of life.
To do that deep work women, like the incredible men in my life and community, must gather together. We are better together. Because when “those forces that wish to do harm” sneak in the back door and attach themselves to all of the false patriarchal programming still in us- we have the face of a trusted sister to mirror our majestic medicine that is stronger than any other force known in the great creation story.
Rites of Passage as a pathway back to balance…
The ROP process is woven deeply into our creation story. Everyone experiences thresholds that, when embraced, can bring us in closer contact with our pure gift and purpose. When we are whole with our purpose we become more immune to the insidious forces of fear.
ROP initiations put us back in touch with authentic voice. This voice is of the heart even when it rages, grieves and wails. Authentic voice is always inclusive because it rises from a primordial space inside that understands its interweaving with all of creation. Authentic voice sounds out the true purpose, gift and place of the person. Our education systems rob our authentic voice.
ROP groups and ceremonies provide space for our darkest emotions to emerge in a way that sacralizes them, turns them into medicine and heals the individual psyche.
ROP heals the deep Mother Wound and establishes sovereignty.
ROP for our youth intervenes at one of the most crucial turning points in a person’s life- sexual awakening. Without this we are pray to objectification, addictions, self- loathing, shaming, rape culture and the confusing, demeaning and slithery world of pornography.
ROP is vital for fortifying faith in Life. In these ceremonial spaces we begin to remember we are supported by, and a vital part of, creation.
I witnessed this fortification in the faces of the young men who shook our hands and thanked us after we spoke and sang for them. Our small but mighty efforts had butterfly wings.
Resources and some wisdom bits for our men…
Join a men’s group. Only in a community of support and brotherhood can you reawaken your beautiful emotional body as a strength while being held safely in the arms of other men. Oops- that’s right, you’re not supposed to love other men because that would mean you’re… alive.
Be with the Earth in solitary silence. You will never know your own voice until you sit alone with the voice of nature. Every man, in order to claim his full Life, must venture out alone, countering isolating negotiations with death, until he falls to his knees in gratitude for the gift.
Learn about the majestic medicine of your sexual body as a Life affirming, creative force that is needed. The greatest way to manipulate someone is to render them ignorant of their own body. Your body is a sacred vessel of wonder, desire and dreams. Your body’s full, healthy expression is vital for the continuance of Life.
Learn about a woman’s body before you make love to her. Understand that you came out of a uterus that bleeds so that you could be here on Earth to even enjoy the pleasures and beauty of a woman’s body. Knowing a woman’ body is sexy, intelligent, honoring.
Ask permission to touch a woman before you do. Consent culture creates sacred boundaries so that safety is present for all involved. Receiving consent helps us to shed belief systems about rejection and feel into our rejection in the face of love. “No” does not mean “I don’t love you”. Hearing someone say No and still stay with you in the moment is powerful. Hearing a full YES opens up potential for great explorations and establishing trust- mostly in your own voice.
Talk about pornography. We all know you watch it and hide it. Talk about how it makes you feel. Demystify it and it will no longer have its hooks into you. Unhide everything you feel shame about. Once something has been allowed voice it has less of a chance of manipulating and robbing you of true, healthy and honoring sexual expressions that are still filled with all the things of your wild desire.
Follow your heart– your heart always knows what to do. You must first know your heart.
Show your emotions.
WE NEED YOU
My oath to our young men….
I will walk towards a new story with you. I will follow my heart. I will not objectify myself. I will trust Life to support me and embody Life as a symbol for others to trust. I will strive to live into my absolute truths every day so that I can meet the reality of my humanity and make brave shifts to clear out fear. For myself, for the men, for the women- for all of Life. Amen.