Apprenticeship to Love: Chapters on a Path to Authentic Relationship, October 30, 2023

• Today’s questions: If you can feel Her, the presence of the larger-than-life feminine in and around you, are you willing to surrender, to cultivate your relationship with Her, without demand or expectation or even a goal in mind? And if not, what holds you back from completely surrendering to Her benevolence?
• Today's suggested practice: Day 30 of this month's practice, to notice & receive while in motion (see my "Short Practice,” below)
• My practice today: 4am: 60 minutes: yogic practice, mantra, Meditation to Increase Subtle Awareness
• My vulnerability practice: Feeling the edge of this moment with my toes, my open heart, and trusting my intuition, stepping into the void...


We all know this. All of us. Men. Women. All the other ways we know & experience & identify ourselves. We all know what it is to be in the presence of the divine feminine, the sacred womb that nourishes.

And, because we are so starved for Her nourishing, we confuse this with the little we know about this thing we call “sex.”

And I wonder…
There is an ache to being alive in this life. An ache to be loved. But we hardly know what that might be. It is why I'm writing, to begin to understand what that means in my life.

There is an ache to be seen, held, allowed to simply be who we are. Known as we are. Loved as we are (again, whatever that might be).

The culture we are experiencing right now in the West, and perhaps the rest of the world now too, as the West's culture seeps into every hidden crevice of this world, is to draw too close a connection between this thing we think is love and this thing we think of as "sex." And so, aching to be seen, even to be penetrated by another's knowing, we confuse this thing we call sex for this thing we hardly know, called love.

I believe it is our work, certainly our work as masculine-identified men, to begin to know what "love" might mean, in our own bodies, between ourselves and the ones we intuitively know we love, between ourselves and the ones with whom we share an illusion of love, and in our families and communities. To begin to know, and then to create and hold the safe spaces where this love-thing might unfold and flourish. This is the work of husbandry. Of being a father. A son. A brother. A friend. It is our work. I believe this is sacred work. And though each of us arrives at an understanding of our deep, soul-level to do this work in our own time, it is my prayer that each of you men who are reading this, that you come to this awareness sooner rather than later.

For the women reading this, I encourage you to know your own deep purpose here, to be the deepest, most truest version of your self that you know how to be. I encourage you to be careful with yourselves: full of care for your body and spirit. This culture encourages squandering of your riches. Resist. Learn ways to be with your feminine divinity. To learn from Her. To revere Her. To demand devotion and reverence from any masculine-identified man who aspires to know you.
Perhaps what we ache most for is the awareness of and intimacy with our own soul.
I had a conversation with a man yesterday. A man in pain. Carrying considerable weight on his shoulders, in his heart.

The woman he loves is not well. They've been married for many years. Decades. They have grown children. Grandchildren. And this woman, this wife and mother and grandmother who is still young, she is not well. And he suffers to be her husband.

One of his sufferings is the sacrifice he has made on the altar of "conjugal relations." We haven't been intimate, he tells me, for 10 years. I'm sure he could tell me the months and days and minutes if I pressed him. His ache for "intimacy" is acute. Especially now as he feels himself to be a servant to her illness, perhaps even a slave to it as he is not experiencing any of the rewards we men want to tie to our marital services.

To be clear: by "intimacy" this man is referring to sexual congress. The play of genitals that is so important to so many of us, and especially to so many of us masculine-identified men. It is perhaps the only way we know how to open to that surrender that this thing called love requires of us. And so, without this sexual congress and the annihilation of the self that comes with a man's ejaculation into his lover's body, we can ache. Acutely.

I asked him, how else can you be intimate with your wife?

He couldn't answer. The question upended him. What else, he asked, is there to intimacy?
I had an answer for him. But it was long-winded and took the form of a story and I'm not going to tell that here. Instead, here are a few things that I've learned about "sex" in this Apprenticeship to Love.

One: What we as masculine-identified men experience and understand as "sex" is so often profoundly different from what a feminine-identified woman experiences. We think we are having the same experience. We aren't.

Two: What most of us are taught about "sex" does not help us know this difference, let alone bridge the difference in any meaningful way. One reason for that is that most of us are being taught to focus on the "goal" of physical, genital sexual congress, ie. orgasm. Even if we are encouraged by our teachers to prepare for 72 hours (as some of us men are), it is preparation for genital play, and orgasm. Most "training" around "foreplay" cannot even broach that 72 hour preparation period: We are a culture in a hurry to meet our goals. We apply that same urgency to our sexuality. It was always thus for men. As Christine Emba's Rethinking Sex suggests, it has become thus for women since the advent of the "sexual revolution."

Let's stop for a minute. There are many, many loose threads to pluck when it comes to this ragged cloth of men and women and sex. But I think we —or at least I— need to begin here: generally speaking, what masculine-identified men and feminine-identified women experience as "sex" is so profoundly different that it is amazing we are even able to sustain sexual-romantic relationships past the first days, weeks, months (years, if we're incredibly lucky) of the "honeymoon" phase of our relationships.

In fact, the "honeymoon" may be one of the problems. Or, at least a beautiful and oppressive symptom of the problem.
During the honeymoon our bodies and minds are quite literally drunk with the hormones and emotions flood of exploring the new and uncharted territory of each others and our own bodies. A beautiful moment. So beautiful and intoxicating that we cannot grasp the distance between us. And so, when the distance becomes known —and usually she knows it first— we are blind-sided. Incapable of recognizing what is profoundly true for all of us: between each of us lies a Grand Canyon of difference. Feeling this gaping chasm our breath is taken from us. The beautiful illusion of our merger vanishes. And we, again, ache. But now we ache also with resentment. Somehow the other, the one we felt ourselves merged with, somehow they have "done something." Or are withholding that which allows us to feel that intoxicating merger, that "oceanic feeling" of dissolution we crave.
The merging, to borrow from Rilke, that we imagined, was an illusion. Perhaps a necessary one to cement bonds required for the heartbreaking work of raising children and maintaining a family. Perhaps a necessary one to encourage us to inquire more deeply about what "intimacy" and "knowing the other" might be, beyond the illusion of sex fuelled by hormones and emotions and novelty.

Now, if you and I are ready for it, now begins the work of "intimacy." We no longer have the beautiful and pleasurable crutch of our genital play. Our worship of orgasm. Etcetera. Now we begin a different level of courtship. If we are willing. If we are prepared to venture into the yawning chasm between us.
Here is what I am learning as I descend into the darkness of this unknown: Even my walking this path must be a form of stillness. Even my breathing must be a form of stillness. Even my thoughts a form of silent listening to this unknown that lies between us.

Here, in this darkness and this stillness and this silence I become intimate with myself —for the first time!

Here, becoming more aware of who and how I am as a masculine-identified man, I become willing to feel my sexual ache as a path not to conquest, but to surrender. Here, I begin to understand that this energy of our sexuality is a sacred source, and that I have spent most of my life denying that sacredness (and so often wanting her, whoever I am believing myself to be in love with, to deny that about her sexuality as well).

For some time now I've been learning about things... Things like how I am, as a man, in this life. Things like, how I completely miss out on what is being offered —because I've been pursuing, goal-oriented, a conquistador. And, so besotted with my own prodigious powers, I've failed to see what is being offered, freely. Often unconciously. Waiting for me to become aware. To become the profoundly masculine presence that creates and holds safe space for Her flowing, Her flowering.
I listened to this man yesterday. I heard his ache. It was different from mine, but similar. I know a little of it, enough to know that —at least for this moment— I am feeling less ache and more joy.

How? How when the pleasures of sexual plunder are not so at-hand as I used to think I wanted and needed? Precisly because I am coming to know a different (and I would say, deeper) way with my sexuality. Here, a lesser part of me is diminished (to borrow a word from SJ). Here I become more of myself by being less of the self I thought was important.
I am now a courtier to her sacred womb. That space that is more energetic than physical. A space that reveals an intimacy in her tears and her sighs and her whispers from across thousands of miles. A courtier to her sacred womb I begin to know Her all around me. Knowing Her a little better, the canyon is not so much bridged as known, and revered, another way of becoming aware of who this woman is in my life, and being grateful. Not for merger, not for orgasm. Not for all the pretty and delicious things that can happen between us as a man and a woman, but for all the deep and nourishing things that do happen between us, as a man and as a woman, when I surrender and allow myself to swim in the flow this sacred womb space.


🌀 You could get high… OR you could micro dose on the sacred feminine and experience divinity… (Simaya Priya )
🌀 The Conscious Warrior practices the cultivation of wonder and awe. (John Wineland, Precept 7)
🌀 …a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. (Rainer Maria Rilke)
🌀 I want to be seen. I want to be accepted as I am. And loved for that. (My Beloved, my Oracle & Siren)


Day 30 of this month's practice, to move and to notice, and to receive:

Please read through first, then ...

  • Today, set two alarms, one for the early part of your day, one for mid-late afternoon when you may be feeling low energy.
  • When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take three, five, 11, or 30 minutes to do this short practice:
  • 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, What is my inner voice saying? What is my inner truth guiding me towards? Are the ravens —or the wind in the trees, the falling leaves— are they calling me to attend to 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.