UNDERSTANDING MEN?

In the fairy tale, when the Princess throws the frog against the wall, it turns into a Man and a Prince. Either that, or it stays in the frog-like primeveal soup stage. So rejection is about vital moments of transformation too, full realisation, and knowing how to hold what is true Manhood and responsibility. Strength without drama, courage, integrity and behaving like a Prince. It takes the maturity of a Princess too, perhaps, and some active awareness, but it does strike me there is a crisis among Men in our culture, underlined by over simplistic talk of equality or feminist rights, and also that many women think the male psyche is far simpler than it is. One way of looking at it is that modern males have no initiation into ‘rites’ of Manhood, as necessary rights of passage that both sexes have to make in various ways, and there are very few forms of public mentoring either; sport, community, shared adventure, groups and those things we sometimes scorn.

Male egos can of course be just as fragile as anyone’s, but because of that need to hold up and perhaps lead, especially for the husband and father figure, they also face complicated and sometimes frightening internal journeys, many women seem far too unaware of. Several times too I’ve mentioned the little book He – Understanding Male Psychology, by Frank F Johnson, about the spiritual and idealisitic journey of the male to understand life and the ‘magic’ of creation, and actually be some kind of hero, or King. The pain when that journey fails, or men fail to ask the right questions, at the right time.

To me it is beautiful and important, apart from being splendidly short, because it is contained not in terms of some pseudo scientific jargon, and the psyche is not a science, but inside a great spiritual story, raised to the Universal level of a Myth. The story of Parsifal, in his search for Knighthood and the ‘Holy Grail’. If to Men, for a time at least, the Holy Grail is always women, and children too, the bubbling spring of life itself when properly united, it has many things to say about archetypes, the projection of images onto each other, and trying to understand many different aspects of the feminine too, that make up real and complex women.

It also speaks of the parental need to contain their own pain, so to let children grow up well, and learn how to remove the feminine ‘homespun’ that is vital to the really creative male, but also inhibits masculine growth and full ‘power’. But beyond that, it speaks of the ‘God’ wound, the wound of the ‘Fisher King’, especially wounded in a clash between sensuality and sexuality and an ideal of faith and purity, who cannot drink of the magic Cup of Life, until healed by a new Knight. That wound we all face, when passing out of the Childhood states of magic and wholeness, to live in the real, dangerous and often disillusioning world. How harmed the psyche can become if inner and out worlds lose positive connection with each other. In the real magic of great stories, like Harry Potter and others, but sometimes ‘true’ stories of real life too, that magic flow is hinted at and found again and again. DCD

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