June 26, 2018
Hey! Said my name is called Disturbance. I'll shout and scream, I'll kill the king, I'll rail at all his servants. Well, what can a poor boy do, Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band? - Street Fighting Man, Keith Richards
Think of a positive male role model. It could be a parent, relative, friend, coworker, or even celebrity. What is it about them that exhibits the divine masculine archetype for you? How do they display their divine nature? Now, think of a negative male figure. How have they exhibited toxic masculinity towards you or others through violence, oppression or psychological abuse? This second person may evoke strong feelings within you. It may be through direct experience or as an influence on your life. As you ask yourself these questions, recognize your feelings. Note the sensations and where they occur in your body. If you need to, write it down. The physical location of the sensations aroused through our feelings and thoughts is powerful information in healing traumatic experiences. Sometimes we’re completely unaware of the signals our body is sending. As you continue to read this article, check in on the physical sensations that occur. You may find this helpful.
It is my belief that each of us has had experiences with both kinds of men, and that through these experiences, we have unique perspectives that define masculinity for ourselves. Considering the range and varieties of our life experiences, we all have distinct ideas of what healthy masculinity is and what is not. So instead of attempting to define a very personal and abstract concept of divine masculinity vs. toxic masculinity, what I would like to ask is, how we might answer these questions individually, and through the medium of music. (The Greek muse of music is Euterpe, if you want to incorporate a little magical inspiration into this activity.)
First, set up a comfortable space to listen to music. This shouldn’t be hard, but when was the last time you sat down with the sole purpose of listening? Pour some sparkling water or a glass of wine. Crack a bag of chips and choose 3-5 of your favorite, predominantly male artists or bands. Listen to a few of their most popular songs. Try to listen to each song as though you’ve never heard it before.
As you listen, ask yourself a few questions: How is masculinity expressed in the music? What are the lyrics in the music about and how do they make you feel? What do you know about the personal lives of the artist/band members? Are they abusive in their personal relationships? Were these issues resolved? Did they learn from their actions? What about their positive attributes? How do they empower and celebrate divine masculinity? Note where you feel the answers to these questions. Recall a negative experience of toxic masculinity. How did this shape your perspective? Is this experience unresolved? If this issue requires resolution, find it. Seek professional help if necessary. Make it happen and heal your mind and body of oppression. You deserve health and happiness.
Male musical icons are powerful images and influence our personal and societal definitions of masculinity. Regardless of the genre, we can easily name examples. To be fair, my two are David Bowie and Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy. Whoever they are, people either want them or want to be them. They are examples of masculine archetypes through their music and personal lives. After doing this activity, note the music you hear throughout the week with these questions in mind. As you do this, you may find that you are beginning to define the positive aspects of masculinity for yourself, whether or not you identify as male.
My purpose for this activity is that music is a language we all speak and has powerful ways of healing and encouraging us to celebrate life. The important thing to remember is that we all are unique in our definition of spiritual principles. We may all agree that divine masculinity is free from oppression, hate and superiority, but we might differ in the finer details of positive masculine characteristics. Our society is only beginning to grasp the complexity and pervasive elements of toxic masculinity. It is a turbulent time for correcting systems of social conditioning that have led to rape culture, domestic violence and sexual abuse, but the important thing is that we evolve into more conscious, responsible individuals. Recently, I was saddened by the news of Garrison Keillor’s termination from National Public Radio for sexual harassment. I grew up in a Lutheran family in the Midwest, and A Prairie Home Companion was something we listened to each Saturday night. It ran deep, like strata and fasnachts. It was culture. However, after allowing myself to grieve and process the feelings, it is difficult to listen to APHC without recalling the character stain of its host, as a result of his poor choices. I have accepted that as we begin to untangle the accounts of sexual harassment and assault, there will be career casualties along the way. Jobs will be lost and character integrity will be questioned. Lawsuits will be won and lost. May we all proceed with the intent to heal and evolve.
In conversation with a friend last week, I was reminded that none of the men involved in these current cases of sexual assault need to be cultural “throw-aways”. They each have the opportunity to resolve these issues for their victims and for themselves. They have the ability to accept responsibility and change. As men, we can learn from the mistakes of others, as well as our own mistakes. We can become better boyfriends, lovers, fathers and leaders. As humans, we all have the capacity to evolve. We can treat everyone with respect and dignity. We can all heal.
Author: Samuel McCabe is a visual artist, educator, operative magician and Tarot reader at Ritualcravt. He has ten years experience with ceremonial magick in group and solitary settings. He is currently researching the origins of magick through grimoires, mythology and anthropology. Samuel teaches using a project-based approach that inspires creativity and independence in his students. You can follow and connect more with Samuel via Instagram @thepeacockgrimoire