Category Archives: Male Initiation

Discovering Myself

Writing this article feels exposing, which is part of the reason I chose to do it. As someone who is rather reserved and shy, writing about my experience in MKP feels like a stretch. But alongside the part of me that likes to stand back, there is also a part that longs to connect and belong.

That is a large part of the attraction of MKP for me – it offers a place where I can test myself and where I can get in touch with the parts that often lay dormant: my wild part, my angry part, my powerful masculine part, my vulnerable part.

group of diverse men
Standing in supportive circles is a cornerstone of MKP’s work

My relationship with MKP began a few years ago when I was standing in a circle at A Band of Brothers (ABOB) weekend.  We did an exercise in which a man was invited to enter the circle and deliberately criticise other men, as a way of illustrating the idea of how we project onto others what we won’t look at in ourselves.

A senior MKP man was on this weekend and put himself forward to be the criticiser. “Please don’t pick me!” I remember thinking, as he walked round, sounding off at various men in the circle – “Get your hair cut – you look ridiculous,” to one.  “Lose some weight, fat boy!” to another.

He stopped opposite me and fired off: “It’s time for you to grow up and start wearing big boy’s trousers.”

I felt shamed and exposed, even though the point of the process was to reveal something about the criticiser rather than the criticised. I think I felt so wounded because I knew that there was some truth in the comment but I hated other people seeing it in me.

That was what got me to do my Warrior Weekend. I’d been thinking about it for a year or two, as a lot of ABOB men had come from MKP originally. But if it hadn’t been for those comments I don’t think I would have done anything about it.

It taught me that sometimes a direct challenge that feels painful can actually catalyse change in a more powerful way than a dozen milder and more sensitive challenges.

So, my journey in MKP and ABOB has been to a large extent around my relationship with my masculine power and how I can suppress it.

That’s why one of my favourite processes on the NWTA is the Wild Man story – I love the drama of it, the clinking chains, the permission it gives me to shout my lungs out. As a rather intellectual person, these kind of processes help release me from the prevalent feeling of wanting to “do the right thing”, which dominates my life.

This quest of accessing my healthy masculine power is a work in progress, and probably always will be. There are times when it’s present and many more when it’s not. But the contact I have with MKP is an enormous help in keeping me in touch with this challenge and, at time, enabling me to access this power.

I’ve found that doing NWTA staffing is a great way of bringing myself up against these parts of myself that I don’t want to see. In normal life I have constructed a way of living which, generally, keeps me within may comfort zone. It keeps me in control.

Staffing, on the other hand, takes me way out of my comfort zone, which is why I both love it and dread it. I remember on my last staffing my job was to organise the travel to the NWTA venue for brothers arriving at Dublin airport. I took advice from other brothers about how to handle this role but did not think through myself what was needed and what was the latest time I could offer to provide transport from the airport.

I also found it difficult to say no to a couple of men who contacted me about getting from the airport to the venue but only did so after the deadline I’d given. I was afraid of saying no because I didn’t want to risk being disliked.

The result of all this, however, was that some of the men didn’t get to the venue until after the 4pm deadline and I was offered the opportunity to do an accountability piece later that day. This was painful as it’s hard for me being the centre of attention for 40 men and owning up to mistakes.

But it really helped me see the pattern I’d been caught in – of giving away my power to others, not taking responsibility and having hazy boundaries which actually left people around me feeling less secure.

I “got some of my key back” on that weekend, as it says in Robert Bly’s Iron John. I love that story about the Wild Man and the boy who needs to steal the key from under his mother’s pillow.

This resonates with me and I grew up in a house with too much mother and not enough father. Staffing NWTAs or doing other men’s work is all part of my attempt to get back some of my key.

I know I still have a long way to go, but what’s important for me is the direction of travel. I can still get down when I realise I’m giving up my power, when I’m hiding myself, when I struggle to feel connected with other men.

But I am increasingly able to give myself credit for my courage in putting myself in situations that I find scary. I also credit my honesty. Despite the people pleaser aspect, I am also often willing to speak my truth and to acknowledge my vulnerability. 

I have experienced how these qualities can create trust with other men. On my PIT several men said they felt they could trust me.

It is through MKP that I have become more interested in Shadow Work and I recently did the basic facilitation training, which I really enjoyed and found challenging. Through Shadow Work I have become more aware of the child part of myself and how fearful he can be. This fear can be very high when I am in a group of people I don’t know very well.

There is a lot of shame associated with my little boy. He can feel not good enough and so to protect him I can go to a place of judging others, trying to please them and/or withdrawing. I think these tendencies will always be present but, over time and with greater consciousness, they dominate less than they used to.

Patrick M

Being A Warrior – The Path To Change

When I attended the initiation for New Warrior training in Inverness my life was changed forever. Like many men I was plodding along through the myriad challenges of life enduring divorce, single parenthood and the trials of teaching.

What changed is that my wife did the wild women initiation and I retired. My wife encouraged me to attend the New Warrior training encouraging me to change my life. Retirement gave me the gift of time.

What went on had a profound effect on me and I wear my talisman as a reminder every day. I was struck by the sheer skills of the staff helping to open the emotional doors of men. They knew what level of support to put in and when was the right time to intervene.

The second inspirational effect was the amount of Love emanating from the staff and the other men. This was the complete antithesis of my experience as a man. You are taught to be suspicious of other men and see them as aggressive competitors. The educational system nurtures the “survival of the fittest” mentality through exams.

I had never experienced such love from men before and it was amplified many times because there were as many staff as participants.

This love and the skill of staff carried me through to a cathartic experience where I completely broke down and expressed in very physical terms the anger towards my father. It gave me insight into how much this was a part of ditching the “controlled Chris” I had been presenting to the world for 66 years!

We follow models in our heads of what a man should be. My Father was from a working class family where his authoritarian and controlling father stifled his emotions and abilities.  So my father was emotionally disabled and this was amplified by his experience as a member of the R.A.F. for 28 years.

Above all he wanted his sons to be successful as a condition for receiving his love.

So when my elder intelligent brother failed to deliver success by going to Grammar School, failing all his exams and not getting a good job, my father rejected him. There had always been a fractious relationship between my elder brother and my father as I witnessed beatings of my brother when he was younger.

So I equated getting my exams and not being a bother as the passport to being accepted by my father. I went to a boarding school of low academic standards and spent the whole of my adolescence consumed with trying to pass exams. I had to close down other parts of myself to do this.

For instance I denied myself the opportunity to go out with girls and satisfied this through endless masturbation. I did not socialise with my own age group and therefore did not develop interests. When I got to college I was still trying to write out 10 times all the lectures so I could learn it for the exams and just hibernated in my room.

It was only a chance meeting with a friend and his encouragement to take some mind expanding drugs that shook me out of this. By 20 I had my father’s love as I became a teacher but the price was a missed adolescence. The irony was that I was ill suited to teaching and got stuck in it when trying to earn a living to bring up a family. I eventually had a nervous breakdown and left.

The depth of experience was really enhanced by the learning of techniques to unlock the buried emotion. I found the exploration of archetypes and visualisation in the Wild Man and the King really useful. I was inspired by the idea of having a mission statement as this keyed into my work as a Green Activist for 30 years.

I realised that the work would make me a better and more dynamic leader in the Green movement. I would be leader not based on aggression or self delusion but love of humanity and clear vision. This is the gift of the training so far.

In a smaller group setting, in the PIT training in Donegal in February 2017 I started to identify my shadow. How many times in my life had I let my shadow dictate what I did and how I approached it? The work with men I realised would develop my awareness of the shadow.

Now my journey continues as I have been blessed to join the MKP North London Elders Group.

Here I look forward to exploring what it really is to be an authentic man rather than the pre-programmed man often demanded by our society. I look forward to bathing in the love and support of my brothers and ditch the sense of isolation that has plagued me all my life. The journey continues as I wave goodbye to the damaged “little boy” I so clearly saw in my New Warrior Training and say hello to the authentic Warrior at the core of my being.                                                                                                           

Chris,  August 2017

My Adventure – One Of Many

About four days prior to my Adventure Weekend, I’d split up with my long-term partner of seven years, who I loved with all the love I had to give. I’d left my two children and, with a heavy heart, left my home. A deep burning anger consumed me to the point of rage.

I travelled up to Applecross, which is on the mainland of North West Scotland, East of Skye, with two of the staff men, Hugh and Marcus. They suggested I walk in alone. Hugh bought a map for me and I chose a route which took in the tallest mountain in the area (900 meters) and covered a distance of 17 kilometres.

Hugh and Marcus dropped me off at Drochaid Mhor; at this point I was thinking that 17 km over 30 hours would be pretty easy to do. I said “Goodbye, see you on the other side!” and then set off uphill.

And in that first half an hour the slow realisation of my predicament began to dawn on me. I was well and truly on my ass; my children, my family were lost to me; my love was lost. I was homeless and had no money. All I had at that moment was my cloak, my staff, the clothes I stood up in and a rucksack full of stuff – it couldn’t get any worse.

I had to walk the full 900 meters from sea level over 4.5 km. The slope got gradually steeper, and rockier, and rougher. Soon the sweat was pouring off me like a small stream and I was panting like I’d just run a marathon….. and the top was not getting any closer. I started to think this was way too hard; I didn’t want to be there.

 

The top was not getting any closer and the weight of the world was on my shoulders, stopping me from getting up this hill. Turning around and going back sounded like a good option, but there was nothing to go back to, there was nothing for me there.

I had nothing to lose because I had already lost it all, the only option was to walk on, carry on up this f*cking hill. And then the thought came to me, why don’t I just end my life, commit suicide?

It seemed like a completely rational thing to do. I stopped and said to myself, “If you want to be a complete lunatic then you must, above all else, be completely honest with yourself.”

Carrying on with that thought I had a full-blown argument with myself, calling myself all the names under the sun. And then I arrived at the ridge line, roaring out loud at the mountains opposite with all the anger I had inside of me.

I contemplated the idea of jumping off the edge. However, knowing my luck, I thought I would just break something on the way down, arriving at the bottom still alive to spend the next 3 days dragging my ass out – I wrote it off as a stupid idea!

At that point I made the decision that I had come this far and there was no way I was not getting to the top. With my anger and my stupidity, I marched on with sheer determination to reach the summit.

Through that determination, I saw my children, my love, my family, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and my mum. I reached the top knowing that I had come to the edge of existence and had a lot more to live for than die for. That left only one option, to walk on; walk on into the future.

Even so it took me a long time to move on.

I sat for over an hour on the top of Beinn Bbhan taking in the view. Looking to the north along the ridge line I saw the stunning Scottish highlands in the distance. To the west I could see what I call the Giant’s Causeway (Bealach Nan Arr) and in the background the great mountains of Skye and the Culin ridge. To the south was the road that leads through the mountain pass to Applecross and Loch Kiston below. To the east stood mountains as far as the eye could see, and to the south east was the point that I started from.

Eventually I packed my bag, saying to myself “I will not look back, I will not look back”. Walking on I was struck by the sheer beauty of the place; looking to the north and the east, there was nothing but mountains as far as the eye could see: the glorious Scottish highlands in full splendour with the sun shining on the snow-capped mountains.

I was again struck by the predicament I was in. Every decision that I’d made in my life had bought me to this point, right now. Every choice that I’d made had bought me to this point, right here. I could not go back, there was nothing left for me, I made the choice to walk on in to the future – and with that in mind, I did just that!

Soon I’d had enough; my legs were aching – the next job was to find a spot to set my basher up. I settled for a spot next to a river (Allt Coire Altadale) by three small waterfalls. And as I walked towards my chosen spot, my leg fell down a hole; luckily I had my staff for support. I knew it could have been painful; I may have even broken my leg, 8 km from any civilisation, nobody knowing where I was.

That filled me with a new respect for where I was, which helped me to move on from my earlier stupidities…. I stripped off and jumped into the freezing water, yelling at the top of my voice as the cold water shrivelled my balls to the size of peanuts! I decided to sit in the sun, stark bollock naked, to dry off.

Later I put my basher up, using my staff as a centre pole and cooked dinner, if you could call it dinner – the boil-in-a-bag army rations tasted like shit, and filled a hole, but were not enough.

As I sat and watched the sun go down it started to get cold, so I got into my sleeping bag. The mountain side was in darkness, though the sky was light. And suddenly 400 metres away, a stag met my eyes with an intensity that I took to mean he was there for me, standing in his strength and dignity; bringing with him grace, pride and integrity.

He stood watch over me while I was alone and vulnerable, he stood there for a long time, until I fell asleep; I felt that I’d been blessed.

In the morning all I could bring myself to eat was biscuits. I packed up and carried on with my journey. Knowing that I could make the MKP weekend in plenty of time, I took it easy – playing in the heather, strolling, meditating, and eventually arriving at my destination over three hours too early.

So I ran 10 kilometres to the next village and back – for tobacco! Then, sweating, I jumped in to the river to wash, yelling at the freezing water, laughing at myself for the irony of running to the shop for tobacco…. undoing my running by smoking.  I dried in the sun, dozed, and eventually, with staff in hand, I walked into my Adventure.

 

Friday night was not a very happy feeling for me, like being a prisoner in a cell, unable to speak. Even when I was asked why I was there. I didn’t know. However, I did know I could walk out at any time.

And when we were asked whether any man would like to say anything, I saw my opportunity. Anger. Rage. “I am f*cking hungry, I’ve got a cold sore ass, I’ve got cramp in my toes, you *****!” A voice inside me told me to say what I thought… and I did, leaving the men in no doubt what I thought of them…. and it felt great. However, the looks on the faces of the staff suggested they weren’t too chuffed!

Later on I found each man and apologised to him because that’s what I felt needed to happen. I knew I wasn’t speaking to them – not really. I was speaking to all the f*ckers who’d put me where I was. And that included me. I realised all the decisions I’d made in my life had brought me to that point, right there.

And yet on the Saturday I felt like all the men were there for me and I was there for them. What I heard when the other men spoke of their lives was truly wonderful; the way they opened their souls stunned me. I felt privileged to hear them, blessed to behold what I was hearing.

I cried for them, words can’t really describe how I felt for those men, I was proud to be there.

But me: I did not know what to say or do, feeling fear in my belly and thinking “I can’t do this.” Inside I was shaking with fear. Finally, my time came. I held my fear and stood in the centre.

Before I began, I looked each person in eyes and held their gaze for a moment to help calm me down a little. I spoke of my anger, my rage. My shame. I felt shame about not being able to be the dad I wanted to be, shame about letting my children down, shame about letting my partner down and screwing another relationship up. I felt shame for all the relationships that had ended badly and for my parents who showed me how to be in relationships badly – shame for their mistakes.

The men worked their magic. The processes held me. My anger was discharged. My shame was extracted. To my surprise I found Marcus working with me, and, giving him a hug I cried till I was empty.

And as I fell into that emptiness, I found support. As I fell, men held me, picked me up, filling me with love for myself and for my fellow men. For the first time in my entire life I felt TRUE LOVE.

Something that I had never, ever felt before in my whole life. Feeling free in that moment I saw the face of God in all his beauty. I felt alive and awake for the first time in 30 years. In that moment I realised why was there: To Wake Up!

I am now a man with a mission to create a world of peace and love by taking care of all people, by teaching, leading and showing the way.

I am a man amongst men who is honest and stands in integrity.

My shadow mission is to create a world of chaos and hatred by doing f**k all for me or anybody else. This is the mission that I had been living and I now choose not to follow because it no longer serves me.

I now carry my shame on my staff.  There is a reminder tied to the top of it. In doing that my shame has not gone because I realise that to get rid of my shame would be to not live how I am fully. If I only lived the good bits I would only live as half of how I am. I am how I am. I am also how I am not.

Leaving Applecross, we stopped at the top of the pass to take in the view. I ran down the other side of the pass shouting at the mountains from a place of joy. On the way back, seeing the beauty in the world and feeling everything, I cried for the enormity of my circumstances.
Carl T.

ManKind Project and Masculinity

Fifteen years ago a friend introduced me to The ManKind Project (MKP). He and I had experienced a number of bad-ass-men’s-initiation models in the USA, but when he found MKP, it was like discovering The Grail.

He begged me to go on the Weekend. I said “No”. In my mind it cost too much, and it was just the same old stuff repackaged with a little more whiff of Native American juju. For two years I said “no”…. But then, in his earnestness, he hit my most vulnerable button. He offered to pay for my New Warrior Training Adventure experience. I could not resist… That’s why I went to The ManKind Project!

When the ManKind Project Adventure weekend was over I was walking on air. He said to me, “Now we can talk.” I didn’t understand. “But we’ve always been able to talk,” I responded weakly. “No, you’ll see. Now we can talk with our hearts!” He was so right. It changed both of us to be fearless men – unafraid to touch and connect with our vulnerability. I began to see that I have immense power to be real and genuine. I was 50, and I was changing the way I was in the world, with my family, my work and my wishes.

On that MKP Adventure Weekend I accepted the call to go on my Hero’s Journey through my familiar wilderness of fear. I’d always felt fatally flawed and insecure – i.e. not good enough. These were the two marks that kept me scared and terrified in the world. And after the weekend I still felt flawed and insecure… only now I’d learned something that made it all OK. I’d learned that I could simply love myself, whether I was flawed, insecure or not-good-enough… I’d learned that I could just put a drop of love on my body and let that love permeate my whole Being to do its magic.

I also learned that loving myself is the key to everything. It was bigger than anything I had ever known. And 15 years later, I am still experiencing more love, more joy, more peace, more service and more abundance than I could have ever imagined.

My wife and I have moved from the USA to the south of France, and everyday I celebrate the life I love before it’s time to leave this lovely planet. I celebrate, too, the way MKP offers other men the chance to come face to face with whatever is holding them back from spiritual vibrancy and aliveness.

So thank you my friend, Rick, for putting up the cash and helping me go on the Adventure weekend. And the best thing? Simply this: I like it that when we talk, we speak with our hearts.

Ken P

Experience The Experience

I did my MKP weekend in September 2000. I was nearly 50 years old and about to become Chief Executive of a not insignificant charity. So I knew a bit about leadership, and I knew myself reasonably well after a lot of personal work and therapy.

For all that my personal life could have been better: lurching from woman to woman,  not in touch with my children in the way I wanted to be. I was still looking for something, and I readily accepted the invitation / opportunity / challenge to attend what was then called the New Warrior Training Adventure.

I’m not going to spell out what happened because I know that a key reason why the weekend was so significant for me was because I didn’t know what to expect. That meant I was thrown into the experience in a way that, for instance, therapy can’t do; therapy is talking about an experience, maybe even feeling the experience a bit, but it’s not “experiencing the experience” as it happens in a safe place where you can learn from what’s going on in the moment.

At an MKP weekend you do indeed experience the experience, and it therefore has huge potential for really making a difference, as it did for me, because I faced up to stuff in a way I could avoid in other situations such as a training programme. I also couldn’t drink myself to sleep each evening, or lose myself in the television, or find a woman to flirt with or shag.

I felt lighter after the weekend; I did some growing up. One description of the Adventure (as it’s now called) is that it is an initiation, and that’s an image that works for me because, although I was chronologically and physiologically a man, I had never stepped into manhood. I was a soft male (not least because of the particular effect feminism and some strong women had had on me) and MKP gave me the opportunity to grasp my maleness and be proud of who I was as a man.

The Adventure can shift a lot of stuff, but it isn’t a complete fix and some men who does the Adventure fall by the wayside even though MKP offers the opportunity to continue the journey with other men who have experienced the experience.

There is a follow-up training that offers invaluable tools for being an authentic man; there is further training to learn how to staff an Adventure, training in leadership, and other opportunities to explore our shadows that can sneak up and disarm us. One of mine was a tendency to be really angry at minor matters (I’m an only child and I expect things to be done my way!) and I’d often be getting cross with people who were in the way (ticket clerks or call centre people who were just doing their jobs) or in ways that could put me at some risk (road rage or smart remarks to bigger men in pubs).

I’ve learnt not to do that now, though control remains an issue, and letting things be that need to be is something I’ve had to learn, with help from my current mission statement: “By letting go of attachment and control I embrace acceptance and authenticity with compassion.”

That still needs work, and another opportunity MKP offers is to be part of a group of men who meet maybe once a week (or a fortnight or a month) to support each other. It’s another place where, instead of just talking about stuff (though that can be valuable in a group that listens and responds appropriately) it’s possible to experience the experience and really engage with whatever’s going on. So if a man has an issue with his boss, or his wife or his child then we can get that person in the room (in the form of another member of the group role-playing); then we can help the man have a direct experience with real feelings that can support him when he really deals with the boss, wife or child.

Key to that is something we learn about separating data (what actually happened? get the facts right), judgements (what’s your judgement about what actually happened, not about what you think happened?) and feelings. So to go back to my earlier example about getting angry I know that for me it’s all too easy to get cross because things aren’t going my way, make a judgement from a place a feeling angry (bloody ticket clerk should know better) without getting anywhere near what actually happened (Sir, there is not a train from A to B even if that’s what you want). Turn that round and I have learnt about how to respond from a place of data rather than react from a place of feelings. And that in turn helps me be much more authentic.

So I’ve received a lot from my MKP experience. Is it perfect? No. Am I a fully authentic, balanced, whole man? No! But I have made a lot of progress and I now have tools and my group to support me in a way that wasn’t the case before. I have stepped into my manhood.

Oh, and I’m now in a stable married relationship now that works for me with a woman who has female power complementing my powerful man, just as I complement her. I have a better relationship with my children and, while I don’t see enough of them, good relationships with my five (!) grandchildren.

John Quill

The Journey Begins

I first heard about MKP through my wife who took the women’s version “Woman Within”. It took me 7 years to pluck up the courage to take the great leap into the abyss — and what a leap it was.

One of the reasons I decided that the time was right, was that I’d just become a father for the second time and I was all too aware of the issues I have carried for many years, which I desperately didn’t want my children to inherit.

The biggest thing I wanted to take from the weekend was not so much a cognitive, tangible shift, but a deeper and less conscious one, a shift that would help me to change the patterns of behaviour which no longer served me.

That truly happened for me. I have often sought validation and acceptance from the people around me, due to a lack of self confidence and self belief. MKP has given me the ability to take action, believe in myself and grow as man. My own work was just a part of the experience. Being witness to the bravery and camaraderie of the other men gave me a new insight and a greater belief in the brotherhood that exists between men.

The journey has only just begun for me as I have found myself armed with a new drive. I’ve already joined a fantastic iGroup and have completed my PIT. The next stage is to staff a weekend. I am looking forward to seeing it from the other side and supporting the brave and wonderful men that sign up for ManKind Project’s Adventure Training.

Dan

Finding My Mission

I have been initiated into manhood. I have been welcomed into a vast network of honest and caring men prepared to help me see and master my shadows. This is how it happened and what it means to me.

My first contact with the Mankind Project after signing up for the New Warrior Training Adventure last year was several pages of legal talk. I was asked to sign a consent form which looked to me like it freed all staff of any responsibility. This seemed to me to contradict the value of accountability emphasised on the organization’s webpage. However, I managed to dismiss this as a result ofUKliability law being out of control. With only the sparse information on the webpage and a comforting five minute talk with the enrolment coordinator, I paid my money and ventured into the unknown.

Why did I to this? What spoke to me was not the suggestion on the main web page that I may be alienated or confused, having “some vital part missing”. After the fact, I can see how this did apply to me to some extent. What I went for, however, was the idea of finding a personal mission so as to live a more wholesome and purposeful life. I was facing some important career decisions and questioned the ultimate purpose of my career. I also wanted more male comradeship of the deep emotional talk variety.

The way to Northumberland national park was a long one. Deep in the wild, on a cold December evening, I encountered a group of very grave staff men. “Not accountable, not caring – so what are these guys about?” I found myself thinking. But there I was. Then there was a door, and I was asked to step in only if I was prepared to be challenged. I said my only worry was not to be challenged enough. I still had the worry that this was mostly for people seriously astray and that it would mostly involve things I had already tried in other places.

I was challenged enough. Not the way I expected. Not physically so much, or socially, though there was that too, but challenged to take a deep look at myself. But not just to look, not just to see my hurts, my patterns, my shadows, but to find the strength to accept them and so to overcome them. This all happened through the weekend-long process the exact nature of which is a well-guarded secret, and so it should be.

The way my own adventure developed was probably rather typical. I started out rather judgmental, finding faults with the process and thinking how it could be improved. When I was first challenged to speak of my life, feelings around social isolation came out, perhaps since I recently moved and my social life was rather poor around this time. This was surface stuff, though, and the process soon led me deeper into profound feelings of unworthiness. With the gracious help of the many warm and forthright staff men, and through the excellent techniques they had mastered, I found a new and richer understanding of these deep and potentially disastrous feelings and, more importantly, ways to let them go, or at least push them out of my core self-identity.

The Adventure is partly supposed to be an initiation into manhood. Though I had thought about the lack of such male rites of passage in our culture, I did not think I needed one for myself. I had felt rather at peace with being a man, having gone through the usual dissatisfaction with my actual father and various other father figures. I had come to terms with the fact that I had to be the man I had wanted them to be. I may even have thought of myself as a warrior of sorts. Also, I was sceptical of the strong gendering that comes with thinking of adult life as “Manhood”.

I still have some of that scepticism, but I recognize that I am a man, whether by biology or culture, and that I share many strengths and weaknesses with other men in particular. I now feel stronger and more grounded. I very much appreciate the symbolic aspects of this initiation into modern manhood. And being welcomed into the ranks of the fine staff men, as one of them, felt very good.

There was a lot of connection that weekend. With deep parts of myself. With other men and their deep parts, their problems and potentials. With nature. With my ancestors. With the world we live in quite generally.

I have attended an iGroup a few times after the training. The group is rather small and has its struggles: as we all struggle to keep our hearts open and our minds focused in this precarious modern society. These struggles are easier for me now that I am a New Warrior, a champion for good, a humble, accountable and caring man who accepts myself as I am, not conditional on performance.

Acceptance, I realized during the weekend, is my key to being able to create a world where people can play safe and free, by inviting them to play with me. This is the mission that I found. Every time I say it, it feels so simple, almost silly, but that is just what I personally need to inspire me to be the man, and the person, that I want to be.

In gratitude, KG