This could be why “manly men” don’t like psychology and spirituality.

And no, it’s not about the patriarchy. Or not COMPLETELY about the patriarchy.

Lucy the Oracle
15 min readMay 19, 2024

In a world full of Andrew Tate’s and Andrea Dworkin’s… Perhaps there is a more balanced middle way.

Photo by Parmanand Jagnandan on Unsplash

Let me rephrase the title, real quick: today I will address one likely reason why WESTERN “manly men” don’t like psychology and spirituality.

Because in the East, my friends, there’s a different story altogether. (Maybe the photo above will remind you of a pop culture reference that is based on many real stories).

Some of the inspiration for this article came from a lifelong frustration of mine: I have a spiritual calling, it’s undeniable, everyone with a minimum amount of sensitivity sees it… But somehow, I can’t find a teacher because every. Single. Person. I. Ever. Find. Tries to “feminise” me.

Every single one of them. Without exception. Even men (as they’re definitely not manly. The Western spiritual teachers, I mean).

Nobody embraces and welcomes the middle ground that I am, gender-wise. No, apparently, here in the West, in order to be spiritual or artistic you need to be the girliest girl ever (or the softest “femboy”). It’s a gender dictatorship. No other option anywhere in the horizon. This is precisely the reason why so many “manly men” I know have an undeniable connection with the unseen forces, but choose to stay away from spiritual or artistic circles — because they know they won’t be welcome in these spaces.

And they’re not wrong. If I, a woman, already feel that rejection… Imagine what they would go through!

Here is a bit of a TLDR (but also a necessary introduction): We’re not winning the manly people over to the sentimental and metaphysical side of the force because we’re refusing to speak their language. Because we assume too much and open our minds too little. And ultimately, because we allow the Western powers-that-be to keep brainwashing us into a never-ending war of the genders since this makes it easier for them to divide and conquer us.

We can’t speak of fostering a world where everyone can have their spiritual awakening if by “everyone” all we mean is “soft, gentle and sensitive people”. Yes, I know, we have all been traumatised with an excess of masculine authoritarianism which spans many centuries… But just because the extreme is bad, that doesn’t invalidate the healthy middle ground that can still exist in this same spectrum. (By the way, did you know extreme femininity can also be toxic? Yeah, probably not, because it’s never been in power here in the West, but don’t be fooled — ANY extreme is bad).

In fact, there used to be healthy, highly spiritual, very masculine role models in the West. Do the names Odin, Lugh, Apollo ring any bells to you? Not everyone follows these role models — not everyone followed them back then, either — but THAT IS the point! They should exist and be promoted again. If you don’t need them, if you’re fine with “mother Earth” alone, great! But you’re not the only person in the Universe who deserves spirituality. Everyone does. And some people happen to need a masculine role model. Let’s have empathy with them, let’s be open to diversity.

There’s too much “gentle manipulation” within Western Psychology AND Spirituality… And too few people who ACTUALLY NEED “gentle manipulation”.

I’m being pedantic here and qualifying this manipulation as “gentle”, because otherwise people will cancel me. But when I speak of the emotional manipulation [good] mental health professionals and gurus alike engage in, you should automatically assume it’s not a villainesque kind of evil thing; Instead, it’s a gentle thing. It’s an ok-ish technique that softens “the blow” of a confrontation that, for “water” people (the people we deem feminine — men included), would sound too harsh otherwise.

Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

But not everyone is water. Not even every feminine woman is water (hence why I prefer the element, not the gender spectrum, as metaphor, but I’m merely translating it to the masses). Some are earth. Some are air, fire, metal, what-have-you. I keep saying this and I’ll repeat it more, like a broken record. I’ll make it my brand, I’ll even sell T-shirts with this phrase: not everyone is water. (I’m kidding. But you get the general idea). I feel like raising awareness about this problem, because sometimes it’s not just “the patients”, “the students” who are bad; Sometimes, it’s the system we currently have that is incompetent. And I know this is a new idea, it will take a while to catch on, people are probably already calling me crazy for talking about it… But I don’t care. I’ll keep repeating it. Even if I die trying to raise awareness, I won’t give up. I’m too fed-up with stagnation and orthodoxy. Let’s evolve. Let’s explore the new.

I can already hear the naysayers going like, “oh, but we all have all 4 elements within is. Boo-hoo, bah humbug”. Ok, boomer. Would you apply the same logic to other situations of learning too? Would you tell a preschooler “oh but we all should express all sorts of message in writing with different levels of formality and not just one”? Dude. Wake up! This CHILD is learning to spell FOR THE FIRST GODDAMN TIME. I know the ultimate ideal is for us all to have perfect reading and writing skills, but slow down. Have some patience. Have some EMPATHY.

Nobody is born perfect! Yes, sure, metaphorically speaking, we all have the potential within us to “be avatar”. But before we get there, we first need to “bend” our element of comfort. NOT be forced to struggle with the polar opposite. And for that to happen, more than one option must be available to all beginners.

If the majority of people seeking self-improvement and spirituality today are “water” (or so-called feminine), don’t we have an elephant to address in the room?

Oh, no, some would say. No, we don’t. Apparently, all we need is a “water” approach. And we’ll force that upon everybody. And those who complain, we will call autistic (overdiagnosing and doing the community of actually autistic people a disservice). That’s excessively orthodox, though. Some people aren’t autistic, dear therapists and gurus — they’re just not responding to your gentle manipulation because they don’t need it in the first place. They’re not “missing the cue”. YOU GUYS are just too proud to admit that you could be wrong.

Just like (let me remind you once again) you, psychologists, were wrong when lobotomies were a thing, you were wrong when madhouses were a thing, and you were also wrong when you called mindfulness “bullshit” and thought CBT was the only valid approach. Have I refreshed your memories? Good. Now, drop the arrogance and listen.

And I won’t even address the gurus [in the West] because… Well, just look around. See how many harmful cults we’ve had in the past. The road to hell is often paved with good intentions.

You could argue, if you want, that I’m being intolerant against the people who have a more orthodox approach to things. And in all fairness, judging by this article alone, I am. I’ll give you that. But that’s because, in this specific context, I can see through certain methods and I don’t like what I’m seeing. For example: when you say “water”, alone, is good enough (in order to say to me “Lucy, stop being intolerant, it’s valid to be orthodox because everything is already okay the way it is”)… What are you implying? That all other elements are shite? Useless? Bad? Not good enough for a beginner’s journey? Or conversely, too good for a mere peasant of a beginner (either way, no early access to them is needed)? You see, THIS IS WHY I’m writing this article.

“Oh but tradition X says we always start with Water”. Who the fuck cares? Other traditions disagree. Perhaps what they all have in common is the elements, not their order.

I’ll keep repeating the above, with different words in each new article here, until it sticks. You can’t shut me up.

Here: let’s look at some visual metaphors.

Photo by Ilia Zolas on Unsplash

So, earth. What can we do to earth (the alchemical element, ie. a metaphor that encompasses a shitload of substances)? It’s solid, right? Some “kinds” of earth are more or less solid than others, but generally speaking, it’s solid; It’s robust; It won’t circulate with currents in its natural environment just like water does. And you can’t “gently manipulate” its course with a system of pipes and containers — or not as sophisticated as you’d do to water. Sand will move, but it’s very airy; so will mud, but it’s watery. I’m talking about earthy earth. The purest you can think of.

It just sits there. If you don’t sculpt it, you won’t see it take shape. And after you sculpt it, it will once again just sit there — having the shape you gave it. Sure, nothing is permanent in life, maybe if you observe it over the span of geological eras, it will naturally change shape… But ain’t nobody got time for that. Not metaphorically speaking. If you want to teach or help an “earth” person reframe negativity, you need to sculpt.

Earth people don’t usually have a strong reaction to having to use one brain hemisphere over the other — their problem has more to do with the fact their default state of being is materialistic and inflexible… They don’t “flow” naturally. They can totally learn that, but it won’t be second nature like it is for fire and water. And you must keep that in mind.

Hence, I speak of “sculpting”. At least in the very beginning, that’s how you help Earth learn to change shape and explore that skill.

Maybe you’re a water-inclined teacher and will think “oh no, but that’s too direct and authoritarian. I don’t want to hurt this person’s feelings” — sweetie, you’re projecting YOUR feelings onto THEM. They’re a separate person. A different element, even! Or if you’re “fire”, you might think, “oh no, but sculpting does nothing to me. I don’t feel it (indeed, you can’t sculpt fire). Usually I’m just self-motivated to experiment with thoughts and feelings” — yeah but earth isn’t. It just sits there. No, it’s not dumb. It’s very intelligent. But it’s always waiting for YOUR input. Not your fuel (fire needs fuel, encouragement. Not earth), not your manipulation either (it’s water you must channel and enclose. Not earth). Input. Actual input. Otherwise you’ll go nowhere.

Add water to it if you need (to make it softer), or add air (to make it lighter) or add fire (to make it richer), but don’t delude yourself that you’re dealing with PURE water or PURE air or PURE fire. Ultimately, this is earth. That’s the base element. And sculpting is the goal.

Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash

Fire does not spill over the container. If you don’t feed it with fuel, it won’t grow. If you give fuel, it grows. That’s how we control fire, not by muffing or throwing water at it — because that will only kill it and you’ll have to start all over again.

It’s obvious when you look at a literal fire, isn’t it? Has anyone ever said “oh no, the flames of this bonfire are getting tall, we need to quickly place bigger walls around it before it spills over”? Ever heard “we’ll need 5 buckets of fire to fill this fireplace here”? Or even, “hand me over the fire ducts, we need to gently channel these flames out of here”? No.

But for some reason, when fire is metaphoric, suddenly we forget that. And we mistake it for water. Why could that be? Well, in my understanding, it’s because both “fire” and “water” people are emotional. Dramatic, if you will (or, on the positive side of that same coin, highly spiritual). In their bad days, both are prone to exaggerating and catastrophising. I’m “fire”, if you didn’t know. I have been accused of black-and-white thinking by SO FUCKING MANY “water” people, I’ve lost count at this stage. But funny, isn’t it, so very funny… How these same exact people have the same tendency and display it often. That could be why they project; they see it in me, their subconscious goes like “whoa, this black-and-white thinking is a thing I have and I don’t like”, and they react.

Anyway… The more we mistake “fire” people for “water” people, the more we are doomed to repeat the same failures in trying to help them heal their hearts and souls. This is where most of our problem — here in the West — can be found. Here is the origin of these gender wars we keep having. Ever seen that in Eastern countries? To the same extent, where radical feminists roar on one side and “alpha males” beat on their chest on the other side? Yeah, no. Other than the odd Western import, for the most part, Eastern cultures don’t suffer from that.

And why DO we suffer from that? Ever wondered? I’ll tell you why: because, as I said in the beginning, we want to force “fire” to work like water in the areas of life where “water” is thriving (therapy, religion, spirituality, arts), AND we want to force “water” to work like fire in the areas of life where “fire” is thriving (the corporate world, Academia, STEM, etc). Instead of acknowledging, holding space for, and for heaven’s sake being kind to people’s natural tendencies where some use the right side of their brain more, and others use the left side of their brain more… We draw a very clear line and turn a blind eye to the brave few who cross over to the other side.

Right-brained, “watery”? Go be an artist and have a religion.

Left-brained, “fiery”? Go be a scientist and your only option is Atheism.

Oh but you see, Lucy is left-brained and she wants to practise art and spirituality. What should she do? “Ah, well…”, the gatekeepers say, “in that case, she should change everything about her and somehow become ‘water’. And if she complains, we’ll accuse her of mysoginy, misdiagnose her as autistic, dismiss her, or keep insisting that she becomes that which she was never meant to be — a predominantly watery person”.

But WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG with “fire” art? “Fire” spirituality? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG with “water” applied to logic and to the scientific method?

The problem we have here in the West is we’re too addicted to categorising and putting things (or worse, PEOPLE) in neat little boxes. We’re not used to Wu Wei, we’re not used to non-conceptualisation. So, we hear “this person has a tendency” and we immediately think, “this person is permanently like that. Naturally like that. Helplessly, immutably”. We don’t want to meet the person where they’re at and bring them over to the other side for a visit, oh no, we want people to stay on their lanes, in their cliques, never mingling or seeing the good in the “other”. We don’t value real diversity. We don’t value impermanence either. All these Eastern concepts could help us a bunch.

Photo by Delaney Van on Unsplash

Air has fire’s problem, minus the drama. It’s rational, dispersive, and frustrating to some, but the good side is it’s very eager to embrace just about anything… (much like air fills the space around everything on the planet) If you only have patience and kindness. But people don’t have patience and kindness with anyone who doesn’t follow the normal and prescriptivist water-based “user’s manual” to Western Psychology and Spirituality. So, “air” people become frustrated. They won’t show it though, they’re okay with being a bit invisible, “not sweating it” and just calmly walking away from Western Psychology and Spirituality’s close-mindedness.

But these people DO walk away. They ARE sick of the bullshit. The system is failing them too.

The fact is “air” people are sick of hearing “you’re not caring enough” (translation: you’re not water or fire), “you’re not paying attention” (translation: you’re not earth). Yeah, no shit, Sherlock. Tell me the news. You’re dealing with “air”. Now, your only REAL options are 1) you accept that student and/or patient for who they are, or 2) you refuse to help them.

There is no third option. All else is delusions of the mind. The reality is simple, we overcomplicate it: people are who they are. Their comfort zones are where they are, not where you dictate or expect them to be. Their difficulties are where they are, and again, not where you dictate or expect them to be. Instead of prescribing people, let’s try describing. Let’s try listening more than we speak when they ask for help. Just for a change.

Western society treats people like things; like robots. Maybe someone who is very “earth” can cope with that (and not be truly fulfilled, but blend into the background of this robotified world well enough), and so can the “water” crowd because they adapt to their container’s shape even when they shouldn’t… “Fire” and “air”, however, become the problematic dissonant voices. Coincidentally (or not!), they are considered masculine in pretty much every spiritual tradition.

That’s a very uncomfortable conclusion to unravel, though, isn’t it? The fact these long-term “villains” are actually just suffering and feeling like their voice falls on deaf ears unless they become aggressive and domineering.

Oh, but the West is so black-and-white, so heaven-or-hell, so this-or-that. In Buddhist terms, so dualistic. A lot of people’s knee-jerk reaction to this article will be to hate it. Irrationally. After all, I am dismantling their “bad guy”. I’m telling them they, too, have responsibility for creating this monster, despite being “good guys”. Oh, no, the world will end, what shall we do? Where are the superheroes to save us?

Everyone pays attention to a wildfire or a tornado. They’re hard to ignore. But the monster isn’t the only one to be held accountable for that escalation.

The West wasn’t always like this.

Before you assume my beef is cultural, no, it isn’t.

Scroll up again, re-read the intro if you feel like it. We used to have wisdom that was on pair with all of these Eastern traditions I keep mentioning. I’m by no means saying Eastern people have some kind of natural intellectual advantage over us. In fact, History explains: the Roman Empire never conquered China or Mongolia. Therefore, it didn’t have access to the far East either. And these places weren’t eventually Christianised by force either, for the same reason. They let their own traditions of wisdom live on. Perfectly? No, not at all. The East had bloodthirsty empires too, had a serious problem with patriarchal power structures too — some things repeat across the board. But their wisdom traditions lived on.

Ours, on the other hand, got lost.

…Or did they?

Reconstruction is possible. In fact, this is what Neopagans have been trying to do (with varying degrees of success, many errors and pitfalls, but slowly and steady). Contrary to popular assumption, no, it’s not just for the sake of aesthetics and romanticism. It’s also a reconnection with less totalitarian, less monolithic ways of looking at the invisible forces at play in our lives. A lot of Ancient records survive intact, and so does Ancient philosophy.

Maybe it’s time to rethink our prejudice against “those dumb pagans of the past” just because the Imperialistic machine of Capitalist greed and pseudo-religious sophism that exists ever since Rome turned ““““““Christian”””””” (or a mockery of real Christianity, to be precise) told us so.

A lot of people mock the belief in old gods… But turn around and take the Bible literally. Of course these sources of wisdom make no sense if you take them literally! Yes, Einstein, congratulations for that amazing discovery, clearly you deserve a prize.

Another crowd, perhaps less harmful but nonetheless misguided, simply replaces “God” (as in the Bible) with “Goddess” and doesn’t think any further. Well, I’ve got some bad news… But it’s okay. We all slip and fall. We can get back up and keep walking.

I’m citing this video for what probably is the 4th time. Please watch in full.

A lot of Abrahamic religions only make room for “water”, because, well, they worship saints and martyrs who suffered and cried, not virtuous deities who triumph. They value adaptability, forgiveness, and passivity above all else. They consider strong, “manly” gods bad news (when in fact they weren’t bad news to the pagans of old. They come with cautionary tales like anything else, but at least people weren’t completely demonising them back then. This opens doors for dialogue and keeps shame away).

Do you think “manly” people aren’t aware of the predicament we’re in? Do you think they don’t know our current system is unsustainable? Of course they know. But it becomes a little difficult to foster change, when you’re straight-up demanding humiliation out of them. Come on, guys. We don’t live in a comic book. There are no monsters to be slayed by Wonder Woman in real life. There are human beings who got lost. And you can’t feminise them into finding their healthy center.



Lucy the Oracle

Oracle learner / spirit worker based in Ireland. Buddhist/polytheist. I don't read minds. I don't change minds. I don't sugarcoat. Take my message or leave it.