The fourth metaphor to look into during my journey to awaken my sacred masculine and find the hidden spirituality of men is the Hunter Gatherer. Writing about this metaphor was tough for me because I didn’t think I had anything to write. These personal journeys centered around men’s studies never go like that. There is always something that comes up. I had to completely reread the chapter and be conscious of any time I read a section and have no idea what I read. Sometimes this happens because I’m distracted, but it also happens when I’m confronted by what it says. Sometimes I’m just still pondering a previous topic and wasn’t yet ready to take in new information. There is a ton to cover in this section now, so the format is different than other articles.
The Hunter Gatherer
As far as we can determine, almost all of human existence consists of humans being hunter gatherers. Only recently, historically speaking, have we changed to farming for sustenance. Even more recent is how much of our lives hide the fact that farming goes on at all. We’ve move from being hunters and gatherers who must search to our food; to farmers, who are still connected to where our food comes from; to now having no idea where our food even comes from. The hunter gatherer metaphor isn’t just about food though, it is about cultural difference. While it is easy to see what we have gained, there is quite a bit that we have lost.
Joy & Shame
The power of ancient tribal culture can be summed up in 2 words – joy and shame. These two things represent both, what we have lost and what we (unconsciously) carry with us from our cultural past. Both are hard wired into our masculine beings and acknowledgement of this fact is the path to understanding. By acknowledging that shame, right or wrong, guides our lives powerfully and that enjoying ancient rituals (sometimes in new ways) is worthwhile we can make some powerful choices about who we will be.
Ancient rituals which center around drums, dancing and storytelling are quite easily pushed aside in civilized society. Drums are loud and annoy people, dancing makes you look like an idiot and stories need to be chopped down into bite size pieces because no one has the time to pay attention anymore. Drums are representative of rhythm. The first sound we hear is the sound of our mothers’ heart, but then the noise of the world drowns out that beat. The noise of the world hasn’t always been there and rhythm is our way of connecting with nature. We do this through music we love, through music we make and if we listen closely we might even hear the rhythms of life itself. Dancing is an extension of this connection. Using rhythm & dance we are connecting our cosmic bodies with our green man and mother earth. Ancient rituals of rhythm and dance were used, not only to create this connection but to tell stories. Stories told in this way were used to pass on generational wisdom before the invention of writing.
The joy of listening is a lost art. My favorite movie – Strictly Ballroom – has a line, “Listen to the rhythm, don’t be scared” that always hits home for me. This movie is especially about civilized dancing limiting a person’s self expression – I highly recommend it. Listening to the world and people around us is probably the most powerful way for us to move forward as a species. How can we experience joy, though, if we feel shameful of this enjoyment?
Shame, I think that word pretty much wraps up the entirety being male. How constantly it seems to come up for me and as I read my mens’ studies books, how often it comes up for others as well. Is it hard wired from our ancient heritage? In hunter gatherer societies when someone broke the laws of the tribe they weren’t imprisoned, they were cast out. Without the protection and camaraderie of your fellow tribesmen life would be exceedingly tough, if you survived at all. This is how shame has become hard wired in our present day selves.
Shame is the experience of not belonging, secondary shame is the feeling of not belonging. In our present day culture it is so easy to evoke these feeling but we must be aware of the distinction between feeling and experiencing. It is minor, but it makes a big difference that will be clear as we discuss the shadow energies that show up with hunter gatherer energy in today’s world. The distinction also shows up positive ways as well. One obvious, yet not very prevalent, example is in modern day spiritual warriors.
“…is it not true that authentic prophets risk shame? They too risk being expelled from the community, literally or figuratively…”