2.18.2005

Don Jones on Men

From A Man Overboard:

"I think the deeper meaning of my poem 'Anthropos Rising' says something is happening in our society where men are
opening themselves up to the arrival of a new whole masculinity that transcends the patriarchal, mercenary and macho ways of being a man,' he said, 'and where he steps into a new relationship with women and other men in the world."

ANTHROPOS RISING
By Don Jones

The Anthropos is rising!
The age-old, original man is coming to claim us
from our shadow imitations of manhood!

Patriarchal Man is dying!
You know him well - the one who feeds on dominance
over women and children -
The one who lords it over other men,
And who rapes even the earth itself in the godawful illusion
that he owns even Her.

Macho Man is a zombie -
a walking dead man who tries to keep himself alive
by worshipping fire power.
He stalks the earth with grotesque bravado,
threatening the life of everything that breathes,
unable to connect with anything except out of this Killer.

Mercenary Man is a joke!
He has substituted money for the true riches of life,
and has lost any sense of mission other than the bottom line.
His days are numbered, and his feverish grip upon Things
will never save him.

The Anthropos is rising!
The gates of history are swinging wide to welcome
The New Man, The True Man, The Whole Man!

The man who loves woman, not in the tired, old seductive way,
but genuinely from the heart, and joins with her in the embrace of equality!

The one who loves and nurtures little children because
he sees in them the seeds of a new world in the making!
The one who blesses and does not curse other men because
they are courageous brother warriors whose saving mission
is the same as his own!

The man who reverences the earth, and protects Her,
and helps Her become the majestic Mother Garden
she was intended to be from the beginning.

The Anthropos is rising! The Anthropos is rising!
I beg, I plead with you to welcome with me
the rising of the Anthropos - the Man who though long in coming
is striding through the gates even now!

MORE>>>>

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

2.17.2005

One of the Four Initiations

Robert L Moore, PhD - Four Initiations: Masculine Initiation

Time is late and we are in a desperate situation. Look at your political leaders and listen for anybody that is going to step up and name masculine initiation, or the lack of it, as a serious world-wide problem. You are going to have to listen a long time before you hear anybody that is even talking about this, and even longer before you come across anybody who really knows what is going on. Those in the echelons of power do not have a clue that it is not merely economics, it is not merely education, it is not merely any particular social location or television show or rap song, that is the source of our difficulties: it is the whole lack of a system of masculine initiation and eldership.

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Initiation is what the New Warrior Training Adventure is about. Make the call.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

2.16.2005

Going Deeper

From Forever Expanding Awareness In Liberation>Blog Archive>Going deeper:

I have a great deal of respect for the ManKind Project, and I can’t begin to explain the degree of love that is aroused within me when I think of the amazing men—men of all shapes and sizes, men from many walks of life—whom I have met through MKP and who have had the courage to go through the New Warrior Training Adventure. What a ride when all went on !!!

I am aware that for many of us the NWTA experience was our first major plunge into the world of self-realisation, personal growth, self-transformation—call it what you like. I am aware that for many of us this powerful dive into the inner realms of our psyche has opened us up to an entirely new way of living. What a blessing. What a profound gift. I give thanks to all those visionary brothers that have carried MKP from its early humble beginnings 20 odd years ago, to where it is today, with myself and many other men here in NZ (and all over the world) going through this important initiatory process.

I am equally aware that for myself (and a number of other New Warriors) MKP is in fact not the seed from which my journey into experiencing my authentic Self has sprouted forth—but rather it was another fine petal that has now been added to the mystic rose that was already blossoming deep within my heart and soul. This path of self-transformation is one I have been on for much of my life, from my early teens to now. It is a path that has many challenges, yet one that ultimately provides many wondrous fruit from which I now nourish myself whilst here in this world. I know there are other MKP Warriors that share a similar story in this regard.

So here’s my invitation, my encouragement, to all those MKP Men for whom NWTA was essentially their first step into waking up to this realm of new possibilities. My invitation is this:

Go deeper.

Allow the profound experience you had through your Warrior Weekend to become the spring board from which you shall now lift yourself into new heights of self-exploration and transformation. I can’t begin to tell you just how rich and profound a life awaits you. All it takes is a clear intent and a deep surrender. I would like to suggest that MKP has cracked open a perceived “barrier” within you, and this has allowed a new level of awareness to flow through you and be known by you. I stand to be corrected if this is not true to your experience.

Yet this, my brothers and friends, is simply the humble beginnings of something that has the power and potential to carry you and your life into an entirely new level of experience. Yet, only to the degree that you are willing to pursue that path. The break through that I know you experienced on your NWTA weekend will in fact be just one of many. It may have been the first major such breakthrough you can remember experiencing, yet I know with all my heart that many even greater breakthroughs await each of us. MKP itself had small beginnings—that first breakthrough from being just an inspiration in the minds of a few men to becoming the first NWTA weekend—and yet it has now blossomed into a global phenomena through the ongoing dedication of many, but only as the result of many even greater breakthroughs. Your own awakening also has the potential to quietly blossom into a global phenomena that will in some small way help transform this world.

There’s more. There’s more. Seek it out and IT will seek you and pluck you up from wherever you are and carry you along such a splendid path of awakening.

To whatever degree you still find yourself inwardly diverging from the experience of deep love, inner peace, and contentment… that is the degree to which there is more that your soul is waiting to share with you, to release you from, so that you may truly walk this Earth as a free man. A man free to express and live his mission in a way unique to you yet just as powerful as ANY other person you can think of from human history.

What we went through was as “initiation”. An initiation into not only what it means to be an authentic man in today’s world, but also an initiation into what it simply means to “be”. An initiation is: “The act of initiating, or the process of being initiated or introduced.”

Yes, this is the beginning of a process. We have experienced an introduction. An introduction to a new perception of Self; and any introduction worth my time and energy is an introduction that then leads into a deep and lasting relationship. In this case, not so much a relationship to some thing out there—a person, an institution, a job—but rather a relationship with Self.

Every man who has an affiliation with MKP that goes on to do deeper and even more profound inner work is naturally going to bring all their new found gold—their new-found gifts of wisdom and love—back into MKP and hence back to every other man that is part of MKP and who will ever be a part of MKP. This will in fact happen even if that man never has any further affiliation with MKP for we are all connected on unseen levels, and in going through the same initiation that all other New Warriors go through we have all been united in spirit.

This is powerful stuff. May I not underestimate it.

The ongoing self-transformation of each New Warrior will play a part in the self-transformation of every other New Warrior.

What more can I say?

I wish you all the best on your journey,

Jonathan

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

48 Hours to Change Your Life

If you take a look at the MKP website, at the calendar section, you'll see the there's at least one NWTA over 40 weekends in 2006. Between the 40 centers all over the world, and 40 weekends, do you think you can find 48 hours to change your life?

Too busy? Too afraid? Too new-age for you? Too much money?

Blah blah blah, I haven't heard an excuse yet that has held up after a man went through an NWTA.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

2.15.2005

Drum Is Still Beating For Men's Movement

By Robert L. Kaiser
Chicago Tribune Staff Writer
November 14, 1999

This afternoon he was Executive Vice President for Human Resources.

Tonight he is Great Horned Owl.

The transformation of Mark Shircel, which occurs without even loosening his yellow necktie, takes place just after nightfall on a shadowy loading dock beneath the Kennedy Expressway.

Here, between an old tire and a weathered hand truck inside a men's-clothing warehouse, Shircel and two-dozen other men gather arm-locked in a circle--all wearing stickers scrawled with the names of animals.

The unlikely group, whose members range in age from 18 to 58 and sport everything from Nikes to wingtips, includes a pastor, a factory worker, a commercial airline pilot, a medical technician, a private detective, and an executive--the 42-year-old Shircel--whose joyless workday ended with laid-off employees parading through his office to be processed out of the firm.

These are the most recent Chicago-area initiates of the New Warrior Training Adventure, a 48-hour weekend retreat for the modern American man seeking to make himself "tough and loving, wild and gentle, fierce and tolerant."

"How are you different now?" group leader George Rounds asks, exhorting the men in a hushed and solemn voice.

Soaring Eagle and Majestic Giraffe and Big Sky Moose listen raptly.

In the next room, 125 people have assembled for a ceremony in honor of the men. It's a strange and mysterious rite of passage for 25 ordinary Joes carrying on the extraordinary rituals of a men's movement that seems to be gaining newfound credibility.

The movement emerged more than a decade ago with the mythopoetic musings of Robert Bly and, perhaps somewhat presumptuously, borrowed icons and rituals for its white-male middle-class displays of angst from African and Native American cultures.

Now, with the recent publication of feminist Susan Faludi's book "Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Male," and the release of this season's hit movie "Fight Club," the story of modern man's struggle for purpose in a fickle world of shifting gender roles is hot again.

"In today's society, men just don't communicate," Shircel said. "I mean we don't speak from our hearts. It's like, `How's the football game, the cars, the fishing,' that kind of crap. And it just didn't feel right to me."

The New Warriors' retreat changed all that, he said.

"On the way home, I had this unbelievable feeling that I had actually talked to a man."

Undoubtedly most Americans ceased to contemplate men's groups after their highly publicized heyday in the early 1990s, when the movement peaked amid the beating of drums and the smirking of detractors. But the show has gone on, albeit largely out of the public consciousness.
The rituals continue today, not only in the woods and hills of Middle America, but in the Evanston office building where therapists Bob Mark and Buddy Portugal, co-founders of the locally based program called Men's Room: Victories of the Heart, do their work; and in rented space in Chicago's highly visible Mural Building on North Ashland Avenue--the Bigsby & Kruthers warehouse in which graduates of the New Warriors program meet in weekly sessions that build on the weekend retreats of the New Warriors.

New Warriors--the only international program of its kind and one of the oldest and largest in the country--is operated out of 27 centers worldwide by The Mankind Project, a not-for-profit group whose primary mission is to sponsor the retreats. Its Chicago center, the program's second-oldest and its largest, has graduated 3,000 initiates since opening in 1985.
For New Warriors and other such groups that have survived since America's initial fascination with them waned, little has changed--even as an unlikely champion has taken up the cause and pop culture has indoctrinated a new generation.

"I think we're a voice in the wilderness," said Dave Lindgren, program director for Mentor's Action Network, the not-for-profit Chicago organization that sponsors the follow-up sessions for New Warriors.

Popular culture and the mass media have not always been kind to the men's movement.

"We have not set out to put ourselves at the top of the public-relations heap," said Chuck Heisinger, executive director of the Mankind Project, "because we know this is a sensitive issue."
But he added: "Our organization is at a crossroads. Are we going to be just a white, middle-class men's organization, or are we going to be all-inclusive?"

New Warriors groups comprise mostly middle-class white men with a few African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities. The retreat costs $600, but in the interest of diversity organizers sometimes reduce or waive the fee.

"In many instances, these were highly educated men who at midlife could say, `OK, I'm tired of being a manager and tired of choking my feelings back to do this job,' " said Michael Schwalbe, a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University and author of a book on the men's movement, "Unlocking the Iron Cage."

"It takes a lot of privilege to be able to do that."

The Mankind Project co-founder is Rich Tosi, an ex-Marine and former engineer with General Motors who dreamed up the whole idea years ago while sitting at a kitchen table in Wisconsin with two other men. He initially thought the notion of men's groups was crazy.
But groups such as New Warriors do invaluable work, Tosi said.

"When groups of men are together, the energy and what is done and what is talked about is very different than if men and women are together," he said.

New Warriors is the only nationwide men's group that crosses boundaries of race, class and religion, said Robert Moore, a psychoanalyst at the University of Chicago. Many of the other large men's groups, such as Promise Keepers, are Christian.

In 2000, Heisinger expects New Warriors to place renewed emphasis on community service. Although some initiates have gone on to start or become involved in volunteer outreach programs designed to help everyone from schoolchildren to prison inmates, many others have not taken the initiative.

"I don't think we've always given them the tools," Heisinger said.

Though the overall men's movement has waned since its heyday, Men's Room co-founder Portugal said his program's retreats--which also draw on certain Native-American rituals--still attract about 25 new participants each time.

"If you have a lot of middle-age men going through their lives feeling demoralized, dispirited, mildly depressed and sort of aimless, these programs are a tonic," Schwalbe said.

At Mentor's Action Network, in the Bigsby & Kruthers warehouse, New Warriors initiates can order drums painted with an image of the animal for which they have been named--Visa or MasterCard accepted. A drum 18 inches in diameter costs $250, including standard drumsticks.
Mentor's Action Network is not part of The Mankind Project, but the two groups often work hand-in-hand. The offices of Mentor's Action Network are where initiates graduate after weekend initiations and then gather on weeknights to meet in follow-up sessions with others from their retreat group.

Juan Alegria, arriving for his group session one recent Tuesday night, greeted another initiate with a bear hug.

"My friend, Wolf with Open Eyes," said the 39-year-old Alegria--a.k.a. Loving Hawk--as he embraced Dale Nowicki, 45.

Nowicki beamed.

"Absolutely," he said.

Alegria, a native of Nicaragua who works for a social-service agency specializing in youth guidance, went through an initiation weekend in January 1995. He served as a staff member on Nowicki's retreat, where the two met.

Nowicki, of Riverside--a credit manager who went through initiation in January 1998--got his nickname, Wolf with Open Eyes, this way:

"I was born cross-eyed. I was in my early 30s before I would even look anybody in the eyes," he said.

Now, his gaze flinty and unwavering, he points out: "I always look everybody in the eye when I talk."

Once all the men arrived, they walked outside in the shadows under the highway and beat drums and waved smoking sage sticks at each other as motorists roared past overhead. There was Winking Hyena. And Screaming Lion. And Fearless Tiger.

The men straggled back inside and shut themselves in sparsely furnished rooms with names like Coyote Den and Bear Cave to talk and shout, chant and bellow, grunt and laugh--until it was time to go home to their wives and families. Or, in the case of 41-year-old Paul Conover, a sales consultant from Chicago who found out about New Warriors from a corporate head hunter, to a bar with a fellow New Warrior to watch the World Series over a beer.

"I like the safety," Conover said. "There's a place to go where I can express my feelings and thoughts --a safe container."

"Safe container" is a catch phrase for these men, who sometimes seem to speak a language all their own. Theirs is an exclusive club. Initiates are sworn to secrecy, are loath to allow interlopers into their midst.

Each has signed an agreement. They are forbidden from talking about what happened to them that weekend in the woods.

"It's nothing that's bad or evil. It's not a cult," Nowicki said. But he hasn't even told his wife about the retreat. "So for us, it's kind of put a little bit of a wedge between us."
"A lot of these guys may feel like they're sort of ordinary characters in their everyday lives," Schwalbe said. "Now they're part of something so powerful and important that it's not to be shared indiscriminately with others."

New Warriors is promoted and marketed almost exclusively by word of mouth.

"It's not something that can be marketed very well, with men showing up not understanding what's going on," Tosi said. "You have to have a friend say, `Just do it, trust me.' "
Shircel, who lives in suburban Barrington, decided over a half-eaten plate of pancakes one morning to go on one of the retreats. It was at breakfast that his friend Joel Mazzenga finally talked Shircel into it.

The weekend, which begins with each man being stripped of his name and given a number, is one of submitting to the unknown, of support and confrontation, of enduring rituals such as the ancient, Native-American sweat lodge: a small enclosure with hot, steam-producing rocks in the middle. Worldwide, 15,000 men have been through this.

On a recent cold autumn night at Mentor's Action Network the men who went on the latest retreat waited on the loading dock to step through a narrow doorway and be cheered like the home team.

"You're the wild men," group leader Rounds tells them.

In the next room, where the graduation ceremony would take place, someone was beating a drum. The wives and girlfriends were there that night. One wore a name tag scrawled with the words "Mrs. Golden Bear."

Another, Barb Soltysiak, smiled as she waited for her husband, 56-year-old Larry, a private detective known as Gray Wolf.

On the loading dock, Shircel stood quietly, the hint of a smile on his face. A thoughtful man with a master's degree in counseling, Shircel had been apprehensive as he drove up to Lake Geneva for the retreat.

When it was all over, he sat in his car for five minutes before starting the 45-minute drive home, his breath fuming white in front of his face, his hands shaking.

"I just couldn't believe what I'd just experienced," he said.

Now, four days after being rendered speechless, he must find the words to tell all those people out there what the weekend meant for him.

"It's time," someone said.

The men stepped through the narrow doorway and the crowd went wild.

"Ho!" Majestic Giraffe, a 41-year-old pilot for United Airlines, said to those in attendance.
He pounded the floor with the talking stick, a Native-American tool that would be passed to each man before he spoke.

"Ho!" the crowd bellowed.

"I'm Ed Fernandez," Majestic Giraffe said. "I was financially secure, but my life didn't work for me. I rode the train and walked around the city but I was lonely inside.

"Now I look forward to the rest of my life."

The crowd exploded happily:

"Ho!"

Soon Shircel took the floor.

"My name is Mark Shircel--Owl," he said.

Mary, Shircel's wife of 14 years, smiled. Their son, 4-year-old Carl, abandoned a toy airplane and waved at his father from the crowd.

"I'm up here a lot, not down here," Shircel said, first pointing to his head, then to his heart.
"This weekend allowed me to reach down into my heart."

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

2.14.2005

Valentine's Day and NWTA

Want to give your partner something to smile about, something unique, something your partner will never forget? Give your partner the real you.

Do the New Warrior Training Adventure weekend; get real with you. You will love it. Your partner will, too.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

2.11.2005

Beyond Your Inner Child: Meet Your Inner Warrior

All Men are Invited to Investigate Worldwide Organization, 30,000 Strong

Miami, FL--(HISPANIC PR WIRE)--January 19, 2005--The Florida New Warrior Community of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit men's organization, will hold an Open Circle from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at the UU Congregation, at 7701 SW 76th Ave. The free event includes a discussion of men's issues and introduces the New Warrior Training Adventure, a weekend retreat for men offered regularly across the U.S. and in other countries. Florida's first-ever New Warrior Training Adventure will be held March 4-6 in Homestead. The MKP is a supportive network that encourages leadership, staying power, self-knowledge, comradeship, integrity, connection to feeling, and strong ties to family and community. All men are invited.

Devised in 1984 in Milwaukee by three men with backgrounds in educational psychology, engineering, and therapy, the NWTA Weekend is a modern educational training modeled on the initiation rites that traditional societies use to mark the transition from boyhood to manhood. Nearly 30,000 men have experienced the NWTA. Almost every weekend brings another training somewhere in the world, led by a small team of highly experienced men and a volunteer staff of local men. There are 35 ManKind Project centers in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

NWTA graduates who want to continue the personal work that they began on the Weekend are invited to join small Integration Groups, weekly or biweekly self-run laboratories for developing leadership skills and teamwork; some "I-Groups" have lasted for ten or twelve years or longer. Many MKP members have gone beyond their personal work with service projects in their communities. Some of these service projects, the ones in prisons, for example are very dramatic; projects that focus on youth groups or soup kitchens tend to be quieter, but no less significant.
An affiliated organization, Woman Within, offers weekend trainings for women.
The MKP's New Warrior Training Adventure gets strong responses from participants. Will Walters, a columnist for the Fort Collins Coloradoan, wrote that he "showed up. . . with my [Ph.D. in calm skepticism] in one hand and my 'bull' meter on red alert in the other. . . . I came away more in touch with my heart, the wild man in me, [and] my desire to live in integrity with who I am and what I'm doing with my life."

On the other side of the world, Tetile, an ethnic Xhosa veteran of a 2002 South African NWTA, said: Many men are walking around with empty spaces, they want to fill it up with things they don't even know. Then you get to the course [the NWTA], and you are walking around with a dragon in your body, and that scares you. So you need to pull out that dragon, then you find yourself and you have a new vision for the whole world.

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

2.09.2005

The Men's Movement Turns Twenty from Shepherd Express Metro

The Men's Movement Turns Twenty

So have men really changed?

By Brian Marks, from Shepherd Express Metro: Cover Story: (sorry, this link has broken)

Why would grown men go into the woods, pound drums and perform chants in the name of self-discovery?

"I had just broken up with a woman I was living with and felt I needed a jolt," said Steve, who declined to be fully identified. Steve wanted to re-evaluate his goals and felt a men's group could help him discover and articulate his mission in life by whoing him "how to be more of a mature and healthy man."

These self-discovering rituals, often termed the 'men's movement,' received a fair amount of press when it emerged here in Milwaukee in 1985. Many critics were baffled as to why men, who had dominated and oppressed women for millenniums, would need a movement. In fact, hundreds of men's groups have formed since the '60s, focused on everything from father's rights to even women's rights. The mythopoetic men's movement founded here, later called the ManKind Project, MKP, has a more introspective focus. It has since become one of the bigger and more influential men's groups.

Steve, who has participated in the men's movement for eight years, said the experience helped him become more accountable for what he does and says he will do.

Having taken a "pass in spirituality" prior to his MKP participation, Steve said the training proved to be a "spiritual kick in the head" that continues to play out in his life.

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

MKP: Religious or Cult?

From the MKP Web site

Is this a religious group?

There are spiritual elements to the New Warrior Training Adventure, as men are challenged to look into the deeper parts of themselves. But the Mankind Project isn't affiliated with any church or sect, nor do we have any political association. Part of the mission of MKP is to create circles in which all men are welcome and supported, regardless of political or religious beliefs.

Is this a cult?

The nature of a cult is to ask its members to give up their own lives and devote themselves to a single leader or doctrine. The Mankind Project takes the opposite approach, challenging each man to define the life that works best for him, and to live that life fully with the support of a growing network of other men.

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In my iGroup, we have men of all different backgrounds, religions/spiritualities, cultures, sexual orientations, etc. That is part of the blessing of my group. I get to see the world in so many ways every Monday night.

I am consistently challenged to see the world through the perspective of my brothers in my group. What I get is a perspective that is only offered by sitting in this type of men's circle.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

New Warrior from the Sentient Times

The New Warrior Training Adventure is an male-initiation process. Simple and complex.

Male-initiation has taken place for thousands of years...up until the last 100 years. In the scheme of things, when looked at in the timeline of our species, the last hundred years has seen vast intellectual growth and the leaving behind of many of the tribal traditions. Any wonder than that male-initiation has been virtually left behind, as well?

The last hundred years is a speck of time on our species time line. Yet, we have changed so much. Is it possible that there are many things we still need from our past? Is it possible that it is still embedded in our genes to need the older men to carry us into manhood? Is it possible that deep down, in our mushy, slimy guts, we feel the need to be initiated?

ManKind Project, the men of MKP, offer men the chance to step into this space.

This article talks to male-initiation, the NWTA, and some of the founders of MKP.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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From Sentient Times Aug/Sept 2003

New Warriors
By John Darling

Back before urban civilization and organized religion, boys were initiated at puberty. Initiations provided a sense of mission for their lives, of belonging to the tribe, of reverence for women, of connectedness with earth, nature and the cycle of days, seasons and lives, of their coming role as fathers, and their place in the web of spirits and deities.

The older men led them in this and it was usually out away from the village and their mothers and younger children. It was secret, so they didn’t know what they were in for. It was terrifying, so they would shake lose from their accustomed ego roles and go through a death-rebirth, but, since it was secret, they wouldn’t have any idea what they were being reborn into. But they could see by looking at older boys that the rites of passage had made them different. The older boys knew something.

It was a ritual experience filled with pain, darkness, drums, chanting, masks, suffering, fear. It was an intentional and permanent severing of the ties with mother and her world. It was childhood’s end and the creation of a new being, one bonded to other men. It was intended to shape men who could handle the job of being warriors. Men who would ensure the survival of the tribe by understanding their place and the tribe’s place in the cycles and balance of nature—hunting, territory, birth, mating, death, storytelling, ritual and the tribe’s relationship with powerful and unseen powers.

We don’t have that now. It’s almost gone from even the most remote tribal systems. While many bemoan the loss of immersion in tribe, nature and spirit, it’s hard not to think our progression into mind, ego, urban life and individual isolation was not inevitable—if not intended. And it often seems we can never live that deep connection so many of us long for.

But thousands of men are experiencing that deep connection—not living in tribes, but beginning to find other men and enacting that same initiation. They’re called the New Warriors and they’ve been doing it for almost 20 years in North America, Europe and South Africa. What goes on is secret but it’s founder, Bill Kauth, now of Ashland, says, “You come Friday night and go down into some intense games that bond you with other men. On Saturday, you work on your life’s mission and we create a situation for each man to go deep into his heart. We use ceremony and ritual. On Sunday, we prepare men to take what they’ve learned back into the world.”

I’ve been asked several times what was the most important thing I learned. Well, the games were intense all right. And the “situation” indeed took me deep into my heart. But what shifted everything was looking straight into the eyes of 60 men and seeing who they really were. A lot of pain there, in every face. I’ve seen it—but never really seen it. It’s called the Shadow, a Jungian term meaning everything we, most of our lives, don’t want to see and spend a lot of energy stuffing, managing, hiding and being run by. But these men have learned to bring it out of the dark, learn its secrets, love it and integrate it into their lives.

The Shadow is what Iron John is all about. In myth, he’s a large, slimy, shaggy, smelly humanoid living in a swamp near the king’s castle. He is captured and caged by the king because he makes people disappear in his swamp. When the prince, a young boy, lets his gold ball roll into the cage, Iron John keeps it. He’ll give it back if the prince gets the key to the cage and sets him free. Where’s the key? Iron John answers: under your mother’s pillow.

In this myth, the centerpiece of Robert Bly’s bestselling book Iron John, we have all the elements of the mystery around what happened to men’s power, fire, energy, intelligence, passion, during 5,000 years of civilization. Iron John, though obtuse in the refinements of urban or courtly life, somehow possesses the golden ball—emblematic of the missing spirit, self-reliance and wholeness of a prince coming into manhood. To possess it, the prince must embrace the shadow and free savagery itself—though this wild energy may bring harm to the order valued by the King and Queen. What stands in the way? Mom. To be whole and have his power, the prince must betray her, seek to his own instinct and basically cut the cord with mom. He does. And he rides off into the wide world on the shoulders of Iron John.

That’s what was on the faces of those men: Iron John, reclaimed. The shadow brought to the light and worn, like a cloak won in battle. The making of men distinct and apart from their mothers and from that energy embodied in their wives or lovers. What initiated men grow out of is the old patriarchal mask of strength and domination behind which we live out (and hide from) an unhealthy relationship of fear, dependence and mother-fixation toward women, said Dennis Mead-Shikaly, an Ashland personal coach, New Warrior facilitator and executive director of New Warriors in the mid-1990s. “Men coming out of the training tend to be strongly committed to healthier, more honest relationships with their partners. It can shake a woman up but most say they love the men we send home to them.”

When Bly began lecturing and writing articles in the early 1980s—and especially when his book and PBS show with Bill Moyers came out around 1990—men responded with a huge hunger for initiation and for knowing other men without the long-conditioned competitiveness, distancing and armor. Huge numbers still are hungering—like every man in the van ride to the training—coping with the end of marriages and long relationships. They couldn’t explain it. But it begged the question: why are we all here together, seeking initiation into the camaraderie of men right after … well … after not finding it with women? Our American mythos says the family will give us all we need. But what happens after the first divorce and millions of shattered men can’t see their kids half or all of the time … and are mostly clueless why the pairbond dream didn’t work out. Something’s missing. Is it the key that frees the wildman? It’s under the female’s pillow. Who put it there? One immediately thinks mom did. What if we put it there? What if she doesn’t even want it? But it hardly matters. There can be only one concern—to get the key. And that’s a big part of initiation.
And what is initiation? It’s taking males from the psychology of the boy to that of the man, says Carl Griesser of Ashland, executive director of the ManKind Project, the umbrella corporation for New Warriors. In our culture, we pretty much leave that to just happen—with rituals of driving, drinking, drugs, sex, leaving home and getting your apartment, sometimes going into the military to seek the direction of older warriors of a different sort. But it doesn’t just happen, Griesser said. You have to become spiritually conscious and only older, conscious men can teach that.

The primal urge for initiation is largely lost in the culture but lives on in instinct, says Mead-Shikaly. It’s absence, across the planet accounts for much of how life is out of balance. Men are out of touch with themselves. What the Warriors are working to bring back is that ancient practice of being accountable, responsible, emotionally awake and able to relate to women in good ways, he said. Spiritually conscious, he adds, means learning again to be part of the fabric of life and knowing that what we do impacts everything else, all people, all life in that fabric and not thinking we are above or exempt from it.
At the training, men are confronted with the question: who do you serve? We don’t get asked that very often. We are conditioned to believe we serve ourselves, our bank account, mortgage, our career track, our ego images, and, when we make family, our partners and children and their agendas. Men quiver at the question, said Mead-Shikaly. “It confronts their denial and takes them out of that get-what-you-can mindset. Their mission can shift to service.”

This opens the door for men to create a deeper mission that includes all life and the fate of the planet, creating what Kauth calls “social capital”—the trust, vision and mutual relationships that are the “glue of society.”
Warriors often say their best work happens in the ten-week Integration Groups that follow the training and usually go on for years. I was judging and terrified and told the facilitators I couldn’t think of any six guys I’d less rather be with—a comment we would laugh heartily about later, as it became clear how much of what we see in others, especially in intimate relationships, is projection. We externalize our Shadow on that person doing that thing that we most don’t want to look at in ourselves. But in doing the work, one always ends up looking in the mirror at that scared little boy trying to hide out from the deeper work. Finally, I laughed, “It’s all projection, isn’t it?” Yes, the facilitator said, a huge part. But that’s how we bring out the Shadow, own it, love it and integrate it.

Griesser nails is succinctly: “Most men are terrified of other men.” Hence all the man-chat about sports, politics, cars, hunting, fishing, etc. We’re bred to compete, says Mead-Shikaly, and it’s become almost instinctive. It’s painfully isolating. “We hide our weaknesses and that keeps us lonely, separate and afraid. From that place we get sick and do sick things, like trying to dominate women and the planet.” Kauth adds “War is obsolete and men now must battle what’s inside, not outside.”

We live in chaotic, often painful times, personally and globally, and a lot of this is coming from a death-rebirth in the way we do relationships. Men are realizing that they can’t get from women everything they need and want in life—and that this in fact is part of the shadow of patriarchy that men themselves created over many millennia. In isolating women in rigid roles with home, marriage and motherhood, men isolated themselves, too. And, although love-marriage-children-home are huge steps in life, they are not men’s initiation. A woman can’t initiate a man—only men can. Men who’ve been there.

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I'm out.

Old-faithful Wolf

2.08.2005

NWTA Article in the Fort Collins Coloradoan

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan

Program restores healthy masculinity

By Will Walters

In my last column (April 24), I said we needed to strive more to just be human, own our mistakes and be who we are.

Little did I know that the next day I would have such a remarkable opportunity to confront my own advice.

That day I embarked on a two-day journey into self-examination with 25 other men that would in some ways change my life.

Dubbed "New Warrior Training Adventure" and conducted in the mountains near Buena Vista by the ManKind Project of Colorado, the weekend involved a process of discovery and initiation, shedding and bonding.

The 26 participants ranged in age from 20s to 60s and came from all walks of life.
Protestants, Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, atheists -- I think about the only thing we all had in common was a desire for self-improvement.

For me, that meant many things, but more than anything it meant finding greater self-awareness and integrity with myself.

Over the course of growing up, I somehow managed to separate my conscious mind from many of my emotions without ever realizing it.

By stuffing the unacceptable parts of myself (for instance, feeling and being able to effectively express anger toward loved ones who I was afraid might in turn withhold love and acceptance from me) into the subconscious realm, I was able to avoid conscious anxiety and pain.
But all that hiding from my shadows managed to do was send all that anxiety and pain into my subconscious instead.

It was still there, just inaccessible to me, and felt nonetheless by those around me. In the process, I cut myself off from all that I am -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- and in so doing avoided taking responsibility for myself.

It's a tragedy that so many men in our culture seem to fall into that trap.
The trap takes many forms and guises. For me, like many men, hiding from traumas and injuries became hiding behind them -- a passive but poisonous escape from being accountable for myself.

Over the years, these things had been catching up with me in my relationships, in my work and ultimately in my own sense of well-being.

So a little over a year ago, as parts of my life were becoming more and more disintegrated, I began a process of growth and self-discovery with the help of a seasoned counselor.
Ultimately, he encouraged me to attend the New Warrior Training, the "hero's journey" of classical literature and myth adapted to our modern culture.

About two weeks before the training, I ran into a man at a social gathering who had attended the training, so I asked him to tell me about it.

He looked me in the eye and said only one thing: "It will change your life."

Then he turned to my date and said, "it will change yours, too."

For someone with a Ph.D. in calm skepticism, I have to admit, that didn't sit very well.

So I showed up at the training with my diploma in one hand and my "bull" meter on red alert in the other.

Details aside, suffice to say my skepticism was met by a process whose central tenet is to foster integrity and accountability among men.

I came away more in touch with my heart, the wild man in me, my desire to live in integrity with who I am and what I'm doing with my life.

If you are, or know, a man with a shadow or two and the courage to step into them, check out the Mankind Project.

It might just change your life.

For more information, see Colorado MKP.

Originally published Thursday, May 8, 2003

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

"Dr. Gruder's Find:" The ManKind Project

"A 'Dr. Gruder's Find:' The ManKind Project
Last Updated: October 12, 2004
© 2004 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: Duplicated with permission by the author

The ManKind Project (MKP) is an international non-profit organization of men mentoring men into mature manhood. MKP does this better than another other organization I know of. They help men identify and fulfill their life mission, live life with integrity and authenticity, deepen their capacity for durable healthy relationships, and become more effective as a man of service in the world. MKP does all this through helping men face their shadow, clean up their baggage and become exquisitely accountable for the effects of their actions.

This remarkable experience begins with an extraordinary weekend called the New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA). This powerful , gorgeously constructed, experiential initiatory weekend is then followed by attending ongoing men's groups where the work begun during the weekend continues. Because MKP is a non-profit organization of men mentoring men, there is no fee for attending the ongoing groups that follow the NWTA weekend. The only fee involved is for attending the weekend and the subsequent training program that prepares men to effectively utilize MKP's ongoing men's groups. I can tell you first hand that these costs are more than well worth the money...even if you choose not to attend an ongoing group following the weekend!

I have consistently seen men accomplish more during the NWTA weekends than they would have been likely to accomplish in 6 months of therapy. And if they are currently in therapy, or want to be, the weekend is likely to get them more focused and clear about what they want to accomplish in their therapy than they would ever have been without it. The same positive impact occurs with men attending the weekend who are involved with a twelve step program.

NWTA weekends are held throughout the world. The Los Angeles and San Diego MKP communities provide these initiatory weekend approximately every two months. Men can attend the weekends in any location they wish. If there is an MKP community near where they live, they can then do the training in their own community that will prepare them for joining an ongoing MKP men's group there.

The MKP International website is http://www.mkp.org/. From there you can access all the MKP communities around the world. If you're in the Los Angeles area, you can also directly access their NWTA weekend workshop schedule via http://www.mkpla.org/. You can directly access the San Diego community's NWTA weekend workshop schedule via http://www.mkpsd.org/.

If you decide to attend an NWTA, and would like me to consider being part of the staff for your weekend, let me know, as this is part of the service work I do. (Because MKP is a service organization that is in integrity with its mission, staff are not only not paid, but they actually pay a modest fee to be on staff in order to cover the cost of being there for the weekend).
I am certain that the more men who are exposed to this remarkable resource, the better our world will become. As MKP puts it, they're out to change the world for the better, one man at a time.

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

2.07.2005

More on NWTA

WHAT IS THE NEW WARRIOR TRAINING ADVENTURE (NWTA)?

The NWTA is a weekend process of initiation and self-examination that is designed to catalyze the development of a healthy and mature masculine self. It is the "Hero's Journey" of classical literature and myth adapted to our modern culture. It is a profound inward journey of self confrontation: facing the deep fears and the old wounds that keep our lives from working the way we want. And, it is a gateway into a fellowship of men informed by rigorous honesty and a level of trust that most men never know. Whether a man is on a life upswing, or down the trenches of his existence, the NWTA will help him take a good, hard look at his life-to see what's working, and what isn't. The man will get a clear sense of what it is he needs to "work" on in order to effectively change his life and become more potent and generative in his family, work and community.

WHY IS THE TERM 'INITIATION' USED?

In traditional cultures, at a certain time, young men were taken away from their mother's sphere of influence and put through an ordeal that taught them experientially about themselves and the world of men. The initiation challenged the boy to 'put away childish things' and access the more mature aspects of his masculine self. Because our modern culture lacks an informed tradition of male initiation and because many of us did not have close relationships with our fathers, our initiation into healthy masculinity has been hit or miss. Psychologically, un-initiated males are 'puers' (the latin term for boy) and remain stuck in immature ways of relating. Under stress, this weakness at our core may manifest in different, even opposite ways; from depression and lack of focus to tantrums and violence. Either way, it drastically affects our relationships with women and our trust of other men. The training weekend is designed to shed light on the 'un-initiated' parts of ourselves and to begin the process of strengthening and maturing where necessary.

AN ORDER OF MEN?

The ManKind Project is not a front for any hidden spiritual, economic or political organization or agenda. There is no 'guru'...the network is structured and administered democratically. There is global intention and local attention. Along with many other men's organizations, our aim is a worldwide shift in how masculinity is defined and experienced by men, regardless of race, religion, culture or economics. But this is only accomplished if we enrich and support the lives of our local 'brothers' day to day. While The ManKind Project is by no means exclusionary, the intense weekend experience of the New Warrior Training Adventure creates a common bond that becomes a foundation for true community. This bond is strengthened through ongoing interaction in weekly support groups, advanced trainings and other chosen projects.

WILL THIS TRAINING HELP ME IN MY WORK/CAREER?

While not a management training weekend, it does address vital issues that have implications in the workplace. Effectiveness at work is directly proportional to our ability to access our full potential. The training is also designed to assist you in bringing your entire life, including your worklife, into focus giving you a clearer sense of your personal mission. You will also learn basic conflict resolution skills that will enhance your ability to deal with interpersonal issues at work.

HOW MIGHT IT AFFECT MY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS?

Intimate relationships are fertile fields for projections of all types. It is with our loved ones, more than our friends and associates, that we all too often find ourselves caught in a complicated web of irritating irrationality. Often, at the root of our emotional patterns with our lover are wounds from the past that remain unhealed. During the NWTA weekend you will begin to address some of your emotional baggage and lighten both your load and the load you ask your loved ones to carry for you.

HOW MIGHT IT AFFECT MY ATTITUDE TOWARD OTHER MEN?

As a rule in our culture, men do not treat other men with integrity. Racial, class and ethnic prejudice abound. Even among our friends, neighbors and business acquaintances, just below the surface politeness that lubricates our competitive and hierarchical milieu is often a well disguised wall of indifference, distrust and/or outright antipathy. The NWTA weekend and the ongoing integration groups that follow are specifically focused on ways to overcome the dysfunctionality of man to man communication and interaction in our daily lives. The result is the discovery of new levels of support and camaraderie that continually strengthen over time.

WHY AREN'T THE DETAILS OF THE WEEKEND DIVULGED IN ADVANCE?

There's all the difference in the world between a concept and an experience. Our commitment is to give you a transformational experience along with information you can use. We use the element of surprise to intensify and deepen the processes on the weekend and we ask you to trust us in this regard. All activities during the weekend are optional but you will get the most benefit if you participate fully. In the final analysis, you run your own training through the responses and decisions you make along your journey. The staff serve as your guides and mentors, but you choose your own level of commitment, and you decide how far you will explore the inner terrain of your life, to discover the treasures, and obstacles buried within your self. Remember, the training is mostly staffed by volunteers who have gone through the same experience and found it very worthwhile.

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

What is the NWTA all about?

We are about celebrating masculinity, we are about teaching integrity and accountability.

We are about laughter and tears.

We are about the pleasures of sonhood, fatherhood, brotherhood, and even cousinhood.

We are certainly about friendship.

We dare you and challenge you and bless you to come into our space and play with us.

We are about the joy of being a man.

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I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf