May 2021
Sandia Mountain
By Brian Mueller,
The Ohio Chapter of Illuman &
Illuman Marketing and Communications Council
I remember feeling as though all the big questions had been answered. There I was, a confident young man coming of age at the end of the Cold War. Politicians assured me the economic struggles of the past were a distant memory and that the burgeoning Internet would provide prosperity for all. And, as a child, I was taught our country had heard and answered the call for racial justice and gender equity before I was even born.

Except they weren’t and it hadn’t. Little of what I believed then was true. All the big questions and all the big problems were still there, along with the gaping wounds and real human suffering. I had simply been trained and educated not to see and acknowledge them.

Today it’s a bit embarrassing for me to admit my naïveté and ignorance, but I’m not alone. There’s so much privilege implicit in the comfortable refusal to see the harsh realities of this world. Yet now that the veil has been torn away, a part of me feels more at peace in my awakened recognition, even as I struggle with acceptance and addressing what is mine to do.

My spiritual journey did not begin in Illuman. The doorway that led me here was opened by Twelve Step Spirituality. In fact, I’d bet few of us involved with Illuman—through Council, Soularize, the Men’s Rites of Passage, or another program—would say that we began our journey here. But we're here now, and we continue our work in Illuman because we've found fertile spiritual ground. We also rediscovered our own vulnerability while striving toward greater intimacy with other men, our families, our communities, and our world.

As many of you are aware, during this past year Illuman has undertaken a Reweaving Process and has voluntarily entered liminal space to redress old wounds and allow for reimagining the way we organize and interact with the world. As is often the case with such deep work, we got much more than we bargained for. I believe it’s also important to recognize that no matter how far removed at times our spiritual work may seem from our daily living, Illuman does not exist in a vacuum, but is very much a part of the churning and swirling milieu the world is experiencing socially, politically, economically, and culturally.

The well-known author, mythologist, and story-teller Michael Meade offers some perspective for the times in which we live. He says, "The contemporary world often turns upside down because we are in an end-of-the-era upheaval. We are in the great uncertainty and the kind of torment that can happen as one era ends and the next tries to begin. And during such a time…there’s an acceleration of calling."1

From our very first rites of passage (held in 1996) to this present moment, Illuman has been an organization dedicated to transforming men through the power of ancient but neglected rituals, and to community building. Thus, it’s no surprise to me that we’ve come to this pivotal point and are now asking ourselves how we can continue to evolve and to support the change and transformation surrounding us.

I don’t like to spend time in rooms without windows and I would never linger in a place with only one doorway. The spiritual journey traverses all kinds of terrain through all sorts of spaces. Along the way, doors to new paths are forever opening. Consequently, I would never trust a person, let alone an organization, that professed to have all the answers.

I don’t know what the future holds, but my own involvement with Illuman has shown me many ways to engage this world and to be of service to others. And though Illuman may not become a force of goodness and change for all people everywhere, I do hope that it will continue to be a loving force of meaningful transformation for others, just as it has been for many of us.

I struggle daily to acknowledge my own powerlessness. It’s draining to be humbled over and over again by the harsh realities of life. Still, I’m optimistic that the flame of soul ignited within me has caught fire the world over, and that all shall be well in the Universe. As is often said in Twelve Step Work, “Focus on progress, not perfection.”

[1] Michael Meade, “The Call of the Elder,” May 5, 2021, in Living Myth 226, podcast
Upcoming Illuman Events
Elders at the Gate
Hosted by NorCal MALEs and Illuman SoCal

June 4-6, 2021
Elders at the Gate is a three-day virtual experience built on the collective wisdom and work of the men of Illuman. Hosted by the NorCal and SoCal chapters and focused heavily on the power of story and Council, this event is an invitation into deeper brotherhood for all men, initiated and uninitiated (any man who signed up for a cancelled 2020 or 2021 MROP may attend for free). All involved will hold space for and work deeply around the question, "What does it mean to be a man today?" The elders are waiting to receive your story. Join us.
Watering Hole with Psychologist & Author
Robert J. Wicks

June 17, 2021
7-8:30pm (Eastern)
How do we increase our resilience while having compassion? How do we maintain strength while caring for people—and avoid being pulled down by their problems and concerns? Our next Watering Hole speaker, psychologist and author Robert J. Wicks, has decades of experience teaching people to do just that.

The Illuman Council Practice Guiding Circle is excited to present our second Watering Hole Event for 2021: Maintaining Strength and Resilience while Being Caring and Compassionate. This event will be held virtually on Thursday, June 17, 2021 from 7:00–8:30 pm EDT. Robert Wicks will be our Wisdom Guide for the evening. Your participation matters!
A Father for Generation Alpha

 Third series to begin in June

They say the Spirit works in mysterious ways. Indeed, it’s true—she assembled a group of men from the Illuman Community in 2019 that worked together and designed a nine-week online offering called “A Father for Generation Alpha.” The offering is designed to meet new dads at a moment in their young lives when life has initiated them into Fatherhood. The offering’s approach is to drop keys of wisdom each week, starting with What It Means to Be a Man, then moving to What It Means to Be a Father, and ending with an overview of men’s groups that they may want to follow up with.

We need your help. Is there a new dad in your life or soon-to-be dad that might be interested in our journey together? When asked for a few words of encouragement, a dad who recently completed the journey shared these words from his wife: “I’m sad it’s your last meeting! I hope you can find another nourishing group to meet with soon, because this was so good for you and us!”
Illuman of Washington
Teen Rites Of Passage

 Illuman Rising
(kids entering 7th-9th grade)
August 16-19, 2021
Vashon Island, WA

Teen Quest
(teens aged 15-19)
July 10–18, 2021

Register your sons and grandsons for Illuman of Washington's Teen Rites of Passage. Now more than ever, our youth need extended time to deeply connect with each other and with nature in order to grow into generative young men. Rites of Passage cannot wait until adulthood—the time is now for us to bring youth into the Illuman tradition. Illuman of Washington is excited to be bringing forth two such opportunities on Vashon Island, Washington. We are offering Rising, a 4-day rite of passage into adolescence/teenhood for middle school boys, and we are co-sponsoring Journeymen's longer 9-day initiatory Teen Quest for high schoolers. For men interested in getting trained and serving as mentors, opportunities exist for this as well.
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About Illuman
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. 
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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.
Please also remember Illuman in your estate planning. Contact us at [email protected] for more information.
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Without us God will not,
but without God, we cannot.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr ~