December 2022
In this Drumbeat...

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This past year, 2022, marked Illuman's tenth anniversary, birthed out of Richard Rohr’s prior work with MALEs (Men as Learners and Elders) and his Men’s Rites of Passage experiences. As we move into our second decade of existence, we are fanning the flames even higher to assist men in their inner spiritual work of becoming healthier, more authentic human beings. This dream energizes all that Illuman is and does. 

As we look back on this past year, we all have much to celebrate:

  • We supported six Men’s Rites of Passage in the US and four international Rites (including a first-ever Latvian MROP!)—the most we’ve ever had in a single year!
  • Over 260 men converged on New Mexico last month for our annual Soularize: Awaken men’s gathering—our first time together in person since before the pandemic.
  • Several hundred men participated in our online Watering Hole speaker series, which, this year, included Fr. Jim Clarke on creating rituals, Brian McLaren on coping with religious disillusionment, and Fr. Adam Bucko on engaged contemplation.
  • Illuman leaders hosted three well-attended rounds of A Father for Generation Alpha, an online cohort for new and expecting fathers.
  • We launched a new online Passion Circles initiative, allowing men to gather around shared common interests or life experiences.
  • Local Illuman Chapters hosted numerous local events and programs, including:
  • First Rites of Passage for Middle School boys
  • Young Men’s Rites of Passage for young adults
  • Elder Rites of Passage for men 60+
  • The Elders at the Gate online retreat
  • And many others…
  • We achieved greater regional collaboration among our local chapters, especially with Illuman of the Pacific Northwest (a collaborative among Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia), and the emerging East Coast Collaborative, spearheaded by IllumanDC, to reach men all the way from Maine to Florida.
  • Illuman men raised over $10,000 for Ukrainian refugees, responding to a request by Illuman partners in the Czech Republic who are directly receiving and supporting those refugees. 

Looking ahead to 2023, we are excited not just for these ongoing programs, but also several new and/or revamped initiatives starting after the New Year:

  • Howling at the Moon and Journey into the Deep Masculine Cohorts—year-long intensives for going further along your spiritual journey.
  • 47: Navigating Life’s Middle Passage—a new circle for men facing midlife challenges.  
  • Men's Weekly Meditations—a regular email series on topics especially relevant to men. 
  • Upcoming Men’s Rites of Passage in Southern California, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Ireland.
  • Our annual Soularize/Awaken gathering, which will be held September 14-17, 2023, in northern Virginia.
  • Adding even more online Passion Circles, including ones on Storytelling, as well as a book discussion on Adam Bucko’s Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide (see article below for more).
  • Numerous in-person opportunities to connect with other men through local Chapter events and Council circles. Find one near you.

Illuman is committed to supporting your personal Journey of Illumination. Our vision is to make a masculine path to healing available to all men, to remedy the traumatized and toxic versions of masculinity too often found in our present culture. 

If this purpose energizes you as well, we invite you to get involved. Start by participating in one of the programs mentioned above. We also invite you to consider volunteering your time and skills on one of our leadership Councils (email about volunteer opportunities). Finally, your financial support is essential to adequately leverage the thousands of man-hours already put in by our volunteers and staff (click here to donate).

However you choose to engage, we are grateful to have you as part of the Illuman family. May you be blessed in your own spiritual journey this coming year, even as you continue to be a blessing to all of your Illuman brothers.

New Passion Circles in the New Year

Illuman’s Passion Circles are a new kind of Virtual Council that provide opportunities for men to gather online around shared common interests or personal experiences. In addition to the ones already running, we have recently added two new Circles:

The Art and Soul of Storytelling
The Art and Soul of Storytelling passion circle starts as a four-month series in February 2023. The circle will meet February 8, March 8, April 12, and May 10, at noon Eastern Time. All levels of experience in storytelling are welcome to join our group via Zoom. We will be concentrating on powerful personal stories that help us be in touch with what matters most in our lives. Along the way, we will be practicing basic storytelling skills. Contact Tom Sparough at if interested.
Trekking with the Authors
Join the Trekking with the Authors circle for a journey through Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide, a moving collection of reflections, stories, and practices from the life and experiences of Father Adam Bucko, interreligious pioneer, new monastic leader, priest, spiritual director, and activist. Let your Heartbreak Be Your Guide is uniquely positioned to accompany us through the disillusionment and violence of these times. Father Adam writes from the heart, offering practical guidance on how to adopt “engaged contemplation,” a lived spirituality responsive to suffering and injustice. This circle meets via Zoom at 8pm Eastern Time on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, beginning Monday, January 9th. Click here to register or email with any questions. 

A Blessing for the New Year

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets into you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue,
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

by John O’Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (Doubleday, 2008)
A Men’s Writing Retreat Inspired by the Works of Mary Oliver

Dayton, Ohio
Friday, January 6–Sunday, January 8, 2023

At this in-person writing retreat, we will soak in the wisdom and beauty of the poetry of Mary Oliver. We will use the fire and water of her words to illuminate and wash over our own lives. We will try to capture our thoughts on paper. We will share our journey over the course of a full weekend retreat. This will be the sixth year that Ohio Illuman has sponsored a writing retreat. We are thrilled to invite men, both local and from around the world, to join us in this reflective writing journey as we gather in person to share our real-life experiences. The event cost is $275 for single-room lodging with a private bath and six meals.
A year-long apprenticeship of healing, wholeness, soul encounter, and the divine feminine

January–December 2023

What are masculinity and the deep masculine? How do I encounter my soul and the divine feminine? What is the dream of the Earth asking of me?  We will live into these questions and more in a year-long apprenticeship into what Robert Bly called “the deep masculine.” Heavily influenced by the work of Bill Plotkin, Richard Rohr, Robert Bly, and Marion Woodman, we will explore the nature-based map of the human psyche as found in Plotkin’s Wild Mind, with special attention to the True Self and the divine feminine, through which we come in contact with the deep masculine. This cohort experience includes three in-person intensives in the wilds of Joshua Tree National Park, the Colorado Rockies, and Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, as well as bimonthly virtual Councils and one-on-one mentoring.

Online Course
First Saturday of each month, starting January 7, 2023

The Way of Council is a central part of what Illuman does to promote healthier masculinity and “inner work that makes a difference in the world.” If you’ve ever participated in this practice, you’ve hopefully experienced good Council Stokers—i.e., the leaders who facilitate the Council practice. For those interested in developing this skill for yourself, we will offer a six-session series on the Art of Being a Stoker beginning January 7, 2023. These 90-minute sessions will be offered on the first Saturday of each month at 9am Pacific/12pm Eastern.

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 support men in their 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.


We are men transforming men through a power greater than ourselves.
We seek a life changing spirituality.
We focus on inner work that makes a difference in the world.
We are fed by the wisdom traditions of forgiveness and radical inclusivity.
We recover traditional patterns of male initiation.
We affirm a masculine path to healing that reveals the true and false selves and honors the path of descent.
We do this through the power of nature, ritual, image, story and council.
We seek to form future generations of men who will restore these practices.
We are building a world that celebrates the beauty of all beings.