By Nic Tovey
I know it’s no great news to you that, when it comes to the world of gender and sexuality, today we’re charting very new territory. For a few decades now there’s been a lot of talk about men embracing their feminine side; becoming more emotionally intelligent, communicative and vulnerable, and women developing their masculine side; being more driven, focussed and independent. These have been massive shifts in our cultural evolution, but merely developing a set of qualities that we have previously neglected, while its great progress, is not enough to bring humanity into a place of unity, wholeness and mutuality, we can go much deeper.
As a man who has been involved in men’s work for over 10 years, and is an advocate and facilitator of Rites of Passage for boys and men, I have come to the realisation that the most powerful and significant initiations I have received, and the ones that have most definitely made me a much better man, have been, strange as it may seem, initiations into the feminine.
I’m blessed to have had some profound experiences which I consider feminine initiations; the first was a dream I had when I was 20, which is still the most impactful dream I have had. I was the first man to be naturally pregnant. How it happened I have no idea, but I vividly remember feeling my hard swollen belly, complete with course body hair, and feeling the baby beneath the skin. Thankfully I woke before giving birth! At the time it was bizarre and disturbing but now I see it as a gift.
The second was whilst I was studying Transpersonal Counselling. During a guided visualisation exercise, for some reason I was suddenly overcome by strong fear. Just as soon as the fear came I felt myself being sucked downward and I was absorbed into the womb of Mother Earth. This was not part of the exercise but a seemingly random occurrence. Again an extremely vivid experience! I remember feeling the soft and moist walls of her womb, smelling the musty, earthy amniotic fluid, and feeling her heart beat. But what stood out above all else was the overwhelming sense of immense and unconditional love. A love beyond any human mother’s capacity.
The third and most powerful was during a Sacred Sexuality workshop called The Womb – Phallus Reunion. The name says it all! During a feminine ritual I found myself beginning to cry but I didn’t know why. I was suddenly overwhelmed by floods of grief and my crying became an uncontrollable sob, but still I didn’t know what I was grieving. Images began to flash through my mind and I realised that I was experiencing the collective grief of the feminine throughout time and space. I felt the grief of every woman who had lost a child. I shed the tears of every woman who had been raped or abused. I grieved for every son a mother has lost at war. I felt the subtle but not insignificant grief that every woman experiences every month for the loss of a potential life. This was a heart shattering experience! I have never sobbed so much in my life. I was blessed with the opportunity to experience a glimpse into things that no man will ever experience for himself by virtue of the body he was born with. I now understand that this was a rare and precious gift which I hold with deep reverence and humility.
I did not intentionally seek out these three experiences but they remain some of the most profound and life changing of my life. Through my explorations of Tantra and Sacred Sexuality, particularly my work with ISTA (International School of Temple Arts), I have gone on to have several more experiences like this, but with more intention.
The exponential growth and crucial learning I have gained from these initiations has helped me, not only develop my “feminine side”, but to gain an embodied realisation that, while I am born in a man’s body, I also have a woman inside. These experiences provided me with a reference point from where I could begin to understand, embrace and integrate my internal woman, and from there cultivate and nurture a relationship with her.
While this is definitely a work in progress, I now recognise her gifts and qualities and am learning to hand over to her certain tasks that she does much better than I, e.g. creative tasks, decorating a space, visioning. I am getting better at allowing her a voice and including her in decision making, particularly when it comes to connecting with an external woman. She is very protective of me and needs to know we can trust this other woman. They need to meet and become acquainted. As our relationship deepens we are meeting each other as equals, allies, friends and lovers. This is the true depths of Sacred Marriage, and believe me, it makes for much more interesting self pleasuring! Better still is when you meet a woman who has also cultivated her relationship with her inner man. Let the foursome commence!
While there is great importance and validity to men doing men’s work and women doing women’s work, I feel the next step, where we can really begin to come together, meet each other and heal the wounds of separation, is when we bring ourselves into union internally and externally, and do that together. While we will never completely understand each other, we will never truly meet if we are disconnected from our own internal contra-sexual self.
I know this will sound a bit “out there” for many but all I can say is that my own experiences and my flourishing relationship with my internal woman have, not only helped me to no end in my intimate relationships with women, with female clients and with my daughters, but they have made me a better, more whole man.
Her name is Nicola by the way, and yes she’s super hot!