I was in two minds about whether to do Nobleman or the MKP Warrior Weekend first – and after a conversation with Julie of Celebration Of Being, it seemed as though the universe would decide for me, because the next Nobleman weekend was full, but if a place came up I could have it. I couldn't argue with that.... And as it happens I did the warrior weekend first. I've written about that, and the PIT, already, but to summarise briefly, I never had any sort of male initiation into manhood from my father or elsewhere so my own attempts were through motorbikes, the heavy rock scene of the time, and drugs.
I was never entirely comfortable in just the company of men – I was yearning for a woman to make it better for me, to return to the womb perhaps… So in many ways the warrior weekend was my male initiation. It gave me so much to be thankful for.
And it was absolutely essential I did this integration first and learned more about my own King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.
So arrived on the Isle of Wight ferry and took the very cute olde-world train to Shanklin to be welcomed at 5 pm at the centre. I was ready but very unwilling and by the morning I'd created a suitable drama which might make a hasty retreat possible! I gave both barrels of my drama to two male support staff who were innocently watching the sunrise over the sea from the balcony….. then made my way into the first process of the day.
One hour later I returned feeling slightly foolish at how I'd let such a drama take hold of me: I wasn't leaving, I was staying.
I'm writing this three weeks later and the tears are still flowing as I recall what happened that weekend. We were introduced into sacred feminine space where all these amazing women showed us men whatever we had brought was OK, that it was safe for us to remove our armour.
I had waited my entire life for this. To be held by all these women and to be told that I was lovable and that it wasn't my fault was exactly what I needed to hear to let all my grief out.
And out it came, in great wracking waves of grief and inarticulate sounds that had until then been strangled in my throat. As these came up, the relief was beyond words – and we were barely halfway through the weekend.
I want to digress here to explain that my story was being played out during the weekend.
My story had come to me as a series of intensely charged emotional images some 18 months back. I was tied to a chair in an attic. Everything was black and white and there was a dim light shining on me from skylight. Suddenly the image changed into colour as I made my way to the door and opened it – the chair was visible with broken rope scattered around it. Looking down a narrow flight of stairs, I saw a hideous hag wearing a patterned summery dress, who raised her arms and threw some ropes over me.
I raised my hand to touch her – and she turned to ash.
I carried on down the stairs and through a door into a beautiful summer's day. To my left was a line of poplar trees which I followed down to a river where I swam and drank my fill – until suddenly I was watching myself pull an iron bound chest from the river.
I watched myself open it, and out came a beautiful woman who held hands with me, looked over at me and said "It’s been a long time, Nige."
This was my story, and the day it came up I went for a walk, feeling connected to the land, the trees, and everything on the land – it was truly amazing.
Back to Nobleman….. I took with me an outfit, a symbol of my nobility: my bandanna from the warrior weekend, and a sparkly, feminine scarf that I'd found in the woods near the entrance to our iGroup meeting place.
As soon as I'd seen that scarf, I’d thought "I want some of that femininity in my life."
So it came to me that I’d ask the women at Nobleman to make me a crown composed of my warrior bandanna and this sparkly scarf – a noble marriage of masculine and feminine. But it's great to see the universe has a sense of humour, because things didn't turn out quite as I expected.
I left it late to make my crown request so I only ended up trying it on minutes before I wanted to wear it. My heart went out to the Artisan who crafted this crown – it was amazing! Not only had she waved my scarf and bandanna into a crown, but she'd also interweaved it with Ivy and Briony.
It looked beyond anything I'd imagined..... But unfortunately the universe had other ideas, for I had an allergic reaction to the briony and my crown – the marriage of masculine and feminine – started burning me!
I was last to work that day and it was a long and agonising wait as I watched all the other men go through their amazing processes. They called me “the patient one”, but in reality I was anything but patient.
And of course what was going on for me is now very clear: most of the time I was cringing or thinking about crying, occasionally thinking about my sovereign crown – minus the Ivy and Briony – but I felt distant from what it represented, and it ended up behind my seat.
All my life I wanted to lose myself in a woman, fall into her eyes, and melt into her to take away the pain.
This was my little boy desperately seeking out some dark devouring mother energy that could never be satiated. Boundaryless, I was helpless in the face of this energy – so here I was, going from my little boy desperately wanting to be devoured by this dark mother energy to the man I wanted to be, seeking out my feminine, but afraid it was going to take my newly found masculine away.
And then, finally, I stepped into my King and it was my time. I picked up my crown and announced myself as Nige the man, not the little boy, and did my best to describe my story.
The women devised the most incredible ritual for me – I danced with my inner Queen, and she wore the crown. And as we danced I announced to everyone that she was my inner Queen – and it dawned on me that she really was.
As we danced I looked upon with awe. She was the most exquisite creature I had ever set eyes on – and she was part of me – my inner feminine. It finished with me holding her as she gave me my crown. My crown. Our crown. I was complete, I felt complete.
Where am I with all this now? A good question! I feel this will integrate for quite a time to come, however I will try and describe what's going on for me right now.
I don't know if anyone else finds that the universe seems to send me just the right book to read at the right time. I'd started reading From The Hearts Of Men by Yevrah Ornstein – a fascinating compilation of thoughts and stories by men. And it’s a book which is facilitating the assimilation of thoughts and insights from the amazing Nobleman weekend.
Firstly, the importance of just being. Allowing myself to put aside the “musts” and “shoulds” to just be. To just write this article….
To just sit and watch the river gently meander – this mirrors a gentleness and stillness within me. I had come to believe that this place of gentleness and stillness had no place in the world – that it was too fragile for this brutal world…. And seeing the quiet country lanes of my boyhood smashed to bits to build a motorway was something this fragility could not comprehend – so I had to protect my vulnerability.
However, now in that stillness I find a great compassion for that suffering side of me. In that stillness I have a great sense that I'm OK.
The second thing I would like to mention is to do with sex.
I'd always thought that any sort of touch, hug, etc., from a woman I even vaguely fancied was a prelude to sex.
It was like there was nothing in between. Don't get me wrong – I haven’t become a saint where I'm beyond sex! Far from it.
But in Ornstein’s book there is a mention of how important it is to receive comfort and love through touch, hugs, and so on when you are young – and how this can be absent, or even stop at a certain age, because it's socially unacceptable.
And men don’t stop wanting that affection – they are instead forced to get it in a more dysfunctional manner, such as "contact sports" where it's OK to be touched in a macho way. Even expressions of affection amongst men can be shrouded in profanities.
This creates a dichotomy of extreme feelings with brutal acceptability at one end and sex at the other. The myriad shades of open-hearted affection in between are lost.
And this, says Ornstein, is what conscious women want from men – to be able to respond to that tear rolling down her cheek, to be open and vulnerable, to be with her and her feelings. To be present.
I will finish by saying that if any man has issues with women he'd like resolved, I can't recommend Nobleman more highly.
In fact, I recommend it to any man who wishes to become more openhearted. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. This and the Warrior weekend are the two most life-changing things I have done. Ever.
I would like to thank again all the women on that weekend from the very bottom of my open heart. What you did for all of us men was beyond words. And I would like to thank all my brothers on that weekend and the men who supported us for the acceptance I felt from you all.
May you magnificent Noblemen shine and shine.
If you’re interested in Nobleman see www.celebrationofbeing.co.uk