This book is a must read for any man living in the world today. And for any mother who wants to know what to do with her son, most especially if she is raising him as a single mother. This strikes a real cord with me because I grew up with a single mother ? and I lacked a strong male role model for most of my teenager years. And the result? A lot of confusion, a lot of self-doubt and this with a combination of other factors led directly to a nervous breakdown when I hit 25. You could say that I was never prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the adult world or you could say that I was to immature and the pace of my life was so fast I could not acclimatise quickly enough.
Yes, I have a father and we have not been close for most of my of my life especially after he remarried. Now his 2nd wide has passed away 8 years ago and my half-brother is almost 21. There is a divide that is deep and sometimes painful. And since I grew up with my mother I have a much closer relationship to her and my 19 year old half-sister. How have I dealt with this in the past? With anger, with frustration for being deprived from growing up in a ?normal? family unit. This led to more self-loathing then anything else so I turned outward to find my own role models, especially masculine, in the great books of history. I studied the classics from the West and the East. And I eventually reached a point where the simplest advice turned out to best for me: accept everything as it is. Thank God I never spent years of therapy trying to figure this out, which in retrospect seems like the kind of common sense my mother always claimed I didn’t have when I was a teenager.
Anyway Iron John is a mythical story of a boy’s journey with the Wild Man and his separation from his mother and his father. The basic element that we find missing in the modern world is that of male initiation. Now living in South Africa I know all about male initiation, especially among the Xhosa people. There has been growing resistance from the government to close down these initiation schools because of the lack of medical expertise where the boys end up suffering injuries. Could it be that more and more of the ancient knowledge or know-how of how to best conduct these rituals have been lost? I think we have reached a critical point, post the feminism revolution, the decline of fatherhood, and the rise of single parent (mother) families, which causes a severe imbalance in the male/female polarity that is needed. When the Yin/Yang balance is distorted to this extent we find that weak men are all that’s left.
There is so many analogies from this book, which has been brought to my attention via other sources, most notably the seduction community, because is an attempt to restore the balance. How many times have you observed in a Hollywood film, a sitcom, or a cartoon the idiot man with his intelligent wife/girlfriend who point him in the right direction. How many times have you met men, who are unable to articulate themselves, who do not live with a passion or a purpose. They become like zombies living lives of quit desperation. How can the modern man meet the wild man inside him? He can push himself to do something of extraordinary courage and learn from it. Maybe climb Kilimanjaro or run the Comrades or stop denying your father, your masculine, because you need to draw from there the energy that can sustain you through your life. This book is an excellent big picture of the current problem men are facing and for specific help on how to overcome these problems I highly recommend The Way Of The Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Woman, Work, and Sexual Desire
If you live in South Africa you should purchase Iron John by Robert Bly from Kalahari.net
Here’s an excellent video of poet Robert Bly being interviewed by Bill Moyers in 1990. They discuss what it means to be a man in today’s society – the pains of being a man and the things that can be done to heal them.