This piece used to appear on the Louisville ManKind Project Center's Web site. Since it no longer appears there, I thought it should be on the Internet somewhere; no better place than here.
What Was Your Rite of Passage?
Composed by Ed Cash and appended by Ernie Perry (Elders - MKP Louisville Center)
Men, if you can complete the following statements in one minute or less, then you needn't read any further.
(1) The event in my life that was my "rite-of-passage" into manhood was...
(2) As a man among men I...
(3) My life's mission is...
Men who have completed the New Warrior Training Adventure weekend for men have their answers on the tips of their tongues.
It's been said that it takes a woman to nurture an infant into his boyhood .... but it takes men to guide that boy into his manhood. Most tribal cultures have known this for centuries. The "rites-of-passage" that their boys experience, have been deemed necessary and are supported by the entire tribe. The boy completes a process, is honored by Elders, and returns to the community to take his rightful place.
We seem to have lost the knowledge that boys just don't automatically become men. It doesn't happen by itself, like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Human males are hard-wired to need the guidance, mentorship, and honoring by healthy older men ... in order to become the man their individual natures intend for them to be. When a boy doesn't get enough of these (or none at all), he is fated to wander in his boyhood for a very long time ... until he recognizes what's been absent, and takes action. This action can be taken anytime, at any age.
Many of us, placed a part of our manhood into a protective "lock box" long ago. The boys we were, may have had to do this to survive. As we become older and stronger, at some point it serves us well to find the "lock box", risk knowing what all is in there, and "reinstalling" the pieces. This can be a liberating, powerful journey.
Understand that the "manhood" being talked here is NOT about adolescent "macho" ... it's about whatever healthy manhood is authentic for you.
You might be one who would benefit from a "rite-of-passage" if a few of these fit you ....
1) your father was a passive man or not really there for you
2) you didn't connect with other boys whose friendship you wanted
3) your mother was strong and ran things
4) you feel distanced from strong men
5) you fear the power of your anger
6) most of your friends are women
7) your male friends won't talk about feelings
8) you see men that you admire, and believe they have something you don't
There are ways to get the guidance, mentorship, and honoring that you didn't get, in a safe way that works ... that honors and blesses a man for who he is.
One way that's available, is the New Warrior Training Adventure weekend for men. The New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) is a weekend Initiatory experience for men ... and a "rite-of-passage" Initiation is one of the main reasons that men enroll into the NWTA. Many men enroll to learn how to have meaningful relationships with men. Still other men may be battling addictions or other difficult situations and need a supportive male environment ... and some men enroll seeking to restore a sense of adventure and aliveness into their lives. The Staff is well-trained, contains men of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities; and each Staff man has completed the NWTA. Most Staff men are there as volunteers, giving back to the organization that made a difference in their lives. They offer their experience in support of your journey.
Every man who completes the NWTA weekend remembers what he did on that particular weekend of that particular year...for the rest of his life.