Men Must Explore their Shadow

The Sacred Sensual Healers course starts in September, and applications are due August 14th, 2020. Below, find out why it is necessary to nurture the American man with new understandings as we move deeper into the 20th century.

All people need to explore their shadow in order to come into fullness and wholeness, but we usually don’t feel like we have permission from anyone in society to do such a thing.

Oftentimes, we’re actually living in a perpetual state of shadow, because we’ve limited ourselves in our thinking of what is possible or allowable for ourselves. What we think is “bad,” or “demonic,” or the “shadow,” is oftentimes the thing we need to do or explore in order to uncover a new part of ourselves that helps us come into clarity and healing. Conversely, the thing we think is the “right” thing, is often the thing that is killing our insides, making us miserable.

The problem is, we have religious leaders who have taught us the concept of “sin” from a young age, and even if we haven’t been brought up in a family that is religious, we have absorbed this concept of badness, wrongness, and sin from our culture.

If you ask someone what a sin is, she or he may give wildly different answers. So let’s try this: sin is anything that causes a person to suffer on a soul-level. Also, sin is stepping out of alignment with your soul’s purpose, any distraction or misstep that gets you off the path of healing and wholeness.

Jesus, by the way, loved sinners. He had a field day with them, and played with the meaning of “sin” and “sinner” at that time. “Sinners” were the humble, the ones who acknowledged they were imperfect, but loved wildly anyway, and engaged in the fullness of life. The “righteous” were the ones who thought they were above learning and above everyone else. Jesus didn’t enjoy them so much. He spoke against them the most. He called the “righteous” lawmakers, priests, Pharisees.

The Christocentric framework our culture has adopted is emotionally abusive, and not in line with Jesus’s teachings at all. This framework tells us that we’re wrong or bad, and then tells us that the people who are going to fix us are the Christian leadership and authority figures, so that we become dependent on them and continue to feed into their power, egocentrism, and domination.

Often, those authority figures have limited knowledge about exploring edges and coming into awakening, because they have followed a rigid framework that at some point, falls away and leaves them scrambling alongside everyone else. Rigid authority figures are often more concerned with rules, order, power and status, than they are in living a true and authentic life. And Spirit calls us to authenticity, to renewal. It breathes, most often, from the margins, and from what is wild, like a thunderstorm.

How can you know joy, if you haven’t known sadness? How can you identify vitality if you haven’t experienced depression? How can you know light if you haven’t felt the palpable pressure of the dark? It is impossible to fully recognize and experience something unless you’ve lived its opposite. The path to fullness, and wholeness, is having the freedom to choose and explore, with the knowledge that you are loved regardless of your missteps, and your faith in life means you will be given new opportunities, if you will only set an intention to open your eyes and ears to understanding.

How would Jesus have been Jesus, if he hadn’t engaged with the devil? He had to listen to the devil, in order to know the difference between the devil and the divine. And at times, what is wrong and right falls into an overlapping disc we need to engage with, experiment with, and explore, because it is what has been given to us—it is part of our path.

(Can you believe I’m sharing all this wisdom with you for free? What fun!)

Men have been injected with certain ideas and ideals about masculinity, about what makes a meaningful and impactful life. Often, those ideas are rooted in a post-World-War-Two framework that stresses the nuclear family, the 9-5 job, cocktails, limited relationships with children, and male-centric communities where no one has any real emotional intimacy. These men nurse wounds and live the broken dreams of fathers who elevated war and conquest. This mentality causes destruction to men today and desperately needs to change.

Here are some questions for men to consider as they explore their shadow side, at the same time inviting the Divine in as a guide. Men should feel free to engage the feminine divine, like Mother Mary or Mary Magdalene, if a feminine representation of God feels more friendly to the inner process of discovery. These beings are like friends who offer helpful guidance.

1. What is it you consider “bad”? What is it you consider “fun”? Is there overlap? How much?

2. How does money tie into your framework of right and wrong, good and bad?

3. How does sexuality play a part in your concepts of bad and good? Does sexuality rise to the top of your focus when you hear the word “bad,” “good,” or “fun”? If so, that means you are likely suffering from repression, and need help integrating sexuality into your life in a healthy way.

4. Have you given yourself permission to explore your shadow, or do you think you’ve been living in your shadow for quite some time? Are you able to distinguish the difference between shadow and light?

5. Do you think you are entitled to happiness?

6. What do you think are elements of happiness on the inside, regardless of what others around you might think? (Often, our perceptions of what others think and what they really think are discordant—we create narratives in our minds that are not always in line with reality.)

7. Aside from whose opinion is “supposed” to matter in your life, whose opinion do you value most, because they are living a life closer to the one you want to live? Have you befriended or engaged with people like that, or are you too afraid, for fear they might reject you?

*Consider taking one question a day for the next week as a journal prompt to explore. Or you can take one question a month and really go deep.

Listen to more audio teachings, storytelling, and doo-dads on The Rose Compass podcast, available through, Spotify, and Apple.

Stay tuned for updates from my upcoming book, Letters to a Young Man: Lessons on Faith in Challenging Times, from Philadelphia.

Photo by Jordon Conner on Unsplash

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