Monday, July 30, 2007


THE THIRD WAY: The God of War and Wrath

Our politically correct culture is reactionary, like an out of control wrecking ball on a long chain swinging from one extreme to the other. Many have correctly observed and become tired of the imbalance in spirituality and religion in America; speaking out against war and violence. As a result, they have gone to the other extreme. They no longer like the masculine images of God found in the Bible as a warring and wrathful deity. They rightly, in my opinion, are seeking to stop violence, war, genocide and all of the atrocities we see being committed in the world.

But many now want to eliminate these 'oppressive' masculine images and make this inferior male God a feminine Goddess of peace and compassion. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people blame all war and violence on the masculine, patriarchal God who has reigned for 5,000 years, and often blamed it on males in general. They tell us it is time to return to the feminine. I give my emphatic Yes to peace and compassion, yes to the beautiful, soft, nurturing feminine; but an emphatic no to the elimination of the masculine metaphors, and an emphatic no to psychological and metaphysical neutrality!

These images are metaphors for God sake, not literal statements or complete descriptions of the Transcendent Realm or God's absolute Nature. Metaphors always conceal way more than they reveal, but what they reveal must be attended to and never lost lest the reactive corrections swing the pendulum too far the other way. In my opinion, as a male, the pendulum has swung too far with the current progressive movement to feminize or neuter our spiritual language, to the exclusion, or inferiority, of the masculine. It is not enough for these 'reformers' to discover, recover or invent feminine metaphors – they want to literally mount a metaphysical coup and replace the bad male deity with the good female deity, or some neutral deity that resembles a blank slate. Some of us call ourselves liberal, but our language, attitudes and ideals are nearly as literal and dogmatic as any conservative Fundamentalist I ever knew. We actually speak as though we are creating a completely new mythology and theology based on what we think best, consigning those ignorant ancients to the scrap heap of metaphysical inferiority . We have forgotten we are using metaphors for the universal Archetypal Energies that will never go away, no matter how we try to mount campaigns to overthrow the Ones we don't like at any given moment.

You see this in the Hebrew Bible. Those who tried to exalt male metaphors to the exclusion of the divine feminine found themselves assailed by the goddesses at every turn – for example, the Northern ten tribes of Israel split off from Jerusalem and recovered the feminine consort of El or Baal, the Goddess Asherah. This national schism or pathology was part of an effort to bring the divine feminine back into Hebrew mythology. You cannot outwit or trump the Infinite Archetypal Sources of Cosmos and Psyche. If you try, they will come through the back door with sometimes catastrophic surprises for being trifled with or ignored; that is what pathologies and psycho-cosmic painful symptoms are – the archetypes demanding to be seen, heard and incorporated into life on all levels.

An example of this is the biblical story of Job which is about a neglected archetype, not the nature of suffering and evil in the world as the story is most often portrayed today. The Hebrews had exclusively exalted the archetype of Prosperity through obedience to the Law of Moses, and had neglected the soul-making archetypal Power of Poverty, what the Greeks called Penia, the mother of Eros or Love. There is a role for Poverty in bringing souls to Love in a way that Abundance cannot. When a person or people focus their sole attention on Prosperity (Euthenia), Penia will rise up from the cellar, demanding attention to make soul.

The contemporary effort to replace the divine masculine with the divine feminine will work no better that past efforts to exclude the divine feminine by solely exalting the divine masculine. Both energies are eternal, normal and necessary. Neither can be quashed. The metaphors or symbols that have been used for millennia may be voted out by synods, changed by translation committees or banned by egoistic members of enlightened Sanghas or churches who have deemed it time usurp the gods, but the Energies will never disappear.

The God of War and Wrath is here to stay, and War and Wrath are metaphors for a psychic Energy Pattern, not an endorsement of war or some God in a celestial Pentegon! They are metaphors!!!!! Metaphor means to carry above or lift beyond the lower literal meaning. Metaphor is simile, imagery, allegory, a figure of speech, a symbol – an attempt to infuse the Archetypal Invisibles with some tangible imagery by using silly, puny human people, places or situations. The God of War and Wrath is a universal symbol of the archetypal Power(s) of wildness, of untamed, unbounded feral creativity that cannot be caged, disciplined or chained with politically correct language or protest marches. It will never happen; if you change the biblical text, or any other sacred text which speaks of the God of War to a Goddess of Peace, then he/she will turn up in some other form, as Kali Durga, the warring goddess that slaughters the enemies. If you turn God from a roaring lion to a purring mother lioness, she will chase down a gazelle and suffocate it with her iron jaws. Or it will come roaring to the forefront as a Hitler or Stalin, demanding attention from the collective psyche; not because It is petty, but because universes and souls cannot be made without all of the Energies being present.

Both, or all, aspects of the archetypal universe are eternal and necessary for the creative and soul-making process - war and peace, chaos and order, life and death, wildness and domesticity. Hera and Hestia champion the peaceful hearth and home, Zeus roams the earth at will, wild and free. Please don't moralize or 'genderize' this idea, because the archetypal deities are beyond morality and gender ultimately; the point is not to say it is ok for males to roam wild and free. The point is that there is an eternal energy in the Universe that is wild, adventuresome and which cannot be caged in a house. This energy is generally seen in males, is recognized ubiquitously as masculine, and yet is a very real part of the feminine Psyche and Mother Earth.

Look at the very Nature of the Physical Universe in its unfettered and wild history, and the Hubble telescope's images in the present universe in its raging expansion; what do we find and see? We see a history of planets, specifically earth, beginning in a fiery red, seething molten state of bubbling ferocity until it cooled and became the pretty blue-green marble the astronauts see from space. Both of these disparate states of earth are historically true and both states are archetypal necessities. We know that the future of this planet will one day see it return to that early molten wrathful condition, or be obliterated, when the sun implodes and incinerates the entire solar system, if we are not hit by an asteroid or comet first. And very likely other realms of the Cosmos will form other serene blue-green marbles. The gods of war and wrath are just two universal metaphors for this geologic, cosmic, chaotic condition which includes volcanoes, earthquakes, rain storms, tornadoes, tsunamis and rolling thunder rife with crackling electrical bolts streaking the sky. These are part of a perfect Nature. This is the metaphor that we find in the biblical name of God, El Shaddai, the deity of the thundering mountain, the god of the roiling sky, the master of the towering nimbus clouds rising like an erect phallus raining moisture onto the fertile soil. You find it in the Egyptian creation myth as Atum masturbates, forming moisture (Tefnut) and clouds (Shu), eventually seeding the earth (Geb).

The Hubble telescope has sent us images that are incredible. We see a million bursting nebulae stretching light years into space, each column or cluster an exploding skein filled with millions of hatching galaxies, each galaxy filled with millions of new stars, planets and moons. These warring, wrath-like aspects of the Cosmos reveal the glory of the divine masculine venting, adventing and inventing. An ancient Hindu myth speaks of a thousand gods gathered in the heavens, debating loudly. Lord Shiva is tired of their haggling and sans Viagra, sprouts a nebulae-like erection and sends the gods scattering like marbles.

As a male, I am getting tired of hearing solely about Mother Earth and the pristine Universe being destroyed by the dunder-headed Patriarchy. Father Sky is as integral to Cosmos and Psyche as Mother Earth, both metaphors speak of a co-creative process. Additionally, it is time we open our exploratory minds to see new aspects of the heavens and earth, finding new metaphors that go beyond the stock few we are stuck in. We must see the thunderous heavens containing her feminine aspects and the nurturing earth containing his masculine aspects. Who has not seen the divine feminine in the soft blue sky and the divine masculine in the muscular mountain ranges? Many of us have tacitly created a gender war between, not only the red states and blue states, but between Father sky and Mother earth. We have even done it with our narrow-minded and uncreative stereotypes of male and female genitalia. Feminine softness and the open womb are balanced by billowing breasts, a firm clitoris and erect nipples; the masculine penis is rarely erect, most often very flaccid, soft and humble; and men have breasts too! In the human body, the immense Cosmos, the universal Psyche and myriad religious texts, we need to recognize the necessary and normal roles of both masculine and feminine archetypes without expunging or erasing any.

Shame on us for our egoistic hubris. Some of us have left those old tyrannical and debilitating religions which used their sacred texts and God to victimize and clobber us, and we've gone to the other extreme of thinking we have exclusive right to pick and choose Who enters our Psyche to make soul. We westerners, because we are the most technologically advanced people in the known history of the planet, believe we can redefine and assign jobs to the gods and goddeses based on our personal desires and ideological job descriptions. It is fine to tend the planet to the best of our ability, but arrogant to think that we can rewrite mythological stories and religious texts because we prefer certain metaphors over others. The old metaphors need to be left alone, reviewed, re-visioned and deliteralized by both liberals and conservatives, and please feel free to invent some new metaphors as your perspective of the Psyche and the Divine evolve. But while we invent metaphors, we do not invent the gods.

Finally, a word of caution…the humanly neglected and eradicated archetypes cannot be expunged; they will always surge forth in our dreams, unconscious social movements, psychic fantasies, human inventions, natural disasters and other ways to reassert their Presences. Jung said, "The gods show up in our symptoms." I take this to mean that planetary or personal tragedies and suffering result often from neglected or dismissed archetypal energies Who come knocking at the door, calling to be attended to in the soul-making and creative process. This is not a gender issue, but an archetypal issue. Taoism likens the Universe to the bending of a bow, when one end is curved too far, the other end must be curved to meet it before the string can be put on the bow.

So then, we must pay attention to the existing metaphors where we find them, and examine their deeper significances before we set about to cancel them or alter them. The God of War and Wrath is still a valid and powerful metaphor for the wild, uncontained, exploratory, audacious Nature of the Cosmos and Psyche. Find it in you, find it in the stars, honor its Presence as necessary and normal for making souls, but don't literalize, eradicate or neglect It.

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