August 2022
In this Drumbeat...

by Steve Hicken, Illuman Board Chair

We’ve all heard about, spoken about, and pretty much recognize toxic masculinity: willful, self-centered, power-hungry, prone to violence, and un-empathetic; focused on “getting one's due” or “for one’s own clan,” but to the detriment of any “others” that get in the way.

But, what about healthy masculinity? One of my sons recently asked me how he should be raising his son to live into healthy masculinity. Illuman men, right now, are engaged in this very conversation.

As a fairly young man, exactly one-half the age I am right now, I witnessed healthy masculinity in practice in a small hut in Tanzania, on the edge of a tiny village called Kowak. I visited Kowak as part of my job with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. I, along with a colleague, a medical doctor living in Kowak, were invited to a communal meal held in a thatched-roof hut lit by a single candle. My colleague and I joined a multi-generational group of around 25 people for this meal.

As the meal ended, I asked a question, which had to be translated to Swahili and then again to Luo, which was Kowak’s language. I asked, “Who do young people look up to as their heroes?” The young men animatedly spoke about several warriors. So, I reflected back that among their people the young train and hone skills to excel at being warriors. At that very moment, a gravelly voice interrupted from the very edge of the hut, and all fell silent. The male village elder spoke up. He said that yes, warriors were important, but that in the beginning of everything, there were three human beings, one black, one white, and one of the Indian race (as in the country of India). All three lived in peace and harmony. They had children, and over time, the people lost their harmony and began to fight. For that, great warriors were needed.

“But that is not how we started,” he said. “Things began in peace and harmony.” He stopped speaking.

After a respectful and, to me, slightly awkward silence, someone said, “Let’s sing.” I was astonished to hear this group break into multiple-part harmony. It gave me the shivers to hear the music, sung by these happy faces barely illuminated by the single candle. They stopped and then, with enormous smiles, asked us to sing! Having anticipated that, my colleague had brought a guitar along with a book of folk songs. So, mustering every bit of gusto we could, we sang an American folk song. Maybe something by Peter, Paul, and Mary; I don’t remember now. What I do remember, even in my bones right now, half a lifetime later, was the joy of singing together—them beautifully, us terribly by comparison. But there it was, the peace and harmony, just as the elder Tanzanian man prophesied.

The healthy masculine in action produces stability, peace, and harmony. The healthy masculine holds, affirms, and guides the young man’s energy to serve the community. The healthy masculine’s community includes “black, white, and Indians”—that is to say, everyone.

The theme of Illuman’s upcoming Soularize, our national men’s gathering near Albuquerque, New Mexico, is Awaken – Reconnect, Realign, Re-engage. We gather as men in transformation toward healthy masculinity, to celebrate, support, and teach each other how to undertake this sacred quest of service to all creation and all humanity. As racism, climate change, economic inequality, and political division all seem to be closing in on us, we believe that healthy men, and healthy masculinity, can and will bring about the peace and harmony the Tanzanian male elder spoke to half of my life ago.
This article is offered by Glenn Siegel, MD, an emeritus Illuman Wisdom Elder and current Board member of Illuman of the Ozarks. 

Illuman’s mission declares: 

We are men transforming men through a power greater than ourselves. We are seeking a life-changing spirituality. Our primary concern is inner work that makes a difference in the world. We are fed by the wisdom traditions of forgiveness and radical inclusivity. Our work recovers traditional patterns of male initiation, affirms a masculine path to healing, reveals the true and false self and honors the path of descent. We do this through the power of nature, ritual, image, story, and Council.

Illuman is an organization of male-identified people who are predominantly White of European descent. Given the history of this country (USA), an essential part of our mission to promote “inner work that makes a difference in the world” must be to address the deeply conditioned and embodied aspects of Whiteness that have grievously built and shaped our national culture and inherent institutions (educational, health, legal, political, religious, and economic) and continue to do so. This article offers a particular perspective on Whiteness and White privilege as related to the mental health of those of us who “benefit” from our racial centrality, illustrating how it is not only those without the privilege of Whiteness who are adversely affected by this exclusive system. Perhaps as White folks recognize the damage in ourselves, we can be more committed to the inner work necessary to implement the radical changes this culture so desperately needs for the survival of our children, grandchildren, and beyond....

Passion Circles are a type of Virtual Council, providing opportunities for men to gather online around specific, shared aspects of their own personal spiritual journeys or mutual common interests.

The Rainbow Council Passion Circle is for any and all GBTQ+ men who want to connect and support one another. It launches Tuesday, September 6 at 7pm ET but you can join at any time.

If interested contact Rich Horton at for the Zoom link.

Other Passion Circles include:
  • The Hidden Spirituality of Men (book discussion)
  • Me and White Supremacy (book discussion)
  • A Return to Love (book discussion)
  • How to Be a Good Storyteller
  • Council for Ministers & Spiritual Caregivers
  • Franciscan-Hearted Men
  • M.A.L.E. Anon
  • Divorce Recovery

Ideas and requests for new Passion Circles and being accepted as well.

Pursue your passion. Find your circle and join like-minded brothers today at
Join us for Soularize, our annual gathering for men’s spirituality and transformed masculinity! Not just a “conference,” Soularize offers deep connections and profound inner work through nature wanderings, ritual, story, poetry, drumming, and small group Councils. This year we will be working through a process by Joanna Macy known as The Work that Reconnects. Open to any and all male-identified persons, Soularize is a great way to reconnect with old friends or discover Illuman for the first time. Awaken with us as we reconnect, realign, and re-engage as contemplative activists who bring beauty and healing to a desperate world. 

Illuman’s signature event, the MROP is a 5-day, 4-night experience that awakens men to the adventure and mystery of their own masculinity, their deep spirituality, their potential for leadership, and their life’s purpose. We have two more Rites remaining in 2022:

Circle Pines Center, Delton, Michigan
September 911
Spend time in nature, slow down, be in the company of others, sing, dance, wander, play, tell stories, and listen. Allow nature to have its way with you. Sitting and sleeping on the ground connects you to the healing quality of Earth. Come to this retreat in nature for your well-being. Nature will heal you if you take time to be there. Hosted by Illuman of Indiana/Michigan.
Join us for this online conversation as author and activist Brian McLaren shares stories from his new book, Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned

“Brian’s new book on remaining Christian knocks it out of the ballpark in terms of framing and naming the questions. I cannot stop reading it!”
―Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, founder of Illuman and author of The Universal Christ

All genders are welcome!
Help Us Spread the Word!

Pali Retreat Center, Running Springs, CA
Sept 30 Oct 2
Brothers, Illuman en Español is asking you to reach out to your Spanish-speaking friends and associates to introduce the first-ever weekend retreat completely in Spanish: Nuestras Heridas: Puertas a lo Sagrado – Illuman Español. The theme, Our Wounds: Doors to the Sacred, is based on Richard Rohr's teaching about how we embrace our brokenness to find healing, hope, and new life. All the information is found on our website and you can download a flyer for it here. Having lived the RITES is not a requirement. Please help us spread the word!

Holley Family Village
Brooklyn, Michigan
October 12
Come participate in meaningful rituals, experience time in nature, and spend quality time with your son. Come build something together by gifting him this drum-build experience. It is our hope that this rite of passage will be one of those safe containers where a youth can approach a passageway to liminal space and sense a healthy vision of his maleness and future manhood. Hosted by Illuman of Indiana/Michigan.

A 9-week online community for fathers and soon-to-be fathers

Tuesday evenings starting November 1st
Two time options: East Coast: 9–10 PM EST; West Coast: 8–9 PM PST
Designed to meet new dads at a moment when life has initiated them into fatherhood. Meetings are just one hour each week. If you are a new or soon-to-be dad, then this course is for you! If there is someone like this in your life who might be interested in our journey together, please share this with them and encourage them to join us!

Connect with other men wherever you are. Just click here to find a list of Virtual Council options and pick the one that works best for you. All are invited!
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. 
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 for more information.


Without us God will not,
but without God, we cannot.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr ~