Apprenticeship to Love, March 31, 2024

  • Today’s questions: If you are a husband or if you are a wife to a husband, who blessed this husbandry? Who led the way into and through a ritual of becoming worthy of this trial and its treasures?
  • Today's suggested practice: Day 31 of this month's practice, to pause and feel the sacred space within (see my "Short Practice,” below)
  • My practice today: 4am: 60 minutes: yoga, mantra meditation on Spring
  • Did I do my vulnerability practice today? Y How about you? Y/N?


Indulge me for a moment while I continue with the seasonal theme of sacrifice and resurrection. (Because it is, after all, Easter Sunday by this year's moon.)

I need only look out my window to see that the world is still an enchanted place. The Christian magic of a god sacrificing his son for the world's redemption is, indeed, a bloody offering. But, as Stephen Jenkinson has recently pointed out, the root of "blessings" is "bloodied," and these are not things to be taken lightly. Indeed, they make sacred by being deeply disturbing.

Today the rite of passage commences with the slaughtered innocent passing through death and back into life again. It's a story that predates the Christ story by a thousand or more years. It is the story of Spring time: we pass from the seeiming dying of Fall and through the silence and depth of Winter into this blessed light and warmth of life renewed. Something has been lost, given up, in these seasons between waning light, dark, and waxing into light again. Some, perhaps harrowing, difficulty. That is what bloodies us. Coming through, that is what blesses us.

We have passed through on ordeal. For Christians, Eastertide is a way of marking that passage with ritual sacrifice and ressurection. For the rest of us, how do we punctuate this moment with ritual or ceremony? (I am, again, borrowing from SJ.)

As we pass into the "wedding season" here in the Northern Hemisphere it is a good time to reflect on the rituals and ceremonies of the season. How are we marking our preparations for marriage? Our preparations for husbandry? Or to be a wife? Or, conversely, for about half of us, how are we marking our preparations for the dissolution of the marriages we vowed to sustain "til death do us part?"
This morning I received this: The restriction [of marriage] of any outside escape creates the greatest strength inside ...
Cornered commitment induces the greatest strength and purpose. Marriage is a dedication to this purpose.

A wedding is that ceremony that blessing (and, to follow SJ, that bloodying) that cutting off of freedoms. It is a ceremonial stepping into the restriction that creates one's greatest strength and purpose —and testing. It is a sacrifice. A making sacred by removing potentials. It requires the couple to have unreasonable faith that this limiting will create the necessary tension, pressure, friction, and stress for their individual and collective greatness.

The notion of "wedded bliss," then, is a tongue-in-cheek. A tearful and knowing wink, a sideways glance at the festivities, aware of the profound trials to come. The crucible ahead. A fire that transforms, and from which no one emerges unchanged.
Consider a man's stag for a moment. Perhaps, at one distant time, a bona fide rite of passage. Today, a re-living of juvenile excess as a "last time" celebrated with peers. But it could be more than that.

A man about to be a husband prepares for the greatest trials of his life. He cannot know this, because he is still on the other side of knowing. He is still a juvenile. Unbloodied.

Marriage is sometimes cast as a battleground of the sexes. The man's desire for freedom from constraint versus the woman's need for certainty. But the real battleground isn't between the husband and the wife, but between the would-be-husband and his not-readiness for husbandry. In this battle he confronts —or avoids— his juvenile desires for limitlessness, freedom, potential. He struggles with an immature egoism until this unbloodied part of himself is vanquished, bloodied. Only then does he emerge as a husband worthy of the marriage.

His peers cannot help him in this battle. If anything, his peers are a hinderance. They hold him back with their calls to join them in juvenalia. True, they may serve the purpose of carrying him forward in their one-last-youthful-hurrah. But they cannot help him once he stands at the threshold.

John Wineland, in precept 10 of his his 11 precepts for men's work, says that "the Conscious Warrior is continuously refining his deepest purpose through dedicated time in solitude and in the company of other conscious men." But too often we confuse our peers, even "conscious men," as sufficient. On the threshold of our greatest battle (to extend this warrior trope), the one with our own seeming need for freedom, where we will either be bloodied and thus blessed with unimaginable understanding, we need the support and company of other bloodied men. Not just consciously seeking, but bloodied and blessed by marriage, and consciously seeking.

To hold his hand as he steps towards the threshold. And, if need be, to push him forward as he hesitates, his steps faltering as he sees only the darkness and the depth of dissolution and dissillusion waiting for him on the other side of the "I do." The other side of the commitment that will put him in a corner and give him the tests of his life.
It is important that we, as masculine-identified men, talk and walk together. We lean too heavy on the women in our lives, without an awareness of how to read their wisdom as oracles.

It is important that we, as masculine-identified men, sit with each other. Bear witness to our sorrows and our travails. To celebrate our successes, and our capacity to stand after the inevitable failures (this is our lot, because we strive and strive and strive, we will fail and fail and fail, and maybe through this stiving and failing become bloodied and in the bloodying gather some wisdom about our lives).

But it is perhaps even more important that we find the wise and bloodied men who know what it is impossible and unimaginable for us to know. Not just conscious peers. But men who are bloodied, and willing to listen to our naïve and juvenile whinging about freedom and potential and fear of crossing the threshold into darkness, a darkness so closely understood as feminine mystery and testing.

Where are these men in our lives? Are there even these men in or near our lives?

Perhaps this is the first work of approaching husbandry and marriage and the matrimony we do not know we seek? To become available to this rare wisdom, and not be distracted by the teachers and leaders who have good words, but unbloodied words, unbloodied souls.
I've started to ask men and women about the wisdom in their lives, those who have a bloodied wisdom that helps to guide them. The response so far is not encouraging. If you have a story, a man or woman whose wisdom makes a difference in your life, please tell me. We are, most of us, stumbling. Pretending to know what we are doing. And pretending poorly.


🌀Marriage is not expressly between a man and a woman . . . it's between female and male energy and we all have both. It is a dedication of the experience of love . . . the universal ocean that allows all life to exist and knows no limit...
Commitment is like a wild animal, strongest when it's cornered . . . very interesting. It's not so much a projection, as it is a restriction . . . the shutting off of all escapes. This restriction of any outside escape creates the greatest strength inside ...Cornered commitment induces the greatest strength and purpose. Marriage is a dedication to this strength and purpose.
...honor every relationship that's important in your life; shut the doors -- nail down the windows; force yourself to play for real . . . with total purpose. Give yourself the blessing of living with commitment...
(Guru Singh & Guruperkarma Kaur)

🌀The Conscious Warrior is continuously refining his deepest purpose through dedicated time in solitude and in the company of other conscious men. (John Wineland, Precept 10)

🌀I am always impressed by you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren, She who must be ravished by my powerful & beautiful presence)


Day 31 of this month's practice, to let these thoughts and feelings move through you, with less resistance:
Please read through first, then ...

  • Set two alarms, for times of the day when you have a five-10 minutes to become conscious of who and how you are in this day.
  • When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take a few moments and:
    • Ask yourself: If I am a husband or if I am a wife to a husband, who blessed this husbandry? Who led the way into and through a ritual of becoming worthy of this trial and its treasures?
    • Then, follow the short practice here:
      • Stand, or sit, and bring your attention to your posture.
      • Feel the ground beneath your feet or sit bones, tilt your chin slightly to lift your chest open and straighten your neck.
      • Take a deep breath, through your nose, and hold it gently for the count of six. Relax the breath for the count of eight. Repeat three times.
  • When you’re done, sit or stand for another minute or two, breathing gently, slowly filling and emptying your belly. Here, as you breathe into your fullness, ask yourself, Do I feel right? Am I in alignment with the man or woman I am? Do I even have an inkling what that might feel like? Do I even have an inkling of what it feels like to be out of alignment with myself?
  • Notice if your body-mind feels somehow changed. And whether you notice a change or not, be content with yourself, exactly as you are in this moment.
  • Continue with your day until the next alarm sounds, and repeat.