Defining the Sacred Role of Men — Podcast Interview

Ian MacKenzie
Illustration: Harshvardhan Kadam

Recently at a sold-out screening of Amplify Her, the new film that I co-directed on the rise of the feminine within electronic music, I had a woman come up to me afterward. She was overcome with emotion and couldn’t quite find her words. Eventually, she mustered “Your film… it uncorked something in me. It’s out of the bottle now.”

This has been happening over and over. Through this film (and countless other watershed moments and movements) women are being given permission to trust their feminine power once again, a power that has been shamed, repressed, and persecuted for centuries.

I see women dancing out, claiming their voice and their creativity. I see them connecting in sisterhood, sharing their stories, and their sorrows. I see them healing their communities, harnessing their sexuality potency, and howling with the night.

That following day after the screening, while headed for my morning coffee, I happened upon three friends, all men in their late 20’s, amicably sitting on a wide bench. One of them asked about the screening and I reported the success.

“Beautiful,” he said, then looked off for a moment. His face then shifted. “We men are so lost.”

I recognized him as faithfully testifying from the experience of so many men in this culture.

What does it mean to be a man in this time?

Between the poles of toxic masculinity and the shifting complexity of gender identity, it’s can be easy to dismiss the territory all together — as I did growing up for years. “There’s no such thing as gender! It’s all a social construct!” Yet again and again, I find myself in the tangible and awe-inspiring presence of that which so naturally wants to be named and celebrated as discernible qualities of the masculine and feminine.

I have come to realization now that every generation needs to grapple with these questions anew, offering not universalized “answers” but the continual willingness to wonder — together.

My recent interview with Patrick Farnsworth for his podcast “Last Born in the Wilderness” is shared in this way. I enjoyed the vast array of topics we covered, which I’ve outlined below.

Please share your comments and support his Patreon to encourage him to do more good work. Thank you.

Episode Notes:

3:41 — Origin story of my filmmaking journey, covering One Week Job and Occupy Love. No demand is big enough when working toward a new world. Connecting from IILG to AppleCat and the seeds of Amplify Her.

10:03 — What is the dark feminine? Looking to mythology and the books of Marion Woodman. Adam & Eve and the re-emergence of Lilith. Life does not feed life, only death can do that.

13:44 —A culture that refuses to die is a cancer.

15:34 — We’re in the space between stories, both personal and collective. Trump as a the trickster god Loki. The importance of grieving, not as something to get over and get through, but a way of being in the world.

18:46 — Myth as a crucial orientation to these days. With the increasing polarization of political identity, it’s a revolution to ask as Charles Eisenstein does “what’s it like to be you?” How can we build systems that embody interdependence, riding the spiral of the previous revolutionary wave (the 60’s).

23:25 — The necessary role of elders in connecting us to the larger story.

26:00- Robert Bly, Iron John, and the mythic men’s movement. What does it mean to be a man today? What is the function of rites of passage and the connection to a brotherhood of men?

30:20 — Is gender only a social construct? People who don’t fit into the binaries often want to remove labels entirely, but it feels that there is such a thing as masculinity and femininity.

The industrial revolution tore through village bonds; the recent invention of the nuclear family is a coping strategy for not having village.

36:40 — Being vegetarian, the horrors of the meat industry; though coming to awareness that if your conception of humanity is only as a mistake, that life would be fine without us, then harm reduction becomes the ultimate goal. Many indigenous cultures don’t think this way — instead we have a noble place in the web of life.

The necessity of grieving, not something you “get” through… the ability to grieve is how you are fulfilled by life. Stephen Jenkinson: “Depression is what happens when grief isn’t allowed in the room.”

Is gender only a question about “power” dynamics? or what if both genders had their own power that was not “against” the other gender?

47:17 — The seduction of certainty in a troubled time; having compassion for those that wish to find footing in a world that is increasingly de-stable; appreciation for teachers that are willing to wonder, those that hold up questions are far more valuable than those who give answers

What does it mean to be human at this time?

49:00- Women have the rite of passage through menstruation cycle. I tried to create my own rite of passage in my early 20’s, distancing from everything i knew…headed to Australia. In an intact culture, older village men would have crafted this for me.

52:19 — Mormon rite of passage is going to other cultures as missionaries. Important time in the young men’s lives. We need a rite of passage into serving the emerging culture.

54:57 — Tamera as a culture of partnership, need to understand the powerful energy of the masculine and give it proper channels to flow. It’s life energy; does it flow into the Taliban? or into defending the sacred like Standing Rock?

56:50 — The trouble with universalizing anything, especially gender. One of the wounds of modernity is the invention of the universal. Nation states are tenuous proposition, a very temporary identity. Indigenous identity comes from the land.

How do we create resilience in diversity? Learning that life always has multiple ways of responding.

Ian MacKenzie

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A new paradigm filmmaker + writer, exploring the intersection of eros, emergence, and village.

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