What is "Patriarchy"?

Native American Earth Altar

As we sat for dinner the day before ceremony, the medicine man shared powerful wisdom with us.

There was one piece that I found most impactful.

Indigenous tribes are often referred to as “savages” or “third world”. After all, they live so differently than those in the “civilized world”. He argued, however, that being “civilized” is defined by these 3 qualities:


  • Peaceful living
  • Food and shelter for all
  • Commitment to protecting the Earth

    Definition of Civilized

    If we overlay this framework on our patriarchal world, it turns out that they are the civilized ones and modern society is radically uncivilized. 

    I am actively choosing to open my eyes and see past the stories that our western world has embedded into me. It’s been a beautifully painful process.

    I’d invested so much into these stories that letting them go means grieving the loss of real pieces of myself each time.

    And that grieving process eventually opens space for something new to come in.

    Something more civilized.

    I’m grateful to my guides, my mentors, Sister Earth, Sister Water, Brother Air, Brother Fire, Pachamama and Father Sky for showing me the way.

    And most importantly to my heart for creating the space necessary to allow these forces into my life.

    I was asked to write this article as part of a sacred men’s group. It was shared with me that the patriarchy doesn’t happen outside of myself, where I thought it was. This was a huge thoughtmap shift that brought a lot of clarity helping me to plan the path into the unknown.

    I feel joy that the burning has already begun in my bodies.

    Here’s how I’m doing it:

  • Opening my heart to the infinite love energy available in the universe
  • Vulnerability was a bad word in my upbringing. To put it simply, my father was not capable of saying “I love you”. Through my initiatory process, I’ve learned to allow my feelings in, to listen to them, and to communicate them to the world. The fear that flows through me in every moment no longer includes the fear of being vulnerable. I’ve experienced the magic of opening my heart to strangers and the nourishment that is returned has made this a sacred practice with less and less exceptions as time goes on. 

  • Showing my pure heart to other men
  • I reflect on my awakening process and notice that it’s beginning preceded my initiatory process by about a year. Opening my heart to men began back then. It was the strangest feeling to eye gaze with men and to approach them with a loving hug. It was painful to see how the competitive game I’d been playing with men my whole life had kept me from accessing so much of the masculine beauty. Men now hold so much of my heart and I lean on them lovingly for support. 

    I’ve also had to sit with being met with a sort of rejection; with distance being created as a result of my strong approach. The medicine of rejection is powerful and it’s painful.

  • Standing behind women who are going first
  • For the first time in my life, I started living with a woman. In my past, I’d judged all women, including my partner. I’d look for any excuse to tear them down and throw them in the trash in preparation for the next hunt. Often, the hunt would already be taking place before the current woman was ready to be thrown away. Today, I do whatever it takes to support my partner and create the space for us to discuss how I can support other women, too. In these experiments, I’ve discovered so many interesting aspects of my/our patterns around relationships. Objectification is the best word I can come up with. We believe that people get objectified, but what I’ve realized is that we actually objectify ourselves first and that creates the opportunity for us to be objectified by others. I relate it to the concept of the victim in the Low Drama Triangle - without a victim there can be no low drama. 

  • Offering scales of payment for people who seek out my support
  • Growing up, I tagged my father as a transactional person. I held so much resentment towards him for what I thought was his decision to only give attention to things/people that could make him money and hatred for anything that he considered a cost. The truth that I can only see now is that I was an entitled child. He was trying to teach me to be resourceful and sustainable in the ways that he knew how. I pinned him as a transactional asshole and so I became anti-transactional in rebelion. I gave everything away and avoided any conversation about transaction. Through my healing processes I’ve learned to value my time and to balance that with the concept of allowing others the flexibility to pay what they can afford and/or believe is appropriate for the work. I honor that we all have unique perspectives around the value of work and commit to removing my bias through this sliding scale practice.

  • Offering unconditional gifts to strangers
  • I have been invited to participate in sacred economies where gifts are offered to strangers with no expectation of return. The concept of giving away my “hard earned” savings is not something that the patriarchy within me understands. It’s silly. The moment I gave the first gift, I felt a huge chunk of sludgy scarcity wash away from my body. It gave me the strength to leave my well-paying corporate job and so release more of my patriarchal parts.

  • Dissolving the concept of borders
  • I’ve seen that the patriarchy is largely defined by declaring property and fencing it off. This is mine. It is not yours. I will put a fence around it and you’re not allowed in unless I decide that you are safe. This has evolved to the point that we are now scared to travel across borders. There is fear around crime, healthcare access, currency exchanges, languages, and so on. I am now 3 months into an undefined journey around the world. We’re not always sure where the next stop will be or where we will stay, and we continue on with love and abundance. We feel protected by the universe. It carries us to the people and places that receive us with the same love and abundance that we offer. We live in this frequency and it lives around us.

  • Committing to caring for the Earth
  • Mother Earth is abundant, but she is not a lifeless piece of rock that’s just meant to give us what we want. As I write this I’m reminded of the story of Moses and the stone in the desert. Instead of honoring the stone, he strikes it in hopes of getting water and so Moses was not allowed into the land of Israel, the land of milk and honey. If we do not care for Earth, we will not be ushered to its magic. We will likely get kicked off. She will survive, we will not.  

  • Offering prayers to the elements of Earth
  • In the patriarchy men don’t pray. In the patriarchy there is no prayer, no sacred space. It’s all a homogenous sludge of sterile materialism. After attending ceremonies dedicated to sending prayers to nature and to the elements that make up our existence, I’ve found the practice of offering prayers to the elements a nourishing component of my daily life. 

    I pray that the human race can tip the scales back to “civilization”. I pray that more and more of us actively burn the patriarchy within ourselves, escape from the ashes, and build what’s next. 

    And that we build what’s next together, from the heart, and with love ❤️