Hungry for initiation I have felt a deep, ferocious hunger for that elusive sense of maturity for years now - never having been able to shake the unpleasant feeling that I am still but a boy in the body of a man. And I knew I needed help to get past a masochistic, pervasive undercurrent in life which always made every action feel not quite right, not exactly authentic. In many ways, my life was great - and improving. Yet, my suffering was undeniable. And so I was ready. In the evening of June 4 2011, at The Comb in Northumberland, I finally embarked on my life's first Hero's journey.
It was an intense experience; over in a flash. Yet contained within those brief moments was a journey through grief into rebirth. That is more than literary symbolism - I was reborn, surrounded by initiated men, losing my masochistic beliefs on the way. It was a surreal, yet deeply impacting experience - and one I had not prepared for. All the visions of a hero's journey that I’ve entertained myself with, looked very different to mine.
As the facilitators circled us on the last day - bidding us farewell in silence - I felt my heart so strongly. Rare are the moments in life when I have felt so alive. Tears flowed down my face. I stood there an initiated man - having been through a ritual for which my entire soul had hungered for years. The look on the faces of these men - each featuring a unique mixture of love and acceptance - confirmed that I had indeed received what I longed for. Some missing part of me was starting to pour back in. I was happy.
Journey to The Comb
I run a webpage called Masculinity Movies. It emerged out of my own search for maturity and manhood and running it has brought me much learning and satisfaction. As my exploration of movies, spirituality and psychology deepened, the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover - Archetypes of the Mature Masculine showed up on my radar. The authors are Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, men of some familiarity to you, I suspect.
As my understanding of these archetypes grew, I started applying them to my movie reviews - with outstanding results. People loved what they read - and I learned so much.
The Mankind Project was mentioned with increasing frequency and eventually my reviews became featured content on both the Mankind Project's Facebook page and their journal on www.mankindprojectjournal.org It was clear that I had found an organization full of men who shared my thoughts and passions, and I felt excited by the growing possibility of global brotherhood.
I connected with MKP men such as KDC, BH and MG and my participation in the weekend was inevitable. Speaking with BH on Skype one day pretty much cemented it. There was nothing more to think about - I took a leap of faith and I don't regret it.
I was afraid when I knocked on the door and entered the darkness behind it, but boy am I happy that I did!
Back to Normal?
I returned home with a slight concern that the experience would just be a workshop high, my freedom slowly dwindling with every passing day after returning home. But I do feel different. Something has remained. In fact, some hard-to-describe feeling of being a man and not a boy has strengthened and I feel more confident overall. Most importantly, I feel freer to express myself. In fact, my voice has changed. It has opened and become deeper. Several people have commented on it.
I want to write briefly about my shadow, identified on my weekend as I create a more alienated world by being judgmental about others. The number one inner conflict in my life is my desire to connect, combined with the fear of rejection. My need to connect is tremendous. I love going to deep and rich places with people. Yet for many years, my spiritual practice was a solitary affair which served to strengthen this shadow.
Before I move to criticize it, I want to honor my many years of sitting meditation practice and my deep inroads into worlds such as Buddhism, integral theory and tantra. They served me well for many years. Yet, I remained divorced from life itself. So in my feelings of unfulfillment, I learned that I could protect myself from the fear of rejection by condemning people who I might otherwise wish to connect with as unworthy, less spiritual. Absolutely wonderful. Served me well. And I'm so fucking done with it.
The new openness that is unfolding in my life allows me to go deeper with others. The key for me is the ability to share impact combined with a deeper realization of my ability to be self-sufficient in the love department. Now, when someone impacts me in a way I like or don't like, I can simply share my experience of it. It's not a defense, and yet it's the best defense of all. Shared humanity. What a concept!
My relationships have deepened considerably this year, yet the experience of intimacy in the interpersonal spaces of my life has dropped to an even deeper and richer level since the weekend at The Comb. I feel nourished.
The path ahead
In two weeks’ time, I go to Edinburgh for my PIT. I feel inspired to facilitate at a training adventure not too long from now. To experience it from the other angle. To give it. My mission statement involves curiosity and blessing and so, the path is lit.
I have gathered four MKP men and three other good men who live in the Oslo area and our first real gathering is planned for August. I am moving in three weeks, to the first flat I could ever call truly mine, and will be happy to host them there. This is deeply significant for me, contributing to a general feeling of increased groundedness and embodiment. I feel pleased with myself. My heart opens when I write that.
I'm also feeling big openings in my quest for my true mission in the world. So many good things are happening. I feel stronger and more peaceful and I'm even sensing that a woman is going to come into my life again soon. I realize that I have held the belief that if I get to be with a woman, I somehow automatically get the better end of the deal. And having seen it, I realize how bullshit it is. I can now own how lucky the woman who gets to have me will be. We will both be lucky, gifts to each other.
Would these things have happened if I didn't do my NWTA? Hard to say. I think it probably would have eventually considering the intensity of my yearning for ever-increasing maturity and insight. But it's not important. It is what it is and I'm happy with the way I arrived here. I have worn my talisman almost every day since returning.