Men Talk Articles - June/July 2014

Spiritual Fatherhood: Healing the Shadow Within

– © 2014 Dan Gorbunow, AMT

I first encountered the Twin Cities Men's Center in the late summer of 2004, after searching for any resource that could help me in dealing with legal issues. I was seeking parenting time (I didn't know about the term yet) to be with my estranged son who was turning one year old. After a series of bitter disappointments attempting to reconnect with him, I was turning to help. I spoke with an older man at the office, maybe it was Randy, and explained the pain I was going through. The man heard my story, then walked around the desk and without much else to say, gave me a big hug of assurance and healing support. "You don't deserve to be left out of his life." I nearly cried, then continued on my way, seeking various kinds of help. I was on a journey of reclaiming my fatherhood. I had already danced in spiritual ceremony for my son twice, once before he was born for a smooth healthy birth, and again that next year for his well being. He was not directly in my life, yet remained present in my thoughts, prayers, and hopes for reunion.

The following winter, at a library in a men's "Time-Out Center" near Duluth, I picked up the book "IRON JOHN" by Robert Bly - a fortunate turn. I came to recognize that the great distance between my father and I was not unique to me, that my experience was a ripple of father yearning in a vast cultural sea of hunger and separation. My determination to "do my work" on this matter of the heart, as a vital necessity to ensure my psychic health and to underwrite any hopes of reunion with my son, lead me to many groups of conscious men, and to brilliant fellowship with individual men I've been fortunate enough to stumble near and create the sort of conversation that moves the energy from the heart and soul rather than the head or mind that's busy trying to figure everything out.

Mankind Project and Boys To Men organizations helped me to see more of the shadows, and golden gifts, of father that I was carrying inside, much like light penetrating the cave of lethargic amnesia and buried treasure that only a skilled miner can create with a golden pick. My willingness to burrow deeper into the sacred wounds that my father placed, mostly unconsciously, into my being gave me the courage to work them out in the heat of community rites of passage, ritual, discussion, and grieving.

Grieving his losses, and his father's losses before him, I finally found out who these men were. In moist moments of reconciliation, my stomach grumbles with the same hunger that they knew. I was able to forgive them, and finally myself, for not being the ideal father that a boy dreams about in his bones, and thus I broke the trance of numbness that developed in my childhood by being raised mostly by my mother, without an emotional or spiritual connection to my father.

Bly says that we need to access the "Golden Father" or sacred masculine Zeus energy in order to be complete as men, and to recover a sense of our wild nature. He says a great many other things that men ought to reconsider again and again, ingesting slowly with a keen masticating sword that can cut through our dense layers of flatness that our culture engenders to the soul of men. He quotes James Hillman with, "If a young man isn't being seen by older men, the young man is being hurt." Golden Father energy is like a spiritual vitamin, one that could be listed as part of the Recommended Daily Allowances of nutrients; it is food for body and soul.

Spiritual fatherhood is a journey of discovery of self, of one's own father, and the inner one we carry inside that resonates with all the other ones in the ground. We can then find our golden father, the one that blesses us with the same power of Zeus' lightning bolts, and life giving rainy storm, and with such soul fire, turn to our inner boy and give him what he needs: a father's love, a celebration of our talents and gifts, and a strong supportive hand that reaches behind us to keep us propped up when we forget our power. Practice spiritual fatherhood now, and take a breath in and release this power when you give your little boy a hug, or to the next man who comes to you in a moment of pain or grief or yearning for blessing.

Dan Gorbunow, AMT is trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine and offers ritual, divinations, and healing bodywork for men based out of the Uptown studio he shares with his wife, Red Earth Sanctuary. Dan also facilitates the monthly Men's Healing Ritual at TCMC. Please email Dan for any comments or questions: