March 26, 2010

Rite of Passage Adventure Weekend

I am just back from a long and beautiful weekend in a remote corner of the Arizona desert. There 23 men, and 5 Journeymen (last year's initiates) put 11 adolescent males through an ancient Rite of Passage experience. As it has always been, it was a process whose core purpose is for men to intentionally launch young males on their journey to manhood. The weekend creates a clear line in the sand of a boy's life, and then, after appropriate trials and training, celebrates his crossing over that line and stepping into the world of men. These kinds of Rite of Passage experiences help a male to answer one of the powerful questions of his life, When did you become a man?

 When did you become a man?

It was a weekend full of joy, playfulness, some tears, lots of laughs, and time spent around fires with very good men. The initiates were surrounded by intense, focused, and caring men who took the business of initiation seriously. There was appropriate drama, sufficient trials for the initiates, lessons about manhood laid out and learned, commitments made, constant blessings for men and younger males, and just enough food to keep it all rolling along.

You can see just a few of the pictures at this link:  http://tinyurl.com/2010RPAWPhotos  The pictures don't begin to tell the whole story, and will look a little strange to those who weren't there, but you'll get the idea.

In the end, it was apparent to all the new Journeymen had changed. No one can say how deeply the experience penetrated or how permanent the effects would be, but everyone could see that some boyishness was left behind and new men were hatched. Men too were transformed. Hearts were softened, and as it often happens when a man has occasion to revisit his adolescence, sadness, joy, and healing occurred.

To keep this passage experience alive and working on the Journeyman, we will follow it up with monthly Men's Hut activities. These events are fun, challenging, and sometimes teach the participants (all of them) something about being a man.

The new J-Men will also get a chance each month to sit in a circle with other J-Men and adult male mentors. There they can build on the intimacy created on their passage weekend and talk about the challenges of their lives, newly formed intentions, and their unique path toward manhood.

Go to desertmenscouncil.org to learn more about The Desert Men's Council and our approach to this work.

My hope for my male readers is, at some point in your life, you get a chance to be part of a similar experience. No matter your age, being in a tribe of males does put you in your "right place" in the masculine order of things. For me as an elder, I was gifted with wonderful and cross-generational connections, a comfortable sense of membership in a male tribe, and clarity about my job description as a man. Not bad for 3 nights in a tent in the desert!

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