The Deep Masculine and the Wild Man

Read Part 1: Qualities of Conscious Warriors

When a man is overcome by his inner darkness, he has the potential to be far worse than any junkyard dog. He can become demonic in the true sense of the word, a narcissistic psychopath unable to feel empathy, unable to imagine himself in the shoes of the other. This kind of savagery is polar opposite to the true wild man.

A basic idea of masculine psychology is that a man who feels inwardly weak, inwardly impotent, will tend to compensate outwardly by emphasizing a more stereotyped masculinity. He will beat his chest, disdain weakness, may be uncomfortable around gay men, and incline more toward macho. In more extreme cases he may even be prone to violence and a general sociopathic indifference to the fate of others. It’s not hard to see all this in the spectacle of the young disenfranchised men who act out violently, often with only marginal just cause (even by the terms of their own warped construction of reality).

The main thing that differentiates the deep masculine from the more conventional ideas of masculinity is balance

The concept of the ‘deep masculine’ is an important part of the teachings of the mythopoetic men’s movement in general, and it also applies very much to the ideal of the conscious warrior. The main thing that differentiates the deep masculine from the more conventional ideas of masculinity is balance, and in particular, the integration of a rich feeling, sensual, embodied life into a healthy masculine core.

A man who has very developed classical masculine traits (strength, bravery, sense of direction, purpose, etc.) but who is disconnected in other ways—say, he’s too emotionally shut-down, he’s clued out in the area of interpersonal relating, he lacks empathy and is tone-deaf to relationship nuance, and so forth—is not fully masculine. A man truly developed in his masculinity is strong but not threatened by softness; can reason clearly about the big picture but is not deaf to the emotional particularities of a given moment; can lead a company or group but is also sensitive to the needs of an individual.

The deep masculine is the wild man harnessed to the practical needs of a man who has to work for a living, pay bills, and keep relationships. The main quality of the wild man is boldness and courage, and in particular, the courage to face the darkness of his own heart. When a shaman or a magician raises spirits in the wild or in the inner sanctum of his magic circle, he is also confronting the dark side of his own nature. To ‘tame’ a spirit, or to ‘bind a demon’, is a metaphor for taming one’s own shadow side. The main difference is that this shadow side is not to be abused; it is rather tamed much as a horse is tamed, where it can then be ridden joyously and celebrated as two minds working together.

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