September 2020
Click here to watch a video of men expressing their gratitude for Virtual Council. ▶️ 
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. We Have Work to Do by Terry Symens-Bucher, Illuman President
As I write this in the early afternoon here in Oakland, California, it is dusk outside—not timewise, but lightwise. The light is an eerie dark red-orange and has been since dawn. The streetlights are still glowing and we need lamps on in the house. The sunlight is barely making it to us through the smoke and haze from fires raging in California, Oregon, and Washington. This is the fifth year of cascading catastrophes here. We have begun to think of this time of year as its own season. It is August: got masks, air filters, defensible space, healthy air quality?
But I am not really thinking about the fires right now. I am thinking about Kyle Rittenhouse, 17 years old. And Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, Anthony Huber, 26, and Gaige Grosskreutz, 26. Kyle went to Kenosha in August to, in his own words, “help people and protect property.” He took a medical kit and an AR-15-style automatic rifle with him. He ended up killing Joseph and Anthony and critically wounding Gaige. From what I have read and heard, those men were chasing Kyle because they saw him as a danger to others. Indeed, they may have seen him as an “active shooter” and were in the courageous act of trying to stop him.
I am thinking of the tragedy involved—how often men kill and maim other men, thinking they are performing their “manly” and courageous duty as men. I know intimately that way of thinking and feeling. I was 17 years old when I was preparing to enter what turned out to be nine years in the U.S. military. Airborne, Ranger School, reconnaissance, special operations—you name it, I was all over it. I was Kyle, posing with my medical kit and my M-16 rifle. I was there to help people and protect property.
But Kyle is not in the military. He did not have the social sanction I did for his assumption of duty. Who sanctioned and approved this 17-year-old boy going to a demonstration with an automatic rifle? Where was his father? Where were the men in his life, the mentors and wise elders, to talk him out of putting himself in that position?
A man of color I know who has worked for decades in nonviolence education and training shared an exchange I think is meaningful in this context. He was speaking with a Black minister in Chicago who asked him, “Who is out there telling young white men that they are valuable? Because if we're not doing that work, white supremacists are the ones telling them that." And I would be quick to add: Who is telling young Black men and young men of color and indigenous men and gay men and young men for whom those labels don’t apply, that they are valuable? That they matter? If not us, who? Who will provide them with purpose and meaning?

The wildfires that are burning down what we know and love are not just forest fires. We have to fight the fires, but when the skies are clear and the sun is shining, we also have to do fire prevention. Young men and boys are looking to us. Where are they in your life? We have men’s work to do.
2.  REGISTRATION TOPS 225 - Soularize 2020 - The Path to Masculine Healing with Fr. Richard Rohr
We are excited about the strong early response to Soularize 2020: The Path to Masculine Healing with Fr. Richard Rohr. Registrations are now over 225 and we expect to have many more join us in the coming weeks. The retreat will be held virtually and will focus on the wounding of a man’s soul, which is not generally recognized until midlife. The carrying of unresolved grief, internalized shame and guilt, loneliness, personal family traumas, intergenerational issues, and societal pressures all serve to weigh men down in disparaging ways. The wounds of individuals spiral outward, leading to larger wounds in society such as racism, toxic patriarchy, and our ecological crisis—which, in turn, further wound individuals in a negative feedback loop.

The injury to a man’s soul, and the wounds of the world, cry out for healing, and Illuman offers a pathway through. We are men transforming men, through a Power greater than ourselves. Using the ancient tools of nature, ritual, image, storytelling, and Council, we will help one another reclaim the soul’s wisdom and the gift of joy. Bearing gifts that often come straight from the wound itself, we then join sisters and brothers as healing agents in a hurting world.

The retreat cost is $99 and additional details can be found on our event webpage.
3. Illuman Virtual Event Coming Soon!
Illuman is pleased to highlight a new virtual offering by our Illuman of DC Chapter in September (see details below). All men are welcome, so please urge the men in your community to consider joining us as well. Additional information for all Illuman Chapter offerings can be found on our events webpage. We also invite you to visit the websites of those Chapters closest to you to find out even more about nearby opportunities. Visit our site to find contact information and links to Chapter websites.
Confronting Racism Retreat
Sponsored by Illuman of DC Chapter
September 18–19, 2020
The current pandemic has thrown the world into liminal space and has created the context for unprecedented racial healing to occur—but it won’t come easy, and it has not been without cost. The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others; the nightly protests; the tearing down of Confederate symbols; the call for police reform—where will it end? Where will it lead? How can you be a part of the needed change? This retreat will help participants become more aware of their own racial biases and the systemic racism we live collectively within. Join Anthony Gaboton and Joel Blunk of Richmond Hill for an intensive 24-hour men’s retreat to include storytelling, learning, personal exploration, and tools for constructive dialogue around race that you can apply in your own context. More information is available on the Illuman DC Chapter website.
4. Illuman training: Council Circle Stokers and Virtual Council Hosts
Do you have an interest in developing your skills for being a Council Circle Stoker or Hosting Virtual Council Circles on Zoom? If so, opportunities exist and Illuman has need of further Stokers and Hosts for many of the regularly scheduled, open Council Circle sessions.

Council Circle Stoker Training
Illuman sponsors a six-session Council Circle Stoker Training program for those wanting to become Stokers. It consists of an hour-and-a half Zoom meeting ( at 11am Eastern/8am Pacific Time on the first Saturday of each month. The sessions are drop-in, open to anyone, can be joined in any sequence, and can be repeated whenever desired. The program consists of:
Session 1 - Intentions of Council

Session 2 - Participant Roles

Session 3 - Creating Sacred Space

Session 4 - Themes and Prompts

Session 5 - Difficulties

Session 6 - Loose Ends

Virtual Council Circle Host Training
Starting on October 12th, a one-session Virtual Council Circle Host Training program will be offered on the second Monday of each quarter (January, April, July, and October) using at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific Time.
The Host is the brother in the background who is responsible for the technical aspects of running the Zoom meeting, and as such needs to have the skill of being a Stoker prior to the Host Training. This training is also open to anyone who has these skills and can be repeated whenever desired. To provide a quality training, the Host Training is limited to five (5) first-time trainees (and can be repeated as desired).
The Host Training consists of pre-session reading and self-practice with Zoom, a one-session Zoom meeting, and a single supervised session of a regular Council together with an experienced Host.
5. Featured Video - Soularize 2019: Session 4 - The Great Conversation
Note: This video presents teachings that you can share with others in your life. As you watch, consider introducing these wisdom traditions to others through time spent in conversation with nature; through singing, dancing, and storytelling; as well as through silence.
Brothers (and Sisters), we’re very excited to share this next video from Soularize 2019: Men Transforming Men with you. At just over 75 minutes, this session is full of beauty and wisdom and features one of Illuman’s beloved weavers and prominent teaching elder Belden Lane.
Once again, our video opens with poet Tim McLaughlin. He begins the session by calling our attention to the element of water. He offers a special invocation to water in a song written by his wife, Madi Sato. The name of the song is Ama Wado which, translated from Cherokee into English, means “Thank You Water.”
After leading the men in a soulful and prayerful chant, Tim shares a bit of his own story and transition from teacher to following the calling to become a poet. He then recites one of his poems, which begins, “When language has been used so much as a weapon….” As a way of transition, he then asks us to consider finding a new language once our words have been corrupted.
The video continues with Belden Lane urging us to celebrate our connection with all of life. Belden tells us that healthy masculinity is about getting to know our own voice and sharing with others what we have to say. He offers us the following examples of what healthy masculinity looks like:
  1. Healthy masculinity resides in men who are alive and sits in awe of children and trees.
  2. Healthy masculinity calls itself back from an arrogant sense of entitlement and rejects traditional gender roles.
  3. Healthy masculinity recognizes that as initiated men we stand on the edge of the inside, while identifying with those on the margins as we heed the cry to fight for love and justice.
Belden also calls our attention to the suffering of our planet. He quotes the well-known American paleontologist Stephen J. Gould, who said, “We won’t fight to save what we haven’t learned to love.” And, before giving way to Joel Blunk to lead the men in song, Belden proclaims his love of nature as taught to him by his great teachers: the trees, the deserts, and the mountains.
Inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem When I Am Among the Trees, Joel leads the men present in a beautiful song with several layers of harmony. The prominent lyric in the song is, “Walk slowly, bow often, and shine like the sun.”
Finally, Belden returns with a guided meditation and visualization. He concludes by inviting the men to go out onto the land and to practice The Great Conversation with nature.
We hope that you know about the many videos we offer at our Illuman YouTube Channel. And we invite you not only to watch and reflect upon this growing library of videos, but also to share them with the men and women in your community. We believe the content in these videos not only informs and inspires the individual but can help all of us to enlarge our circles as we venture out into the world, seeking and instigating deep 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.


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