November 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. Soularize 2019: Highlights from Our Gathering of Almost 300 Men   by Terry Symens-Bucher,  Illuman President
As Soularize 2019 opened in New Mexico on October 25 th with poetry, ritual, and Illuman’s Welcome , the cover of Harper’s Magazine showed a picture of a man hiding his face in his hands with the headline: Manhood in the Age of #MeToo . The headline story carried a subtitle with the question , Is there a masculine cure for toxic masculinity ? The story described a retreat held by a new but well-funded organization called Evryman. The reporter/participant began with a cynical approach toward the work and ended wistful but hopeless about any true change in the men’s lives. For those of us attending Soularize, given our experience, this approach toward men’s work is painfully off the mark. This common media approach also inspires a head-shaking dissatisfaction with the repeated inability of the popular culture to grasp the spiritual and personal transformation we aim for in men’s work, and its possibilities for serving the good of men as well as of society.

In almost perfect counterpoint with the Harper’s portrayal, Soularize took up the theme of Men Transforming Men: What Does Healthy Masculinity Look Like? At Soularize, almost three hundred men spent three days immersed in ritual, image, story, and Council. And contemplation. And poetry—provided by many, but particularly our Poet in Residence, Timothy McLaughlin . Here is a link to one of Timothy's poems about Soularize- " Ballroom Dancing." Illuman men sat in fishbowl Councils addressing various aspects of Illuman’s work and other leaders provided breakout sessions on topics relevant to healthy masculinity.

On Friday, Illuman Elders Jim Taylor, Richard Fay, Jim Clarke, Giovanni Perez, Ned Abenroth, and Joel Blunk sat in fishbowl Council with this prompt: When did you first become conscious of a power greater than your own? On Saturday, those same Elders sat with the question of how the wisdom traditions can help us become healthy men. On Saturday night, Jim Clarke held an informal conversation with Richard Rohr on the importance of men’s work from the perspective of Richard’s decades of experience and service. Finally, on Sunday, Elder Belden Lane shared his vision and experience, as an initiated man, of the beauty of all beings.

On both Friday and Saturday, men were able to attend the following breakout sessions:

  • The Way of Council facilitated by Steve Conroy and David MacQuarrie.
  • Authentic Manhood: Walking with Men with Rob Jones
  • Liberty and Justice for All with Byron McMillan and Bill Clark
  • Encountering the Other: Healing Relations between Men and Women with Stephen Picha
  • Wild Earth Poetry with Timothy McLaughlin
  • Capacitar: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World with Richard Sotelo
  • Embodied Conversations: Introduction to Ritual with Jonathan Miller

As opposed to wistful and hopeless, men left inspired and connected to a community of men that continues to grow, nationally and internationally. The work is deep, transformative, and meaningful. It is also urgent, not only in the #MeToo age, but in an age in which we are facing possible catastrophic changes on a worldwide level.

The theme for 2020 Soularize has already been set: The Masculine Path to Healing . Save October 15 through 18, 2020 to join your brothers at the Hyatt Tamaya in Bernalillo, New Mexico.
2. SAVE THE DATES: From #METOO to #WETOO with Gender Equity and Reconciliation International and Pre-Soularize 2020 Event with Animas Valley Institute
Looking forward to 2020, we are excited to announce two opportunities to participate in events being held for Illuman by our partners—Gender Equity and Reconciliation International (GERI) and the Animas Valley Institute (AVI). Both events are being held at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
From #METOO to #WETOO: Healing Between Women and Men in Community is a repeat of the event hosted in August 2019 and sponsored by Illuman. To learn more about the experience from our President Terry Symens-Bucher, we invite you to read his Drumbeat article from September. It was a moving experience for all attendees. The 2020 retreat will be held from February 19–23, 2020 and we invite all initiated men who are interested in the retreat to email Brad Pickel, Illuman Administrator, to inquire about availability. His email is and space is limited.
The AVI Soulcraft Intensive is a new partnership program arising from our efforts to more fully support men’s spiritual journeys. Registration is not yet open, but the retreat will be held immediately preceding Soularize 2020, from October 11–15, 2020. More details to come, but we invite you to save the dates and visit the AVI website to learn more about their offerings.
3.  JOIN the Illuman Council Practice Leadership Circle
For almost two years, Illuman has been holding Virtual Council opportunities for men to come together in community using videoconferencing technology and participate in the Illuman Way of Council. These opportunities are well attended by men across the globe, and we are pleased to see that although we are not sitting shoulder to shoulder, we are still connecting heart to heart. As we move into 2020, we want to invite men who are interested in joining our Leadership Circle to let us know. The men who comprise this circle meet twice a month to develop and discuss the prompts for each upcoming Council and discuss opportunities to enhance the Virtual Council offerings.

If you feel called to join this effort, we invite you to our next gathering, on December 11 at 8 pm Eastern Time. We meet on the Virtual Council 1 Zoom account that can be accessed from our VCC1 link . To learn more about Virtual Council, please visit our website . We look forward to seeing you in December.
4. Featured Video ~ Soularize 2018: Session 6 – Soul, Soul Encounter and the Journey of Soul Initiation – featuring Bill Plotkin.
Continuing this month, we are sharing videos from Soularize 2018. For those who’ve been following along these past few months, you will likely find Session 6 to contain the key message of Bill Plotkin’s teachings to the men of Illuman. It is here that he clarifies to those gathered what he means by Soul Purpose: Inhabiting Our Unique Psycho-Ecological Niche .
Throughout this session, Bill employs poems by David Whyte, Rumi, and others to provide some of the language of soul and soul encounter. He’s adamant that the soul cannot be found by deep introspection but will be revealed by going out into the world. And, for some additional context, Bill shares his own story of soul encounter some forty years ago.

Toward the end of this video, you may feel as though you’ve already encountered your soul and understand your unique psycho-ecological niche in the world. Nevertheless, Bill suggests the work is much more demanding than most people think. Just before sending the men out onto the land, he offers two very different tasks, depending on where men find themselves on their own Journey of Soul Initiation .

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