August 2021
1. Kindness toward the More-than-Human World
By Steve Hicken, Illuman Chair
Steve Hicken
I've been thinking about kindness. I've thought about kindness before, in terms of how we extend kindness to our sisters and brothers. It's just been over the last day or two that I have thought about extending kindness to the natural world—what we in Illuman sometimes call the more-than-human world. What happens to us when we really embrace the possibility of extending kindness to the created world around us?

What does kindness take? Kindness implies a relationship of care. Kindness does not originate with self-interest, even though kindness often begets kindness.

Why is kindness to the more-than-human world important now? During the last few weeks, I have visited conifer forests in the California Sierra Nevada, where I vacationed as a child over 55 years ago. Many of these areas have been ravaged by forest fires. What is really alarming is that these forests do not grow back now. I drive through miles of scrub brush and see bare brown trunks dotting the hillsides like so many gravestones. We have changed our climate. There is not enough rain to support new growth now. And, in the last two days, I have counted eight times that I have seen or personally experienced the effects of climate change. One thousand miles north of where I live, temperatures reached 121 degrees in British Columbia, Canada. That's hotter than Death Valley.

As we men of Illuman do our inner work, it raises our awareness. It fuels our capacity to be compassionate. It generates kindness. Kindness is not always "nice." Kindness as care sometimes screams, and screams loudly. Our "homes" are on fire, under water, parched by drought, baking under heat, and saturated with smoke-filled, unbreathable air. Our crops are in decline, fisheries exhausted. And this is now. What about the futures of our children and grandchildren? 

Men of Illuman are waking up to paternalism, to racism, and to our climate emergency precisely because of the inner work we are doing, individually and together. 

I am looking now at a button which a volunteer ranger gave to me on a hike today. It reads "Protect Fragile Meadows—Stay on Trails." Let's not just do that in national parks, those special preserves exempt from the usual "unkindness" which our commerce wreaks upon the natural world. Let's protect fragile meadows and stay on trails everywhere we live. Let's start with kindness toward the more-than-human world and let that kindness lead us to all that we must do to protect our planet.
2. Soularize 2021 Registration is now open!

Connecting through COVID: Embracing Our Lives, Each Other, and the World
The past year has been marked by pandemic, social and political unrest, the loss of life, and unprecedented separation and isolation. It’s been a time of discord, disruption, and disillusionment. Join us for Soularize 2021, as we come back together as men transforming men, shoulder to shoulder once again. We’ll reconnect in ways that offer healing and wholeness, new life and possibility for each other and the wider world. Our bodies carry wisdom and shame, trauma and holiness, bias and blessing—and they ache for reconnection. We’ll tend to them and to each other as we explore our relationships with other bodies, including the Earth and the deep union that is beneath. Through drumming, story, nature, and Council, we will re-embody inner work that makes a difference in the world. Learn more and register for Soularize 2021 and your hotel room on our event webpage.
3. Transitions in Illuman Staff Coming in 2022
We wanted to take this opportunity to let everyone know that Brad Pickel will be transitioning out of his role as Illuman Administrator at the end of 2021. He is continuing to fill the role and responsibilities in the coming months and will be supporting Illuman through this change. More information will be forthcoming regarding the process of identifying staff for Illuman moving forward.
4. Men’s Rites of Passage retreats underway!
Our brothers in the U.K. held their Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP) last month and planning and preparation for the next MROPs are underway. Ireland’s MROP will begin tomorrow, and September will include two MROPs, in the Czech Republic and in New Jersey. The last two MROPs in 2021 will be held in Australia and Northern California in November. We hope you will join us as an initiate or returning initiator.  

The MROP experience is not a “regular” retreat but a five-day / four-night, deeply prayerful and soulful experience that builds on the classic patterns of male initiation through simple and moving rituals and teaching. Each day includes participating in group prayer, major teachings on central masculine spirituality themes, quiet time for reflection, and sharing in the context of a small Council circle. 

Visit our website to learn more about Illuman’s Men’s Rites of Passage and the need for male initiation rites.

To learn more about specific opportunities in 2021, please click the links below.

August 18–21, 2021

September 8–12, 2021

September 29–October 3, 2021

November 2-6, 2021

November 3–7, 2021
5. Join these Illuman Events Coming Soon

(Held Virtually)
Sponsored by The Ohio Chapter of Illuman

September 4 / 11/ 18 / 25, 2021
2pm - 4pm Eastern /
11am - 1pm Pacific
You are invited to a workshop for the real spiritual lives of men. This workshop is sponsored by Ohio Illuman and will be led by Steve Robach, an initiated man from Illuman of Minnesota. Steve will guide us through WILD and WISE, the journal he created to help lead men along the Journey of Illumination.

– Session One –
The Beginning of Your Story

– Session Two –
Moving into The Middle of Your Life

– Session Three –
The Middle of Your Life

– Session Four –
Final Chapters of Your Life

We will be meeting each of the four Saturday afternoons during September for two hours. Together we'll experience music, ritual and council as we explore the 38 meditations contained in WILD and WISE.

The cost of our entire workshop is $40. Registrants will receive a mailed copy of WILD and WISE as part of their registration fee. Scholarships are available and no one will be refused registration.
• Registration deadline is August 31.
• Attendance at all four Saturday workshops is preferred, but not required. So please don't let this limit your participation. And feel free to invite the men in your community to consider joining us. Your participation matters!
Illuman of Washington
Elders' Rites Of Passage

Ekone Ranch
Outside of Goldendale, WA
September 15-19, 2021
The Elders’ Rites of Passage (EROP) is a five-day intensive retreat that serves those beginning or already on the eldering journey. For some, the EROP serves as an entrance into the journey, and for others it is a deepening of work that has been ongoing for a long time. Using ritual, story, time in nature, Council, and image, participants are invited to harvest all that has been, sit with death, practice deep listening to the cries of the world, and discern what is theirs to do. The retreat is open to men in their 60s to 80s.

Please visit the Illuman of Washington website for more information.
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.

Special note: Men who travel to Soularize (October 21–24) may wish to come early and join us for this retreat. After Green Man Rewilding, you will have 3½ days to make the short journey from Aravaipa Canyon Ranch in Arizona to Bernalillo, New Mexico for Soularize.
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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Without us God will not,
but without God, we cannot.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr ~