What’s it mean to be a man today?
A long discussion. An innocent request.
The result? The Tribe of Men
March, 2004: 25 men are seated in a circle on the floor of a home near San Rafael, California. It is day 3 in the 4-day workshop, The Sword and Scepter. The subject is “Men’s Power,” and how we can wield it constructively.
The men are discussing the changing demands of today’s society: increased expectations for our behavior; families becoming more transient and mobile; fathers no longer teaching their sons by taking them into their fields or into their professions; the erosion of communities; the lack of positive mature role models for men. You may have been involved in similar conversations.
One of the men describes how indigenous tribal societies turned boys into men through an initiation process – not by their fathers, but by their uncles, or other men in the tribe. Each boy was expected to prove that he was worthy of becoming a warrior, and protecting the tribe. The boys were subjected to tests of their physical stamina and prowess, which often involved the ability to withstand pain. Each young man had to prove that he was ready to become a true man in the eyes of his entire tribe.
The innocent request
The world has obviously changed since then. We no longer live in tribes and have such initiation rites. We discussed what a new form of initiation might look like. Suddenly, one man stood up and said, “I’ve never had that. I want that! I want to be initiated into full manhood.”
The room was quiet for a few moments. Finally, one of the facilitators said, “Let us get back to you on that.”
A Tribe is Born
The man with the request was 40 years old. He was married, had children, and worked in a corporation. To look at him physically and to hear him speak, anyone would acknowledge that he was a man, but he did not feel that he had been initiated into manhood.
After the workshop, several men got together to honor his request and figure out what could be done. What would a modern initiation process look like? What would we be initiated into? The idea grew from this seed to a thing of power and beauty. They decided that if this tribe existed, they would want to be part of it! They devised the Tribe, and how it would be structured. They divined a powerful initiation process, and then entered into it themselves, testing the theory in practice. It worked, and it created a profound shift in each man.
What’s Evolved: The Tribe of Men
We’re still writing our story. We’re seeking men to join us on this quest. Come and help us write the next chapter.