It's that time of year...the time I hear people say they will change their lives this next year. Have you ever said that to yourself? I have. Ever actually done it on a conscious level? I have.

It is time, ya know? Right now, it is time. You can feel it in your groin. You can feel the pull to change your life. Is this year the year you walk the talk? Is this the year you wake from the slumber and become the man you meant to be?

I can only speak for me. I think it’s time for you. It’s time for another man to step into his potentials and fears of potential. The time is now.

So, is it your time?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

Warrior as Archetype
The Prince and the King, Michael Gurian

The Warrior is that part of ourselves that protects emotional boundaries and asserts our needs in the world. Where exactly it should stand to protect our boundaries depends on where the King tells it to stand. First a mentor initiates it, as a drill sergeant is the first initiator of the young soldier. But then the King initiates it, gives it a cause, a mission -- as a general gives the soldier his mission.

The Warrior serves the King and follows the King's instructions to the letter. Key words to describe the Warrior are duty, honor, loyalty, discipline, boundaries. The Warrior's tool is the sword (or any equivalent weapon of protection and assertion, including, in martial arts, the human body).

There is a dance to fencing or sword fighting that dramatizes the Warrior's role. You have danced it in your life without realizing it. We all carry a sword (or its equivalent) in a sheath at our belt, even if we never identify that that is what protects us. And we manifest that dance in many more ways than the physical. The dance is internal, hidden behind many of our interactions.

The Warrior, then, is that part of ourselves that guards our boundaries and asserts our needs. It is activated throughout childhood and especially in adolescence. If Kings and Magicians in our lives don't do a good job, our Warrior will be activated in its shadow aspect, falling easily to rages and bullying; or it will barely be activated at all.

The Prince and the King, Michael Gurian


Transformation and Stretching

For me, the more I stretch the more I see I am capable; as a man, a father, a son, a brother. I see that stretching is everything in the ManKind Project.

Considering the training is a stretch. Doing the training is a stretch. Integrating the training is a stretch.

How far are you willing to stretch? Will you allow yourself to be open in the face of fear and the not-knowing? Come stretch.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

The Way of Transformation by Karlfried Gras von Durkheim (ASIN: 0042910145)

The man who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages his old self to survive. Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the suffering and pass courageously through it, thus making of it a "raft that leads to the far shore." Only to the extent that man exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible arise within him. In this lies the dignity of daring. Thus, the aim of (spiritual) practice is not to develop an attitude which allows a man to acquire a state of harmony and peace wherein nothing can ever trouble him.

On the contrary, practice should teach him to let himself be assaulted, perturbed, moved, insulted, broken and battered - that is to say, it should enable him to dare to let go his futile hankering after harmony, surcease from pain, and a comfortable life in order that he may discover, in doing battle with the forces that oppose him, that which awaits him beyond the world of opposites.

The first necessity is that we should have the courage to face life, and to encounter all that is most perilous in the world. When this is possible, meditation itself becomes the means by which we accept and welcome the demons which arise from the unconscious, a process very different from the practice of concentration on some object as a protection against such forces.
Only if we venture repeatedly through zones of annihilation can our contact with Divine Being, which is beyond annihilation, become firm and stable. The more a man learns whole-heartedly to confront the world that threatens him with isolation, the more are the depths of the Ground of Being revealed and the possibilities of New Life and Becoming opened.


Out of the Womb, Into the Comfort Zone

This post is from a Canadian e-zine called the Void. It details a man’s experience visiting an Integration group (iGroup).

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

Out of the Womb, Into the Comfort Zone

The Mankind Project Turns Men into Warriors
By Philippe Gohier

Very few men are comfortable with the possibility that they are failures at simply being men. Then again, very few men have answered the call of the Mankind Project on this grim Tuesday evening to seek out… apparently, to seek out each other.

Tormented by the dead ends and wrong turns on the road of manhood, and lured by the promise of an alternate path (one of integrity and responsibility), seven men have gathered in this church basement to share an existential crisis, to communalize their displeasure with the human condition.

Though each and every one is unmistakably male, their Y-chromosome is like a prison tattoo on Martha Stewart; it is entirely consistent with their experience and context (five of the seven are or have been husbands, fathers or both), and yet it is somehow completely irreconcilable with their broader identity. Theirs is isolation like no other: amongst the hordes of round holes, they stare down at a square peg. So, they shamefully reach out for the platonic comfort of one another. Failing that, they meet here for the certainty of being surrounded by other men who understand the grave realities of modern masculinity.

This evening, however, is not one of the group's regular circles. It is for the "uninitiated"-those men who have yet to emerge from the matriarchal cocoon and blossom into "New Warriors," those men the Mankind Project (MKP) seeks to transform one at a time, those men who have yet to undergo the New Warrior metamorphosis. This is the MKP's Warrior Light evening, a sort of primer for the two-day New Warrior Training Adventure.

The New Warrior Training events are kept entirely secret. Otherwise, "it would lose some of its meaning," says Robert, a handsome man in his mid- to late 40s and the leader of the Montreal centre. The promotional literature nonetheless promises that the weekend will "enable men to live lives of integrity, accountability and connection to feeling." (Though the meeting's participants are not anonymous, they are deeply private; their names have been changed because none of them want to be identified.)

"The New Warrior is a man who has achieved hard-won ownership of the highly focused, aggressive energy that empowers and shapes the inner masculine self," reads the MKP's Web site. "Sustained by this new energy, the New Warrior is at once tough and loving, wild and gentle, fierce and tolerant," it continues.

Isolation is a key component to the moulding of a New Warrior. Spiritually threatened by the norms and demands outside, the men here commit to the creation of an emotional comfort zone.

"As long as Robert and I are still standing, there will be a place in Montreal where men can feel safe," says Paul, a smallish man in his early 50s.

Seduced by this metaphysical space they would describe insistently throughout the evening as a "container," each man integrates it by "checking in," by vocalizing two of the feelings that have led them here to these cheap, tweed-upholstered couches and chairs. With the lone exception of Paul, everyone invariably checks in with fear, mitigated by some conditional happiness or frustration. Paul, on the other hand, checks in with a smug contentment.

"I'm a men's work junkie," he offers as a possible explanation for his delight, or maybe just his presence. "I'm going to three circles this week," he says.

As each man progresses through the extended check-in, the "place of introspection" where the men are expected to publicly reveal and discuss the nature of their emotions, Paul constantly interjects with the evening's creed: "I hear what you're saying." He and the others repeat this at the end of every revelation, their left hand resting on their chests and their right hand held up with the palm facing outwards. The gesture is reminiscent of an oath-taking, only the men have substituted themselves for a Bible.

"I'm afraid I'm not a good father," says one.

"I hear what you're saying."

"My fear of success drives me to failure," says another.

"I hear what you're saying."

"I'm without a circle and I wish I had one to sit in," says a third.

"I hear what you're saying."

The cycle of sympathy breaks only when one man gets up and heads towards the door.

"Where's the bathroom?" he asks.

"It's just on your right," Robert answers.

"I think I heard a woman outside," Paul warns the man, as he is about to leave the room. "You should probably use the [italicize]men's bathroom further down the hall on your left, then."

The break provides Paul and Robert a few moments to reminisce about prior powerful circles, since this particular evening had been spared the usual bridge between the initial and extended check-in rounds. With their existential wounds freshly exposed by the initial check-in, the men generally proceed with a "clearing." The clearing consists of role-play exercises in which the participants release their repressed frustration with other men, either inside or outside the circle. This process is necessary to rid the individual of the "aggressive competitiveness" inherent to the contemporary masculine identity, explains Robert. Men cannot function with each other in an angry state because "people are a mirror of my life, of me," continues another.

"We had a doozy of a clearing the other night," says Paul, smiling and nodding.

"Oh, I love those nights," says Robert.

The MKP belongs to a segment of the so-called men's movement that came to prominence in the early 1990s under the influence of Robert Bly, the high priest of the mythopoetic men's work groups. Heavily inspired by Bly's 1990 book, Iron Paul, which mythologizes a Brothers Grimm fairytale to provide lessons to men, the MKP blames the dysfunction of the male gender on a failure in conditioning.

"The Industrial Revolution has meant that the boy is not taught how to be a man by a man. Initiation is a natural need for a young man," explains Robert. "The transformation component of the New Warrior Training contains processes that may be found difficult," he continues.

Despite its noble intentions, a remedial initiation may not be sufficient. For the past 17 years, Lloyd MacKenzie has been working with men who the court orders to attend group therapy sessions. He points to the powerful influence of the corporate economic model on the home life, rather than any past transgression, as the source of male malaise.

"We don't have an inclusive sense of what we're supposed to be doing because everything is so commodified and put into categories," says MacKenzie, 39. "The traditional corporate model basically tells you not to take any responsibility for anything that you don't have to and doesn't lead to the bottom line, back to the shareholders. I think that men maybe want to, or need to, take more responsibility."

Though the presence of the men's movement in the public arena has waned, the MKP claims to have trained over 30,000 New Warriors at a cost of approximately $500 and operates 38 centres in eight countries.

In their exceptionally earnest attempt to "own their wounds," as the pseudo-poem written by one of the group's elders encourages them to do (the reading of which anchored the introduction to the MKP and their Warrior Light evening), the men confine their experiences to a strict paradigm: they are the prodigal sons who rise from epic descents, the heroes of their own redemptive parables, ennobled by the healing power of their constructive feedback. This may, in fact, eliminate the need to relate the individual experience to a broader relationship with the external world. Manhood could just be a labyrinthine journey where experience is a continual diversion, and self-knowledge a comforting myopia.

"When I started doing men's work, my wife had told me that she had consulted a lawyer to start divorce proceedings," says Paul. "Seven years later, our marriage is better than ever." There may really be a few square holes after all.


MKP Men Facilitate Growth in a Maximum Security Prison

Is it possible that one weekend can change the world? Is it possible for one man to change the world? Hell, yes! This man has done the NWTA and this man has changed the world.

I sat with this man, Rob Albee, in my first iGroup, about six years ago. He is a very powerful and loving man. I honor his work and dedication to supporting all men, inside and out.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf



MKP Men Facilitate Growth in a Maximum Security Prison

The goal of the Inside Circle Foundation (
http://www.insidecircle.org/) is to create environments in which prisoners can explore the issues in their lives that have prevented them from living up to their full potential as human beings. It does this as a non-denominational, non-sectarian spiritual outreach under the auspices of Chaplain Dennis Merino at California State Prison, Sacramento. It conducts weekly circles, and occasional four-day intensives. Its facilitators are from the ManKind Project. This excerpt is from a December 13, 2002, report by Executive Director Robert Allbee:

In the past we have pretty much operated under the radar screen of the administration's attention. We would disappear into the Chapel and come out four days later and as long as there were no custody problems, which there weren't, they pretty much left us alone. That all changed in August 2002 when the prison administrator came in during the four-day training.

In our trainings we have told the prison administrators and staff that we create an environment where a man can experience any or all of his emotions in a new and safe way. On the one or two occasions when someone has asked, "How do you handle anger and rage?" we have always responded, "Carefully." I could see them wince as they signed off on the training requests.

I have always seen that no one has had a problem with allowing these men to feel and experience emotions like sadness or fear or any of the other emotions, but with anger I could always sense the apprehension. But the truth is we have found safe ways to allow a man to go completely into his anger and rage and not hurt himself or anyone else. And sometimes it does include restraining a man. For most of these men it is almost always the first emotion that has to be dealt with, as it is anger that keeps all the other emotions bottled up inside the man in the first place.

I have always been apprehensive about what the administration would think and do if they truly knew and understood what we were doing in the groups and in the four-day trainings. We go as deep as a man needs to, to get to the core of his life, and I have been afraid that the administration might not trust us, as well as the man himself, going that deep.

So on the day when a prison administrator walked in, we were separated into four circles with approximately 15 men in each circle. In one circle there was a grief/death process going on with nearly everyone in tears. In another, men of every color were laughing and hugging each other. In the corner of the chapel one group had a man pinned as he raged on and on. The last circle was on break with everyone wandering in and out of the other processes or sharing one-on-one with each other, paying little or no attention to whatever was going on around them. One of the convicts, a huge 250 pound black man, assuming the administrator was a part of the team, came over to him and squeezed him in a giant body hug, just saying hello.

During a second visit on the final day, the convicts and the volunteers were doing a naming ceremony, honoring the work they had done and professing the gratitude everyone felt about being there. The irony was that during that very touching moment the administrator was called to deal with an inmate suicide that had taken place in 5 block. Such is prison.

Later, I was told that during the regular Monday morning staff meeting the administrator spoke for over half an hour about what he had witnessed during the training. He said that in the twenty some-odd years he had worked for the Department he had never witnessed anything so powerful and promising as the training we had provided. He said that if the Department was to seriously approach anything even remotely resembling rehabilitation that this was the way to do it. He spoke about making it available to every inmate inside CSP-Sac and how to make it available to other institutions around the state. In other words, he understands and supports the work we are doing 100% and the Warden does as well.

For more information contact: Inside Circle Foundation at


Guy Talk Gets Deep -- Integration Groups

This post, from the New York Post, talks about a man's experience in an Intergration Group.

Intergration groups, or igroups for short, are men's circles comprised of men who have completed the NWTA, or have commited to doing so. You can usaully visit one to get a feel for the group. Contact an MKP center near you for igroups in your area that you could attend.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf


April 04, 2004

Traditionally, men aren't much good at talking. If they've got something on their minds, the usual forum for discussion is the bar. Their telephone conversations tend to go like this: "Hello. See ya."

Now one organization is attempting to change all that. The ManKind Project (MKP) is trying to get men in touch with their "inner warrior" and encouraging them to bring their deepest fears, hopes and dreams out into the open.

The MKP was set up in 1984 in Milwaulkee, and, according to its organizers, nearly 25,000 have enrolled. Programs involve spending a weekend at a retreat (at a cost of $650) and taking part in discussion groups.

To see what all the fuss was about, I attended one of the MKP's regular meetings in New York.

Seated in a circle, we began by "checking in" AA-style - saying who we were, then concluding with the phrase, "I'm in." There were 10 of us, ranging in age from 30 to 70.

Things started getting interesting when the group leader asked, "Does any man here need to 'clear' with any other man?" One guy - let's call him Dave - said he wanted to "clear" with another guy, who we'll call John.

The group leader asked for "the clearing stick," a 5-foot-long staff which Dave and John held onto while they faced each other. John began by reading an e-mail in which Dave had insulted him.

Then things got kind of scary. Holding the stick, John's voice got louder and louder, until he was bellowing, "I WILL NOT BE SILENCED BY YOU!"

The "clearing" session culminated with the leader asking John a series of questions aimed at getting John to acknowledge that his anger was not really at Dave, but rather an internal problem with himself.

Various other guys "cleared" with each other. Then we sat back in our circle, and each man in turn said, "If I was going to work on something today, it would be . . ."

The comments were intensely personal - about as far from the average "guy chat" as it is possible to imagine.

People spoke about their divorces, their relationships with their parents, their womanizing, and, in my case, drinking habits. Having been extremely nervous earlier, I now felt comfortable talking to a group of complete strangers about my life. I guess it was because I knew they would take me seriously.

It was time for the last ritual of the evening. We stood in a circle and drummed on our legs. The group leader said he wanted one person to step into the circle and do some "work." I had to do it. I stepped into the circle. The drumming stopped. I was asked to name the things that I felt were holding me back in my life.

I went for alcohol, laziness, self-doubt and fear. I chose four guys to represent these elements, who locked arms around me and each chanted, "Alcohol!" "Laziness!" "Fear!" "Doubt!" Another guy represented what I wanted in my life, which I named as self-belief.

Then I had to try and break free from the repressive elements to reach self-belief. Naturally, given that there were four of them, I couldn't do it. I was told that I needed to go on the weekend retreat to learn the tools to overcome these things in my life, which felt a bit like a sales pitch.

Still, getting men to talk is a tough task. For all its mumbo-jumbo and psychodrama, the MKP at least does that.

© copyright 2003 The New York Post


Keep Going

One of the blessings I get from my work in the ManKind Project is the constant reminder that my work is on-going. My striving for better, for honor, for integrity and accountability, for love and friendship are supported in this place called MKP.

Another is the blessing of elders. This work, this men's work, is open to any man of any age and any background. MKP supports a population of elder men who take on the special and honorable role with great care and vision. They are there for me to call on for wisdom, fathering, care, understanding, and challenging.

MKP offers me a place to stand among all men who are my Grandfathers, Brothers, and Sons.

I offer that there is richness and depth in MKP. I offer there is richness and depth for you. Will you take the challenge of getting what you need in your life?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

Legend of the Warrior/Keep Going
Joseph Fire Crow and Joseph Marshall III

The young Lakota asked his grandfather why life had to be so difficult sometimes.
This was the old man's reply.

Grandfather says this:
In life, there is sadness as well as joy.
Losing as well as winning.
Falling as well as standing.
Hunger as well as plenty.
Bad as well as good.

Grandfather does not say this to make you despair,
but to teach you reality.
To teach you that life is a journey sometimes walked in light,
sometimes in shadow.

Grandfather says this: You did not ask to be born, but you are here.
You have weaknesses as well as strengths.
You have both because in life, there are two of everything.
Within you is the will to win, as well as the willingness to lose.
The heart to feel compassion, as well as the smallness to be arrogant.
Within you is the way to face life, as well as the fear to turn away from it.

Grandfather says this: Life can give you strength.
It can come from facing the storms of life,
from knowing loss, feeling sadness and heartache.
From falling into the depths of grief.
You must stand up in the storm
You must face the wind, and the cold, and the darkness.
When the storm blows hard, you must stand firm.
For it is not trying to knock you down,
it is really trying to teach you to be strong.

Grandfather says this: being strong means taking one more step
toward the top of the hill, no matter how weary you may be.
It means letting the tears flow through the grief.
It means to keep looking for the answer,
though the darkness of despair is all around you.
It means to cling to hope for one more heartbeat, for one more sunrise.
Each step, no matter how difficult, is one more step closer to the top of the hill.
To keep hope alive for one more heartbeat at a time
leads to the light of the next sunrise and the promise of a new day.

Grandfather says this: The weakest step toward the top of the hill,
toward the sunrise, toward hope,
is stronger than the fiercest storm.

Grandfather says this: Keep going.


Whatever happened to the men's movement?

Below is an older article with some valid points that speak about the importance of the men's movment.

How does this fit into the NWTA? Men are looking for ways to break out of the molds that they are experiencing. The NWTA is but one way to get that mold-breaking experience. What sets MKP apart is that it offers a place to continue your weekend exprience for as long as you want. These places are called iGroups. See this link for more about iGroups.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

Whatever happened to the men's movement?

Staff Photo By Corey Lowenstein
Members of the leadership council of the Men's Center of Raleigh and Wake County, from left: Gregory Blaine, Patrick Knox, Martin Brossman, Doug Lester, Doug Jenette and Dave Davenport.

Though critics dismiss and lampoon it, activists say they are making progress -- one man at a time.

By SARAH AVERY, Staff Writer

For a warrior such as Doug Lester, battling in the trenches of the men's movement, progress comes in increments that are difficult to plot on a map with red pushpins, as in here is where we started and here is where we are now.

Certainly, there has been some headway. In the 13 years Lester has been working to advance a movement that isn't so much about injustice as inertia, the Raleigh financial planner has seen the creation of a men's center in Raleigh, the establishment of a series of annual retreats, the rise of movement heroes such as Robert Bly, who will address a men's workshop this weekend.

And yet, for every win, there's a setback -- or at least a failure of progress. For all its promise, the men's movement remains, largely, a private, therapeutic phenomenon.

Despite a run in the national spotlight at the start of the decade, the men's movement is now largely in the shadows. Its members meet for candid discussions that are much along the lines of encounter sessions, where privacy is carefully guarded; their leaders note a skittishness among some participants over the prospect of being "outed."

It's odd language for heterosexual men, and yet it's not without reason. For one thing, the movement has been the butt of jokes about men beating drums and running naked through the woods, prompting some men to avoid the movement. Also, the men consider their work deeply personal, not political. What they hope to accomplish, in the end, is a level of intimacy with other men based on trust, not competition.

It's an uphill campaign: "There are one million people in the Triangle," said Lester, a founding member and part of the leadership council of the Men's Center of Raleigh and Wake County, "and we're touching, like, maybe 100."

A movement is born

By most counts, the men's movement began in 1982, during a conference of men in Mendocino, Calif., that had originally been part of a men's and women's retreat. But the men spun off on their own, acknowledging that they had separate and compelling issues to consider.

Before that epiphany of that conference, there had been a few books lamenting the state of manhood, prompted in part by the feminist movement's successes. After the conference, there were more books and more conferences.

But it remained a largely fringe movement until Bly came along in 1990 with his best selling book, "Iron John." Bly, who will be in Raleigh for a fund-raiser at the Men's Center today and Saturday, used the Grimms' fairy tale of Iron Hans to outline the problem facing men in the late 20th century.

That problem, he argued, is a profound disconnect between old expectations of manhood -- men as stoic hunter-protectors -- and modern ones that demand a greater emotional arsenal. As women have made strides toward equality, men have had to learn to share: Share the workplace, share power, share more family responsibilities -- share, even, their emotions. The silent tough-guy role suddenly fit like a pair of shrunken knickers. But what could fit?

"It's a terrible thing that has happened to men, and most don't even notice it," Bly said in a recent interview at the Men's Center. "There's an old joke about a man walking along and his guts are hanging out and someone asks him if he's OK, and he says he's fine. That comes from a long history. Men endure. That's the way it is."

For Bly and others, the better course of action is to acknowledge the emotional wounds, even study them, to learn how they got there.

To do that, Bly's particular branch of the men's movement, called the mythopoetic, relies on poetry and myths, fathers and heritage. By contemplating mythic, historic roles, men can better understand the true essence of what it is that makes them uniquely men -- even as they shed outdated models.

The message and method caught on, particularly among middle-aged white men who -- often moved by a personal crisis such as divorce or job layoff -- questioned the meaning of their lives and the emotional isolation they imposed on themselves.

Droves of them attended retreats and conferences and workshops, many of which called upon men to shed, literally and figuratively, their worldly clothes and get in touch with their bare souls.

Through 1991 and 1992, the men's movement was the rage. In the Triangle, 80 to 100 men each spring made the annual weekend retreats to commune with each other around campfires. And while the Men's Center had been in existence in Raleigh since 1986, it enjoyed record membership -- 160-some men in various discussion groups and workshops -- during the early 1990s.

Bly himself was featured on the cover of Newsweek and in a lengthy interview with television journalist Bill Moyers. And other factions sprang up, notably the Promise Keepers, a religious movement that called on men to regain control of their lives by keeping their promises -- those they had made themselves and those that are simply implied by birthright -- as sons, husbands and fathers.

Fodder for parody

But the men's movement's limitations, and its own excesses, began to draw criticism.

As attendance to the retreats soared here and across the country, the sessions suddenly became fodder for parody, particularly in their liberal use of drums. It's still a touchy subject.

Lou Lipsitz, a Chapel Hill therapist who has been involved in the area's men's movement for 10 years, says the cartoon images severely damaged the movement: "That's a way of trivializing what is actually deep and meaningful work," he said.

For Bly, who used drums in his poetry readings and mythic presentations long before he became associated with the men's movement, the stereotype became a personal affront.

Some time ago, he said, he was in New York and noticed an advertisement for Dewar's Scotch whiskey painted on a public bus. It said, "You don't have to beat a drum or hug a tree to be a man."

"What does that mean?" Bly asked. "Does that mean the measure of being a man is by being an alcoholic like all the others in the past? That is hostile."

Bly said such ad campaigns scared men away from the movement. Participation dropped, seemingly overnight: "Men are very sensitive to being shamed."

Many of the men who weren't driven away became less open about their participation. The problem lingers today, said Martin Brossman, who has been leading a men's inquiry group from his Raleigh home for three years. "Absolutely there's a stigma."

The movement that wasn't?

Critics, however, contend that issues beyond image worked to slow the movement's momentum.

Strictly speaking, a movement, to be a movement, needs a political agenda -- a clarion call for some change in the collective cultural dynamic that soldiers in the trenches can fight for.

The feminist movement sought, among other things, economic parity for women; the civil rights movement sought, among other things, social parity for African-Americans.

Critics of the men's movement say it isn't a movement at all, because it lacks that key political element -- despite the successes it has had in getting many men to take their emotions seriously.

"As long as they think of these things as individual problems, instead of looking at who has power in our society and how the power is used, it isn't a movement, it's a therapeutic endeavor," said Michael Schwalbe, a sociologist at N.C. State University who spent three years attending men's movement sessions for his book, "Unlocking the Iron Cage."

If white middle-class men feel powerless, Schwalbe said, it's incumbent upon them to figure out who, then, is in power and how that power is perpetuated and what cultural forces need to be changed to balance the power.

"That would be the most empowering thing the mythopoetic men could do," Schwalbe said. "But they'll never do it."

Instead, he said, they are content to keep discussions focused on personal feelings of emotional isolation, whether at small groups sessions or at the larger communal retreats, and they make no larger call to arms.

But to men such as Lester, that criticism ignores the grass-roots effect of change, one man at a time -- the very kind of progress that is difficult to notch with pushpins.

"We believe that as a result of being more whole men, we will change society," Lester said. "It's not a big cause, but if we can be better people individually, we will make a difference."

Bly said that the movement has had significant impact, and he pointed to progress among the baby boom generation of fathers who are more active and emotionally involved with their children than the fathers before them.

"The men's movement has had a powerful effect -- not on all men -- maybe 10 to 15 percent," Bly said. "But they, in turn, interact with others."

Men involved in the movement say they are proud of the work they've done and believe that their lives are significantly different as a result of their activism. Each meeting, they say, is a fulfilling experience in which they probe emotional depths that otherwise go unexplored.

"I experience a type of connection that I had only known in relationships with women, but it has nothing to do with sex," Brossman says. "It's a sense of intimacy and satisfaction."

Progress, Brossman says, is an incremental process, although there are hopes to expand the movement's presence in the Triangle. Lester says the Men's Center wants to hire a part-time administrator and begin more community programs for men in crisis -- if they can raise enough money at this weekend's fund-raiser. The Men's Center's new push for a higher profile comes at a good time: This fall the movement was again in the national spotlight with the publication of feminist author Susan Faludi's book "Stiffed," which takes a sympathetic look at some of the issues the movement is grappling with.

"The door has been open to where enough men have started to get in touch with what's missing in their lives," Brossman says. "It's still in a very infant stage. and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Making major cultural changes doesn't happen overnight, and it shouldn't happen overnight."

Staff writer Sarah Avery can be reached at 829-4882 or savery@nando.com


Shedding the Legacy of Patriarchy

Men have looked for strength in themselves for all eternity; whether it be as warriors, lovers, magicians, or kings. There are times we need to be in council, in circle, with other men to help us decide what or when or even if an action is needed; times we need to see if changing ourselves is the road to travel on. The ManKind Project offers you that place. I offer you that place. Come and sit in circle with me.

Read on....

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

The ManKind Project opens its doors

by Steve Shanafelt, from Mountain Xpress

Richard Tomaskovic doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd bother with a support group. At 71, the former technical writer and engineer is a witty and engaging talker who seems more active than a lot of people half his age. The man positively radiates a sense of purpose and competence.

Yet every week for the past year-and-a-half, Tomaskovic and a dozen or so other area residents have gotten together to dig deeper into themselves and the challenges they face.

"We talk about our issues and feelings," he explains. "We support each other in looking into those areas of our lives where we want to change."

These men are members of The ManKind Project, a Malone, N.Y.-based nonprofit dedicated to helping every man become a better person. And if the mission sounds somewhat vague, participants swear by the group's methods (though the specifics are kept under wraps).

"What The ManKind Project does is provide a structure," says Tomaskovic, a kind of unofficial spokesman for the local group. "It is a forum to just hang out and talk about our real feelings, without being afraid of the pressure that we find in the rest of the world."

They aren't failures. They aren't crybabies. Many are highly successful in their professional lives, say group members. And for all the talking, there's a lot of listening, too.

"The male norm is macho," says Tomaskovic. "It's about presenting yourself as tough and unemotional. Everyone has to be competitive and in a pecking order." The problem with that view, he says, is that it's not realistic: Men aren't always tough. Men have emotions; men sometimes need help. But there aren't many places where they can learn how to recognize and process those emotions in a safe, supportive environment.
One key theme in their ongoing discussions is the need for personal responsibility. Other frequent topics include personal integrity and trust.

A rite of passage

There's more to joining The ManKind Project than simply showing up, however. Prospective members must first attend The New Warrior Training Adventure, a kind of emotional boot camp that the group says was inspired by a fusion of Jungian psychology and the initiation rites of many primitive cultures.

"It is challenging on many levels," says Tomaskovic. "But it's not an abusive situation, and there's no physical danger."

It also isn't cheap, costing anywhere from $600 to $800 for a three-day retreat, depending on the region and the number of participants. (Scholarships and payment plans are available through the local groups.)

Launched in Milwaukee in 1985, The ManKind Project now has 38 regional training centers and claims more than 30,000 members worldwide. The local groups are more or less independent and self-sustaining, though they make voluntary payments to help support the national organization, says Tomaskovic. His group, one of four in the Asheville area, has been meeting for at least seven years.

Seeking to boost enrollment, however, the national organization has been encouraging local groups to try something new: letting men who might be curious attend part of one of the weekly meetings. If they like what they see, the thinking goes, they might be more willing to shell out the money to take the New Warrior training.

"These men make commitments to change their lives," Tomaskovic explains. "They want to be better partners, more responsible, and to break old habits. We can't make people change their lives, but what we can do is point out to them when they aren't keeping their commitments."

Take Tomaskovic himself, for example. Before joining The ManKind Project, he says, he had trouble being assertive and always felt ill at ease with his own "peculiarities."

Today, however, Tomaskovic says he feels like a new man.

"People tell me that I'm different, even in ways that I don't see," he reports. "I've started to make changes in the relationships in my life. I'm more able to identify what I really want, and I'm more able to present myself as a complete person."

What kind of man does Tomaskovic think would be most helped by The ManKind Project? What kinds of problems does the training help to solve?

"It's not about having problems," he says. "It's just about men expressing who they really are. These men are no different than any other man. The only difference is that they are choosing to take a look at themselves and [try] to change their lives."

Testing the waters

In recent weeks, The ManKind Project has begun holding free, open meetings locally. Two more such gatherings are planned before the group's next initiation rite, The New Warrior Training Adventure (scheduled for Friday, May 20). The informal, men-only sessions will be held at the Unity Church of Asheville (130 Shelburne Road in West Asheville) April 27 and May 1. For more information, contact Richard Tomaskovic at 299-3924, or visit The ManKind Project's Web site (http://www.mkp.org/).


Model of Manhood

This post is nabbed from the The ManKind Project--South Africa Web site. Another man's experience. How many men do you need to read about before you take the leap?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

Paul Abramowitz takes a journey into Men's Work and discovers how we need to find fulfilment in our lives by finding our truth and living our dreams, rather than becoming trapped in the endless pursuit of what society deems as 'success'. Paul Abramowitz is a founding member The ManKind Project--South Africa.

Model of Manhood - The Sacred Masculine

My father would have loved this work; he was indeed a beautiful man. Like so many of his generation, he remained financially responsible to his family, and as a result, was over-worked -a product of the John Wayne generation. That particular model teaches that strength is found, above all, in a tough interior and exterior. I sensed that he struggled to connect emotionally with himself and so too with us, his family.

He had no place to outgrow his emotional negativity which he had lugged with him from a difficult childhood. Like so many of his generation and those men that followed, he remained somewhat aloof and disconnected. As I grew up I watched his life unfold in front of me and had a window into the often difficult lives of the husbands of his gynaecological patients. The picture that was formed was that society has placed great burdens on us as men. We often have to compromise our dreams for financial security, and that's just the way it is. Better to accept than fight; better to just knuckle down and 'achieve'.

My journey into manhood only confirmed my father's plight and the plight of those blank faces of the tired men that came anonymously to visit our dinner table.

So many men live with the quiet desperation of having sold out. Almost everything in our culture is geared toward the external, with the promise of happiness from yet another acquisition, or a better body. Pretty soon, too much attention to the external and surrounding chaos sees a slow dying of the soul, a little every day. We are encouraged, as men, to think with our heads and not to trust our feelings. Consequently, we tend to suffer from a deep loneliness, cut off from our own feelings, and, all too often, in fear of intimate relationships. We simply become numb. But life has a way of increasing the volume of the message it is giving until we hear it. So when the 'noise' of confusion and numbness becomes unbearable, it often is medicated to bearable limits through our addictions. We learn to modify the pain by drinking, drugging, eating too much and believing that the good things like lots of sex, can make the pain go away. Some who cannot quiet the scream inside their heads resort to violence which is mostly aimed at other men but, more shamefully, sometimes also at women and children.

It seemed to me that men and women start off on fairly equal footing as children, but that soon little boys experience what is called a 'diminishing in spirit', perhaps through the act of learning to endure physical and psychological pain without complaining. The result of which is a numbness and ambivalence found so commonly among teenage boys and adult men.

Sensing that this was happening to me too, I began longing to meet up with men who shared my vision of living another model of manhood. I wanted more; I didn't know exactly what but waited and trusted that the universe would provide.

In September 1998 I travelled, with five other South African men to Sopley, South London. There we took part in the ManKind Project’s New Warrior Training Adventure weekend.

I have come to understand the process of that weekend's work a little more now after three and a half years involvement and see now why the men who have done this work for so many years refer to it as a masterpiece.

I felt invited to look at who I was, how I make choices, and how I live out behaviours that work or don't work for me. Through the magic of ritual, wisdom, myth and metaphor, I got to face myself and felt welcomed into a new paradigm, no matter which of my demons was waiting to meet me.

I had a felt sense that the 30 facilitators, who themselves had travelled the journey, had a powerfully authentic purpose about them. I sensed their deep respect and understanding for the process and their commitment to the healing work, which was immediate and consistent. I felt for the first time in my life, at the age of 36, the sheer transformational possibility of the power of non-judgement and love coming from 59 men -30 facilitators and 29 other initiates. How different from that place so often set for men in the outside world, that of compulsive competitiveness.

It was a weekend of insight, triumph and celebration. I got to meet a small part of the man I had begun to look for way back then, and had been looking for for most of my adult life. I knew too, and found great comfort in the fact, that I had finally found a body of men who so beautifully modelled real commitment to transformation in their own lives and the lives of people around them.

My continued involvement and development in the work with men in this community and our overseas brothers has taught me that each man takes something different from his weekend experience. If he stays on in the work and continues the journey inward, supported by his men's group -usually between five and nine men meeting fortnightly -working towards his own truth and passion, he builds a platform to bring about real and sustained transformation. It is from the circle, a place of shared blessing, honour, respect and truthfulness, that I have witnessed myself and so many other men springboard to that place of positive change, a place so deeply desired.

As we drove back from my first men's weekend on a cold rainy Sunday afternoon, I was beginning to get a small sense of how this work fosters brotherhood through self-understanding, something which I had supposed was one of the basic aspects of earthly plane existence. I have realised that, on a spiritual level, this work serves to offer me nothing less than the possibility for a healing of the masculine soul. What I could not have guessed when I began was the profound and deeply altering effect the work was to have, and continues to have, on my life. Indeed, my journey has allowed me to step into relationship more fully and discover the joy of intimacy more deeply. I have come to meet that part of myself that allows me to discover and speak my truth. I can more easily face my deepest fears which are no longer roadblocks on my journey. I have begun to experience a paradox of life my father could not have known; that in vulnerability there lies the strength I so desperately seek.

I have learned to trust my own feelings more and to live in that place of connection to others and myself. The journey to authenticity through my own learning of emotional literacy has brought with it a deep sense of joy and a renewed passion, which once seemed unattainable. Through learning clear communication, and with awareness of my own projections, I am better able to empower myself to stay accountable to others and to myself. The lesson of integrity and the knowing of when I am out of integrity with my own truth holds me closer to my path.

It has been through the sharing of experiences and the listening quietly to other men's stories that I have learned of the power of mentorship in community. I know the value of having friendships with other men which are intimate, nurturing and trusting, and how these friendships create the bridges necessary to mark and make smoother the transitions we men have to make in our lives. I have, through these friendships, been encouraged to follow my own truth and passion and bring about a tighter congruency between what I speak and my actions in the world.

The old models of man did not allow for a place for shadow to be addressed. The powerful ritual of naming my 'shadow', and hearing other men name theirs, putting mine out in front of me, and sharing the darkness that it is, has given me a clear vision of how and why I prevent myself from reaching my fullest potential. Such is the model of the Sacred Masculine.

While acknowledging both my 'gold' and my shadow, I have come to understand the controlling nature of my unconscious, my unexpressed anger, shame and grief. This understanding has allowed me to feel more comfortable within myself, expressing instead of acting out or 'spilling sad energy', as Rumi described so succinctly.

This work I have done, not alone, but with the support, blessing, honesty and love offered to me by the men in my men's group, my community here and communities overseas, and thanks to the teachings held in sacred space.

A circle of men is a mystical place indeed, where I have seen magic happen time and again, the likes of which all words fail to describe.

As change is facilitated in our lives as men, all things become possible, and so we become moved to look beyond ourselves, to be in service to our community. This is done in the spirit of blessing -that of the energy of the good king archetype. Our work strives to return men to society as better husbands, partners, fathers, sons and siblings. Therein lies the true proof of the success of such work.

There are gifts we were given by our mothers which our fathers couldn't have given. There are gifts we were given by our fathers which our mothers didn't know how to give. Even if we as men didn't receive those gifts from our fathers, perhaps because they knew not how to give them, or hadn't received them themselves, then we need not cheat ourselves of a fulfilled life.

There are men out there in this world who have helped me strengthen and deepen my connection to life itself — to passion and joy - and the hope and reality of a glorious life. I am constantly reminded how privileged and blessed I am to have found this.

My father would have loved this work; it would have made all the difference in his life. I know that because that is how it has been for me — and the thousands of men who are making this journey together.

From Odyssey Magazine, South Africa 6-2002


The Sacred Masculine

Another article lost from the Internet that needs reposting so its message can live on.

I welcome you to the adventure.

I'm out.

Old-faithful Wolf

The Sacred Masculine

By Judith Person

Not everyone thinks the "sensitive male" concept has been good for men. Some believe it has gone too far — and taken true manliness along with it. At least that is how the ManKind Project's founders see it.

Created in 1985 by Ron Hering, Bill Kauth and Rich Tosi, the ManKind Project is a men's network based on the idea that the absence of traditional masculine rites of passage — slaying a bear, for example — has created a void.

Jim Underwood, at-large member of the group's board of directors, fears the concept behind the ManKind Project — with 27 centers spread across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand — may be difficult to explain.

He shies away from buzzwords such as "self-help" or "the men's movement" to describe the group because he doesn't want to resurrect what he refers to as late-night TV satire that portrays men's groups as "a bunch of silly guys sitting around in the woods and beating on drums and getting all, 'I love you, man,' " he said.

Drums or not, cultures worldwide have had rites of passage initiating boys into manhood. But the ManKind Project leaders said such traditions fell by the wayside, leaving each man to figure out manhood for himself.

The ManKind Project aims to help men "reclaim the 'sacred masculine' ... through initiation, training and action in the world," its mission statement says.

The "sacred masculine" includes qualities like leadership and wisdom — and remembering how to play.

In the 1950s, the ideal man was aggressive, liked sports, never cried and always provided, the group's leaders said. By the '90s, the "sensitive man" became popular. He is the ponytailed poet, the stay-at-home dad, the man who brags about being "in touch with his feminine side."

But the "sacred masculine" ought not change with the times, said Curtis Mitchell, chairman of the ManKind Project.

To properly integrate such qualities as strength and sensitivity, he said, each man requires a transformation process — one that will usher him from the psyche of a boy to one of a man.

Though many modern men manage this through:
  • The "descent," in which a man is encouraged to face his fears and any mind-sets that hinder him from being honest with himself.
  • The "ordeal." "It is impractical to make a man slay a bear or a lion," Mr. Rose said, so group members simulate the tribal ritual in which a man finds a sense of accomplishment after struggle.
  • The "homecoming," a graduation ceremony where men stand before their loved ones to be "welcomed into the community" as their newly balanced selves.
  • While members will discuss the philosophy behind initiation and the "sacred masculine," the specific events of the New Warrior Training Adventures are closely held secrets.
Whether any of this training is truly effective is anyone's guess.
Glenn E. Good, associate professor of the educational school in counseling psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is doubtful initiations like those in the ManKind Project are necessary for a man's psyche.

"I am in support of the idea that it is worthwhile for men to take a look at what it means to be a man and to be masculine," he said, adding that such traditions are "often culture-specific."

He sees value in initiation rites like the Jewish faith's bar mitzvah, but he is confident men will become adults without that.

"I am not sure the initiationism is crucial, but I do think that actively getting together and talking and sharing support is important," Mr. Good said.

Each weekend warrior develops a "personal mission of service" to clearly define his mission in life, which in many cases leads him into community service, particularly in the area of mentoring.

Charlie Borden of the Minnesota ManKind Project works closely with Men to Boys, a network of men integrating the initiation process for adolescent boys.

Jim Hurley and Robert Terzian of the ManKind Project of Greater Washington work with prison inmates to help them find their own "sacred masculine" and missions in life.
Others volunteer their time working with veterans in a program called the Bamboo Bridge.

"They treat it as an expression of the meaning of life," Mr. Mitchell said. "They are getting out of that rut that says that 'The only thing that matters in life is me.'"

New Warrior Training graduates are refocusing their childish sentiments into systems of sentiments that are appropriate for adults, Mr. Mitchell said.

"It has to do with community focus, taking care of elders and behaving in a mature way to focus on someone other than yourself."


The Way of Transformation

"The man who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages his old self to survive. Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the suffering and pass courageously through it, thus making of it a "raft that leads to the far shore." Only to the extent that man exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible arise within him. In this lies the dignity of daring. Thus, the aim of practice is not to develop an attitude which allows a man to acquire a state of harmony and peace wherein nothing can ever trouble him.

On the contrary, practice should teach him to let himself be assaulted, perturbed, moved, insulted, broken and battered – that is to say, it should enable him to dare to let go his futile hankering after harmony, surcease from pain, and a comfortable life in order that he may discover, in doing battle with the forces that oppose him, that which awaits him beyond the world of opposites. The first necessity is that we should have the courage to face life, and to encounter all that is most perilous in the world. When this is possible, meditation itself becomes the means by which we accept and welcome the demons which arise from the unconscious – a process very different from the practice of concentration on some object as a protection against such forces.

Only if we venture repeatedly through zones of annihilation, can our contact with Divine Being, which is beyond annihilation, become firm and stable. The more a man learns whole-heartedly to confront the world that threatens him with isolation, the more are the depths of the Ground of Being revealed and the possibilities of new life and Becoming opened."

The Way of Transformation, by Karlfried Graf von Durckheim


This is a way to look at change and tumolt. I ask you to look close at the way you keep yourself comfortable and safe. Is it working for you to stay in the safe zone of your life? Are you willing to risk it all? Are you willing to make a change so drastic as to change very cell in your body? Are you willing to spend a weekend in something you will never forget?

If so, click here.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf


A Northern California Man's Experience on the NWTA

This piece is from a man who has recently been through the New Warrior Training Adventure. Every man has a different experience on the training. I offer this to you so that you can see what that looks like for this man.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

From: Generative Transformation

New Warrior Training Adventure

I've recently completed the ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure. Whoa. It was incredible. Up there with CPM and Vipassana for truly transformative experiences. The reason it’s called New Warrior Training Adventure and not NWT Retreat or Weekend is because it is an adventure. Thus, if I told you everything that transpired during the weekend, it would no longer be an adventure. It’s not that it’s a secret, it’s about protecting what is sacred. The journey is about dealing with the unexpected, not knowing everything ahead of time. With this thinking in mind, I will only as they say, “describe the fruits of the tree, not the trunk”.

As I mentioned before the adventure, the main reason, amongst many other reasons, I attended this $650 adventure was to understand why I have difficulty communicating with women. I believe I got what I came for and much, much more. I thought this inability was due to some teenage heartbreak. While getting dumped on my ass by my first love certainly sucked, bad things happen all the time. It’s how I deal with them that matters. More specifically, it’s what frameworks, judgments and values I employ to absorb new information and behave.

This led me to examine my own judgments about women. I didn’t respect anything they said, and still catch myself discounting their assertions for no good reason. I am/was clearly a misogynist. Why? Women aren’t evil or mean. In fact, they’re quite nice. I actually like them a lot, but why then did I show such disregard for their thoughts and feelings? Where did this misogyny come from? As it turns out, several places.

A child needs love. Lots of it. My parents did the best they could to deliver it to me, however, my Dad traveled a lot and at times was conditional with his praise. Thus, with love from my Mother much more plentiful and secure than that from my Father, I did whatever I could to please him. I played sports, got good grades, became a social animal, etc. And I was praised.

When I was 11 my parents split. Without getting into too much detail as to why, let’s just say my Mother is a strong woman and my Dad a strong man. After the split, my Dad moved out and I was on the receiving end of even less love because of the distance. Concurrently, my Dad also began a descent into some unhealthy misogyny of his own. It had gotten to the point that my brother and I would listen to my Dad’s Andrew “Dice” Clay and Sam Kinison comedy tapes, which along with his less controversial Carlin, Sarducci, Dangerfield and Phillips tapes, we enjoyed frequently. For those of you who don’t know Dice and Kinison, these are two of the most misogynist comedians. Young boys should not be exposed to women-hating, especially by men they deeply respect and love.

As I entered highschool, I moved in with my Dad, who dated a lot. I began to see male-female relationships modeled for me. Mind you, my Dad and I always have had a close, open relationship, so talking about sex, crime, drugs, etc. was never off limits, however I’m not necessarily sure that the way my father treated women in front of me and talked about them when they weren’t around was healthy. He put up some big numbers while I was in highschool and wasn’t afraid to tell me about the intimate details of the encounters or the abrupt nature of their termination, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In addition, I had a strong support network of other jocks, who also treated women like shit in front of me. And there was plenty of NWA, Snoop and Dre to go around. Bitch this, ho that. You get the picture. I was told often that the key to getting girls is to pretend like you don’t even like them. And lo and behold, there were more than enough women around to corroborate this hypothesis and cement this behavior. The more outrageous and callous I was, the more sex I seemed to have. While my unhealthy behavior was certainly heavily influenced and encouraged by men, it was equally validated and enabled by women, who recognized and were attracted to this sort of behavior they’d seen modeled for them by their own father, the media, what have you.

I’m not blaming, my father, my friends or Eazy E. I did those bad things to women. However, a man is not store bought, he is cultivated by his own drive for growth and by his environment. Whether or not I wanted to be a good guy (I didn’t) is not secondary, but neither exclusive to the misogynist influences in my life.

This misogyny led me to think that women were worthless and that lying to them was perfectly acceptable behavior to “get the skins”. “Jason, you don’t lie to me, you lie to girls.” – Rodney Dangerfield, ‘Back To School’. Thus, I never respected women. I had many errant judgments against the gender that derived from this lack of respect. Without respect, there is no communication, no trust, no love. NO LOVE!

And there you have it. I was disabled from interacting genuinely with women, because any time their actions deviated from my narrow bandwidth of acceptable behavior, I accused them of being crazy, irrational, immature, childish, etc. I had an immediate “power down” switch anytime a rational conversation turned otherwise. Time to go drinking with the boys. Years of avoiding these conversations laden with emotion retarded my ability to understand and appreciate women and the full spectrum of their being. Most of the time, as I’m now figuring out, they just want to vent, to be held and listened to.

Net, net, this weekend was by no means a cure-all for my fucked up history with women, however it did produce some amazing insights and most importantly frameworks and support for carrying this hard work forward. I’m beginning to understand and deal with my own emotions first; I’m learning to discard this “boys don’t cry” bullshit and get real, really real with myself.

Men - if you're interested in developing yourself along the lines of Gandhi, MLK, etc., i.e. a more nurturing, sensitive and compassionate way of being and leadership, this is for you. Despite the apparent "softness" of this adventure, it is anything but. It will test you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and if you have an experience similar to mine, then you will also have a renewed sense of purpose and confidence to execute on your life’s mission. An ancillary benefit of the training is the tremendous sense of brotherhood and great friends you make.

Moreover, it ain't over when it’s over; once the adventure weekend concludes, you have the opportunity to join an Integration Group which meets once a week and helps you apply and integrate the spiritual/servant leadership principles, communication skills and emotional fluency into your daily life. This is intense and I highly recommend it to anyone serious about growth.

Additionally, if you have or are planning on having kids, this is a must. One of the major takeaways was the tremendous amount of emotional scarring that results when fathers administer tough love, are not connected with their emotions and have no emotional fluency. http://www.mkp.org/

Women - this is not just for men. Woman Within is the sister organization. I'm told they are similar, but obviously focus and much different issues. Check them out. http://www.womanwithin.org/about/index.htm


Male Transformer

The ManKind Project reaches out to men of all types, flavors, races, and biases. This interview asks a Canadaian man some pointed questions about the New Warrior Training Adventure.

I'm out.

Old-faithful Wolf


Mankind Project uses mysterious rituals to help heal wounded men
by Chris Barry
From http://www.montrealmirror.com/ARCHIVES/2003/102303/people.html.

Name: David Cordes

Age: 40

Bio: When this fast-talking yet sincere Fabreville resident isn't selling men's clothes at his retail store in St-Laurent, he's busy sporting the "new masculinity" he's attained through his involvement with the Mankind Project, "an international men's group that provides training, support groups and places where men can fully connect with themselves at all levels: physically, mentally, and spiritually." David says the Mankind Project "is not a cult by definition" but rather "appeals to men with a sense of adventure who want to challenge themselves." He first became involved with the organization three years ago after recognizing that "there were parts of me that were wounded and needed to be healed. And I knew that [the healing process] involved working with men." He drives a 1994 Saturn SL.

How one goes about attaining one's "new masculinity":
By forking over between $550 and $750 to attend a New Warrior weekend where men go hang out in the woods with a bunch of other dudes for 48 hours. "Men are invited to participate in a variety of processes and highly experiential exercises that lead them to a place of safety. The weekend is, essentially, a male initiation ritual. All the noise of a man's life, like cell phones and radios, are removed so the man is separated from what he is comfortable with. The man is given the opportunity to take a deep, dark look into himself with the support of the group, and ultimately steps through his fears of going to that place."

Is an introductory 50-man circle-jerk an important part of the initiation process?
It could be. "One of the principles of male initiation throughout the world, for thousands of years, is that what we do during the initiation process and ceremony is not discussed."

Is that because people are too ashamed of what happened to them to be able to talk about it?
Probably not.

Is sleep deprivation a big part of New Warrior weekend training?
"Look, over 30,000 men around the world have done this training and I judge not a single one of them have ever divulged what goes on during the weekend. But I do probably sleep more at home than when I'm on a weekend."

What David says happens to people after attending a New Warrior weekend:
"Men experience something absolutely transformational. And when they return to their lives post-weekend, they have a deeper sense of themselves, an awareness of their own accountability and deeper levels of integrity and personal responsibility. For me, it's just wonderful to be part of the transformation of a man opening up and starting to connect with himself."

Is there a Reverend Moon/Grand Poobah kind of character lurking somewhere making zillions off of the "new masculinity"?
Apparently not.

Literary preferences: National Geographic.

Musical preferences: Led Zeppelin, Eminem, 50 Cent.

Television preferences: Trading Spaces, ER, Hockey Night in Canada.

Favourite film of all time: Schindler's List.

Favourite poet: Rumi.

Words of wisdom: "Hurt me with the truth but don't kill me with a lie."

Finding the Spirit

There are infinite dreams and thoughts to be had. I find that I am limited by what I was taught. Are you? How would you know if you were?

This article is by a man who found his poetry through reaching past the teachings. What do you have to give that is locked away? How dare you keep it from you...from me...from all of us. Let me see it. Open the door.

I'm out.

Old-faithful Wolf


Finding the Spirit
By Mike Snider
From http://www.lifesherpa.com/life-journeys/2003-07-snider-spirit.htm.

I had often thought and felt that I needed to be writing something, yet I had no idea what to write. I often thought that I needed to write a book, but did not know where or how to start. About a year ago, I attended a men's retreat and it opened up a flow of creativity that I have found to be amazing. At times, the words come so fast I have difficulty writing them down. Often, I am unable to go to bed until I write. At other times, I find I am unable to write even when I want to.

The retreat was based on one of the four male archetypes identified by Carl Jung, Lover, Magician, Warrior and King. The Lover's archetype holds the energy of sensitivity, sensuality, sexuality and creativity. At the beginning of the Lover's Quarter, I was given a notebook, sent to a room where I was asked to quietly view a grouping of objects, and write about what I saw in the notebook. It is hard to say what was tapped or released, but I immediately felt as though there were some words in my head that needed to be written. Over the next 3 days, I worked on my first poem. As I said, writing was something I always felt pulled toward but had no idea what it would be.

However, I did NOT think it would be poetry, and if I ever did write poetry, I certainly would not have shared it with anyone. By the end of the weekend, I KNEW that I had to share what I had written with the other men who were there, which I did on Sunday morning. I was surprised at the reception it got, and by the number of men who came to me later and told me they were very moved by what I had written.

When I returned from the weekend, I felt as though I was an altered state in terms of my writing. For several days, words kept filling my mind at a rapid pace. If I was somewhere I could write, the words would flow like water down a stream. As soon as I wrote one line, the next line would already be formed in my mind. It eventually slowed, but didn't stop completely. I have found that I cannot force the words to come to me. I must be spiritually centered and in touch with the truth of who I am before the words I am to write are given to me.

After I attended the Lover’s Workshop, I attended a New Warrior Training Adventure, and also served as staff at a subsequent Warrior weekend. I have found that this creative force has gotten stronger and more insistent on being recognized. I wrote "Spirit" after staffing the last New Warrior weekend last month. When I get lost in the busyness of my schedule between work, teaching and going to school, the words do not come, but when I relax and re-connect with the Spirit within, the words begin to flow.

When I read some of the things that "I" have written, I am quite surprised and am very moved by what they say and feel blessed to have been a part of their creation.

Poem: Spirit

Beyond the veil of conscious knowing,
I feel the wind of spirit blowing.
It fills my sails and takes the helm,
my ego it does overwhelm.

I feel the power surge deep inside
saying “No longer will I be denied!”
“The truth of love is all there is,
the meaning of eternal bliss.”

The wave that moves along my spine
is sweeter than the ancient wine.
“Wake up and live,” I hear it say,
“and walk along the truthful way!”

What is this light I see abound
each time I pause and look around?
The glow of life is everywhere,
this love inside I need to share!

We all are one, I know is true,
the me that’s Me, the you that’s You.
Far beyond the conscious veil
the truth is known and will not fail.

Into the light of each new day,
I must work to find the way
to show the world the truth within
so peace on earth can begin.

Now I know just who I am
and no longer give a damn
about what others think of me,
I strive, I learn, I grow to be.

Beyond the veil of conscious knowing
the truth of God’s a constant glowing.
Look within and you will see
the truth of who you’ll always be.


I Remember

What do you remember?

Can you look back and see the time and place? Do you have the support of men who will listen to what you remember; without judgment?

The ManKind Project offers you a place to remember...or not. You decide.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf


Katrina and Love

I send my love, hope, and prayers to those men, women, and children who have suffered loss. I send my love to the animals that are effected; pets and wild. I send my love to those in charge who are trying to make the best possible decisions under extreme circumstances. I send love to those who work so hard to help, save, rescue, demolish, and rebuild. I send my love to those who stand by and do nothing; for maybe this will be the last time they do nothing.

Here are some Internet places you can help:

RedCross.org, UnicefUSA.org (send money, volunteer)
HurricaneHousing.org (help by providing shelter)
FamilyLinks.icrc.org/Katrina (search for your loved ones here)
CNN.com (huge list of place to help and give)

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf


What are you waiting for?

Well, what's the answer?

I was waiting for my "self" to get real and honest with myself. No one could tell me to change they way I was. I needed to be the one to do that.

I certainly can't make you try the ManKind Project NWTA. I can't make anyone change. I can offer to you that you will change. I can offer to you that I have yet to meet a man who wasn't profoundly changed in one way or another.

I want that for you. I want for you to have the life that you are capable of having. Are you ready to make the leap of faith into a new you; the real you; the real man who is conscious of his place and his life?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf


See For Yourself

Today, is another day for change. How will you change your life, today? I change mine by gifting you the links below to a video about the NWTA.

Low bandwidth (Windows Media Video file: 11MB)
High bandwidth (Windows Media Video file: 27MB)

The video is powerful, interesting, and I found it moving. The video is a section of a South African Broadcasting Corporation show called Free Spirit.

I offer it to you in the knowing that there are places in you that this will speak to. See for yourself...

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf



Thank You, Lance

Thank you, Lance, for showing me what it looks like to give it all.

I ask you, the reader, what would it look like for you to give it all? What would it look like to conquer your personal demons, fears, frailties, and blockages? What would it look like to stand on the podium of your life, knowing you gave it all…leaving nothing on the table?

I think the first step to the top of the podium may be the New Warrior Training Adventure.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf


Confessions of a New Warrior

Here's a terrific article about a british man's journey to, and through, the NWTA. I enjoyed his deep sharing of his experience. I hope you do as well. Yeah, it's a long read, but is changing your life worth 15 minutes?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf


From The Wave, a UK Magazine

By Daniel Quinn (a pseudonym)

My mother and sister are suspicious. They think I’ve joined a cult. Their evidence is that I used to be a cynic with a healthy disdain for the New Age. Now I wear a talisman round my neck, beat a drum and spend long weekends at secret locations in the country where I have to pay for the privilege of sleeping on the floor with strangers.

Then there’s my personality. By turns moody and morose, I used to think nothing of interrupting people mid sentence. Now I hug men fondly and listen attentively even when I know the other person is talking claptrap.

They’re right of course: I have changed, but I believe it’s for the better.

It all began last year when I was invited by a friend to attend a meeting at my son’s primary school. The meeting was to be held in the evening – when the children were in bed – and was exclusively for men. He handed me a flyer:

“Are you living the life you dreamed of when you were a boy, where everything and anything was possible? Or have you compromised your dreams, your ideals, and your vision for what your life might look like some day? If so, you have lots of company, for most of us today are in just this situation. We have lost our vision and we have lost our mission, our deeper reason for being alive.”

On the reverse was a globe with a hopeful orange and yellow logo. It read: “The ManKind Project: Changing the world one man at a time.”

The emphasis on men set my journalistic antennae twitching. In the early 1990s I had interviewed some of the early pioneers of the men’s movement in the UK – men who liked to quote Robert Bly and get wild in the woods – and as I read the accompanying blurb it sounded suspiciously familiar. The Mankind Project was holding a ‘New Warrior Training Weekend’ at a secret location in the British countryside in June. The weekend was billed as an ‘intense adventure’ aimed at reconnecting men to their ‘healthy warrior energy’. By getting me to confront my ‘shadow’ self, MKP promised to put me in touch with my ‘inner masculine’ and return me to the state of grace I’d enjoyed as a boy so that I would be free to live my life ‘with integrity and without apology’.

When I read the small print, my cynicism deepened. Although I would be able to meet other men who had completed the training at my son’s school, they wouldn’t be able to discuss what had transpired on the weekend in any detail. Oh, and if I decided to sign up I’d have to come up with £500 and agree to bring enough food to feed myself and three other men!

I was incredulous. “Let me get this straight,” I asked my friend. “You want me to pay £500 but won’t tell me anything about the weekend, not even where we’ll be staying?”

“That’s right,” replied Matthew.

“How do I know it’s not a cult?”

Matthew shook his head and smiled a secret smile. “I guess you don’t but if you’re not satisfied afterwards we’ll gladly give you your money back.”

“All of it?”

“Yes – as long as you agree to stay through Saturday – all of it.”

Well, I’ve never been able to resist a challenge and when I attended the taster evening my curiosity deepened. I was expecting a group of men in open-toed sandals reeking of woodsmoke and patchouli oil. Instead, I was struck by how normal they looked, how like the men I saw commuting to offices every day on the buses and tube. The only omission was there were no black or Asian men.

As they began to speak about their lives and what they had got out of the weekend, my sense of identification deepened. They’d done their fair share of one-night stands, booze and hard drugs. They’d hitched a ride with Mammon on the juggernaut of conspicuous consumption but had come up empty each time. One man, dressed casually in Levis and a Zara zip-top said that before he’d gone on the weekend he didn’t consider that he had “any particular problems”.

“I thought my life was sorted,” he said.

That was when I made my decision – what would turn out to be the first step in an ongoing journey. After all, who was I to presume I was different?

It wasn’t the first time I’d taken a risk with my life. A few years before I’d embarked on a series of expeditions to South America. Accompanied by a team of Indian porters, I’d negotiated precipices, cataracts and sheer mud walls without any means of contacting my wife or family should anything go wrong. What dangers could a mere 48 hours in the English countryside hold?

The first hint that I might be entering unknown territory came with MKP’s welcome pack, containing a lengthy medical questionnaire and an insurance waiver. Was I in good health? Had I ever suffered from any form of mental illness? Did I understand the ‘risks’ that were involved in the training? According to the accompanying blurb, the weekend would challenge me to the limit of my physical and emotional capabilities: “It means putting oneself on the line… becoming vulnerable. It means confronting the fear within that wants to keep us small and safe.” The pack also contained a map with directions to the training centre and a confidentiality agreement. If I signed up for the weekend I would have to undertake not to reveal what went on in the training or specific processes.

As the date of the weekend neared my anxiety levels shot up. My wife shared my alarm, but for different reasons. Why, she wanted to know, were only men allowed to attend? Did the ManKind Project have a problem with women and, if so, where would my search for the inner masculine leave her?

A few days before I was due to depart I received a phone call from a man at MKP. Identifying himself as my ‘mentor’ he asked whether I had all the information I needed. I said I did.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

I wanted to reply “ready for what?” Instead, I shrugged inwardly and told him I was. I still had no idea what I was letting myself in for.

MKP is the brainchild of three men: Ron Hering, an American university professor (now deceased), Rich Tosi, a General Motors engineer and ex-Marine from Milwaukee, and Bill Kauth, a self-styled ‘feminist’ therapist from Wisconsin. The original impetus came from Kauth. Envious of the empowering and supportive networks he saw being created by women in feminist workshops in the early 1980s, Kauth started looking for ways to create something similar for men. Recruiting Tosi, whom he’d met at a couples’ seminar, they flew to California and enrolled on a weekend run by Justin Sterling, an early guru of men’s empowerment who modelled his training on Werner Erhard and ‘Est.’ Although there were many aspects of the weekend that Tosi and Kauth considered ‘unsafe’, Sterling’s central insight – that men needed a separate ‘container’ away from women in which to explore their emotions and grow – struck a chord. On their return to the mid-West, Kauth recruited Hering, whom he knew through Gestalt therapy, and together the concept of the ‘New Warrior Training Weekend’ was born.

The first happening, held in Milwaukee in January 1985, attracted 17 men. Today MKP boasts 30,000 members worldwide and the British chapter, which is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary, counts nearly 1,000 men on its rolls. One of its recent high-profile signings is the former Arsenal double winner and England right back, Lee Dixon.

“In 22 years as a professional footballer I reached some incredible emotional highs,” Dixon wrote in a recent MKP newsletter. “I thought I had experienced it all. I was wrong. Apart from the birth of my two children, the New Warrior Training Adventure was the most powerful, fantastic, inspiring experience of my life. I would urge every man to enrol. It will amaze you.”

Like many New Age groups, MKP’s literature highlighted the emptiness of Western consumer culture, the increase in stress-related illnesses and the spiralling divorce rate. It pointed to the breakdown of family values and the fact that one in three children was growing up fatherless. According to MKP, these social ills coupled with the pressure to pay the mortgage were so overwhelming that it was little surprise that many men chose to deny their emotions and retreat into their heads. But such a survival strategy came at a cost. “We think that it’s all happening to someone else, somewhere else… In the meantime, somewhere deep within us – in our hearts and souls and bodies – we have become comfortably numb.”

I had little quarrel with this analysis. Despite the ‘gazzafication’ of popular culture, a recent survey of male attitudes found that nearly a quarter of men claim to have never cried, and that 87 per cent of men versus 68 per cent of women have difficulty talking about their feelings with friends of the same sex. These figures should not come as a surprise. For most men – and I include myself in this statement – our careers are a shield. We embrace work and the pressures that come with it precisely because it gives us an excuse not to address the tougher emotional questions, concerning the ways in which our lives and relationships may, or may not be working for us. I recognised this pattern in my own life and I also recognised it in the lives of many of my friends – men who had succumbed to addiction or whose marriages had splintered when the pressures of work had become overwhelming. But where I took issue with MKP was over its emphasis on fathering and male empowerment. In his now classic primer on masculinity, Robert Bly takes the story of Iron John – the mythological ‘hairy man’ drawn from the Grimm brothers’ fables – and turns him into an archetype, a representation of the ‘wild man’ within all of us. The problem today, Bly argues, is that men have been neutered. They have lost touch with that ancient warrior energy, with the ritual processes and tribal initiation ceremonies that used to mark a boy’s passage to manhood. Consequently, we have no means of connecting with the inner wildness we need in order to, as Bly puts it, ‘steal the key from under our mother’s pillow’.

Bly argues that all men are wounded in some way, typically by their fathers. It is only by acknowledging this wound and confronting our ‘shadow selves’ – the mark, if you like, that that hurt has left on our personality and behaviour – that we can grow psychologically and become men in a fuller and more rounded sense. Of necessity this process cannot be undertaken within the family but has to be initiated from outside, by male mentors. That is why when boys reached puberty in tribal societies the elders came for them and took them far from the village to teach them how to be warriors. This is the ancient wisdom that has been lost from our society, the process that MKP on its training weekend seeks to revive.

My problem was I didn’t feel I’d been wounded by either my father or my mother. I’d had a pretty idyllic childhood. Of course it wasn’t perfect – whose is? – but my suspicion was that at some point someone on the weekend would start digging and that they wouldn’t be satisfied until they found a fault. I also had deep reservations about a group whose starting point was that men had to separate themselves from female society in order to become better fathers, sons and lovers. Wasn’t there a danger that the opposite might happen, and that by tapping into my warrior energy I might become more tyrannical and intolerant of women than perhaps I had been before?

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Like Lee Dixon, what I saw at MKP blew me away. Unfortunately, the confidentiality agreement I signed forbids me from describing specific details or other men’s experiences. However, there is nothing to stop me talking about my own journey. As the deadline for the weekend approached, I told myself I was doing it because it was a challenge and I’d be a coward not to go through with it. But behind that story lay other, subconscious narratives. Like many British men, I enjoy football and the camaraderie of the pub. I’m lucky t0 have close male friends, many of whom stretch back to childhood. But I have always felt there was something missing in these friendships. We talk about sport, work and sometimes my children and marriage, but rarely about emotions. If they hurt me, I keep that disappointment hidden. And if I think they are spinning me a yarn, I don’t challenge them to be authentic.

The older I have become the wearier I’ve grown of these games. I crave depth, not shallowness – the sort of emotional honesty that I see my wife enjoying in her circle of women friends. But to initiate such a process in normal male society is a fraught undertaking. Men are wary, watchful. They mask their true feelings behind smart remarks. If I remove my own mask I become vulnerable and risk ridicule. And if I challenge my friends to remove theirs I take the risk of giving offence and being rejected.

At the taster evening I’d seen men being frank and honest with each other, and a group of strangers about the way they had failed their girlfriends, their children and ultimately themselves as men. I’d wanted to enter that circle and be a part of it. I wanted some of what they’d got.

There was also another reason why I signed up. Although I’d enjoyed a warm relationship with my father, part of me resented him for not showing me the leadership I craved when I faced life-determining decisions. These feelings had lain buried until I raised my own family and found myself slipping into patterns of behaviour I identified with him. Like my father I had become a historian and spent long hours in the library uncertain of whether the wider world would value my efforts. Wracked with anxiety and self-doubt, I had become irritable and bad-tempered and was having trouble sleeping. On my worst days, I was unforgivably cruel. My behaviour was shameful and I wanted to break free of it.

To get men to face their shadows MKP employs a variety of techniques – poetry, visualisation, male-bonding games, group work and what can only be described as emotional aerobics. But MKP also employs a powerful Gestalt technique that challenges men to cross an emotional and psychological line that perhaps they have been resisting all their lives. It is this challenge that lies at the heart of the weekend. The object is to restore the connection between men’s rational and emotional brains, to reprogramme us so that we can begin to feel again. It is hard work, both physically and emotionally, and explains why MKP prefers to characterise its approach as ‘training’ rather than ‘therapy’.

In the course of the weekend I found myself experiencing emotions with a surprising rawness and freshness. Firstly I was angry and resentful – at my friend for persuading me to sign up and at myself for being stupid enough to agree. Then came resignation that now I was there I might as well go through with it, followed by relief and, eventually, enjoyment.

It was a relief to be part of a circle of men whom I could talk openly and frankly to, and who would support, rather than judge me. But the greatest relief came in owning up to some fundamental truths about myself. Although I loved my father I also had to acknowledge that a part of me was wounded. Emotions such as anger, shame, pity, deep care and love were all jumbled up inside and I could slip from one to another in a flash. MKP helped me separate out those feelings and figure out the ‘shadows’ which lay behind them.

MKP’s training is not for everyone and there were grumbles. The complaints ranged from dissatisfaction with the accommodation, to unease about the organisation, to disappointment with some of the processes. Some were justified. Having said that, out of the 42 men who signed up for the training only one left early and no one demanded their money back. Everyone I spoke to considered it money well spent. For some it was the most cathartic experience of their lives. For days afterwards tastes, sounds, people – everything was more vibrant, more vivid. I was no longer a spectator but an active participant in life and it felt good. In the middle of some mundane activity like washing the dishes I would have a startling revelation about a childhood event and a whole series of blocks would fall into place. It felt as if someone had switched on a Windows defragmentation programme in my head. I was reordering myself from the inside, restoring the connections between thoughts and feelings buried deep in my past. In this blissed-out state I made a whole series of resolutions – about how I would be a better father to my children, a better husband to my wife, and a better son to my father. I realised that I’d neglected my relationship with my father for too long. He was 77. I needed to involve him more in my and my children’s lives, so I invited him to come and play tennis with us. He did so and enjoyed himself somuch that he told me he wanted to buy my son and daughter tennis lessons and make this a regular event. Two weeks later my mother called from the emergency room to say my father had been taken to intensive care.

I rushed to the hospital to find my father – eyes clenched tight against the daggers in his chest – already dying and in great pain. I held his hand and told him how much I loved him. Then I surprised myself by reminding him of a conversation we’d had when I was eight, about the same age my own son is now. My father had told me then that if he achieved anything in life he wished to be a better father to me than his own father had been to him. I did not know what he meant by that then and I am not sure I know now. All I know was that his sentiment was beautiful and heartfelt.

For years I’d locked that conversation away but I hadn’t forgotten it, and in the days that followed the MKP weekend it had come bubbling back to the surface. That conversation was one of the things I’d resolved to speak to my father about in the years I thought lay ahead of us. I kept vigil at my father’s bedside all night and the next day as he slipped in and out of consciousness, a morphine drip easing his slow descent. When at 7pm the following evening he stopped breathing, I couldn’t let go. I stroked his brow and held him in my arms. I wept bitterly, mourning for myself as much as for him. I may have found the courage to tell him how much I loved him and to speak to him frankly from the heart without the training but I don’t think I would have been as in touch with my emotions nor given myself the same permission to grieve, and to love.

Now, as I go about the world, I see what happens when men don’t give themselves this permission, ensuring their emotions sneak up from behind and ambush them. I see it in the devastation visited on Iraq – a consequence of Bush’s puerile need to lash out and, perhaps, prove himself a better man than his father. And I see it in the damage to the BBC’s reputation – damage directly traceable to men like Alastair Campbell and Greg Dyke and their ‘wounded’ egos.

So where am I now and where are my fellow warriors? The only honest answer is that we are in many different places reflecting the shadows that pursue us. Some men never knew their fathers because they left home when they were infants; other men knew their fathers only too well and had to endure years of sexual abuse; others grew up with alcoholic fathers, or mothers who entrusted them to the care of nanny and boarding school when all they wanted was love and affection. But whatever the ‘wound’ and our response to it we are all on the same path. MKP, like the Freemasons and other male fraternities that have thrived at other times, creates a space in which man’s imperfections can be explored honestly and safely, where men can vent their feelings before they cause real damage to themselves and to others.