The Evolution of Masculinity: the Spirit, Relationships and Success
‘If you want to be spiritual, ask uncomfortable questions,’ Goddess News, Spiritual Blog, Divine Feminine,
Dr Joanna Kujawa, Spiritual Detective :).
Last November as I was giving a talk and conducting a workshop on Sophia and Gnostic Goddesses for the Carl Jung Society in Melbourne – the talk was dedicated to exploring the Divine Feminine – one woman wisely asked me: ‘But what about the Divine Masculine in our lives?’
I must say that I was in awe of her question because, immersed in my desire to explore my own spiritual path, I had forgotten about my second half, so to speak. All I could say was, ‘What a good idea!’ and left it at that. This was not to say I had not listened to talks at academic conferences or read papers on masculinity, it was more that I could not relate to them because they had never gone in the direction of what I thought was the important part of our being – spirituality. Perhaps this was/is a common shortcoming in academia and mainstream media, perhaps it was my shortcoming. What is important is that the Feminine – however evolved and divine – has a very impressive counter-part to play within – the Masculine.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst, pointed out to us about 80 years ago or more that all of us, women and men, are a combination of Animus and Anima, the masculine and feminine elements, but just in different ratios. The most well-known symbol for this is, of course, the Taoists’ sign of the Yin and Yang.
So imagine my surprise when among my emails I found an interview with Zeus Yiamouyiannis, the author of the book The Spiritually Confident Man. Minutes after listening to the interview with him I bought his book. I bought it because it helps me to address questions that I have long had in mind about spiritual evolution, relationships and success; until then I had been answering these questions only from one point of the spectrum – the Feminine.
My attitude up until that point was a bit bizarre, especially given that all my life I have been fascinated by masculinity and men. This could be because I was brought up by women (once my parents divorced) but, like many women, I have found myself falling for, or in relationships with, all kinds of men, with little understanding of what was drawing us towards each other, or why things worked or did not work. The only reason I do have some understanding now and am in a wonderful relationship is because I decided to work on myself spiritually and strive to be authentic – in my relationships and especially in my intimate relationship with my husband. No masks. No pretence.
But it has not always been like that, not in my previous relationships, anyway.
What Zeus Yiamouyiannis does in his book that I find most useful is that he explains to us the common archetypes/tendencies/levels of masculinity, and he does this in a very personal and well-intentioned way that precludes any judgement. The three most common ‘types’ (for lack of a better word) of masculinity are: ‘The Animal Man’, ‘The Social Man’ and ‘The Co-Creative Man’. Each of these types has an additional three aspects in either their ‘evolved’ or ‘less evolved’ modes.
Let me give you a few simplified examples from the book. The Animal Man is driven by competition, survival and sexual initiative. He might be passionate and virile but he is often disconnected from his feelings and can be self-centred. At his worst, he is a bully and a buffoon who is insensitive to other people’s needs. At his best, he can be a wonderful ‘provider’, and a ‘man’s man’, whom a woman who wants to be ‘taken care of’ might consider a great partner.
Ultimately, The Animal Man is trapped within a very basic understanding of what it means to be a man, and is disconnected from himself and his feelings. He is the archetypical corporate man, with all the adages of success. In some terms, he might also be considered selfish because, even at his best as a ‘provider’, his sphere of ‘care’ almost never extends beyond himself or his immediate family.
For a brief time I dated an example of this kind of man (who was in his more evolved or ‘better’ mode) but quickly realised that, although I was attracted to his manliness (he was a jet fighter pilot, Top Gun style – I kid you not! – in the US military), I could not find a meeting point between us emotionally. It was as if the Yin and Yang or the Pure Animus and Anima had met but without the possibility of any true connection because the lines between the Masculine and Feminine were so clearly drawn. Our only connection point, apart from sexual attraction, was arguing about politics!
The second ‘type’ is The Social Man who is, I bet, often the son of a traditional Animal Man. The Social Man is what Yiamouyiannis calls ‘a team-player’ who is sensitive and capable of seeing other people’s needs – almost by rule he is a good family man and helps around the house with housework, etc.
However, in his ‘lower’ mode he is ruled by a desire to ‘be liked’ and shows some elements of avoiding facing the challenges of life. Often with this The Social Man can be attractive to either older or successful, assertive women, who might like to ‘mother’ him.
Alternatively, in his ‘evolved’ aspect The Social Man can be a true ‘equal man’ who values his relationships, is an excellent parent and someone who might work in well-paid job which is also ‘socially progressive’ because he understands the value of working for some higher ideal or social good. Unlike The Animal Man, The Social Man treats his wife as his true Equal.
So what is wrong with this picture, since this man definitely lives out an evolved and more amicable form of masculinity? It might be two things: one, that he has lost somewhere along the way the resilience and charisma of The Animal Man and, as Yiamouyiannis says, he will probably go through a midlife crisis because his world is still largely limited to his family and work (even if with higher ideals). I do not want to be mean here, as I love men, but it seems to me that many men in their late 30s or early 40s go through The Social Man stage.
My husband and I go out on weekends to a beautiful café where many young well-to-do families go and I know what Yiamouyiannis means. The men appear really nice but something seems missing in them. They seem to have lost a part of themselves (please forgive me for saying this) by the exclusive identification with being ‘good’ fathers and husbands. They have lost their vitality somewhere but have not yet gained a deeper sense of the Self. Many (not all) of them are completely identified with the their social roles. And I’ll bet it is their wives who read Fifty Shades of Grey when nobody’s home!
This is where Yiamouyiannis’ insight comes to the fore: all three types of man need to be accepted and integrated within each man, within each person. Women are also responsible for this, as it is we who accept and are attracted to specific types as well. We need to accept and respect each aspect of masculinity in our men (apart, of course, from the toxic, abusive, self-centred aspect of The Animal Man).
Let me come back to Carl Jung now and his explanation of Male-Female polarity as being the essential part of the whole of Creation. According to Jung’s Gnostic work The Red Book, this polarity is the cause of all creation: nothing can exist without it and nothing can create or reproduce without it. This is why the earliest manifestations of Being, from the Pleroma (the Primal Cosmic Soup), come as pairs of opposites – including Feminine and Masculine Energies.
Energies, though, is the word here. Not sexualities. Not genders. Sexualities and genders are only aspects of these Energies, and, sure, they are super exciting – no argument from me here! But they are more than this. The Polarity is that of the Energies. This is perhaps why some of the most manly men energetically have a great charisma that makes ones feel weak in one’s knees just by being around them. They are not necessarily the best or most virile lovers – because masculinity is so much more than that.
This brings me to the third type, The Co-Creative Man. Let me quote Yiamouyiannis here: ‘The evolved, spiritually confident Co-Creative Man devotes himself to a deeper life and service’, and he understands that ‘ego is a servant, not a leader’. This type of man is no longer interested in fulfilling anyone’s expectations the way that perhaps The Animal Man does unconsciously and The Social Man does consciously. Instead, he is open to a different life, even if it is an unknown to him. The Co-Creative Man, like all of Yiamouyiannis’ ‘modes’, has three levels:
The Despairing Man (a man who can see that the old ways are not serving us anymore but does not see new paths as yet), who is someone who might be tempted to recapture the joy of his youth by marrying someone half his age, for example. But, ideally, he will ‘face the music’ and open himself up to new possibilities, where the growth lies.
The Searching Man opens himself up to the uncertainty of all unknown possibilities because he can see that his past values have been built on illusions. He takes the courageous step towards this exploration, which often includes spiritual exploration of ‘a larger cosmic dance’. Beyond the usual dualities of ‘either-or’, he can wonder ‘why not both’? On a professional level, he will incorporate this calling into his career. For example, if he is a doctor, he might include holistic teachings in his practice, even if this is being frowned upon by his colleagues.
The most evolved level is The Spiritually Confident Man, who has ‘active faith’ and ‘desires the world instead of fighting against it’. A man at this level knows that he is an essential, if small, part of a larger Cosmos. He is led by compassion and openness to what might be, as he is co-creating it. He is okay with not knowing and he does not have to prove himself to know his value.
Yiamouyiannis often repeats that men are conditioned from birth to live in opposition to the world and to constantly prove themselves to the world as worthy, which, in turn, forces them to pretend that they know everything, even before they have a chance of learning anything.
And, most importantly for me, The Spiritually Confident Man accepts not only every aspect of himself with compassion but also rejoices in the world and accepts it as Gift to enjoy rather than something to prove himself against.
Professionally this means that he might decline a promotion because it might interfere with a creative passion that does not generate income. He is not driven by a desire to be seen as accomplished according to societal standards but rather by the desire to explore his ‘deeper values’ personally and in the world.
Romantically, this can mean he is more likely to pursue a person because he wants to know them deeper, without feeling afraid of exposing his real feelings and delighting in a meaningful union rather than trying to impress sexually.
So what does this have to do with the Divine Feminine?
I think we need to recognise and enhance this growth in each other. I have always believed we are evolutionary beings and that the only way to growth is by moving into the Great Unknown, where all possibilities live. There is absolutely no evolutionary value in repeating old models (which does not necessarily mean some people may not choose to still live by them). But, by and large, in order to grow we need to move, to experiment with the best parts of ourselves, even when this is risky – and this includes experimenting not only with ourselves as individuals but also with our relationships.
In the end, we are all One, even with the wonderful polarity of the Feminine and Masculine Energies between us. And the only way to evolve is to act out and explore new archetypes of being – this is what this book has done for me.
I can’t wait to hear your comments on this one.
With much love,
Dr Joanna Kujawa
Goddess News Blog