Finding the Masculine in Goddess’ Spiral by Erick DuPree

Finding the Masculine in Goddess’ Spiral: Men in Ritual, Service and Community to the Goddess
Erick DuPree
Immanion Press/Megalithica Books, 2016

wp34 review masculine goddess

Review by Hugh Eckert.

What is a positive and healthy expression of masculinity in spirituality? It’s a valid question for today- just skim the news and look at the reports of crimes stemming from toxic masculinity; you don’t have to look too deeply to see that all too many of them are rooted in the patriarchal structure of Abrahamic religions. Goddess-centered spirituality can (and has) provided a counterbalance, but sometimes devalues the masculine (if not casting the male as an outright enemy). This volume attempts to remedy that problem by showing paths many men have taken in revering the Divine Feminine while still honoring their own masculinity.

Despite the promise on the back cover copy of “a diverse tapestry of sacred masculine stories, rituals and poetry,” I was unsurprised (although disappointed) to find that the vast majority of selections in the book are written by followers of Wiccan, Wiccan-derived and other Goddess-centered Neo-Pagan paths. Since I’m Polytheist, there’s little of direct personal relevance to me here, but I think I can use my thirty-plus years of experience in the larger Pagan community to judge it fairly.

Much of this book consists of a series of heartfelt spiritual autobiographies- deeply personal stories of how the authors “came to the Goddess” out of stifling, unpleasant, even actively abusive backgrounds. I started to get annoyed at the repetition, but then I recalled my own past experience. This “conversion to Paganism” story is a powerful myth in and of itself, ringing changes on a litany of change and self-discovery. This is the core of the book: tales of faith and how the writers came to it; stories of hope that can bring hope to others in need of it.

There are other things to like here, as well. In his introduction, Ivo Dominguez (one of the most thoughtful and interesting writers in Paganism) give a useful exploration of the more “technical” aspects of the Powers and our interactions with them. Roxie Babylon’s poetry is intoxicating and lyrical. Puck DeCoyote and Blake Octavian Blair both had thought provoking pieces about gender fluidity and the Divine. I also found the rituals presented by Eric Eldritch and Matthew Sawicki to be powerful and inspirational (although the latter’s Hekate ritual is definitely not beginner material and should be attempted only by a well-trained group with deep existing connections to that Goddess). Similarly, Ian Allen’s work with the Magdalene was fascinating, but it’s powerful stuff and shouldn’t be done without grounding, centering and shielding.

Unfortunately, this book has its flaws. Many of the essays needed sourcing if not footnoting (and in at least one case, there were footnote numbers in the text but no notes provided). The level of writing is uneven and some pieces seem to be unedited blog posts. Many of the essays in the book were too short and compressed; I found myself wishing that Erick Dupree had limited his selection of authors and instead encouraged them to write longer and deeper pieces. And not all the contributors had entries in the “Biographies” section- this may seem like a quibble, but I find such material provides helpful context for reflecting on an author’s work.

Even so, this book is a passionate and informative exploration of the role of masculinity and masculine energy in Goddess Spirituality. Anyone teaching courses or workshops on gender and spirituality should be able to find valuable material for readings here. It’s also the kind of book I hope that young men in spiritual crisis will stumble upon or be given. With that in mind, I plan on donating my copy to a prison chaplaincy in ardent hope that it may help where help is most needed.

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