I want to first thank John Beckett for writing an incredibly well crafted piece, I Don’t Get Men’s Mysteries, regarding his experience with the concept of the male mysteries. It inspired me to write this post. I agree with everything he said and was once in his shoes, especially being one of only a handful of men in a Goddess-centered tradition. I read his post and remember saying these same words over and over again, until one day I accidentally joined a men’s group and reluctantly stayed.
The short of the story is that after moving to California six years ago I found myself with partners who attended a monthly men’s gathering. If I wanted to see them on that particular Saturday night each month I had to go to what I affectionately referred to at the time as, “that stupid men’s group.” There was something about the concept that I just didn’t get and I didn’t resonate with at all, but we do strange things for love! Within the first year the group shifted enough and what emerged was one of the coolest and most supportive groups of people I have ever met. That was five years ago and I am glad I stuck around.
Over this time I have grown to see how important these spaces have been in my life and I would like to share from an insider’s perspective what can make them so special. Here are five reasons you shouldn’t knock-it ‘till you try-it!
One: They can help make you a better man. Yep, I said it! The biggest complaint we have in society is that men are taught to be hyper-masculine, fem-resistant, anti-emotional Marlboro types. Those behaviors are learned from our male role models and peer groups. It is possible to teach an old dog new tricks and what better place to have your male privilege and macho BS served to you, than in a men’s group? Let’s face it, it can be hard to hear some things from members of the opposite sex, male privilege is one of them. In my experience I am usually the one calling it out, but I have actually made some life long friends by having those discussions.
Two: They can show you all the things your father couldn’t. Though I haven’t personally had to worry about this particular issue I did find that having older men with healthy relationships and balanced perspective around me to have greatly shaped my perspective of masculinity. It went from being something I generally acquainted to barbarism to something that I saw as being responsible, strong, and care giving both emotionally and physically. The only way we can ever shape the idea of masculinity is to redefine it; men’s groups allow you the space to do that.
Three: It’s good to have bros. After a long week of fighting patriarchy and redefining the concepts of masculinity it is good to kick back, have a beer (or glass of wine), and commiserate. There is nothing like knowing there are other guys who are fighting the good fight and have your back! I can’t tell you how many times my bros have talked me off a ledge or convinced me to delete the post before publishing. It’s nice to have a place to vent, collect strategy for the long war against bigotry ahead, as well as get the occasional “Job well done” from a fellow bro.
Four: It actually isn’t all about the sex. Despite what most people think, when male pagans get together we don’t actually all stand around and talk about sex. We actually spend most of our time talking about how to education other men and what we would like to see happen in the community. I have never once been hit on, preyed upon, or made to feel uncomfortable by sex talk. Relationships built in these settings rarely become more than good friends, and if the bar is set high enough sex will be the last thing on everyone’s mind.
Five: We are still figuring this out. Like the rest of paganism, male mysteries are still a mystery. There is no set way, there are only models; models that needed to be changed and were. The best part of this work is that every one of us who identifies as male has a voice. Unlike some of the feminist pagan movement, the mysteries don’t lie within our reproductive cycles, they lie within how we help to provide and take care of our world. When I read the post by John I couldn’t help but think, “Hey! This guy is exploring the male mysteries right now!” The truth is, every one who identifies as male has a piece of the mysteries and when we circle in groups we can share those pieces that we do have with one another.
No group is for everyone and no way is the only way. There are plenty of other things a pagan man can get himself into but I can say that if he is like me, he might find some really valuable pieces of wisdom hidden in all that testosterone.
For those who identify as male and would like a place where they can experience this online, I would like to invite them to Project Pagan Priest on Facebook.