To Be In or Not To Be In So I'm an initiated man. It's been ten days since the ManKind Project UK & Ireland's Adventure weekend (once known as the New Warrior Training Adventure) and a week since the homecoming party.
For me, the weekend was an intense release of some extremely destructive energy I'd held since childhood.
Energy that had prevented me from becoming a man, holding me in a Peter Pan-like place, alternating between a toddler and a raging teenager.
And despite an incredible journey through life prior to the Adventure, a journey that encompassed extremes of near death, insight, intellectual enlightenment, profound love, and loss, my life always seemed like a lie, a long dark night of the soul.
I expect everyone is different; perhaps for some the Adventure is a beginning, for others a point on life’s journey, albeit I suspect a big one. For me it was an ending, a final end to something that had held me in its power for most of my life.
For all of my adult life I'd sensed a lack of access to my manhood - or at least what felt like my manhood: a way of acting in the world as a mature character.
No matter what I did I always felt like the showy teenager, the eager young dog keen to please, wanting acceptance that was never to be found.
Until the ManKind Project Adventure weekend. There I found it.
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And it was nothing like I'd have expected. But what is initiation anyway? An opening of a door into an unknown realm only I could step through, perhaps. But no one could show me; no one could take me there. It was my journey, and mine alone.
In one way, the process itself is simple: give a structure and a story to the deep forces of the psyche, and they can manifest and heal themselves in the ways only they know how.
Modern terms like the Unconscious, the Ego, the Id, don't really cut it. For me, this was and is primordial. It's beyond words and reason, primeval in a hardwired, timeless way.
This is how a boy is transformed into a man. It is alchemy at the purest and most real level. A spiritual transformation of the highest order.
To use a modern allegory: it was like I'd had a light sabre since I was young, a magic box transforming all my emotions and experiences, both bad and good, into a brilliant and powerful light. But the lens at the end of the device was blocked from an early age. And so a pressure built up, an infinite amount of pressure. Not knowing the source of this pressure caused confusion and stress….. until some kind men showed me the blockage, showed me that somehow a load of crap had gotten dumped over the lens, that there was a shadow blocking my light.
And when this shadow was recognised and cleared away, the light sabre came alive.
Now its light could be put to good use, warding off the shadow and manifesting the vision for this being (me) with the power of infinite light, infinite love.
Oh, sure, it's gonna take a little practice to get the parry and thrust up to scratch. Maybe mastering it will take the rest of this lifetime. But at least the damn thing is working now and the interminable pressure is gone.
A New Warrior is born.
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I found the celebration to be an affirmation by my family and others who attended. And also by me, confirming my acceptance into the world as this new story unfolds, as this new warrior archetype develops.
Now I had a place in the world, an ancient place, a place held by my ancestors, going back to time immemorial. I can see how valuable this is to those men, both young and old, who just cannot find their place in this world, yet who keep banging on all the doors, never finding what they truly seek, instead finding misadventure, hurt and pain.
Yeah, I like this new story! I hope it continues to grow and spread and does not get lost again in the quagmire of humanity's shadow. I think we can all see the consequences of that playing out around the world right now.
How symbolic that Nelson Mandela should pass the day after the celebration for Newly Initiated Men.
What his passing signified to me was almost an offer, a request, not just to me alone but to all men and women, the question being: "Can I step up and be like him? Can I rise above the pettiness of the world and lead a life from my true heart? Can I endure hardship and not felt hard done by? Can I rise in the face of inequity and injustice and do the right thing?"
Perhaps, by seeing the shadow in my own heart I can seek to remedy my ways, to eradicate evil and be a servant to love. While Nelson may be gone, the world sorely needs a billion or two like him, so I'm in! Anyone care to join me?
"Sid" - Initiated Dec 2013