There is a saying that “the longest journey you will ever make is from your head to your heart.” It’s a nice aphorism. It looks good on social media memes. It gets Likes. And it isn’t true.

In Healing the “shambles” – uniting the head, heart and genitals, I quoted psychologist R.D. Laing, who wrote in The Politics of Experience that, “When our personal worlds are rediscovered… we discover first a shambles… genitals dissociated from heart; heart severed from head; heads dissociated from genitals.”

Two journeys

Laing’s insightful comment reveals that when we embark on a journey of self-discovery, self-development and self-responsibility—“when our personal worlds are rediscovered”—there are actually two journeys we need to make to achieve complete integration.

The first is the well-recognised trek from the head to the heart. The second, barely acknowledged even by experienced voyagers in our personal worlds, is much longer, more arduous, more hazardous, and trodden by far less travellers than that from the head to the heart: the journey from the genitals to the heart.

The reason the latter journey is so little known is because of unconscious shame.

The Valley of Shame

Since the advent of patriarchy six millennia ago, humanity has systematically repressed, denied, denigrated, ignored, persecuted and shamed sex. As a result, a thick layer of emotional concrete encases our psychosexual programming as we have sought to protect ourselves from being punished for our innate sexuality.

To borrow R.D. Laing’s word, our sexuality is a “shambles.” While the journey from the head to the heart is recognised and encouraged as vital development, that from the genitals to the heart is a descent into the Valley of Shame.

While the journey from the head to the heart is recognised and encouraged as vital development, that from the genitals to the heart is a descent into the Valley of Shame.

Every step of this journey means confronting two overwhelming obstacles—society’s on-going resistance to healthy, feminine-centric sexual openness; and the fact that we are going against 6,000 years of human conditioning which has taught that sexuality should be repressed to fit accepted social norms.

Upper and lower bodies

The journeys from the head and genitals to the heart can be imagined as the upper body and lower body journeys respectively.

The upper body contains the face, the mind, strong arms, and hands that do clever things. In patriarchy, these are all considered desirable. The upper body is associated with the masculine, the mind, and the light. In some esoteric systems, its symbol is an upward-pointing triangle—the shape of male public hair.

The lower body pisses, shits and fucks. It has legs that kick and feet that stink. Patriarchy regards all of these as undesirable. The lower body is associated with the feminine, with (the) sex, and the dark. Its symbol is a downward-pointing triangle—the shape of female pubic hair.

Star of David

Between the two lies the heart—the point of balance, the only place where Laing’s “shambles” can be united. When the journeys of the upper and lower body are completed, the two triangles—upward- and downward-pointing—overlap. This creates a six-pointed star, the Star of David, an ancient symbol for balanced masculine-feminine integration.

As a patriarchal-based society, we accept the upper body journey—supposedly the longest we can make—from the head to the heart. The lower body journey is entombed in so much darkness and shame that it is, as yet, largely unrecognised. If you have the courage to take it on, to descend into the Valley of Shame, that is the longest journey you will ever make.

Photo by Mukuko Studio on Unsplash