Archive for the ‘male’ tag
In Jungian psychology, the journey towards wholeness is called individuation. In alchemical terms, this wholeness is represented by the masculine and the feminine symbolism which takes the form of a holy wedding between the king and the queen. Knowing that the images are symbolic is vital for understanding of the psychological process. Within the psyche, the anima, or soul, is the feminine aspect; consciousness is the masculine aspect.
As to be expected, there are other symbols that are used to illustrate the idea of completion, of wholeness. One that finds it way into contemporary society is that of the sun and the moon contained together. As I walk down the street of my tiny town, I can see numerous examples of this image including several that are on my house. In Jungian terms, the sun is symbolic of consciousness, of the masculine principle; the moon is symbolic of the unconscious, or feminine principle. It is vital to differentiate the masculine and the feminine principles from biological males and females.
In social terms, the union of a man and a woman with the resulting creation of a child produces a wholeness that all societies embrace as family. This union of male and female has its roots in instinct, in the will to survive as a species. The union also has the impulse for completeness, for two to become one for a moment, a moment in which allows a transcendence of the painfully prosaic lives we live as individuals, even if we are in relationship with others.
With the act of union completed, it doesn’t take long for each to retreat within themselves and begin a grieving process for the loss of the other, for the loss of a sense of being at one with oneself. One returns to suffering.
“In talking about sex, we are getting into a very big topic. We are getting into the fact that every life situation has meaning behind it, or a process of communication in it. Communication can’y be established unless there are two parties, one of whom is the activator and the other the receiver. On that basis, any communication can be said to be sexual, although I’m not being Freudian here. The passionate quality of sex, doesn’t have to be involved necessarily. In order to communicate anything, however, you do have to have the true element of union. From the tantric point of view, everything is interpreted that way – in terms of union. There is the union of samsara ad nirvana, the union of phenomena and consciousness. We interpret it all in terms of the feminine and masculine principles. Everything is seen that way. (Trungpa, Work, Sex, Money, p. 106)
The union of masculine and feminine, the union of all dualities, polarities – the union of opposites and the achievement of wholeness, of one-ness.
I took this photo a few minutes before leaving Ben Nay for the Cu Chi Tunnels, just moments after enjoying a good meal at a restaurant for foreigners, for tourists. I looked at this man and then thought about how different our lives are at this same moment in time. The scene was a symbol even before I pointed the camera and took this shot. But what was it symbolizing? What is there in this image of the masculine that served to catch my attention?
As I look again at this photo, I am taken back to that moment when I really saw him and saw that he was aware of my presence. No words were spoken, but there was an affirmation that we had seen each other. No words were necessary; no smile or frown came into the non-verbal contact that was established for a moment in time. With that moment passed, he continued his farming tasks and I wandered off to take a photo of a butterfly and then of a flower before getting into the car to head to the Cu Chi Tunnels.
What is being symbolized? A photo of a man does have an aura of masculine regardless of the individual’s masculinity. The image of man evokes the masculine. Take a “she-male” out of his persona and catch him unadorned and the masculine is present. Of course, masculine is not limited to the male, sometimes little in evidence for some males. The masculine is also found in women. This is important because one has to come to grips that it isn’t about the physical equipment of a man, but about the symbol that points to the psychic fact. Each of us resonates in some manner to the masculine, regardless of the resonance being positive or negative, a resonance based on personal history, family history and the evidence presented by the community.
The masculine – but what is that? What does that mean to you? What does that mean to me? Because I am a male, it is all mixed into the physical mix of who I am, I guess you could say that trying to come to grips with the masculine is contaminated by the maleness of my biological self and how that is changing as I age. Trying to understand masculine is also made difficult when one is in a relationship regardless of the whether or not the relationship is heterosexual or homosexual. Of course, there are the other relationships, that of being a child, a parent, a colleague, a neighbour, a member of the collective that also add to the complexity. One has to sift through the entanglements of relationship to arrive at the psychic individual response to the psychic fact of masculinity.
The biggest problem for me is trying to convey a meaning, a definition using words. I turn to C.G. Jung for help and find even more intellectual discourse on the subject by a number of post-Jung authors and analysts as well as others who wrote long before Jung, and others who have no ties to psychology. I begin to think that words can’t be found that will give a meaning that will be understood by more than the person who writes the words, and even then, I suspect that even this would be missing the essence of the masculine. And so, I resort to images, symbols that will point towards the masculine in hopes that I can better understand myself at both the level of being in a collective and at the level of trying to understand a deeper and fuller self.
I took this photo in a cave on one of the islands in HaLong Bay, Vietnam. It is quite graphic and needs no interpretation on my part in terms of what it represents. It was likely the most photographed natural stone formation in the huge cavern that meandered through much of the mountain. Most stopped at this point in the large circle that wandered through various chambers and openings for a longer period of time than at all the other structures that were a photographer’s dream. The fascination was there. Many left the path in order to get the image from different angles. I noticed that women were also among those who stopped for a moment, especially if they carried a camera. As I looked over the gathered crowd taking photographs of the structure, I noticed that it wasn’t just the young adults who were present; also gathered and studying the structure were those who were well into midlife in not into old age. It made me wonder about the fascination with phallos, phallus, the phallic.
The title of today’s post is a variation of Eugene Monick’s book, Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine. My copy of this book is sitting on my bookshelf back in Canada, so I am borrowing from Google Books for today’s post. I bought this book a number of years ago, read it and then set it aside. For a while, I thought it might be just a “male” thing, this attention to the human penis. I thought that my interest in the image and the reality of the penis might be somehow an aberration, a signal that I have sex too much on my brain. But then I thought of the images of little boys “playing,” or should I say “discovering” their penis. It is there right in front of our eyes and somehow draws our attention to it over the years. Males are often both proud and ashamed of their penis. We hide the penis and pretend it doesn’t exist; yet at the same time we proudly want to flaunt it, especially for the female that has captured our attention.
This phallic structure was carved out of nature, by nature. The play of light on the structure is all of man’s work. Of course one would have to say that the forces of nature were not intentional in having this structure be phallic in appearance; it is simply an outcropping of stone that has formed over the years. The lights as seen in this image are intentional. But what was the intention? Was it a way to capitalize on the sexual curiousity of humans, a bit of sexual exploitation that would help keep the money rolling in from tourists? Or is there more to it than that? I can’t even begin to guess on the motivation or the intention, but I can see the results and the symbolism that emerges. In my opinion, there is more being said here of unconsciousness guiding consciousness. Religion, art in all forms, and relationships – all respond to phallos, either embracing or rejecting the masculine principle that it symbolizes.
Yet, though we find a way to celebrate phallos collectively in our advertising, in our buildings, in our art; there is a rejection of the physicalness of phallos. Who dares expose their penis in the modern world. Making the presence of the penis obvious via clothing choices is more symbolic of perversion in the public mind than symbolic of energy, virility and the masculine. So we hide the penis behind layers of cloth, the baggier the clothing, the better. And in the process, men become guilty and that guilt is passed down to the young men, the adolescents who become more and more confused about what it is to be a male.
So, am I a pervert, a dirty old man for finding this image and posting it here? Would it not be better to find a more neutral image? Is this simply the fretting of getting older and the fear of losing the energy and vitality of being a “man?”
First, I want to begin by saying that this is my wife. We have been married 38 years. I have avoided bringing her into this blog for a host of reasons, the primary one being her privacy. That said, it is only natural that I include her in today’s post about love. One of our frequent discussions revolves around trying to define what love is. Of course, such a discussion is usually disappointing in terms of finding a common definition. I don’t think that a definition can ever be achieved when looking at it from two separate poles, that of the masculine and the feminine. The best I can do, is speak from my core, from my level of consciousness and the intuitions that arise.
First, the basic premise that opposites attract hold. Magnetism proves this in nature. This is vital for survival of all species. Male attracts female; female attracts male. This instinctual attraction leads to renewal of the species. But, this isn’t enough to approach the idea of love. There is so much more. So many women, so many men; if this was all there was to it, a man could fall in love with all women or a woman could fall in love with all men simply because they were the opposite gender.
No, the opposite has to be much more significant. When we look at personality, even here opposites attract. The more they are opposite, the more the fire, the energy, the clash. One is extrovert and the other is introvert. One trusts intuitively, the other trusts based on what the senses reveal. One processes based on feeling tones, the other cognitively. Now, how can two people who are so totally different, ever possibly arrive at a common definition of something that defies definition even when two other people are paired with the same personality?
Here are Jung’s words on the topic that might be of help. But in saying that, one has to be of a mind to hear and understand the world, humanity and the human psyche from a Jungian point of view. Complicated, isn’t it?
Love has more than one thing in common with religious faith. It demands unconditional trust and expects absolute surrender. Just as nobody but the believer who surrenders himself wholly to God can partake of divine grace, so love reveals its highest mysteries and its wonder only to those who are capable of unqualified devotion and loyalty of feeling. And because this is so difficult, few mortals can boast of such an achievement. But, precisely because of the truest and most devoted love is also the most beautiful, let no man seek to make it easy. He is a sorry knight who shrinks from the difficulty of loving his lady. Love is like God: both give themselves only to the bravest knights. (Carl Jung, CW X, paragraph 232)
This is a male Rufous-Sided Towhee found in the semi-desert hills of south-western Saskatchewan. One of my grandsons pointed out this bird to me while we were hiking in the hills. There were seven of us, a grandfather, a son-in-law and five grandsons – a gathering of the masculine. At one point, the youngest had a small fall with a very slight skinning of one knee – a wounding of sorts. Of course, that resulted in a badge of honour, a chance to be manly. As Monick points out:
Masculinity is an accomplishment, not a birthright – so strong is the pull of nature-mother. (Monick, Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine, 1987, p. 48)
The bridging of generations for males is built through small rituals and large rituals as well as containment of the developing masculine in the absence of the mother. A sense of self as a masculine being is simply that, a sense of self. It isn’t about other, it isn’t about power over other. It is about self awareness as a male.