September 2021
1. Illuman Spreads Its Wings at Wild Goose Festival

Chuck Rihm, Convener for Illuman of Ohio
Chuck Rihm
Brad Pickel, Illuman Administrator, and I just returned from representing Illuman at the Wild Goose Festival. This was my third Wild Goose. I had heard Richard Rohr talk about it in the past, and in 2018, on a whim, I decided to go. This year marked the tenth anniversary of the Wild Goose Festival. Joy Wallis, who is married to Jim Wallis of Sojourners, was a founder of the festival and explained how Richard was the inaugural keynote speaker in 2011. The Wild Goose Festival was inspired by the Greenbelt Festival in the UK, which is in its 47th year. They describe the Greenbelt as where artistry meets activism, the secular meets the spiritual, and politics meets positivity. It is the same at Wild Goose: Spirit, Justice, Music, and Art.
When I first attended in 2018, I felt very comfortable at the Goose. Conversations flowed easily for this introvert. It was a very safe place to show up and engage with like-minded humans. I was surprised by the number of men present, which is why I proposed that Illuman become a festival partner and secure a tent on Main Street to engage with festival goers and increase Illuman’s visibility. In a normal, pre-pandemic year, upward of 4000 people would attend the festival on a weekend in July. This year, thanks to the Delta variant, the festival was postponed until September 2–5, 2021 and much more subdued, with approximately 1500 attendees. Yet we engaged with lots of men who were familiar with Richard Rohr and some who were just curious about us. We had several conversations with women who wanted to know how they could engage with groups of men in their churches back home. Our meat stick swag (thanks Slim Jim®) attracted lots of hungry Goosers but was not as popular with the vegans.
Brad and I were cocreators on Friday and Saturday afternoons in the Convo Hall, a large tent filled with twelve round tables to engage in dialogue on a variety of topics, ours being An Integrative Male Spirituality. Each session, we introduced Illuman and our work, explored the male journey of descent that Richard illustrated in From Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality, and engaged in a short time of Council. On Friday, eleven men showed up to discuss male spirituality. Saturday, eight men and three women did the same. One woman joined us because the table she was looking for was empty and we invited her to join us. She discovered a deeper understanding of her husband’s journey and was so glad for the chance encounter.

We also participated in a session on Dismantling Toxic Masculinity led by Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, named one of ten faith leaders to watch by the Center for American Progress; Josh Scott, lead Pastor at GracePointe Church in Nashville; Erin Law, Embodiment & Somatics Curator at Activist Theology Project; and Blake Stockard, a curator with the Activist Theology Project. They discussed a more generative masculinity, and I asked the panel if there was still a place for men’s work today. Blake Stockard definitely thought that there is a place for men’s work to help disrupt toxic masculinity.

We attended a session on the Shadow as Medicine: Understanding Your Personal Mythos as well, which invited participants to explore their shadow through the use of Tarot and Soulcards, and we participated in a drum circle Friday evening.

We also got the chance to talk about Illuman’s work with men and how we could collaborate with Mike Morrell, coauthor of The Divine Dance with Richard Rohr; Gareth Higgins, author, Wild Goose founder, ManKind Project Elder, and recently initiated man at the MROP in Ireland just last August; and Spencer Burke, speaker, coach, trainer, and strategist in the field of spiritual innovation.

Illuman is hoping to be back at the Wild Goose Festival on July 14–17, 2022 to talk all things male spirituality. We hope to see you on Main Street. With 24 venues hosting numerous sessions throughout the day and cutting-edge music on the main stage at night, you will find plenty of Spirit, Justice, Music, and Art to spark your imagination and engage your soul.
2. Transitioning Soularize 2021 to a virtual offering on October 23–24, 2021

Connecting through COVID: Embracing Our Lives, Each Other, and the World
SOULARIZE 2021 – For several months, members of the Illuman Program Council have been planning for Soularize, our annual gathering of men at the Tamaya resort on the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico. The conversations in our most recent Councils have focused on discerning the path forward in light of the serious surge in COVID-19 infections that is happening right now across our country and the world.

As we discerned the path forward, each man spoke and listened from the heart. We shared our thoughts, feelings, hopes, concerns, and recommendations. While everyone urged caution, we brainstormed every possible way we could hold a gathering in person. We all expressed the concern and the pain we were feeling at the thought of postponing Soularize, if that was the wisdom that emerged from the Council.

After every voice had been heard, it was clear that the responsible thing to do is to postpone the in-person Soularize gathering for this year and pivot to offering a day-and-a-half online program, Saturday, October 23 and Sunday, October 24. If you have not yet registered for Soularize, you can register for the virtual event for $100 by going to the online registration page.

Our decision was not based in fear, nor driven by the significant financial loss (there are funds we will have to pay the Tamaya resort for canceling the in-person event). Despite the costs, we all agreed that it was the responsible and loving thing to do for the common good – for you, for us, for our loved ones, and for the communities in which we live. We believe our decision is the right one, made through a thoughtful discernment process. It’s a decision made by men who are the sort of mature, spiritually grounded, nurturing, loving, and generative men Illuman calls us to be. 

Please know this is not an outcome any of us wanted, but we all believe it is the right one for a time like this. We know you may be disappointed—or maybe you have had reservations about the safety of attending Soularize 2021 during a surging pandemic and are feeling some relief. We share those mixed feelings, too.
We are also writing to ask our community for your help. Soularize is a large part of the revenue stream we need to continue our work, as Fr. Richard Rohr outlined in a recent video. By prioritizing our health and well-being, we are also incurring a penalty from the resort. In total, we are facing a financial impact (deficit) totaling upwards of $100,000, which includes pledges from our typical Firestoker fundraising campaign. To this end, we are asking for each Brother who is able, to lean into this need with us and consider these options:

  • Make a one-time gift equal to the in-person registration fee ($375)—and more, if you are able, but any gift (one-time or recurring) is helpful. You can select this amount on the Soularize registration form for the online event or give via our online donation site.

  • For those who have already registered for the in-person Soularize gathering, your registration will immediately include the virtual Soularize offering. We request that you not ask for a refund and consider the extra payment as a donation if you are in a financial position to do so. Since we are not gathering in person this year, you will also not incur resort or travel expenses. If you can contribute these funds as well, it would be greatly appreciated.

  • If you are unable to provide extra financial support, we completely understand and do not want to deter you from joining us. We also have scholarships available for anyone to participate in Soularize online. Please email [email protected] for more information on scholarship opportunities.

So, what’s next? The Program Council is actively developing a program to support our revised Soularize theme of Connecting through COVID. We envision two sessions on Grief and Connecting, a series of live and recorded breakout sessions, and a conversation with Fr. Richard Rohr. As always, we will use the gifts of nature, ritual, image, story, and Council to weave our time together. We expect that the format will lend itself to chapters gathering locally for Soularize, to attend the online sessions and do outdoor wanderings and Council together. Stay tuned for more details.

We invite you to gather with us around the metaphorical campfire for the online Soularize and share deeply from your heart your story, your thoughts, your feelings, your needs, and your commitment to walking your path. We hope you will join us online for Soularize 2021.
3. Transitions in Illuman Staff Coming in 2022
Illuman has announced a Request for Proposal and Qualifications for Operational Services to include Administration, Marketing & Communications, and Event Management. Each proposal does not need to include all three areas of service and will be a part-time or full-time contract position, depending on whether some or all services are being offered, respectively. For example, a proposal can be submitted that only includes the Event Management component and does not include Administration and Marketing & Communications.

The full Request for Proposal and Qualifications is listed below and can also be accessed via the button below. Submissions are due by September 30, 2021. All questions should be directed to [email protected].
4. Men’s Rites of Passage retreats postponed in the U.S. until 2022, but Australia will be held in November!
In an abundance of caution and through heartfelt discernment, Illuman DC and Northern California chapters have decided to postpone their MROPs until 2022. The good news is that we have a variety of other opportunities below for men to gather. We apologize to all Brothers who were planning to attend these events and for the teams who were excited to welcome new Brothers into Illuman. We encourage each man to participate in the current Illuman offerings and Virtual Council. Virtual Council is one of the best ways for men to connect with Brothers from around the world. More information is available on our Virtual Council website. No sign-ups are required to participate in Virtual Council and all men are welcome.
If by chance you find yourself in Australia in November, they are still holding their MROP from November 2–6, 2021. Learn more on their event website.
Stay tuned for upcoming announcements about MROPs in 2022!
5. Join These Upcoming Illuman Events
The Pathless Path: I Pray God to Free Me of God

(Held Virtually)
Hosted by Illuman of Indiana-Michigan

September 25, 2021
10am - 4pm Eastern
Join our Brothers of the Indiana-Michigan Chapter to experience the bliss and freedom of the infinite mystery as well as to be able to recognize God in the ordinary moments of life. The pathless path adjusts one’s mindset to abide in the present moment, enjoy life fully, and receive the delight of being one with the Mystery here and now. Whether we are playing with our children, walking in nature, busily working on some project, or even frantically managing our households, Meister Eckhart’s pathless path grounds us in the stability of the divine through detachment. For Eckhart, daily life with all its typical rounds of work, recreation, eating, driving, and sleeping is our greatest spiritual practice.
Green Man Rewilding Retreat

Hosted by
Arizona M.A.L.Es Chapter of Illuman

Aravaipa Canyon Ranch
October 14–17, 2021
We have long lived in the illusion that “Nature” is out there somewhere, as if we had to leave the real to find something different. This has led us to want to drink more water for our health while throwing the plastic bottle out the window along the road, or build an economy on an industry that cut down enough trees in one state to build the entire city of Chicago in another. This illusion has been costly, and we are just beginning to realize this. We are never not in nature. At the same time, we do need to leave the artificial world of civilization now and then to touch our wild roots in a forest or near a beautiful lake. This is what this retreat is about. It offers the opportunity to explore the wild beauty out of which “civilization” has come, to encounter a wild Mystery that we try to tame, both outside ourselves and inside. Come and join us on this adventure, along with our poet elder, Timothy McLaughlin, and Firekeeper Walking Star Martinez, both from New Mexico.
Supporting our Brothers with Prostate Cancer 

Hosted by the Illuman of Washington Chapter

Contact: Bob Kowal
Bob Kowal, an elder in Illuman of Washington, along with a few others from around the country, are putting together a support group for men dealing with prostate cancer. The group will be on Zoom and is open to all men. For more information and to get involved, email Bob Kowal.
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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.
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Without us God will not,
but without God, we cannot.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr ~