||from Albert March 6/18/00 Father's Day.
I want to write about Nash, the teen-age young man at Oracle, and all that was generated by his presence there, for me and the other men. It's amazing how vast an experience it was. It shows how resonant all of my experiences were, and I'm sure it was like that for many of us. Some may feel that these events should remain a secret, men's thing. I myself feel that we are all family, all one, men and women, and that the need for secrets ended long ago..
When the men met together the first afternoon, Nash wasn't there. That was good, because we wanted to plan a ritual of initiation into manhood for him, and this gave permission for each of us to speak freely about what that should be. As I write this I sense the presence of the men from all cultures and times who have had this experience. I see that we are a new tribe, creating this ritual for the young men who come after us. We realized how important and valuable it was to have an actual point in time when the whole tribe knows that the boys have become men and are to be treated as equals. This would certainly clarify the situation for today's fathers and sons.
We journeyed to find out what the ancestors had to say to us. We generated a heartfelt list of elements that we later used to create the ritual. We met again the next day, and this time Nash showed up, and in doing this made a statement that he wanted to be included in the men's group. This time we journeyed on "What is a Man", as we had realized the day before that each of us needed to clarify just what is it that we feel defines Manhood. On both days, each participant defined manhood from his own life experience and belief system, which produced a wide range of answers. The completed list, which was later sent to the participants, has enough content for a whole book about defining manhood, and particularly from a shamanic point of view.
The particular element from the ritual we planned that really resonated for me was the idea of giving Nash a gift as a keepsake of the event. I decided to make a gift for him. I thought this would be the most expressive and lasting way that I could show my love and say what I wanted to say to him. I decided to make a ritual object, working completely intuitively and without planning, using things that I would find while walking around the campsite with this purpose in mind. The walk was a journey in itself, as I opened my senses to all I saw, and found that many beautiful things drew me to them. Soon I had my pockets filled with twigs, dried seed pods, a rainbow of small colorful stones, and a small cupped oval piece of metal from a discarded flashlight bearing the words "Oracle, Arizona". I went to the Crafts Hall where the shield makers were busily working to the beat of a drum. I found myself a place at a table, gathered string and glue and paints, and laid out my treasures before me. In my journeying about this, the word that came to me was "seed", a simple word, but so totally right for the idea of initiation, the planting of a seed, a beginning. The pulse of the drum took me into a place where everything was resonant with meaning. The seed pods were bright orange balls filled with tiny seeds. The twig I selected had a forked end and looked like a bird's head and beak. With the addition of painted eyes and a small feather crest, it came to life. I laced the metal cup to the middle of the twig with waxed raffia, with the "Oracle" side towards the twig, and filled the cupped side with the rainbow stones and orange seed pods glued between the raffia strips, like stained glass. I'd found a sandy little knitted elastic band for holding a pony tail, and it nested perfectly around the oval as a soft, puffy organic frame. I realized that this was the bird's stomach, third chakra, survival and will, a craw, the rocks there for grinding up the seed pods before digestion and elimination. The bird as sower of seeds in nature's circle of life. I covered the end of the twig with glue and inserted it into one of the yellow cactus fruits that decorated the tips of many of the cactus plants surrounding the camp. The little fetish was finished.
The cactus seed pod felt sandy to me, so I carefully brushed off the grains with my fingers, only to find they were actually almost microscopic spines that were painfully stuck all over my fingers and were almost impossible to remove. I was in the familiar territory of accidentally opening a Pandora's box and having to figure out how to take handle an out-of-control situation. Nothing did much good. Someone said to coat my fingers with white glue and then peel it off, but the craft supplies by then had all been packed into boxes and I couldn't find the glue, so I became stoic and just endured it. The Indians hadn't had white glue. Of course, they would have known to avoid the cactus fruit. The slight discomfort was just another intense part of the intense hyper-realituy of the whole process.
We decided to have the initiation ceremony at sunrise on the last day. We would stand in a circle around Nash's tent and wake him with our drumming, shocking him when he least expected it, awakening him into manhood. Those who chose to come showed up in the half light before the sunrise at the men's cabins on the hill above the camp. We were very quiet and solemn. It was cold and we were bundled up in warm coats, holding our drums and rattles. It was a very sacred time. We all felt it, and spoke in murmurs if at all. There were maybe fifty men there. Bob described the ritual to us. My gift was passed around the circle and blessed by each man in his own way, filling it with the love and the power of the whole group. Then we went silently in single file down the hill to a small group of tents in a clearing. Nash was still sleeping in his own tent. We very quietly formed our circle again around the tent, and at a signal we began to make a great racket with our drums, loud and fast, and shouting with great excitement and energy. Finally, after a while Nash stuck his tousled head out of the tent flap, sleepy eyed and grinning broadly with surprise and delight. Such a sweet sight. We drummed and whooped and hollered in celebration. Bob went over and symbolically led him into our circle. Finally we calmed down a little, and several people spoke words of welcome and wisdom to him and loaded him down with wonderful gifts, a big Wild Horse Charley drum, a beautiful Indian blanket, and my little fetish. There was such a powerful feeling of love for Nash, our new brother, and for each other and for what a group of men can will and create. I know that all of us will never be the same or ever forget it. I know I speak for all of us when I wish him a long, joyous and productive life, filled with love and peace. May he bring much good into the world, and may he always find the perfect helper and guide when in need. May he find his right path and walk it in harmony with nature and humankind. Thank you Great Spirit for your gifts and your love. And so it is.
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||from John Eich Madison, WI
Here are the notes that I jotted while listening to the journeys in the Mens Circles at Oracle. These notes are brief, so if you feel moved to expand on yours (or edit mistakes), let me know and Ill be happy to make changes and forward the final draft on. It was decided at those circles to send these notes to all male attendees of Oracle, so I apologize if this is not of interest.
I'll send the final draft to those without email via the post office.
It was a pleasure to listen to your journeys, to drum, dance and sing with you, to drum up Nash and the Sun together, and to share space with such an awesome bunch of Men . . .
Mens Circle in Oracle:
Journeys on Initiation & Manhood
First Journey (Thursday, without Nash): What elements should we include in an initiation ceremony for Nash? - Darkness and Light important. Perhaps part of the ceremony blindfolded?
- Stating Intention of coming into manhood
- Blending of gentleness and standing in strength - A gifting at the end
- Ceremonial touching, and/or Laying on of hands
- Vision. Also, give him a seed as a symbol of starting something
- Go en masse to the cafeteria and take him away with us
- As a Circle of Men we step into the center and speak of what we are as men. Then he does likewise at the end
- Part 1: (for Nash) we talk about different elements of manhood, then ask him if he is willing to take on that responsibility. Also, we could blow the spirit of Manhood into him (as received from spirits)
Part 2: (for us) by taking on this task (of initiating Nash) we men have separated ourselves from boyhood; this ritual has become our initiation. Also, we could hold a ceremony for ourselves, in which we tell our "then boyhood" and "now manhood" stories: the group could then acknowledges and celebrates each man and his stories.
- Go up to his tent in the morning and wake him with our drum beats. Then this becomes the drumming up of the sun.
- Cover: sweat lodge perhaps? Some intense experience of cover.
- Healing touch
- Let Nash do some hunting: let him find us.
- Jack and the Bean Stalk: this story contains a seed, magic, overcoming a monster (the dark side of masculinity?)
- Spiral: each of us coming out of the center (Nash following last)
- We are being initiated in this process.
- A crossroads: looking at it from above (the Big Picture); this is the perspective that we bring to Nash.
- Dark green river going through a valley: Life keeps moving.
- Us in a circle, Nash in the center. We each step forward to share, then rattle afterward to honor our words. Then Nash is rattled afterwards.
- This is our initiation.
- Ceremony: us in a small circle around him, smudging and rattling. The rest of the men drum around this in a larger circle. This represents the Ancestors holding the space, us in the present doing the work, and Nash being the New given birth.
(Friday, with Nash present):
What is Manhood? - Strength: to protect the inner light (our own, and in others)
- Stone wall: firmness as masculine quality. The ability to plant yourself, be independent, find your own connection with the Earth. Sacred hardness, rootedness, firmness: to be able to stand in ones own Truth.
- Independence, control of ones own destiny.
- Ancient Hunter: ability to be with and part of the elements. Trust in What Is. In that trust, take Life as it is given to us. Act out of that trust. To do the tasks asked of us by Spirit.
- Protectors: protect the young (bringing food part of that). Teachers: by example of how to survive in the world.
- The common image of Maleness is an illusion. There is a deeper male connection, a web that backs up the illusion, and is vital.
- Three Rs: Respect, Responsibility, Recognition. Respect for all things, all beings
Responsibility for ourselves: self-reliance, not depending on others
Recognition of the above.
- Image of a stallion mounting a mare. Also, Father Sky and Mother Earth: Father Sky oversees the world, recognizing the inter-dependence and unity of the Universe.
- Close-up of Eagles Eye: vision necessary for survival (of himself and his clan). Evolution of human race is about vision seeing with clarity and acting upon that vision. Will is necessary to make insights happen.
- Strong Heart. Not just one or the other, but both.
Buffalo: the heart; cared for the people, gave up himself for their welfare
Horse: strength; carries heavy loads and things long distances.
- Choices: not getting frozen in indecision, but making choices. Then taking responsibility for that choice, moving onward with it.