Shepherd Bliss: The Mythopoetic Men’s Movement

The following is a 1995 interview with Shepherd Bliss, the man who coined the phrase ‘Mythopoetic Men’s Movement’ and who was a notable participant within the movement. Contemporary men’s movements will find much in Bliss’s views to disagree with, however he did articulate some valuable perspectives as belonging to the mythopoetic mindset, such as the rejection of reductionist definitions of masculinity in favour of a multiplicity of male archetypes. – PW


Bert: As one way to start, perhaps I should go into my own personal story. I wonder if it reflects what’s happening with the men’s movement. When Bernetta was in a women’s spirituality group I lamented that there was nothing to get into men’s spirituality; men’s deep inner work. Robert Moore and Doug Gillette’s book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover moved me so much that I designed a seminar around it. A group of friends and I did a six week King, Magician, Warrior, Lover and Green Man seminar. At that stage I wasn’t even content with staying with the four because I thought that the Green Man was important for our focus on the Earth.

Now I find Alan Chinen’s Once Upon a Midlife and Beyond the Hero a breath of fresh air. In Beyond the Hero he describes the Shaman/Trickster as an older and deeper archetype than the King, Warrior or Hero.

I’ve given some thought to the misgivings you have, about the Warrior archetype.

Shepherd: I’m glad you added that vital Green Man. Your experience, the connection that you made to the Moore/Gillette book, has happened to a number of men. Their book is entry-level work. It can ignite people and get things started. I honor that work.

Then the question is — what’s next? What more is there? People get frozen in a metaphor, such as the Warrior, as if that were the whole story or the guiding star. The problem is, if you have a whole group of people who are all catalyzed by that image, it is not a community that has diversity. It’s similar to what happens in support groups where everybody has the same problem and is working on the same issue. From ecology we learn that an ecological system is strongest when it is diverse. Life on Earth is based on biodiversity. That’s what’s behind my concern with that singular focus. Some people are too oriented toward the Warrior energy. It is a component of Men’s Work. But too much focus in that direction takes you more into men’s rights than into mythopoetic work.

Bert: Are you suggesting that warrior is not mythopoetic?

Shepherd: Mythopoetic implies polytheistic. Mythopoesis has to do with change — not getting fixated. There are multiple archetypes, not just a single archetype. If you’re moved by a single metaphor you could be mythological, but not necessarily mythopoetic.

Warrior work is young men’s work. It’s a developmental stage everybody should go through. Some people get stuck there. As you know, I’m not into this warrior stuff. I don’t like the language. Men who are drawn to it need to mature. They need to go on.

Bert: Is expanding into King going in the right direction? For example, generativity, of course, is what we associate with the King archetype.

Shepherd: I don’t associate generativity with the King. What I associate with the King archetype is ruling, commanding, dominating. I associate generativity with someone who’s beyond the King, beyond the Hero. The generativity of the Trickster. The Fool. The crazy old man.

Why talk about Kings? People came to America to get away from Kings. I don’t want Kings. I want peers, equals,democrats. I want strong men. Powerful men. Men who do good for the community. I don’t call that the King. There’s so much darkness to the King. It’s inherent to the King. Let’s go beyond monarchism and feudalism. I want to challenge this language.

Mythopoesis means re-mythologizing. The mythopoetic approach comes at times of cultural chaos, such as we have now. That’s historically been the case. Mythopoetic images arise when you break through and articulate new images. We need to study the old stories in order to go beyond them, to go to new stories and images, not merely to repeat the old stories and get stuck there.

Bert: I’ve been told you coined the word, “mythopoetic?”.

Shepherd: No. What I did was to apply the word to the men’s movement. The men’s movement rehabilitated the word, but it’s been in the literary tradition. People were calling us the Robert Bly Men’s Movement or the New Age Men’s Movement because of Keith Thompson’s interview of Robert Bly, “What Do Men Really Want?” in the New Age Journal. I did an article on the men’s movement about 10 years ago, for Yoga Journal in 1986. I studied and thought for months about language. I came across this archaic word, “mythopoetic,” which is used in literary traditions. It does not mean myth and poetry. It means to re-mythologize. When I applied it, it stuck.

Bert: David Whyte, the poet and author of The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, recently did an interview that we will publish soon. David talked quite a bit about the mythopoetic. He never talked about it in the context of Men’s Work.

Shepherd: I imagine that someone like David Whyte comes to it from the literary tradition. He does honor Robert Bly in a recent issue of New Dimensions. He is very respectful to Robert and quotes some of his translations of Rilke. I think a lot of people have been fed by the men’s movement, directly or indirectly. I’m glad the word “mythopoetic” is catching on in its wider context as well as this narrow context.

Bert: Here is one of David’s poems, Enough


these few words are enough

if not these words this breath

if not this breath the song here

This opening to the life we have refused again and again until now

David describes the entire mythopoetic tradition as one which tries to get us to open to the inner.

Shepherd: It’s a beautiful poem. In that poem one can see what I’m talking about. It’s about staying in present time and allowing ourselves to be guided by what’s happening in the moment. It’s a deeply spiritual and deeply wounded truth that David gets to there. That is the historic mythopoetic tradition. In its essence it’s re-mythologizing, not just telling the old stories. I think people don’t realize mythopoesis has this forward-moving change component.

The King and the Warrior are immature, partial images. They have dominated men’s work and they are a primary reason, in my opinion, why we have failed. The media picked these images up and ridiculed us. We deserved it. We have contributed to our demise as a mass movement. We never dealt with those images and their limitation s in a clear way.

Bert: There are places in their books where Robert Moore and Doug Gillette seem to say that these are the four that are hardwired. At the Mendocino Men’s Conference and in some of his audiotapes, he said that these are just a model and that these are not the only four archetypes.

Shepherd: I think Robert Moore and Doug Gillette are absolutely wrong. People haven’t questioned them enough. They speak only a partial truth. I don’t blame this problem on them. I blame it on our movement. They reduced the great diverse stream of masculine down to four archetypes — as if there weren’t a hundred. There are a hundred!

The hardwiring stuff is bullshit. It’s biological determinism. It’s hierarchical thinking. They are not polytheistic and polycentric. They’re hierarchical. They’re authoritarian, in their forms of leadership and in their forms of thinking. It’s fine if some people do that kind of thinking, but they aren’t much into serious intellectual dialog. They’re hard to engage.

Bert: I would love to see Alan Chinen and Robert Moore discuss the base archetypes.

Shepherd: I think they should, because Chinen is a much more substantial thinker than Moore, in my opinion. He is forward moving and futuristic whereas Moore is too rooted in the past. Chinen is on much more solid ground as a scholar, in my opinion, than Moore.

Moore obviously spoke to a need that men have. The popularizer. He has a mission. He has a messianic quality to him. Chinen, as you know from your interview with him (fall 1993), is a reserved, receptive man who comes from a different place. He doesn’t have an ideology. He’s out there story telling. In the future Alan Chinen’s work is going to appear in this period of time to have a particular importance.

I would turn the tables on Moore’s thesis. Moore says that the Trickster is immature. There is an immature Trickster. But the Hero can also be is immature. The Hero comes at an early stage in human development. And it comes early in a man’s life. The teenage years, the early twenties, thirties.

We need to be, both individually and in the culture, in a post-heroic time. The mature Trickster is very interesting because he works on behalf of the community as a whole. He trips up authoritarian figures, the hierarchical types who would like to be King, who have something in them that wants to rule and control. I don’t consider that a mature feeling. It’s something many of us have, and it can be life enhancing. It can have many positive aspects to it. But ultimately there is something, when you move beyond this, which has to do with genuine equality. The genuine Elder. The genuine Crone for a woman. But this Elder isn’t into commanding. The King commands. The elder has mastery but he tends to evoke it in a different way.

Bert: As I talk with you I see another dimension I hadn’t seen before. I’m not so sure that if the Magician means the master of high technology, rather than the shaman, that the Magician is the mature role and the Trickster is the immature role.

Shepherd: Science and technology are primary problems in the world today. When people criticize men for what we have done to the Earth, often what they are seeing is the effect of industrialism, with pesticides, herbicides, agribusiness, and the denigration of the Earth when we moved from being hunter/gatherer societies to agrarian-based societies and, eventually, industrial agriculture.

Three recent books document what I’m saying here – Chellis Glendinning’s My Name is Chellis, and I’m Recovering from Western Civilization, Jed Diamond’s The Warrior’s Journey Home, and Jerry Mander’s In the Absence of the Sacred. All three of these writers have a strong criticism of technology.

It’s not a question of good versus bad technology. It’s a question of technology versus indigenous wisdom, the kind of wisdom which is nature based. I don’t think we can take away technology. What happens, though, is that technology creates problems. It then promises that it will solve these problems with more advanced and higher technology. But in fact what happens is the Earth gets further polluted, further damaged. We are on a collision course right now. We are threatening to destroy the Earth. The most important single thing that the men’s work can do now, as far as I’m concerned, is to make alliances with environmental work and ecological work. Father/son work and other personal work is important and must continue, but we also need to mature beyond this work.

At the Redwood Men’s Center we’re refocusing work to support the environment, to engage in activity on behalf of the Earth. It isn’t as popular, and we won’t necessarily have the cathartic kinds of response for men that earlier work on the fathers had, but it’s important work.

Bert: Where do you see Men’s Work going?

Shepherd: Our movement has the chance to deepen and mature, now that we have been defeated by the mass media. John Stewart Mill says that every successful mass movement has three stages: The first stage is ridicule. The second is discussion. The third is acceptance. That happened with the anti-slavery movement, and slavery was ended. It happened with the suffragettes, and women got the right to vote.

The men’s movement is stalled in the stage of ridicule. We deserve it. With all this talk about warriors and kings, we have contributed to our fall as a mass movement. The powers that be have basically liquidated the mass quality of our movement.

But individual men and groups and geographical areas which are strong – like Portland, Seattle, and the Bay Area – continue as men meet in regular face-to-face relationships. It might even be that this demise as a mass movement can strengthen us in our capacity to do our work. It does mean that the cultural change part of our work is impeded. But it can also make us look inside – to look at what we did wrong. What did we do that contributed to our downfall? How could we not make those mistakes again?

Bert: What, in your opinion, are some of the major things that went wrong?

Shepherd: Robert Bly, Michael Meade and James Hillman, wonderful men that they are, represent traditional masculinity.

Bert: A traditional masculinity?

Shepherd: They tell basically traditional stories. They represent old values.There’s a lot of beauty, dignity, and strength in those values, but they’re all tough. I’ve seen all three of them mature in the midst of not only how they contributed to the men’s movement but in how the men’s movement contributed to them. They’re all more tender than they used to be.

We need a new story, which emerges from the old story. I’m not offering an answer to you. It needs to be part of our teaching to men. I don’t know what the next step is.One of the things I really like about Michael Meade is his important multi-cultural work these days.

The men’s movement is hierarchically based. We’re too based on stars. I don’t blame it on Robert Bly. I blame it on us. Robert is an exceptionally skilled and talented man. I go to hear him read poetry every chance I get. But we gave him too much authority and power. This contrasts to the women’s movement, which is polytheistic, polycentric, many centered. The mythopoetic men’s movement was too organized around Robert and his chosen elite, the people he was drawn to.

Our society runs on the Great Man theory rather than on a more egalitarian, democratic way. But we’ve failed as a movement. We really didn’t get to an Elder’s Council, or a democratic movement. Robert Bly’s personality stamps it too much. Bly’s particular strengths and weaknesses over-influenced the movement. Now I want to be very clear. I’m not blaming him for this. I think the problem has been in us as Americans. We lack a certain tribal quality — the kind of indigenous quality of community empowerment.

We need new voices in Men’s Work. We were just talking about David Whyte. I like his kind of understatement. I’ve only done one workshop with him a few years ago. I love his voice, but he’s not a super charismatic performer like Angeles Arien was when they recently did something together. But I like the voices of Alan Chinen, David Whyte, Jean Shinoda Bolen. They have a reflective, sure quality to it. Is that your experience with David?

Bert: He’s not that quiet. When he begins to speak he’s rather forceful and commanding with his words. He does not put his words out with hesitancy. It’s low key and low energy, his way of conveying those forceful words. And he doesn’t have charisma in that fiery sense. But when he begins to speak the audience generally becomes very quiet so that they hear all of his words. He’s captivating in that sense. He weaves a spell for the audience. It’s not charismatic. It’s a different kind of spell that he weaves. He weaves a poet’s spell even in his prose.

Shepherd: I like what you’re saying. That’s the kind of leadership that I respond to – that I’m comfortable with – right now. I think we need it at this time. I think the men’s movement can benefit from people like him who are on the periphery.

One of the things that’s really good about the men’s movement is these ongoing little groups of 6 to 8 men. I know some that have been meeting for twenty years. That’s the essence of Men’s Work. That’s the heart of men’s work.

Bert: There are gatherings, big events, and there are wisdom councils like we have up here, with 200 men gathering once a month. These are the showcase. Hopefully those are vehicles by which people will become involved in a small intimate group on the grass roots level.

Shepherd: To me, events like the Mendocino Men’s Conference are not what’s most important. It’s those little groups, most of which we never hear about. But what gets the attention and the publicity is the Mendocino conference. Mendocino gets overrated by those of us who went.

I think it’s important to stay local and not to turn to national people. That doesn’t mean important things can’t be done by bringing people in from outside and listening to them. But there needs to be local metaphors, local issues. There is a distinctly Boston character, a distinctly West Coast character. Every group must have its regional quality, its particular spice, particular soul. It’s important to be responsive to the historical moment and to be in present time and as much as possible to be diverse. To recognize the pains of others. To listen to them.

Bert: What about the inner work/outer work focus. So much of the mythopoetic is in doing the inner work of men getting in touch with their feelings and what’s going on with them. I was just reading the introduction to Sam Keen, in his new book on spirituality, Hymms to an Unknown God, quotes Bill Moyers to the effect that every journalist now says the question of the day is where are we on our spiritual journey?

Shepherd: I think you’re right, Bert. The men’s movement is a religious movement. “Religious” rather than just “spiritual” because it has an organized quality. It’s the inner life in community with others, which is religion – as you know, the word comes from “binding together”. So it has a community element to it. That has drawn me to the men’s movement.

I’d also like to talk about the “backlash.” So far, I’ve been speaking from a mythopoetic viewpoint. I think feminist men have made another set of mistakes by being so angry at men — and the men’s rights people by being so angry at women.

One of the many good things that Michael Meade did was to talk about men’s movements – plural rather than singular. There are, in my opinion, at least three distinct movements: the mythopoetic, men’s rights, and the feminist men. We should have dialog with all of these movements. There has been too much infighting. There hasn’t been enough looking at each other and working together.

Bert: Sometimes there does not seen any way to dialog with the men’s rights side. They are so adamant. They’re so political. Frequently this attack on women is connected with right wing politics. A lot of their rhetoric is bombastic. So I don’t see either Men’s Work or healing between the genders coming out of the men’s rights side.

Shepherd: I agree. Let me talk to the two groups that I see as dangerous: Warren Farrell’s work and the Promise Keepers.

Bert: In what respect do you think that Warren Farrell’s work is dangerous?

Shepherd: Farrell really was hurt by women, by being in the National Organization of Women. He has been fighting back ever since. I don’t trust him. He does represent a certain constituency. But it’s not a constituency which wants to listen or work with other men. It wants to control. Warren is a charismatic leader. He’s handsome, articulate. But I really see the dangers in these charismatic leaders. They’re not really group-based. It’s a leader/follower relationship.

Let me get to the Promise Keepers, because of the things that Susan Faludi and others have criticized us for. The mythopoetic movement is not a backlash. It is not a reaction to the women’s movement. It responds more to economic reality – men’s lives in sexist society in terms of how we are disadvantaged by dying seven years younger than women. Men’s movements are authentic and genuine attempts to deal with this issue. They are not a backlash.

The Promise Keepers is the group, started by a football coach, who have been gathering 50,000 at a time in a stadium in Boulder, Colorado, and now in other parts of the country.They stand for a return to family values, Christian fundamentalism, and homophobia. This is the real backlash. These Promise Keepers and the right wing Christians are a serious threat to the men’s movement and to democracy today. The Republicans had a massive landslide victory which I think is very dangerous in this country. Newt Gingrich is a potentially fascist man. I use that word carefully, because I lived in a fascist country, Chile. Even here in Sonoma County, which is relatively progressive and liberal, we have major victories at the school board, the board of supervisors, and in city councils, by right wing Christians who really do not believe in toleration. They do not believe in diversity. One of the elements of Men’s Work can be a call for diversity of sexual orientation, races, of creeds. A poly-centric view that I think is so important. Not monotheistic. We don’t all have to believe in a Christian god, the same Bible, the same fundamentals. We can be in a time in the twenty first century of expanding rather than shrinking our toleration of differences.

There’s a dangerous, angry mood in the country today. The people who brought to power these right wingers were white males. The largest gender gap ever in history occurred in this election. Women were much more progressive in their voting. There does seem to be a backlash of white males who are reacting to some of the gains of women. Some men are feeling a lot of fear today, in terms of work, in terms of changing family structures. But these are not the mythopoetic men.

I don’t fall in line behind all these so-called “family values.” They’re often homophobic. They’re often a way of putting down single men. I don’t think because a man is a father that he’s any better than any other man. The Republicans are thinking of giving a big tax break to children. I think we should give a tax break to people who don’t have children. The biggest problem in the world today is over-population. We don’t need more incentives to have children.

America consumes by far the greatest percentage of unrenewable resources in the Earth, particularly fossil fuels. We’re very dominating, very controlling of nature. Humans have become thieves. I live in the Cunningham Marsh. Developers want to come in here and take the homes of salamanders, fresh water shrimp, and owls and put six human homes in what today is thousands of homes for wildlife. This march of technology, of development into the marsh which provides habitat for wildlife, is messing this whole beautiful place up.

We need to return to the cooperative masculinity that men used to harvest food, raise barns, and volunteer to fight fires together. We lost that and replaced it with a competitive technological masculinity. The problem is not masculinity; it’s technological masculinity. We as men need to take our economic and political privilege, admit that we have it, and use it to do good.

Now let me talk about another issue, that is very much on my soul these days: the mother in South Carolina who killed her two babies. It was very upsetting to me. I was very angry with her. What made me angry was that some people tried to blame her boyfriend because he wrote her a letter saying that he didn’t want to be with her. People can’t get it straight, can’t accept that the majority of infanticide is done by women, not men. 55% of the parents who kill children are female. The majority of child abuse is not done by men, it’s done by women. Now, I’m not blaming women for that. In a sexist society women are at home with the children more often, so they get angrier. But what backs me up against the wall is the self-righteousness of women who blame men for all the abuse. Women who kill their husbands use the defense that they are battered, therefore they have a right to kill their husband. But it’s not right. I was in a discussion recently with some ultra-feminist women in a public panel in a book reading. I got this victim stuff, that we should have compassion for this mother who killed her children. But there was no compassion in this woman for men who are battered. This society systematically batters men. When anybody kills we need to protect society from those people – be they male or female. We need to understand why men and women do this, but we need not to defend the behavior. It’s unethical, morally incorrect behavior. We should speak out against any kind of violence – be it against men, women, children, plants, animals, or the Earth itself.

Men need to unite with women. I want allies among women who will come out and admit the violence that exists in women, the scapegoating of the masculine that occurs, the projecting of women’s violence onto men. What bothers me is that men are the activists on the front line doing the work that kills us seven years younger. Fighting in the wars.And we get blamed for it. But it’s really a collusion between men and women in this sexist system — that keeps the whole thing going.

Bert: Did you see Carolyn Baker’s article, “Confessions of a Recovering Feminist”? We ran her article on the shadow side of feminism. (December, 1994 issue.) What she says is that women and feminists need to get in touch with the shadow side of feminism first.

Shepherd: Yes.Carolyn is an ally to men. There needs to be a priority upon gender reconciliation. Part of the women’s movement is very receptive towards men. You see it in the work of Aaron Kipnis and Liz Herron, for example. (authors of Gender War, Gender Peace. A three-part interview with them is in our July, August and September, 1994 issues.) Gender reconciliation is very important work. Carolyn and I have spent the last few years in a gender reconciliation group. She understands men’s pain, and is part of this new wave of women. Too often we get into a good woman/bad man dualism; we need to see the dark side of women and the light side of men. Being in dialog with women such as Carolyn is important.

I was very disturbed after reading in your last issue the excellent article by James Smethurst on Naomi Wolf. When asked if she would have her baby circumsized, she joked, “No, I’ll have him castrated.” It was important that he pointed out the contradictions in what she writes, which is more advanced than what she said in person. The joking about castration was inexcusable. It is important that he call her to task on that and that he stand up for us as men.

Circumcision is a key issue. Men need to address it. I’m glad he’s doing that. And I’m glad you’re publishing articles on it. I remember my circumcision as an infant. It was the most painful thing that ever happened in my life. I’ve been hit. I’ve been shot at. All kinds of stuff. But nothing hurt me as much as that. So I think we do need to speak up on these issues.

Bert: In an editorial for the December, 1994 issue I cited you as raising the question whether the mythopoetic men’s movement is dead. The vision that I’m having is grow or die. And I don’t know how we’re going to get more cultural diversity or more outreach — outfocus into the community. But we have to.

Shepherd: Well, I have some ideas on that. Next weekend we’re showing a film called The Color of Fear (ed. – reviewed in our last issue), made by an Asian American. It’s a video about a men’s group that actually shows an anglo man change his ideas about race. It’s a very emotional film which we’re using to stimulate dialog around racism and multi-cultural work.

There is a part of me that is embarrassed and shamed to be a Californian given proposition 187. It is a racist anti-human proposition. The so-called illegal aliens are human beings who work very hard, and help hold up the agriculture of this state and of the nation. They work for four or five dollars an hour. I can assure you that they give more than they take.

We’re watching a rise in racism now. My partner is Japanese American. There is a tremendous rise in anti-Japanese sentiment. There’s a lot of anti-Arab sentiment. This can be mobilized by right wing Christians.

I also think that it is important that men continue to work on homophobia, that we continue to advance a biodiverse human community. Anybody who does not have close gay men friends is impoverished. Any man who does not have close lesbian friends is limited. Humans seem to be made by the Creator in various heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, racial components.

Any system, we know from ecology, is strong if it’s diverse. It’s weak when the gene pool becomes restricted, when there’s inbreeding. When a man is courageous enough to speak up about the need for diversity, he deserves all the support that we can give him.

Bert: I’ve heard it said that if men of color don’t think there are enough men of color at Wisdom Councils and monthly gatherings, that these men of color should go out and bring in people of diversity.

Shepherd: I think it’s the role of the dominating group to do that. You don’t throw it back to the minority. It’s incumbent upon anglos to bring in people of diversity. It’s done partly through friendship. If there are not men of color at a men’s gathering, the men need to look at their racism. In my opinion it is strongly our responsibility, those of us who benefit from this white skin privilege, to be open to men of color. In this way, Alan Chinen is important because he is a Japanese American man.

Bert: Some might question whether he has suffered from it. It’s possible to see him as someone who has played the game by society’s rules and become a very successful psychotherapist and a leading edge scholar.

Shepherd: Well, let me tell you how he suffered. It really struck me because when you look at Alan, he does appear to be a very successful man.His name, Chinen, is not obviously an Asian name. He’s told stories of clients coming to him and discovering that he’s Japanese American and being surprised and disappointed. He said no anglo has ever come to him, found that he is Japanese, and honored and appreciated that. It strikes me as very racist for people to to come in and not get the white person that they expected, and to walk away, to act in a way that is disrespectful.

Even though Asian Americans do not have the financial poverty that African Americans do there is definitely racism against them. It contributed in part to the crime of Hiroshima-Nagasaki, which were irresponsible, unnecessary taking of life. The atomic bomb would never have been used by America against an anglo people, even though obviously Hitler and Germany were the real threats.Japanese Americans on the West Coast lost their land with 48 hours notice even though they were AmericansThey’re just as American as anybody with a white face. Alan is as fully American as anybody. One of the strengths of America is its diversity.

This last election should make us all do some soul searching now about this mood of anger and resentment in America today. And how to deal with it in a healthy way. The men’s movement needs to be responsive because of these Promise Keepers, these right wing Christian men who believe in the family and don’t believe in gayness as natural.

You ask about where is the men’s movement going? It does need to mature from the inner work to the outer work while continuing to do the inner work. But we need, in part, to be protectors. The male role of protecting can be a good role. I recently saw a film about Hitler’s Czechoslovakia where there were the so-called “White Jews” who helped protect Jews. Christian monks would hide them. We need to be responsive to the people of our society who are oppressed because of sexual orientation or race. Here in California the Mexican people need to be supported by anglo people.

This historic male role of the Protector, which when taken in excess could be a problem, is a positive image. The Protector, the Husbandman. The men who till the Earth, take care of the Earth, not as nurturers but as generators. There’s that regenerating quality. I make a distinction between the nurturing that women do and generating that men do.

We need to think about biodiversity in human-kind. We think about it mainly in terms of wildlife and nature. But humans are a part of nature. We need to apply some of the thinking in the environmental circles to Men’s Work and some of the thinking in Men’s Work to environmental circles. For example, some of us here from the Redwood Men’s Center are thinking of going to an environmental meeting in masks. We would take on speaking for the whales, the salmon, the oak, and the douglas fir, and the redwoods. There’s something positive about the zany quality of our men’s gatherings up in Mendocino that really goes to the edge. I’d like us to bring that more into the mass culture and environmental awareness. We as men both individually and in our movement have a lot to offer to our society as a whole.


Original Interview published May 1995 issue of M.E.N. Magazine, and reprinted here with permission of Bert Hoff, March 2021.

See also: “The One True Masculinity” – A Mythopoetic Interpretation