In the Shinto Creation Myth, the primordial divine man and woman emerged at the beginning of time. The man dipped his spear down from the clouds and stirred the world into activity.
Decked with flowers, painted with colors, spirals, and dancing designs, he approaches. Craggy and ancient in one moment, as if chiseled from rock, young and glowing the next, like an emerging bud in springtime, he sets himself before the monster. An Ogre more powerful than a flood, more indiscriminate than a hurricane, with a volcanic belly full of fire.
Many cultures tells stories of a first man and woman, the divinity or sacredness of masculine and femine, instructing their maturing grandchildren how to perceive their own bodies and minds as men and women. And in turn, it instructs them how to perceive the dance of life and death in the world in a loving, compassionate, and ultimately useful way.
In our own cultural tradition, many of us struggle to find our way, to fill our lives with satisfying purpose. Perhaps a path that leads us there, lies through the song our own bodies sing…
A smile spreads across his face as he spreads his flower-hung arms. His heart racing, courageous not from lack of fear but from embracing it, he knows no exit, asks for no way out. What greater purpose than this, could one find?
What if the functions of our bodies as men and women told beautiful stories, stories of meaning and purpose? To wound a heart, you bring forth salty tears, speaking of our ocean-salted origins in the great churning watery belly of the Earth. In our mother’s belly we recapitulate the origin of our uttermost ancestry. We exit the internal ocean, accompanied by its waters, in the same place as the emergence of a woman’s menses. Women bleed monthly, from wounds that never heal, wounds meant to stay open, sacred wounds that give birth. In their time of bleeding, they can feel emotions especially keenly, speak especially profoundly, and grieve deeply, often without knowing why. For them, by the very nature of their bodies, they keep their hearts open, wounded, bleeding, so that life may continue, healing may flow.
What if grief sourced all beauty? What does it mean when we feel so happy, we cry? When we see something so beautiful, tears run down our cheeks? Do we call that a wound? Do true wounds create life, along with injuring it?
As a young teenager, I thought I had it figured out: with the help of the stories of my culture, heroes such as Mr. Spock, Robocop, and others, I decided that feelings themselves caused my pain. I need not to feel, and then the daily surging whirlwind of hurt, humiliation, suffocation would go away. I never quite succeeded, but then again, I did myself damage that I still continue to recover from…
When you grow up, your heart dies. – Allison, the Breakfast Club
Does a heart die when it can no longer grieve?
For men, we have a sword, that touches that wound, that encourages its openness. A flowering sword of life. Though one can wield a sword with violence to protect, at perhaps its highest purpose one can wield it simply to create beauty, to wound a heart, to bring forth the saltiness of tears. The saltiness of birth, life, and the original mothering ocean. Like the great poets, and characters such as Cyrano de Bergerac, a masculine heart thumps and thrums, aching to wound with beautiful words. To wound and receive wounds in turn, men dance, whether in the beauty of violence or of poetry, they care not.
And of course, in each one of us, a piece of the other exists: men have their own inner Sacred Wound, and women have their own Flowering Sword. Men and women, dancing their dance, touching inside each other, opening for each other, blossoming and birthing, sacrificing and dying.
The Ogre belches, and annihilating fire bursts forth. It smashes with its fists, and the ground splits. The flowering man burns to a cinder, his ashes scattered into the cracked earth. The sweetness of his perfume, mixed with the char of his demise, smells like birth and death all rolled into one. And there where he died the herbs will grow ever more greenly with his sacrifice.