July 2019
Click here to watch a video of men expressing their gratitude for Virtual Council. 
Illuman  is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose vision is to see men transforming men and, through them, families and communities for generations to come. Our mission is to engage those seeking a life-long journey of spiritual transformation. 

1.  Creative Tensions within a Growing Illuman   by Terry Symens-Bucher,  Illuman President
At Oracle 2019, the leadership of Illuman met in Missouri to discern the current status of the organization and the direction necessary to accomplish our mission. It was a challenging, inspiring, and illuminating time. Every man brings his own experience and perspective. The gathering included Wisdom Elders, Conveners, Elder Cohorts, and Board of Directors. What seemed to evolve is recognition concerning a set of tensions that form Illuman’s current cauldron of creation. I would like to list some of those creative tensions so that we don’t view them as irreconcilable opposites but as invitations to find a third way, a way into a future that is compatible with all men.

  • Programs v. Operations: Do we invest our time, energy, and resources in our programs or in our operations?

  • Volunteer v. paid staff: We are primarily a volunteer organization, with all the strengths and weaknesses of such. Do we begin developing more paid staff?

  • Heroic-leadership model v. distributed leadership: Do we encourage the development of decision-making models that emphasize a charismatic, “heroic” leadership or more widespread, de-centralized, shared leadership?

  • Personal responsibility v. shaming/guilt activation: How do we deal with accountability? When a man says he will do something and doesn’t do it, how do we respond? What processes will activate personal accountability rather than guilt or shame?

  • Capacity v. inspiration: How do we develop the capacity to match our inspiration? Are we out over our skis with our initiatives?

  • Bigger v. deeper: Do we want to get bigger or do we want to go deeper? Can we ensure quality as well as quantity?

  • Diversity v. common experience: How do we acknowledge diversity of experience, culture, and language while seeking our common experience of manhood?

  • Inclusion in decision-making v. organizational efficiency: We have decisions to make. How do we include those who are interested while making those decisions in a timely manner?

In addition to the questions raised by these creative tensions, and perhaps intensifying their urgency, we must ask of each inspiration:

  1. Who will do it?
  2. How will we pay for it?

Illuman national and the Board of Directors who have stepped forward to work with the Wisdom Elders and Conveners, are diligently addressing these creative tensions and foundational questions. There is much more to come at Soularize 2019 in Albuquerque and our annual 2020 Oracle gathering, which will again be in Missouri. We are crossing thresholds to expansive meaning and deepening purpose. 
2.  REGISTRATION UNDERWAY: Soularize 2019 Men Transforming Men: What Does Healthy Masculinity Look Like?
Join Illuman and Fr. Richard Rohr for Soularize 2019 as we reflect upon what it means to be “Men Transforming Men” for a healthy masculinity. Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men across the world as we consider what makes a man healthy and whole. What challenges do men face today? What are the obstacles we encounter in developing a deeply integrated and healthy masculine identity? Where can we get support? How do men’s rites of passage and initiation rites, today and historically, help create men capable of living their lives with purpose and meaning, doing their soul work, and contributing to a world that deeply needs men to show up as generative learners and elders? We will be sharing wisdom, commitments, and practices that men have found powerful in living fulfilled lives as spiritually healthy men.
Soularize 2019 opens with check-in on Thursday afternoon, October 24 and the first session starts promptly at 7:00 p.m. Soularize 2019 will end by 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 27. Learn more and register on our event website!
3.   Elder Rites of Passage 2019 Washington
Participants and Team of the 2018 Elder Rites of Passage
Participants and Team of the 2018 Elder Rites of Passage
“The EROP was one of the most formative
experiences of my whole life. I LOVED it.”
~Belden Lane, St. Louis, MO

In Illuman, part of our mission is to raise up Elders as we attend to inner work that makes a difference in the world. Recent efforts to create an Elders’ Rites of Passage (EROP) have coalesced and last September the Washington Chapter, along with support from the broader Illuman community, hosted our first EROP.

Registration is now open for the next EROP , which is September 11–15, 2019 at Ekone Ranch near Goldendale, Washington.

“This EROP was a fantastic guide in the transition
from adulthood to elderhood—one of the two
or three best experiences in my life.”
~Lou Flessner, Kansas City, MO

The EROP is a five-day intensive retreat that serves those beginning or already on the eldering journey. Eldering, like all of life, has its own seasons, beginning with the most socially active and energetic eldering years, through the release of roles and responsibilities, the lifting of the eye to a broader, more distant horizon, and the dawning of the Holy Fool within. The EROP holds all these seasons of the Elder, tending to each in turn.

Thus, for some, the EROP serves as an entrance into the journey, while for others it is a deepening of work that has been ongoing for a long time. Using the MROP rhythms of ritual, story, time in nature, Council, and image, Elders are invited to harvest all that has been, sit with death, practice deep listening to the cries of the world, and discern what is theirs to do (and not do) in their final chapter. It is an encounter with life and death that is uncontainable and calls each man deeper into their own story as well as adding a final verse to The Great Stories.

The cost structure options are $675 standard; a $475 pre-approved, discounted price; and further scholarships are available. The Washington Chapter’s website has further information about the Eldering Journey and registration for the EROP. We look forward to seeing some of you there.
“I was held by loving hands through hard labor and given birth into the fullness of life as a holy fool through these expertly crafted and beautifully led Elder Rites of Passage.”
~Keith Kahle, Madison, WI
4. Men's Rites of Passage for 2019 Continue through the Summer
Two more Men’s Rites of Passage were completed in June , including the first European MROP of the year in Germany. Terry Symens-Bucher, Illuman President, was able to attend the MROP in Germany. He said that the experience was very moving and he was grateful to be able to experience it with our German Brothers. The next MROP starts next week in Ireland and our brothers from the Male Journey in the UK will be joining them in a supporting role as they alternate hosting years. We look forward to welcoming more European men as initiated brothers.

Five more MROPs across the globe are scheduled for the remainder of 2019, including August in Australia and September in the Czech Republic. In the US, we also have MROPs in the fall in Texas and West Virginia. They are ALL open for registration. Details for each MROP can be found by clicking the links below. We hope you will join us!

The MROP experience is not a “regular” retreat, but a five-day, four-night, deeply prayerful and soulful experience that builds on the classic patterns of male initiation through simple and moving rituals and teaching. Each day includes participating in group prayer, major teachings on central masculine spirituality themes, quiet time for reflection, and sharing in the context of a “home group.” To learn more about Illuman’s Men’s Rites of Passage and the need for male initiation rites, please click here . To learn more about specific opportunities in 2019, please click the links below.

July 24 – 28, 2019

August 13 – 17, 2019

September 11 – 15, 2019

September 11 – 15, 2019

October 2 – 6, 2019
5. Featured Video ~ Soularize 2018: Session 2 – featuring Bill Plotkin, et al.
Continuing this month, we are sharing videos from Soularize 2018... In Session 2 , Bill invites a man to share a story from his morning wandering after Session 1. Bill then introduces the group to four subpersonalities mapped to the four directions. In the North are the Loyal Soldiers and in the South are the Wounded Children. To the East are the Escapists and Addicts and to the West are the Shadow Selves.

To help illustrate these subpersonalities, Bill invites four of his colleagues from Animas Valley to embody the archetypes. Along the way, we learn that these subpersonalities form in the “war for childhood survival” and, though they do not mature along with us, they can be recognized/acknowledged and given new tasks in our efforts to become whole.

You are invited to join along with Bill Plotkin’s teachings and to participate in the activities he offers, at your own pace or within a group setting.

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We are ILLUMAN: 
"Without us God will not,
but without God, we cannot." 
Fr. Richard Rohr