I recently attended a ceremony at the Tamera village in Portugal in which the officiant invoked “the healing of money.” Immediately a vivid image popped into my head of a man, vast and muscular, bound to the earth with stakes and tethers, straining with every atom of his strength to free himself and rise up. Finally, in a desperate, colossal effort, he bursts free and, standing tall, lets out a triumphant roar before striding purposefully off.
I knew immediately that the man represented the divine masculine and his bonds were made of money.
What is the purpose of men? In some primitive societies they were not of much use at all. In many places women were the center of life, collecting most of the food, looking after young children, and doing the small amount of work necessary to subsist. Subsistence was so easy in many places that, as the anthropologist Marshal Sahlins put it, “half the time the people seem not to know what to do with themselves.” Describing the Hadza, he notes one enthnographer’s estimate that adults spend two hours a day on subsistence, the women collecting plant foods “at a leisurely pace and without prolonged labour,” and the men devoting most of their time to gambling. True, the men made an important contribution to the food supply by hunting, but only a small minority of the Hadza did any hunting at all. The rest, it would seem, were completely superfluous as far as the material needs of the tribe are concerned.
In other societies, instead of gambling, the men would devote most of their time to secret societies, ritual activities, interactions with the spirit world, and so on. Theirs was the realm of the abstract; for the most part, the women and children could get along fine without them. Of course, that might change in times of warfare, but that too we might see as another men’s game that bears little benefit to the material welfare of the tribes involved.
Thus it was that the great anthropologist Margaret Mead would sometimes, half-jokingly, order the men attending her lectures to leave the auditorium. “Get out – you are all useless,” she would say.
So with some small exaggeration, we might say that human life was divided between the women’s world, which was central to material well-being and survival, and the men’s world, which was largely inconsequential. What has happened in the millenia since hunter-gatherer days?
Today, as in the past, men are still attracted to the realm of abstraction, of non-materiality, of magic and ritual, of gambling. For example, boys spend a lot more time playing video games than girls do, and men tend more than women to fields like mathematics, accounting, and computer science. Whether or not the reason is purely “cultural,” the professions toward which men gravitate help illuminate the masculine principle in our time.
One arena where all four of these male pursuits (abstraction, non-materiality, magic/ritual, and gambling) come together is money. This is most apparent at the nerve center of the money system, the hedge funds and Wall Street banks, where the “quants” – almost exclusively men – use computers to manipulate data, highly abstract representations of representations of representations, to make or lose vast fortunes. Their numbers – stock market indices, LIBOR, the CDS spread – seem disconnected from anything material, and their manipulations are conducted according to highly arcane rules inaccessible to any but the initiated.
But unlike the Hadza’s games of chance or the secret societies of the native Americans, the games of the financial elites have profound consequences for the rest of society. For these numbers are not actually disconnected from material and social life; rather, they rule it. The men’s world has invaded the women’s world and usurped its domain. Increasingly for the past several centuries, no function of life can be carried out without money. This abstract game of tallies and chits has taken over everything else.
Outside the extreme case of Wall Street, the same money chase prevails, subjecting men and women alike to the pursuit of numbers. The integration of women into the workforce was considered a great victory of the feminist movement, but today some who call themselves feminist still, or post-feminist, would say that it was the last and greatest insult to the feminine. What kind of victory for women is it, to be permitted to join the mad chase for money at the cost of nature, culture, community, family, leisure, beauty, and health? What victory is it to have won the right to be equal partners in the pillage of the planet, which itself is the consequence of a kind of distorted hypermasculinity run amok?
If not enslaved to the pursuit of numbers that is destroying the very basis of civilization, what is the true, sacred expression of the masculine principle? What, we might ask again, is the purpose of men? What does the divine man of my vision do after he has broken the chains of money that bind him? Remember, in my vision I saw him stride off with a purpose.
Whether you are a man or a woman, I’m sure you can feel that sense of purpose or mission inside of you, whether it is in full passionate expression or deep latency. It is the divine masculine. No longer is it content with frivolities, as it may have been in the ong hunter-gatherer childhood of our species. No longer, in this hour of extremity, can it be bound to a machine that turns its energies toward domination and brutality. What kind of relationship does it want to the divine feminine – nature, materiality, family, hearth, land, community, water, and flesh?
Here is a hint: In Portugal I received a tour of Tamera’s permaculture farm centered around a “water retention landscape” – a veritable oasis in that drought-stricken land. My guide described how the engineer chose where to site the ponds: “He waited until he could see where they wanted to be.” Rather than imposing an abstract design onto the landscape, he put the gift of design and the machines to carry it out in the service of that which wanted to be born. Here, an expression of the masculine – digging big holes in the ground – was an act of cocreative service with the feminine, and something beautiful was born.
The divine masculine wants to make love to the world. It wants to carry and protect what is beautiful. It wants to explore new territories and play beyond the edge of old boundaries. It wants to put its gifts in service with, not domination of, the divine feminine.
Nature and science, substance and form, matter and spirit, the heart and the mind… each of these relationships mirrors, in our civilization, the relationship that has subsisted between the feminine and the masculine. Science dominated nature; spirit was elevated above matter; the mind trumped the heart; substance was the mere substrate of form. Now these relationships are changing: science in service to nature, form arising from substance; spirit immanent in matter; the mind uniting with the heart.
As with any species, none of our human gifts is superfluous, not even those heretofore used to dominate and despoil. We will still play our number games, we will still play with principles, logic, and abstractions; we will still count and measure things; we will still use money. No longer, though, we will be lost in the map, disconnected from the material world the symbols are supposed to represent. No longer will we seek to force reality to conform to our maps. And no longer will money rule the world.
“Only the measurable is real,” taught Galileo, setting the stage for a world in which numbers became realer than the things they counted. What was true in science was even more so in economics: what mattered was the numbers in the form of cold, hard cash. Thus it is that we celebrate the rise of a number – GDP – even when it comes at the cost of real well-being and even survival.
I saw the divine masculine freeing himself from bondage to money and all the rest of what Riane Eisler called the dominator paradigm. You may have tasted this freedom yourself, any time you decided to follow your passion despite the money, or to put your money in service to your passion, rather than the other way around. Money and the rest of the symbolic world is meant to be a creative instrument, a means and not an end. As a means it opens up new territory and expands the horizon of the possible. As an end, it enslaves.
The liberation from the bonds of money isn’t just a psychological shift; it must also have a social manifestation. Our usurious debt-based system of necessity turns more and more of our creative energies toward servicing debt, because in an interest-based system, the debts must grow and grow, carrying all of life, human and biological, with them into the realm of money. That system is crumbling. We strain and pull against it. What would you do, if not compelled by money? Where will you devote your precious creative energy? What will you do when, with a collective roar, we all break free?
You have articulated a nice zeitgeist in your comparisons of money and masculinity- “quant”itative and “qual”itative, and social design.
I would argue, in a similar fashion, that money is a deep rooted social-psychological and cultural phenomenom that hinders and helps both gender essences as a common cultural reality. Paraphrasing you, money serves both means and ends, i.e. money or values is extracted violently with logic and dominance. And yet creative freedom can so easily and dangerously blind us to more truer forms of economic realities around the world.
On several scales our cultural and economic institutions are obviously benifitting from, what you may describe as ‘arcane rules’. because they serve both the interests and institutions whose very memebers or citizens depend on money on bi-weekly to feed, dress, and shelter oneself and others via these insitutions- i.e. banks.
By explicating arcane insitutional rules we are definetly causing some form of social implosion. And in some form of collective somatic and bodily experience money-$, as a masculine value among institutions needs to be tempered with a feminine flame in order to find better equailibirum with Earth and ones neighbours.
Terryl Todd says
This is great! I was well aware of gotra’s of the past (matriarch of the hill), and only speculated what wandering men were doing. Your concrete description of awakened and awakening spiritual qualities of males is affirming. I love being male for these reasons. Thank you. My most heart-felt Namaskar to you.
Angel Hamilton says
I am greatly inspired by this blog post today. Often I have chosen to pursue my dreams, visions, intuitions to breaking free of the money game while at the same time learning how to live within it the best I can & have felt a profound sense of faith & connectedness to the Sacred Life Force when I have chosen to surrender my false egoic self that is conditioned scarcity and allow for a Higher Consciousness to serendipity bring forth what I need to continue on this plane. I am feeling that our society is embracing the Great Turning Transformational Shift in to the 2012 year as many are looking for alternatives to their economic driven lives as it is increasingly difficult to sustain and stressful. I pray that we as humanity will be able to find ways to take care of each other and give back what we have received and be in communion with each other in a more profound creative way with each other in order to help this Planet Earth together. I intend to be part of intentional eco villages to learn how better to cooperate and collobrate rather than keep on trying by myself.
Nicole Moen says
I really love your articulation of this aspect of “money” and how you see it playing out. I feel there’s a need to discern here the healthy masculine from the unhealthy masculine, just as there would be a need to discern between healthy feminine and unhealthy feminine aspects – these are all traits that are in all of us – males and females alike. It’s not that men are bad and women good, rather that we have all allowed the unhealthy masculine in us all to come forward, and that’s out of balance and not a whole approach to ourselves and our planet.
Fantastic. I like the use of the future tense. it will happen, we need to see it and be part of it.
Thank you for articulating these thoughts so beautifully.
As always, this article has echoes in a very old book! For example:
– “It wants to carry and protect what is beautiful”: (“He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.”)
– “It wants to put its gifts in service with, not domination of, the divine feminine.”: (“Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”)
– “no function of life can be carried out without money. This abstract game of tallies and chits has taken over everything else” : (“How dare you turn my Father’s house into a den of robbers!”) (“A man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of his possessions.”)
– “in an interest-based system, the debts must grow and grow” : (“Be open-handed towards your brother and towards the poor and needy in your land”. “At the end of seven years you must cancel debts”. “Do not take interest of any kind from your brother”.)
– “Only the measurable is real,” taught Galileo, (“What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.)
I, as do you think the blog is great but I feel deep frustration with you trying to cherry pick christian scripture to match it. Any Christian paradigm is tied to, “I am the only way to the Father” and with that you recreate the conflict that has rattled down through the ages, creating separation and strife. Please, for the sake of peace, find and live in your own spiritual authourity.
Sincerely, with love and deliberate challenge,
Get over it Ben. There is nothing wrong with her belief system. She may love Jesus, so what? Why is it that people like you who call for “tolerance”, always turn out to be the most intolerant? Your goal, like those of you who despise christianity is to get humanity to reject him, which would suit your agenda quite nicely, I’m sure. For the sake of peace, learn to love those who don’t always believe exactly what you do, but find the middle ground. Namaste
deborah j barnes says
Wisdom of serendipity..followed the path from Sacred Economics trailer, which so resonated – i too saw a juxtapose between what i was taught to see and what i saw.So i shared the trailer url and then ended up here, on this piece about myth and archetype. My concurrent project (along with fashionRIP Project chapter on water) is about deconstructing our old stories so that we can heal while creating the new stories. (Process is part of the project and each show informs the next, a spiral thing!) Your take on the divine masculine really helps as i have not found much written from an evolved male perspective. Thank you so much for the entry , your curiosity and pursuit thereof and for being you. “We can and will do better than this.” Dr Suess after Lorax
sophia's dream says
do you know Sam Keens work? “Fire in the Belly”
And Micheal Meade’s “The Water Of Life” both book titles
sounds awesome good luck.
Wonderful piece and I agree we are all enslaved to debt. I know exactly what I would do with my creative energy. I would grow things. It is the deepest most heartfelt want that I’ve ever had. Is it a romantic fantasy? Perhaps. But all I know is that I feel at home in the garden.
Love your work Charles – keep the ideas coming that keep us thinking.
You are such a lovely, important person and I am so happy I stumbled upon your writing and these marvelous ideas that pass through you.
While reading this I felt everything from eroticism to endearment… I have always known that there had to be something good about every aspect of humanity, some reason for why we want to do things, and you’ve shown this so well with your words throughout the years.
I know what I am devoting my creative energy to, and that is to play with sounds — which is why I am already a jazz musician 🙂 The rest of my time I spend supporting others in utilizing their own creative energies.
thankyou Charles! once again for putting so clearly the vision for a new world that so many of us have but are struggling to clarify express / manifest in our own lives
sophia's dream says
i am weeping with utter awe and wonder….this has been my thinking since the day my husband had to go to work to earn our daily bread and miss out on any numbers of firsts that our precious daughters took, first word, crawl, walk smile…
and the feminist movement…dont get me started…just one comment: when mothering becomes devalued and work takes precedence we are all in ginormous trouble….
well, we crossed that threshold in the 50’s, and look at the world…
our children have suffered, still suffer our negligence
thank you Charles…on behalf of all of us.
An Alternative to Capitalism (since we cannot legislate morality)
Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: “There is no alternative”. She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.
I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different
result.”~ Albert Einstein
Name Witheld says
This is a good example of someone living in the fairy tale of academia creating nonsense theories that benefit no one, especially women.
How will victimhood of women end if they cannot support themselves?
Name Witheld says
Censoring discourse shows how weak your arguments are that they can’t stand up to any scrutiny.
Paul Rudy says
Aho! I’m in!
Charles, your writings warm my naive heart, which I like to call the innocence in all people, the seed of profound wisdom. I cannot speak for all women, as we all have different gifts in this life to share. I simply feel free in finding that your ideas allow me to claim my center, my heart as a woman.
I feel that the women’s movement was definitely needed. It was an act of balance, still going throughout the globe at mass speed. Simply put, it was and is a movement of respect. I want the ability to ‘read’ and be educated, but also embrace the role of a feminine creator. Yes, women are mini earths – they have the ability to bring a new life to the planet. The insticts of a woman or traits of intuitive love in a man, when it comes to caretaking are without a doubt something money could never come close to compensating.
I know that we all have special gifts, and I sit here in 2012, after several years of college, taking care of my elderly father and having the most incredible life I could imagine. I have never felt so loved and respected and purposeful. I don’t deny that some women enjoy the workforce more than men. I just don’t. I dream about finding a gentleman who is open to embracing a shared lifestyle of balance. I love caring for the home, cooking meals, gardening, finding medicinal remedies.
Thank you Charles from the bottom of my heart. I am not a victim ~ I accept myself, and my true creative gifts. In so doing, I can accept other’s ‘true selves’ and listen to their hearts better.
Julian Joyenki Michels says
In reading this article, I’m having a strong rejection response to Charles Eisenstein’s lumping together of spiritual/magical work with abstraction that is both “superfluous” and disconnected from reality. I personally don’t like getting lost in abstraction at all. However, my own experience is that deep spiritual work is an opposite of abstraction – it takes place in the body and soul rather than in the mind – and I feel that this kind of deep healing is far from superfluous.
Bettina Goodwin says
This is a fantastic essay and I am so glad to have found it. My passion is to work with men, to bring them to a more heart-centered way of living. This is confirmation for me that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. The money? What I need will come – what more can one ask? Thank you for this.
After reading your essay, I feel normal. The dichotomy between pursuing money at the cost of destroying the planet and missing out on being with my family and taking care of my health and community versus remaining poor and connected to my daughter and studies may be ending. What is my third option? How do I generate income without loosing my femininity? My partner refuses to be the bread winner, giving me the much needed time to develop my skills as a healer and spiritual leader. As a creative symbolism of potential movement, where does money come from, and how can I accept it in my life peacefully?
My partner earns money, let me be clear but for his own reasons has asked me to do the same. This is all well except for the exhaustion factor at chore, cooking, grocery shopping, kids, community relations (building foundational relations with other families and social life for he and I) as well as being sensual, relaxed and attentive to his needs. Why am I not getting paid for these things?