September interview with Alyce
Alyce Barry has written a brilliant book,
Practically Shameless How Shadow Work
Helped Me Find My Voice, My Path, and My Inner Gold
describing how we put up so many walls in
our lives that we end up inside a box of our own
creation. Then she helps us understand how we can
find FREEDOM by transforming the box.
This is, however, a double-themed edition
because I wanted to pick her brain during our
interview on the differences she perceived between
men and women or the Masculine/Feminine
within the individuals psyche (the
There was something unique in the way she
personalized her book, her story. in the
same way Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison did in her
ground-breaking work, The Unquiet Mind.
(See interview in the ARCHIVES section.)
As we began our phone conversation, Alyce Barry
shared in detail her evolution of writing the book.
Trained as a technical writer, she said her first
draft was dry as dust. (Her published
version is not, btw.)
I think the main reason it was
unbelievably dull was because it wasnt
mine, she said. I was simply repeating
things on paper Id read or heard other people
After a series of life-changing events, plus the
inspiration from Robert Blys book, The
Maiden King - The Reunion of Masculine and
Feminine about the power of story to convey
ideas, she was able to pour her own experience into
an early draft of her manuscript.
Barrys story is one I believe we can all
relate to: she believed she was never good enough
The little girl comes home from school.
Shes got a gold star on her paper. Shes
proud of it, and wants to shine for her family. She
shows them the gold star, feeling good about
herself, but her family gives her the kind of
feedback that tell her shes not so hot after
all. They do it in a way to cut her down.
To keep the creative writing going for her book,
Barry created a fictional character the reader
could relate to, and identify with. One day, her
editor told her, I wish there was more of you
in here. Could you write this book and make the
story about you?
There is an ancient Egyptian saying regarding
the Masculine interaction with the Feminine
Divine power in woman is so strong that boys
in some sense die simply from having experienced
As Masculine initiated men, hopefully, we are
able to survive our interaction with the Feminine
without running away or drowning in her sea.
Learning how to be a man, first, allowed me the
power to look at the Feminine.
I have worked with women who are doing
very manlike work, Barry continued, and
men doing very womanlike work. Men generally find
it harder to get in touch with a more loving and
connecting side. Boys often get shamed for being
sad like a girl, or being afraid because its
perceived as weak. Girls are more likely to get
shamed for being powerful or angry.
To her credit, the author did not want to
generalize too much about the stereotypical
perceptions of what it is to be a man or a woman.
She was more interested in how shame effects both
Masculine/Feminine energies similarly.
If I were to paint a picture of shame, it
would have two parts: one doing the shaming and the
other feeling the shame. The one doing the shaming
was originally someone outside you, you
incorporated it, and as an adult, its a part
Shadow Work, created by her brother Cliff Barry,
uses tools that are longer and more elaborate than
a simple 20-minutes GUTS process on an NWTA.
One of those Shadow Work tools is the
acknowledgment of the Risk Manager in
all of us an essential part that Alyce Barry
a voice of caution from the
Magician quadrant. Its job is to develop strategies
for coping with life. Whatever works for us as a
kid we continue to use throughout our adulthood
until it doesnt work any more.
When this piece is honored, Ive personally
seen and participated in great breakthroughs on the
carpet from a persons own self-confined
The sides of the box that the author
identified for herself included The Editor Wall
You never get it right!; The
Angry Wall Just try harder!; The
Sad Wall I cant connect!;
and The Resigned Wall Well I guess
Im just a ________.
As a good Jungian myself, I asked if the four
walls of the box were our ego, and that the goal
was not to ultimately escape, but to integrate the
ego/box in a healthy way.
It seems like people use the word ego in
different ways, she responded. I think
of the ego as the sense of self that Jung believed
we must have in order to grow up healthy.
In the book, Alyce Barry talks about her most
personally challenge embracing the Editor
wall of the box, the shadow side of the Magician,
and learning to trust herself and life.
For me, trust is usually a Magician issue
because it has to do with fear and control. Most of
us carry a trust issue that says something like,
You cant be trusted because youre
bad youre bad inside.
Your humble editor was first initiated with the
name Free Raccoon. Talk about Magician
Magician wounds are the trickiest to
transform, to heal. So many people are horrified at
the seemingly evil nature of this
energy. The darkest, riskiest process is the way we
heal the predator, by stepping into it in ritual
space with experienced eldership. Ive been
told that were worshipping the
Every person who has been perpetrated on,
has a predator inside. They grew up with somebody
who had the dark stuff and they swear they will
never be like that. They shove all that
dark energy into shadow, and they unconsciously
invite predators into their lives to play the other
half of the loop. Theyre not ready to see
they have dark stuff inside them. Unfortunately or
fortunately, they cant put it away
completely. Theres gold still in it. Even the
predator has gold! The darkest places are where the
really good stuff is
everything comes from
Tell me more about the Masculine/Feminine.
I like Joseph Campbells Hero
With a Thousand Faces which is about the
symbolism of quests
about a man going out
into the world, brave and noble, and finding a
beautiful woman to make his wife. Its the
masculine side of each of us that goes out in a
noble way to conquer and find good
There are two approaches to life, ideally
working in a cycle. The Masculine approach is the
first phase of the cycle, going uphill toward a
goal and making sacrifices to get to the top. When
at the top, the Masculine realizes how much is
missing. So now, the Feminine side takes over and
heads downhill, bringing back in what was
sacrificed, including a focus on people and
relationships the ability to
There may very well be those who, like my friend
Warren Farrell, say that we too quickly identify
erroneously what is a Masculine vs Feminine trait.
Im with you. And yet, the value of having a
womans input into this discussion is
invaluable. Are you willing to listen, from either
your Masculine or your Feminine?
Barry says she uses both energies.
If I sacrifice parts of myself during the
uphill phase, my Feminine side tells me there was a
good reason I did it that way. Its all good.
Some people hold a goal of being perfectly in tune
with both energies and being one with the Divine on
a 24/7 basis in some kind of spiritual bliss. I
dont believe were created to be like
that, and God knows that and doesnt expect
Carlos Castaneda talks of honoring the Masculine
sword, especially as we age and the Lover energy
I think life sucks for men in the 21st
century, she concluded. Some women get
all worked up about not making the same money and
having a glass ceiling in the job market, but my
judgment is that women have one enormous advantage
that outweighs everything else
allowed to connect with each other as deep friends.
Men are discouraged from doing that because
intimacy is viewed as weakness or they might be Gay
- and the world would then end!
Thank you, Alyce.
I want men to know that at least one woman
me understands what a misandrist is
I dont blame men. I want to bless
© 2008, Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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