May 2019
Illuman SoCal 2019 MROP/Umbrales Invitation
A short film about the Initiation experience
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. From Inspiration to Aspiration   by Terry Symens-Bucher,  Illuman President
Illuman held its annual Leadership Retreat from May 1 st to May 5 th this year at a YMCA camp not far from St. Louis, Missouri. Despite the new location (after multiple retreats in Oracle, Arizona), many men continue to call these our “Oracle Retreats.” That may be totally appropriate, as one definition of “oracle” is “a place at which divine guidance or prophecy is sought.” This year’s gathering of about sixty Illuman leaders—Board of Directors, Wisdom Elders, Conveners, and others—sought advice and guidance on issues of profound import to the Illuman community.

Initially, a team of initiated men who have substantial training with Animas Valley Institute (composed of Joel Blunk, Dan Dolquist, John Lew, Bryan Smith, and Glenn Siegel, led by AVI guide Brian Stafford) led us in two days of exercises to deepen our understanding of Bill Plotkin’s nature-based map of the human psyche. This was a follow-up to our Soularize experience with Bill in New Mexico last October.

The leadership then settled into a shared exploration of material presented by the Development and Governance Councils, including the Pathways document (found HERE ) describing Illuman’s current organizational structure. That document is intended to be a living document, charting our organizational life—our developing structure, growth, decision-making, and relationships.

We ended our retreat with sharing aspirations. Each aspiration was expressed in response to the prompt: It is May 2024, the last five years in Illuman have been graced and great because… The sentence was to be completed with a dream or goal for our community. Here are a few aspirations shared by the men:

We’ve really faced the diversity question head-on, having men of color confront us and beckon us forward, dealing with the fragility of our whiteness, becoming less fearful of a vigorous, honest exchange about racism. —Belden Lane

Spouses and significant others are grateful to be involved in the gender-equity workshops Illuman sponsors and presents. —Phil Rogacki

Elder Council is in place, so that men in their 70s and 80s who are stepping away from active leadership have a place and role to live out their eldering years in our community. No more absence of our elders! Their wisdom has a place. —Ned Abenroth

Illuman contracts with fair trade organizations to produce Illuman products that become a source of income. Illuman’s mission produced an eco-friendly stand for the formation of climate change strategies, e.g., standing by the world values of the Paris agreement. —Bob Juarez

UMBRALES has become self-sustaining. There are enough Spanish-speaking elders to bring UMBRALES to Mexico, Central America, South America, and several states of the continental U.S. —Giovanni Perez

All shared aspirations were fully documented and can be found HERE . We are forming a Futuring Council with representation from Board, Wisdom Elders, Conveners, and initiated men at large to form these aspirations into an inspirational image or document that will guide us into the future. If you are interested in participating on that Council, please contact Brad Pickel at
2.  Soularize 2018: Introduction and Welcome featuring Terry Symens-Bucher, Joel Blunk and Bill Plotkin by Illuman SoCal
Starting this month, we’re going to share some videos from Soularize 2018. This series was produced with assistance from the technical staff at the Center for Action and Contemplation . There are eight videos showcasing teaching sessions with Bill Plotkin of the Animas Valley Institute and an additional video featuring a question-and-response conversation between Fr. Richard Rohr and Fr. Jim Clarke (which we’ve shared in prior editions of The Drumbeat ).

Our first video in this series from Soularize 2018 is the Introduction and Welcome . In this session, Terry Symens-Bucher, President of the Illuman Board of Directors, welcomes the men attending Soularize 2018 and brings them into the space with a brief spiritual practice. Joel Blunk, one of Illuman’s Weavers and Wisdom Elders, then introduces Bill Plotkin by offering witness and testimony to his own personal experience of soul work with Bill Plotkin. Finally, Bill Plotkin offers his opening remarks and an outline for the teachings he and others will be facilitating over the weekend conference. He invites the men attending Soularize 2018 to discover who they are born to be and what they are meant to do.
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.

Find and share more Illuman videos on our YouTube Channel .
3. Men's Rites of Passage for 2019 Underway!
Our brothers in Washington joined together to hold our first 2019 MROP last week. The MROP was attended by 66 initiates, 12 initiators, and a large support team of nearly 40 men from four countries and 15 U.S. states. What an experience!

Our next MROP is the Southern California MROP/UMBRALES from May 29–June 2. If you want to experience the MROP in the western United States, register today. Here is a direct link to the SoCal registration page. 

Two additional MROPs will take place in June, in Minnesota and Germany. The Minnesota MROP will be held just one day after delivery of the June Drumbeat, so contact them now at this link if you are interested. During the last week of June, our German brothers will be holding their MROP, with information available through this link.

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.

May 29 – June 2, 2019

June 19 – 23, 2019

June 26 – 30, 2019

July 24 – 28, 2019

August 20 – 24, 2019

September 11 – 15, 2019

September 11 – 15, 2019

October 2 – 6, 2019
Your  support  in all forms, including prayer, service, and money, is met with gratitude and a commitment to honor your gifts by using them to support men on their spiritual journey.
We are ILLUMAN: 
"Without us God will not,
but without God, we cannot." 
Fr. Richard Rohr