“The Oedipus play…has been handed down for the last 120 years in the world of psychology is now almost colloquial: Oedipus kills his father, then sleeps with his mother. This is the theme that occurs at the start of every humans journey towards alignment and enlightenment; kill off the known masculine structure only to then pursue the feminine in the dark unknown in hope of finding bliss.”Chapter 6, Crossing the Threshold – Redefining the Masculine
Like most children my parents signed me up for all sorts of sports. My favorite was running (I excelled in cross-country and track), but earlier in my sporting history anything that included running was my favorite. In this fashion both soccer and basketball became my favorite sports. Basketball was particularly special to me because my father was the coach.
Basketball to this day is something that is a major thread in my life, particularly in the relationship with my father. However, there is a moment from the days of me learning the sport that stands out completely. It is really a moment of horror, that lives in infamy in my mind.
As a coach my father was adamant that every child received playing time. There were 12 boys in my class, and every one of them went out and eventually played on the court; a basketball team has no more than 5 players on the court playing at any point. As an 8 and 9-year-old, surrounded by my closest friends, under the compassionate hand of my father’s gaze, life could not be better. However, this image by no means was universal. My father had his rough edges and when it came to playing time, there were clear favorites.
In addition to having a clear difference in age (major agility shifts between just turning 8 and being 9) there was also the athletic talent barrier. My best friend at the time was in the younger half of the class, and lacked any real athletic skill; we both later became top runners for our respective high-schools, which I believe is a good reference point for our skill set regarding organized sports. The sparsity of playing time was a constant discussion with an instantaneous feedback loop. Inspired parents would watch their perfect child play in the games, and like a cat-call from a dark alley, when their son was taken out of the game, or not put in the game, the gym echoed with boos and hisses from a silent movie.
My best friend’s father put up a basketball hoop in the driveway of the house so his son could improve; the pressure to perform for my friend was intense. Yet, my friend was in the later part of the game rotation.
During one game, he got put in the game, and the two of us were playing the guard positions bringing the ball up the court. He passed the ball to me from out of bounds, and I shortly passed the ball back to him before crossing half court. The moment he touched the ball, the boos and hisses disappeared. A deep bellowed cattle call, echoing off the valley walls of the gym rang out, “That’s my boy!” The game came to a dead stop.
The whole gymnasium of close to 100 people froze to figure out the moment. My best friend had just been recognized, praised, and possessed by his father. I promise, knowing him to this day that type of energy is still longed for. However, the aggression of that moment, and more than likely a microcosm of their relationship, scared my friend; and it more than definitely scared me and a majority of the huge auditorium. My friend dribbled the ball off his leg, and scrambled to recover it. He then passed me the ball before standing there in shock, maneuvering between the shades of boiled lobster.
My friend was broken in that moment. The masculine hand of his known god came down and smited him. My friend lasted only a handful of more plays, air-balling and having a pass bounce off his chest. My father substituted him, and again a bellow occurred, targeting his son. The melodrama was in full effect and with his son now on the bench, responded with a negation and please stop, that sounded like any 8-year old’s hysterical tantrum. Father was eventually asked to leave the gym.
The masculine archetype, defined as creator and destroyer, creates and protects boundaries. Envision the powerful image of a masculine figure claiming and protecting their family. However, an immature masculine does not know the difference between creating and destroying.
The mature masculine is well defined by the father-like image of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. Ian McKellen’s character, Gandalf, noted favorite line from the movie is, “You shall not pass!” Gandalf and the fellowship of the ring are threatened by a deep and original evil that shows up as the Balrog demon. Gandalf gallantly, magically, and forcibly creates a barrier separating his loved ones, his family, from the evil.
When the mature masculine does this, they sacrifice themselves. There is a death that occurs, a sacrifice of love. Gandalf’s story is forever changed as he now gets entwined with the evil, battling for his soul. His family and loved ones protected, Gandalf begins a new journey. His journey is notable and completed as he has transformed from Gandalf the Grey, ascending into a higher level of consciousness as Gandalf the White.
Regardless of the system ascribed to, the first adventure for anyone is crossing the threshold and stepping outside the system with which you became most familiar as a child. This could be a government, religion, or simply the structure, regulations, and unwritten rules of your family system. This structure and patriarchy is in the conscious world, and what I have defined as the masculine. For most, this masculine will look like the male energy of your childhood. For those without a strong masculine figure in their childhood, they will search for one in order to eventually break free from it. The masculine may be likened to science in that a theory is needed to be present in order to test, and retest, only to finally break free and discover the original framework was indeed just an image to begin with; an image necessary to safely begin life.
As we mature, we all are asked to separate ourselves from that masculine framework. We need to kill off the structure that protected us during childhood, and battle our own demons for the saving and more importantly connection to our soul. We need our independence to define who we are for ourselves.