October 2019
Click here to watch a video of men expressing their gratitude for Virtual Council. 
José Valencia
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. What Does Men’s Transformation Look Like?   by Terry Symens-Bucher,  Illuman President
What does masculine transformation look like? This question has as many answers as there are programs that address the yearning of men for meaning and purpose in today’s world. One of the creative tensions I previously named in this column is that tension between the diversity of men versus our common experience: How do we acknowledge diversity of experience, culture, and language while seeking our common experience of manhood in Illuman?

This year I have had the opportunity to attend, in one capacity or another, four Men’s Rites of Passage: in Southern California in May, Germany in June, Ireland in July, and Texas in September. One of the things that impressed me the most is the common experience of men during the rites of passage.

What do I mean? The first night of the MROP, men are asked very early on to stand in the circle and state why they have come. Whether in Southern California, Germany, Ireland, or Texas, men tended to state the same motivations: to find my purpose, to process a loss in my life, to find my identity, to reorient my life, to recapture my joy, to find out who I am now. These yearnings come up in all the MROPs, wherever they are held. They are commonly held by men who come to our rites of passage.

By the end of the MROP, there is an amazing transformation evident. The men are invited to come up, proclaim their name, and claim their gold. Again, whether in California, Texas, Germany, or Ireland, the ritual is powerful and universal, and the men “show up” the same way, regardless of their background, culture, language, or position. The men stride to the center of the circle—the same circle they stood in just a few nights earlier, when they stated their yearnings in coming to the MROP. Now they stride forward, claim their bag of gold, and, holding it high, proclaim: “My name is …. and I choose to live as an initiated man!” It is a transformation that is seen and felt through the way the men move, the tone of their voices, and the look in their eyes.

For those of us who are in the position to watch this transformation, it is an awesome and humbling sight. The purpose and strength with which the men claim their identity at the end of the Rites is breathtaking. Watching each man come forward on Sunday morning and claim his name and gold is worth all the time and effort that creates the Rites. I have a deep sense that whatever happens from this moment forward, these men, at this one time in their life, have experienced a depth of acceptance and purpose that cannot be erased by any future circumstances of their lives. This experience is beyond borders, boundaries, culture, and language. It is why we exist.

*Correction—Last month, we incorrectly duplicated one of the quotes about the GERI Retreat. Below is the accurate reflection from Charles Myking.

“I believe we've witnessed the birth of a new venue! SROP – Shared Rite of Passage. The experience is a must!”
– Charles Myking
2. REGISTRATION CLOSES FRIDAY ! Soularize 2019 Men Transforming Men: What Does Healthy Masculinity Look Like?
As we enter the final week before Soularize 2019, we want to alert everyone that registration is closing this Friday, October 18 , and no onsite registration is possible. We hope you will make plans today to join us in New Mexico.
Soularize 2019 opens with registration 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. UMBRALES: Una Gran Aventura
We invite you to enjoy a reflection about our Spanish-speaking Brothers’ trip to UMBRALES in Southern California, offered by José Valencia, an initiated man from Tennessee. Below are a few pictures from their Great Adventure.
UMBRALES Team and Initiates
UMBRALES Men in Council at Bryce Canyon, Utah
UMBRALES Men with Jim Heaney, Tennessee Elder
UMBRALES men with Fr. Richard Rohr
4. Featured Video ~ Soularize 2018: Session 5 – – Danger & Allurement featuring Bill Plotkin
Continuing this month, we are sharing videos from Soularize 2018. In Session 5 , Bill Plotkin begins by inviting three men to recount their stories of what happened when they encountered their loyal soldiers while out wandering on the grounds of Santa Ana Pueblo. Many will find these stories to be very relatable and also beneficial in reinforcing the messages and lessons of Session 4 ( Major Life Changes / Loyal Soldiers ).

Next, Bill informs the group that he is calling this session Danger & Allurement . Knowing that the Men’s Rites of Passage is the foundational program within Illuman, Bill remains true to his self-proclaimed calling as “troublemaker” by challenging the men in attendance to consider more deeply what it means to go on a rite of passage. He notes that there are many types of rites and also of passages within society, and that some are conferred with little or no personal growth, while others accompany significant psycho-spiritual changes within the individual. Toward the end of the video, Bill expounds on the themes of this discussion when responding to questions from the audience.

Also within this conversation, Bill affirms his appreciation for the work of Illuman and suggests that through a deeper understanding of what happens within the Men’s Rites of Passage, both the rituals and the work will become even more effective in confirming and provoking psycho-spiritual transformation within those men partaking in the rites.

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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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