December 17, 2008

Appropriate Rites of Passage
for Men and Boys

Wes Carter, a friend and long time advocate of men and boy’s work, told me that a much loved elder for many men in Australia, Don Bowak, died last October. It happened just a few days before the publication of his remarkable book, Marking Life’s Stages: Appropriate Rites of Passage for Men and Boys. The book is a wonderful treatment of that subject and a fine tribute to a very good man. My copy of Don’s book has many bent pages, marking the place of ideas I want to return to in order to soak up the wisdom. Here is one example of many that I liked:

One of the things I hope the men’s movement can avoid is the creation of a new stereotype. We have moved beyond both ‘Macho’ male and ‘Sensitive New Age Guy.’ Neither of them satisfies us, nor will any single replacement. What we need to develop are masculinities which delight in their varied identities and creative energies . . . I prefer the idea of a masculine field, one that embraces a wide range of masculine tendencies . . . The creation of a new set of values for the field of masculinity will be the task of all men. No one man or any elite group can achieve such a thing. But each of us can say what is of value to us and thus make out contribution to the dialogue . . . .

Don’s thoughts on the power of rituals, using “intention and metaphor” in creating effective rituals, building the ritual community, opening and closing ritual space, and even the shadow side of ritual, make his book a solid read. If you are interested in building powerful and transformational containers for rite of passage work there are pearls in this book you won’t want to miss.

The book is not yet available in the US, but for $25 US (includes shipping), you can order your copy of this book from the Pathways Foundation in Australia by sending an email to

I honor the memory and spirit of Don Bowak. In his life and work many have been and will be considerably blessed.

1 comment:

  1. First time to encounter this blog. Thanks for bringing Don's book to our attention. Look forward to reading it.

    Commenting on the brief excerpt of Don's book......I think that along with (re)investing our masculinities with flexibility and avoiding stereotypes, I would also argue for making gender equality an assumed category for any/all male-specific ways of being in the world. Perhaps this goes without saying but given the damage done to males and females via patriarchal gender ideologies I think the path toward boys/mens fuller humanity should include a gender equality touchstone.



Your response to this blog post is appreciated and welcome.