As a man, you possess a powerful primal masculine quality that is often overlooked and even demonised. We are talking about Eros, the masculine expression of desire, love and passion.
When we think Masculine we tend to think “Warrior”: Strong, direct, determined, purposeful, controlled, autonomous. If we are into Tantra, we think Shiva, the unmoving totality of presence. Softer qualities such as love, passion, sensuality, longing for connection, mystery, surrender to feeling, get parceled off into the Feminine.
Eros embodies these so called softer qualities in a distinctly masculine package.
Eros is a Greek god. Originally regarded as one the primal forces of creation, he later became the son and messenger of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and ultimately got downgraded to Cupid the cute little cherub. The word “erotic”, that which arouses sexually, is derived from Eros. Its now time for Eros to step back up into his his magnificence of masculine embodiment.
Here are some key things about Eros:
- He is “he” – an aspect of the Masculine
- He is a primal force of being, in our lives and in the universe
- His nature is desire
- His expression is physical and sexual
Desire is the magnetic pull of attraction between ourself and “other”. At a crude and unconscious level Eros may show up as desire to possess or consume her. At a deeper more conscious level Eros is desire to touch and be touched by her, to be in intimate connection to her. In his fullest expression Eros is desire for total soul merging with her so that all sense of self and other disappears.
Notice how I use the word “her”. From the point of view of the masculine essence, “other” can be broadly equated with the Feminine. I was taught by my Buddhist lamas that as a man I could experience everything outside of me as the Feminine. As such I can relate to life in various ways. Coming from my immature boy energy I can view life as the Mother and demand that she feeds me and sulk when she does not. Coming from my inner “victim” I can view life as a scalding fish wife to be, by turns, fought, avoided or appeased. Embodying Eros, I can relate to life as a beautiful and mysterious lover with whom I can experience an ecstatic dance of intimacy and connection.
Embodying Eros offers the gift and the challenge of experiencing all our desires as erotic and ultimately as the spiritual desire for complete union with the Divine. Embodying Eros offers the gift and the challenge of being totally intimate with life.
Again I use words carefully here. I speak of embodying Eros. The way of Eros is essentially embodied and sensual. To embody Eros is to step out your head, out of ideas and fantasies into the raw experience of sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch and breath. Embodying Eros offers us the gift and the challenge of being in the naked intensity of life.
How strong is your desire? No, not sexual desire, or not only sexual desire, but desire for Life.
Where is your bliss? What are you passionate about? “Passionate” is a much overused word nowadays in marketing: “We’re passionate about supplying the best paper clips in world” Bullshit! What are you truly passionate about? What quickens your pulse, gets your legs dancing, twists your belly with longing, stiffen your lingham, fills you with awe and wonder?
Where is your ecstasy? Your complete in-the-moment embodied surrender to and merging with what is desired?
Actually many modern western men are chronically ecstasy deprived. As men we are conditioned to hold back, to internalise, to observe, to be cool, level headed and rational. The message we take on as boys that men don’t cry or feel hurt closes us off to pleasure as well as pain. We are taught to believe that displays of emotion of any kind except anger are sissy. We find ourselves operating in a narrow bandwidth of low amplitude feeling that stiffles the raw energy of our desire and such energy as we have we burn off through porn and mindless entertainment.
Recently I was on a retreat where there were several opportunities to engage in ecstatic dance. I could not help but notice that very often the women could easily let go into the music with a natural abandon and spontaneity. Not so the men. For some men their movement was self conscious, restricted as if they were not fully engaging in the practice. Others moved in an exaggerated, contrived “look at me” fashion that was driven by their head.
Is the capacity for deep feeling and surrender a specifically feminine trait? Some schools of Tantra seem to teach this, identifying women with the ever moving all feeling being of Shakti and men with the stillness and linearity of Shiva. Do men need to cultivate their inner feminine in order to access feeling and connection? I don’t think so (although yes we do well to cultivate our inner feminine for other reasons). My experience of myself is of a passionate, engaged, deep feeling and highly desirous dimension of my being that is distinctly masculine in essence and distinct from my inner feminine. It is the part of me that longs for connection and ultimately complete merging with the “other,” however she manifests. It is this aspect of my Masculine essence that I identify with Eros.
Where do men find ecstasy? The brief and passing moment of ejaculation?…. The moment our team scores a goal?…. For cultures with a strong warrior ethic, combat is a gateway to ecstasy. I have spoken to combat veterans who describe being in the frenzy of a firefight as a trance-like state with distinctly sexual undertones. Tolkien expresses this beautifully:
For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and the sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.
Is it possible that yobs fighting in the streets, Jihadists even, are motivated not by raging hormones or religious dogma, but by the hidden longing of a man’s heart for ecstatic union?
The Joy of battle can be felt in situations other the combat. Here is an example that stands out in my memory.:
I was on the second day of a weekend backpacking trip in the northern Pennines. I had planned to camp on the top of Cross Fell, but high winds drove me down to the bothy on the Pennine Way. Next day I traversed Cross Fell, Great Dun Fell and Little Dun Fell in the teeth of a full south westerly gale. It was nearly impossible to make headway and many times I was blown flat by the force of the wind. Horizontal rain found its way into every opening of my waterproofs so I was soon soaked. Despite gaiters, my boots filled up with water and I began to run a blister on my heel. Initially I kept going by “grrrrr! power”, using anger to pick myself up and battling on, at times literally crawling. But suddenly something changed and I surrendered to the elements. I became one with the wind and the rain and the grit of the mountain that blew in my eyes and grazed my hands. A deep spacious calm opened up within me and that calm was filled with joy and laughter. My progress became an effortless dance. Eventually my route dropped off the ridge into shelter and I squelched down South Tyne Valley to Alston with all my senses alive and free, singing with the sheer joy of being.
Hardly an “Erotic” experience…. or was it?
The wilderness is a place where Eros has always drawn men to experience ecstacsy whether under the guise of hunting, exploration or adventure.
For me, growing up in a very eccentric family, guided by a father who was an artist and a skilled hillman, access to ecstatic states has come more easily perhaps than to many men. My first experience of sacred union with nature was at the age of seven, when I first beheld the heart wrenching beauty of the mountains on a long car journey north to Scotland:
Here is a poem I wrote much later recalling that experience.
A long drive
Snatched from bed at 4 AM
Bundled into the old Cortina
Barely awake to sisters
Wide eyed in their holiday thrill
Or low anxious parental murmur
Yes a long drive
Fish cakes and cold sausage
In Great North Road lay byes
Revving over high Teesdale’s dark bogs
Passed with cries of “Scots Wahey!”
Stirling, Perth, the endless A9
Place after place
name after name
Mingled with games of I spy
And family choruses of
Kumbaya, Quartermaster’s Stores,
Blue Lake and Rocky Shore
And then late in the day, sixteen hours on the road.
Cresting a brae, emerging from the shade of birch and pine
Loch Laggan opened
A gateway into realms undreamed of
Drawing the still bright northern sun into her depths
Shattering his splendour into scintillating shards
Of gold and crystal on her wind tossed waves
Beyond, the Grey Corries ridge
A dark wall of featureless shadow
Further Beyond, cloud islands beckoning wild adventure
Further Beyond, the stainless canopy of sky
Here was Shakti in her radiant chaos
Here was Kali’s perilous seduction
Here was Aphrodite, Innana, Freya
Here was She
And her touch was on my skin
Her sighs were in my ears
Her teasing kiss on my lips
Her enticing fragrance in my nostrils
Her gaze calling me too, to be shattered into sun shards
On her dancing waves
Calling me to empty myself in her watery depths
Calling me to take her, to love her
Utterly, even to death
And my heart,
My boyish heart that had only quickened to
The usual delights of planes and trains
A heart whose greatest desire had been
An Action Man frogman set or a Triang Blue Pullman
My young heart broke open
And I emptied myself into her
In tears more copious than Laggan’s flowing water
Pouring from a well deeper than Laggan’s dark depths
And she received me,
In that brief moment
I knelt before her
Laid my sword at her feet
With my hand on my breast
Meeting her gaze with the fire of my eyes
I pledged myself to her service
All that I was, all that I am and all that I might become
Even unto death…..
A cloud crossed the sun
And there was nothing
But grey water, grey sky
The endless road and familiar
“Poor Nicky, you are just tired..come and cuddle….see the pretty view”
For me, what followed were many years in which, the brutalities of school, the intellectual affectations of Cambridge, the boredoms of grey-suited jobs hid but never killed Eros within me. Always it was the return to nature that awakened him. And it was many decades before one came into my life who Eros could truly meet as the Beloved in sacred and loving union.
Do you feel inspired to embody more deeply with the Sacred Masculine? Click on the link below to hear the story of Shiva's Column of Fire together with a powerful visualization to honour Shiva, the sacred masculine within you.
Mentor, transformational coach and author
"Holding a strong centre ground between life coach, natural health consultant and sexuality coach I work with the whole man, guiding you through the truly big challenges in life: Identity, purpose and confidence, work, relationships, sex, health and wellbeing."
"So I've got a string of letters after my name and 25 years in the field.... It helps being qualified and experienced. But the most valuable thing I can share is what I have learned the hard way in my own life journey from shy Mr Nice Guy to empowered King in my own realm."