It occurred to me earlier this evening in the midst of an impromptu workout routine that aside from Jungian psychological archetypes and inherited myths and stories from lost civilizations and cultures, it seems to me that polytheist and Pagan men exist mostly in the vacuum between Abrahamic belief systems and polytheism. Polytheism, from its inception and its near-total absorption by militant feminism in the late 70s until the recent past, has largely remained the realm of women and intrepid men who are unafraid of bearing the weight of socially-demeaning labels and mistaken identities, including that of the effeminate male, the emasculated male, or simply ‘the eccentric male’. It occurred to me that polytheist men have very little to work with in regard to positive male archetypes, with the majority of the archetypes presented in modern texts as primarily female and, for the most part, motherly or grandmotherly in stature to the practitioner. I mean– yes, you have the primary archetypes such as the Horned God, the Oak/Holly King(s), and deities such as Zeus, Cernunnos, and Antinous, but there are few parallels to the much-ballyhooed Maiden, Mother, and Crone of contemporary Wicca.
This is where the thought-experiment comes in: What do men have as a parallel to the Maiden/Mother/Crone cycle?
Why not introduce a new cycle for the male practitioners? I propose something like this:
The Wildling is the consummate youth: wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, and eager to experience all that can be experienced no matter the cost or consequence. He feels right at home in even the most simplistic of activities and his aspects vary widely from person-to-person, sometimes seeking the physical exertion of a flat-out sprint to catch-up with the ice-cream truck with his friends, other times seeking the wonder and the merriment that can be found in the folds of his favorite book or film. The Wildling simultaneously has some of the easiest lessons as well as the most difficult concepts to convey to the practitioner, and can sometimes only provide it as a barrage of images and emotions but generally gets the point across.
His lessons often center around finding the excitement and often child-like wonder that is so often lost in modern cultures between the Internet, television, and sedentary existence. Happiness, or at the very least contentment, are the hallmarks of a healthy relationship with the Wildling. The “shadow side” often times includes insensitive and incoherent outbursts, feelings of isolation, rage, and resentment (typically against one or more authority figures). Resolution of these ‘shadow elements’ can often be difficult, as it involves a large portion of lower-world emotional work, but can be extremely insightful.
The Warrior is the Wildling given time and the direction to grow and change. The Warrior values strength and tenacity, but also values quiet contemplation and the more complex mental efforts required of a Warrior during peace-time: building, repairing, training, learning, and internalizing. The Warrior knows when to strike and when to speak, and works to impart this wisdom upon the practitioner. Patience hasn’t fully-formed, but the knowledge that some situations require it and others still require action are the culmination of continued growth and achievement. The Warrior remembers the Wildling, remembers the wonder that he approached the world with, and tries to carry that into his everyday experiences, showering friends and lovers with affection and admiration, while expressing criticism and defeating threats when necessary.
The Warrior teaches any under his tutelage lessons in patience, personal and physical strength, and tries to impart his what wisdom and vision that he can upon the practitioner. Personal and professional growth, the strengthening of interpersonal and sexual relationships, and the achievement of goals are all hallmarks of a healthy relationship with the Warrior. The “shadow side” will typically include cold or calculating actions designed to teach the practitioner a lesson they will never forget. The Warrior, much like fire, is not a gentle master and sometimes has the potential to create or exacerbate problems. The Warrior, however immovable he may seem, also has a warm and forgiving heart and often readily forgive transgressions and accept the practitioner into his warm embrace and instruction once more. Resolution and retrospection go hand-in-hand wherever the Warrior’s influence is felt or imparted, and can be physically as well as mentally difficult.
The Wizened-One (sometimes called the Sage) is the tail-end of the male cycle, culminating in the transference of physical strength into mental and spiritual strength. Achievement, knowledge, and counsel are available for one who grants respect and listens intently to the wisdom that the Wizened-One offers. With the knowledge that comes with such experience, he offers his advice and creativity and greets you as a grandparent would greet you: with warmth and a depth of love that seems unparalleled and intense. He is a teller of tales, a font of vast wisdom, and the consummate spiritual elder.
The Wizened-One can grant intense visions or dreams, and can trigger intense emotional release or contraction depending on what is required. All the practitioner must do is simply ask and be willing to obtain it as it comes to them. His shadow element is that of intense, visceral emotional reactions such as the fear that comes part-and-parcel with advanced aging and imminent death. He can sometimes be fickle, as some elders are apt to be, but when approached with sufficient respect and supplication his warmth and openness can be restored.
What are your thoughts on the cycle outlined here? Do these archetypes parallel any of the experiences you have had, or do they give you additional ideas for rituals or practices? Leave me a comment and let’s discuss!