London Bridge is falling down Falling down, falling down London Bridge is falling down My fair lady
Build it up with iron bars
Iron bars, iron bars
Build it up with iron bars
My fair lady
Iron bars will bend and break
Bend and break, bend and break
Iron bars will bend and break
My fair lady
Build it up with silver and gold
Silver and gold, silver and gold
Build it up with silver and gold
My fair lady
We have been so hell-bent on isolating and caging “the monsters in our midst” – Gian Ghomeshi, Bill Cosby, Darren Wilson – in putting them behind iron bars …getting them out our sight and consciences…. They’re not normal – not like the rest of us! On so many levels, the current sociopolitical atmosphere in North America is a totally logical outcome of this refusal to acknowledge the power paradigm with which we have all been inculcated. It’s all rising to the surface now in technicolour, and it seems to me it would behoove us, rather than “Tsk, tsking” and pointing accusatory fingers, to take a few deep breaths and turn our gaze inward.
According to Darwinian evolutionary theory and studies of primate sexuality, all the fluff and flounce of romance and relationships really just boils down to the cold fact that fertile females will select the strongest, most dominant males to mate with in order to ensure that their babies are also strong, and sufficiently protected.
Buckminster Fuller, adding considerable nuance to the discourse, brilliantly described the complementary male and female energies of humanity in the same terms as we describe light – as particle and wave. Whereas the feminine principle may be understood as that of the wave in the ocean – women, born of women, born of women in an unending flow of Life – the masculine principle is symbolised by the drop of water, individual and isolated.
The essential reality of the male-defined person has been that of fear of the feminine – of dissolution and ego abnegation in a sea of Oneness. The socio-cultural definition of masculinity has consequently been long entrenched in a fear-based need for dominance. Whether this manifests in physical, financial, intellectual or moral capacities is irrelevant – what is important is to have Power Over: over others… over a situation…over one’s life.
It is getting more and more difficult to live up to this definition of masculinity, however. The unforgiving hierarchies of family, school, social class, religious and financial institutions and the workplace all conspire to remind most men that they are powerless pawns who must shut up and obey. Those who have inherited power, financially, socially, or physically, are often must constantly beat down those grasping at their trouser legs to haul them from their perches. Others who have learned to put up and shut up must find SOME place in their lives where they can feel powerful – in fantasy, in having secrets, in bullying and other escalating forms of domination.
In classic patriarchal societies, whatever one’s rung on the socioeconomic ladder, a man could go home and be King of his Castle. The women who were traditionally subjects of this male dominion are now somewhat less willing to be dominated, however. Having marched out of the kitchen, we are competing in the job market for every scrap of work once done by men alone. “Men Only” is viewed in our times as anathema, equivalent to “No Negroes or Jews Allowed”. Images of power politics – suits with fat cigars, barely holding their liquor as they play chess with people’s lives and make lewd jokes denigrating women – have stoked our ire as we attempt to legislate our way into a just society. It is getting more and more difficult to be respected anymore simply for being in a male body; those men who are adored by women these days are often paying hard cash for the experience. When is the last time you heard the term “alpha male” being used in a positive context?
As mothers, we try to love our sons into being Good Men – not like the ones we made them with! This can backfire, though, if we don’t redefine personal power as alignment with one’s essence rather than with dominance. So often, we end up teaching our sons to get their validation and their power through women, creating the classic seductive male who “loves” (read: conquers) women and expresses anger and resentment about his insecurity as a man by exercising the power of rejection. (Seductive women are in the thrall of these same dynamics.)
Men whose core belief is in their incapacity – who have learned that people of their sex (i.e. Daddy) are irresponsible, unfaithful, useless, insensitive, violent and/or controlling – will either replicate their fathers’ models in rebellion against their mothers, or will throw themselves into the world and relationships to prove that they are the opposite of what they have learned they really are. But the programmed identity remains and will raise its head in times of stress, classically and famously sabotaging any success the fellow may have accrued through his compensatory activities. ( “I am NOT like my father!“ says the man. “Oh, YAH?!“ replies the programmed identity, `We’ll just see about that!“)
To add to this, capitalist economies and corporate hegemonies require dissatisfaction in the masses. Billboards, magazines, digital media and cultural icons convince us with varying degrees of subtlety that we never have enough, know enough, do enough or are enough, and that material consumption will fill that aching hole in the soul. In order to be on the cutting edge in a competitive jungle, we have to continue straining for that carrot (I’ll bet it’s delicious!) dangling just beyond our reach. The wheels of western consumer society are spun by our illusions of powerlessness and inadequacy.
Although men and women with feminine energies get along famously, as do men and women who are more masculine and performance-driven, the male-defined and the female-defined glare at each other across a chasm of incomprehension, suspicion and
disrespect. Ever more youth are opting for the middle path of androgyny (Is that a boy or a girl? Does it really matter..?). Increasing numbers of sons who have grown up valuing the feminine aspects of themselves (over the traditionally masculine, often in rejection of their fathers’ examples) are happily taking care of their children while their partners are out on the economic battlefield, feeling …powerful?…self-fulfilled?…guilty?…tired? How interesting that men who have chosen this path are coming together in support groups to help counteract the negative reactions still prevalent in our society. The women in this paradigm are more likely to be exhausting themselves in their drop-of-water solitary states.
On the other hand, for those who are perhaps a little older or from more conventional backgrounds and therefore with strongly programmed, internalised sociocultural mores, this maelstrom of masculine identity can be mortally damaging. What is a fellow to do when he has lost his sense of power, and therefore his self-assurance as a man? Violence is a much too easily and therefore frequently chosen response. Alcohol, drugs and sex (especially virtually, as in pornography, or with the young, malleable and impressionable) can also weave seductive illusions of potency – illusions that must be maintained by more of the same…and more…and more. Women who live mostly in their masculine selves and men who have developed primarily their feminine sides will both have a tendency to reject their physical bodies (controlling and altering them) along with traditional gender-based identities. Think about this for a minute! And then reflect on the increase in eating disorders in young men and women and of the panoply of auto-immune diseases now afflicting humanity, from Crohn’s disease to MS….
The symptoms in men that stem from the equation of maleness with dominance: shame and guilt, depression from anger that has nowhere to be expressed, substance abuse and other suicidal behaviour, are exactly the same as those experienced by women who are abused! The active duality paradigm here is NOT male vs female, but rather those who dominate vs those who are dominated.
Those of us who have worked with victims and perpetrators of sexual assault know that power, not sex, is the motivating force. Women are raped in war in the same way as the fields are burned and wealth pillaged. In civilian contexts, women are in danger if we can be seen as being “too uppity”. The atrocities with sexual content committed in prisons and wars – infamously in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and now in Egypt by the military on incarcerated peaceful protesters – are done by men attempting to demonstrate their absolute dominance and humiliate others into submission. This is just a slight extrapolation on what has gone on forever in the private rooms of such hierarchy-enforcing training grounds as Sandhurst and West Point, not to mention the Old Boys network of educational institutions.
The internet has allowed public access to information exposing the corruption and violence upon which hierarchical institutions are founded. The dirty secrets of governments, banks, churches, schools and the even the shadowy military-industrial complex are shared on Facebook and a plethora of alternative news networks for anyone interested in knowing more than what is freely offered by corporate media propaganda machinery. As trust in institutional authority dissolves, the power pyramids crumble at their foundations.
The Return of the Divine Feminine has become practically as much of a pop-psychology, self-help catch-phrase as the Healing of the Inner Child. Although the understanding of this energetic reality has been co-opted and manipulated by people who are still caught up in the “Power Over“ paradigm, the awareness of the Circle of Life (first driven home through sick chickens in China and Ebola monkeys), the honouring of every sentient being as part of our Earth Family, and a deep rootedness in our bodies and emotions are all human potentials that are evolving as the feminine aspect of our Selves becomes understood and valued once again.
But what of the Divine Masculine? Our concept of God the Father got hijacked somewhere
along the line, twisted into the punitive ultimate power in a hierarchy of obedience, and our definition of masculinity followed suit. The compassionate wielding of intellect and strength, the capacity to step out into the world with integrity and dignity, aligned with one’s highest truth and the assurance that comes from knowing the value of one’s unique place in the web of Life – these are the noble qualities of the masculine energy in each one of us.
In some communities, men and women are coming together in order to pool their efforts against the tyranny of corporations and governments. Indigenous-lead movements such as Idle No More and the resistance to corporate expropriation of the Amazon Basin are perhaps closer to a potential of balance between masculine and feminine leadership because the Feminine has never been devalued in earth-based cultures. The more assimilated an aboriginal community has become, however, into a mainstream culture constructed of power hierarchies, the more dissonance occurs between men and women involved in any effort to free themselves of this same culture.
For those of us raised within cultures of male domination, women and men who wish to heal themselves must often separate in order to do so. Women, feeling unsafe in groups where men were present, not only because of ingrained historical dominance of men, but also because of the programmed competitive reaction of women to each other in a mixed-gender group, have gathered in women’s circles to share and understand the voyage we
have taken. Men, becoming aware that they do not always feel secure in healing groups with women due to their relationships with their mothers and the programmed competition among men when women are present, are also coming together in healing groups to undo the damage of power hierarchies on their self-realisation.
When we comprehend and integrate the fact that each one of us is comprised of both masculine and feminine energies, we are able to be at peace with ourselves – with the forms our bodies have taken; with both the inner, emotional ocean of the Feminine and the body, and the outwardly-oriented, active Masculine principle (the ‘drop’ of Spirit). The gold and silver currents of life-force weave and intertwine and become One. “Build it up with silver and gold!“
The creative power of manifestation that arises from the union of the two is the leaky secret of Tantra and what is called Sacred Marriage: the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine joined in equal partnership within an individual human body – Spirit, fully incarnate in Matter. This open-hearted state precludes the need and even the desire to have power over anyone or anything. Aligning with Essence…Oneness…Source, we rediscover the balanced, fluid state of unlimited potential that has been called our Christic nature, and is our true personal Power.
I believe that this is our destiny, and that this is what is rising within us as we watch much of what we have accepted as Reality dissolve before our eyes.
There is no Them and Us – there is only Us….Humanity…Life…Oneness – however we wish to perceive it , none of us is separate from any particle of the Web of Existence. Hierarchical structures that have kept us ingrained in the illusion of powerlessness are “falling down, falling down” and have been nervously reinforced with iron bars which are now “breaking and bending”. The shining gold and silver of our true masculine and feminine energies – of our clear and radiant Selves – are building a new Humanity, now, as the old power structures crumble around us.
It is Time. Let us make it so…..