3 Practices to Forgive the Masculine & Embrace Brothers
Any individual who has grown up within a patriarchal culture, has a healing journey to embark upon when it comes to forgiving and embracing the masculine. The masculine has been incredibly distorted in our society and therefore must be remembered, reclaimed and reintegrated.
Note: the term ‘Masculine’ does not refer solely to the gender construct, but to the universal energy that lives within us all. While my embodiment and lens prefers to work with these terms as energies, in this post I refer to this reconciliation as a movement happening between male-identified and female-identified individuals.
My Journey with the Masculine
In 2018, my NYE intention was to re-divine masculinity, to open my heart to brothers without and to embrace the masculine within. This shift has been a journey of much trust, discernment, discomfort, and growth. This shift has required a sifting out of toxic patriarchal notions from true divine masculinity in all its innately pure glory.
When I chose to open my heart to conscious masculinity, I opened my eyes to see many bright brothers standing before me, ready to exchange in service, kindness, respect. I also was struck by the sight of men suffering, propelling me into grief & compassion for the ways patriarchy has suppressed & fed the collective male wound. I felt the root of violence as a sad inner child, reaching for his innocence or his mom. After a week of some of the most transformative work I’ve experienced via Tantra immersion, I collapsed in tears in the arms of a brother, allowing my womb to grieve for all that had caused my separation from men, while being held in gratitude for this choice of re-union.
In this way, my heart has expanded to a place my one year ago self could not have imagined. Now, I find myself deeply called to work with men in their healing and self-forgiveness and to work with women in this opening for reconciliation. I send light to those who have hurt me most & find solidarity in our divinely innocent sparks. I feel my frustration and devastation for the pain caused by wounds left untended. I allow for more raw grief and rage for the child in me who has been let down by the masculine, full confrontation in service of reconciliation at the root. I feel the deepest reverence for men courageously diving into their own healing and heart expansion and the deepest honour for women choosing Love.
With a history of so much hurt and oppression, how can we begin to forgive the masculine?
How can we feel and heal our patriarchal wounds while simultaneously sitting in harmonious circle together?
How can we embrace our brothers with as much trust and solace, as we do our sisters?
Practice #1: Re-defining Forgiveness
Back in February, I had the opportunity to speak at an event called ‘Forgiveness in the #MeToo Movement’, hosted by Project F Word. In Q&A style, myself and another courageous survivor had the opportunity to share our stories, our perspectives on forgiveness and our unfiltered heart-visions for our world regarding this complex topic. I rarely share my story of sexual assault in such detail anymore... while I honour the painful seed that gave birth to such flowering and creation, this deep dive into the details doesn’t always serve. However, it was truly an empowering gift and a humbling opportunity to share my reality, my raw humanness, my struggle and my trauma transmutation in such a grounded & real way.
When discussing forgiveness, it’s important to clarify what we mean by this concept and to acknowledge the Drastically Varying associations that accompany this word.
Here, I have included an excerpt from my upcoming book on re-defining forgiveness…
Forgiveness is a word that can cause a guttural-defence reaction,
Especially for those that have been mistreated, abused, or wronged
There are many reasons why a woman would be resistant to embrace and forgive her brothers,
And even to unite with her Divine Masculine-self within
And there are many reasons why a man would be hesitant to trust and open to his sisters,
And even to unite with his Divine Feminine-self within
Forgiveness itself is something beautiful
Forgiveness is the ability to hold compassion for another soul,
To simply or not so simply, see the divinity in their Being
To acknowledge the beat of their heart
To know the untouchable innocence of the original blueprint with which they entered this world
Forgiveness is to recognize that this Other was a baby once, just like you
And that they will grow old someday, just like you
Forgiveness is to humanize that which we have demonized
It is to face Beings that have been cast as monsters,
And to simply see their Being-ness within
Please hear and digest:
Forgiveness is entirely different from justification,
As it is about the Being and not about their action(s)
Forgiveness does not justify abuse, rape, cruelty, bullying, degradation, objectification, injustice, or any toxic, detrimental behaviour
Forgiveness for a Being and Resistance towards their actions can unequivocally coexist
We can know the never-lost Innocence of an individual’s soul,
While recognizing their particular Action(s) as Unacceptable or Wrong
Grant yourself the gift of coexisting contradiction
Know that you can despise an Action and simultaneously Forgive a Being
Forgiveness is a decision based in energetic shift
And because this shift takes place in the soul realm,
Forgiveness does not always need to be reflected in concrete human word or action
It is more than enough that Forgiveness be demonstrated by a shift in your own heart space,
This shift does not need to be proven by giving your time to abusers, by staying in dangerous or triggering situations, or by any other external words, commitments or behaviours
Practice: Journal Prompts
Who can you forgive in your life without condoning their actions?
What emotions do you hold in one hand? What traits of forgiveness do you hold in the other?
How do your expressions of forgiveness vary in different situations? (ex. communication, boundaries)
Practice #2: Honour Men’s Innocence
We can choose to connect to something more deep, ancient, and true than the conditioning that may influence our perception. In my blog post on transforming jealousy and embracing sisterhood, I offer tools that create simple shifts towards ending the lie of separation. With these practices, we can move towards embracing men in their innocence… in order to soften into solidarity around those we’ve been taught to deem Completely Different.
Adopt the mantra, ‘All men come from the womb’. This universal truth helps to create expectations of honour in the ways which we relate. This reminder welcomes in innocence and helps bridge perceptions of extreme difference, as we celebrate that which connects us and acknowledge our shared first homes.
Literally visualize him doing anything that affirms his innocence and wholesome beginnings. Picture him as a baby or envision him breastfeeding from his Mama. Whether or not this reflects his upbringing, this is a heart-softening tool to reverse the jaded stereotypes, assumptions, and judgements of men we’ve been taught.
Acknowledge him as ‘Sacred Brother’. Visualize these words as an anchor keeping you grounded in heart. With this shift, We begin to see seeming strangers as brothers; who, like ourselves- have journeyed through a whole human experience, including patriarchal pains of emotional suppression. From this place, we can recognize each other as potential allies and soul siblings, sharing this home of earth.
Practice #3: Embracing the Fire Keeper
This past week, my Mother and I facilitated a deeply transformative women’s retreat in Costa Rica. This was the first time in my facilitating experience, be it retreat, workshop or circle, that we shared the space with many men, while diving into Divine Feminine Healing. It was fascinating to see how our container shifted and shook, as we learned to navigate interactions with and service from these men.
It was important to me that- less than 24 hours in- we acknowledged this masculine presence. Could the women be as open and vulnerable in their healing with men around? Could they stay centred in their sovereignty and committed to their ceremony when men would approach with play and flirtation?
As salve for simplification, we introduced the role and teachings of the Fire Keeper as a way to ground our container and set boundaries within this context.
Who is the Fire Keeper?
As a white person of European descent, I am by no means an expert of the Sweat Lodge, with origins in Indigenous culture. I have however, been blessed to be invited into multiple sweat lodge ceremonies. These sacred spaces represent a return to the mother’s womb for purification, detoxification, connection, and healing. Some lodges that I have participated in have included all gender identities and some have been specifically for women. The women-specific lodges I’ve experienced, have always been tended to by male-identified Fire Keepers.
These are men who remain just outside of the lodge, tending to the fire and heating the rocks to be used in sweat. These men are not invited into the container of the lodge and they are often discouraged from interacting with the women. However, it is acknowledged, honoured and made clear that the ceremony could not happen without their contribution. A balance of deep, spoken and unspoken honour is created, while boundaries are respected and maintained. Often, gifts are left as a thank you for their service and it is acknowledge that the opportunity to tend to the fire is, in and of itself, a heart-humbling gift.
Of course, these roles will not play out so literally in our lives and boundaries need not always be so strict. Outside of such spirit-fully orchestrated ceremonies and specific life circumstances, it is a beautiful thing for us to transcend division in order to experience, connect, and play Together!
But, we can almost always tap into these roles as archetypal foundations for honour. The recognition of these roles bring a beautiful shift away from co-dependence and towards interdependence. In my own life, I can see the ways in which men have acted as fire keepers for my ceremony. Their tangible actions and contribution have propelled my own healing, expression, relaxation, and heart.
*Transcending gender and working with the energetic masculine-feminine, we can also embrace these roles within. Ask yourself how your power centre (the solar plexus chakra- connected to the element of Fire), propels and serves your heart/ceremony (your capacity to forgive/love)?
Who are the men in my life that serve as fire keeper for my ceremony/heart? (You may know them directly or indirectly)
How do they show up? What do our interactions look like?
How are their contributions responded to and received?
So, Let’s Commit to Reconciliation
While it can be scary to build bridges where we have previously established walls, this journey of re-union between the feminine and masculine is so beautiful. For all relations and future generations, it is important that we heal from the wounds of patriarchal conditioning that keep us fearful and divided. With discernment and commitment to our own healing, let us move towards forgiveness and brotherly embrace. We need not fight our battles alone and we need not fight against one another. Our differences can be celebrated as complementary and our similarities celebrated as harmonious.
Let us invite in self-forgiveness, patience, and non-judgement as we recognize the radical nature of this reconciling path. Move slowly and honour yourself for whatever phase of this healing journey you may be in. Honour your strength, your rage, your grief and your resilient heart. Look towards your own gut for guidance and take solace in knowing: the true masculine, beyond patriarchal constructs, is Alive, Thriving, and Whole in Heart.
With Gratitude & Infinite Heart,
SHOUT OUT TO SOME Inspiring, Heart-Centred Brothers:
Earth Heals by Nick WarD: Celebrating authenticity & self-care, honouring failure on the road to success
Conscious masculinity by darren austin hall: spiritual educator, sacred musician & sound healer
Chris dub kundalini: Yoga teacher sharing self-awareness, healing, transformation & growth
Inside circle foundation: Empowering system impacted people to lead change from within; creators of documentary “The Work”