The video above is based on the text here, for those who prefer to listen.
This year, the sixth European Men’s Gathering will be held on the 3rd – 6th August. It will be an initiation into leadership and a dynamic robust and potently masculine vision for men’s work.
The theme of the EMG is “The Death of the Patriarchs”. Since 2017 the event has been an initiation or Rite of Passage. At the same time, it was marked by an experimental, explorative approach as we struggled to find the right framework for such a ritual in a present day context and society. The EMG 2021 was the year we first used the theme “The Death of the Patriarchs” and were finally convinced that we have created the foundational framework and narrative structure that will carry us into the future.
After the 2021 gathering, we documented the entire event and all its elements, figured out what worked really well and which parts could be improved. Thus the future EMG will follow the same basic pattern and framework.
What is the Death of the Patriarchs?Our society is marked by a broad mainstream feminist narrative of the need to “smash the patriarchy”. We are encouraged to reject all forms of previous authority and structure and to remake society in a new image. This narrative has gained an unstoppable momentum and strength now, and is heading like a train straight into a brick wall. We do not intend to try and stop it. We are interested in what is going to happen after the wall.
That is why, the narrative structure of the EMG this year will be a journey through the “Death, Burial and Resurrection of the Patriarchs”.
We will embark on a journey which will transport every man through a taste of the pain of a small death, re-seeing and reinterpreting the events of his own life and receiving a new map of the territory to understand what is happening to him and to society.
Given that this is a rite of passage event, we do not publish a program for participants. The text below is intended to give you a broad idea of the flow of the event.
The journey begins
The journey starts on Thursday the 4th August at a retreat center in Thy, far off in the Danish countryside. The 140 attendees would have travelled from more than 25 different countries. English is the shared language we all speak, most of us as a second language. The men are welcomed and we start by agreeing on the conditions for the container of mutual assumptions and agreements which enable us to trust and open up. This includes open and direct communication, respect, confidentiality and taking responsibility. This is a gathering of Men, who are not embarrassed or ashamed of being men. Many of us work with men as teachers, coaches, facilitators or therapists. Many are leaders in their fields. While much of the work we do may have a therapeutic or healing effect, we are not here to do therapy or “healing”. We are here to meet other men who want to take the next step in levelling up their lives, to support and challenge each other, and to learn from each other.
Once this is done, each man is placed in a Core Team or small tribe with a facilitator and the 10 men who live geographically closest to him. This is the primary vehicle for navigating through the weekend and making sense of the journey. It will also be the most obvious connection point for each man when he gets home after the event to ensure integration of what he has learnt.
That first evening, the individual groups will perform a very simple ritual, which will open up a space of trust for open sharing. We will then start the work of sharing the stories of our lives, and clarifying the personal as well as symbolic elements of the story that we are living. We identify ourselves as the main character of our story. And we see our story in a new light, in which we are being called to an adventure to attain a personal “sacred desire”.
Meeting the WarriorHaving created a strong container for the journey, Friday is about going fully into it and testing the mental, emotional and physical strength of every man. Before a man can be civilised, he needs to be in touch with his warrior core, with the dangerous and darker parts of himself. He needs to know what he is capable of. As Jordan Peterson says, “if you think that tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of.” From the 70 year old pensioner to the sportsmen in their 20s amongst us, everyone is given the right level of challenge to lean into his edge.
This is the training of the warrior. Humans resort automatically to a fear response of fight, flight or freeze when they are confronted with direct, uncompromising reality. A man who lives in comfort all his life will not know his warrior spirit or his power. When the situation requires the use of power, he will likely fight in an ineffectual and emotional manner, flee in cowardliness or simply freeze. Men should know their power and be able to bring it under their conscious control. To master it. This is not to stop feeling fear. But to act with clarity of positive intention through his fear.
Each man identifies the tyrant in his own life, the unjust authority that is holding him back from his sacred desire. He sees the malevolent, selfish dragon, sitting on the unjustly hoarded treasure. The anger that is normally kept under the surface rises up and is felt. And expressed. Tribal loyalty and competition play out against each other. There is a Bear and Bull. There is a Light King and a Dark King. Food and drink become scarce during the day. Betrayal. There is a mob and a scapegoat. Tribal effigies are constructed and burnt to the ground. Each man has an opportunity to feel his edge and establish his boundaries. Finally the Tyrannical Patriarchs are overthrown, stoned and burnt, to make way for the new.
And, as we stand on that cusp, we will pause. Stop up, stand there, and notice. We broke down a wall. What is this like? We achieved what we had set out to do. We saw something that we hated, and we destroyed it. And as we stand there, in silence, and in rest, we will look at each other, and we will look at ourselves, towards our own hearts, and to our loved ones. And we notice.
The story has reached a turning point and a new map of the territory has been revealed. As we enter Saturday, our Core Teams are again the forum for making sense of the occurrences of the day before. We continue to unfold our personal stories with each other, with each man identifying and sharing the concrete support and symbolic divine helper in his life. Who are our allies, and how can we ensure that we are recruiting them to their full value?
Without a tyrant to point towards as the source of pain and suffering, each man sees and experiences in a very real way, how it is our own choices which determine our path through life. There is no more space for stories of victimhood. We are all victims of this gift called life. We will all die. And we will all suffer pain before we get there.
A new story
Steve Jobs has said “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” So the question is, what kind of story do we want to tell with our life? Are we living in a comedy? A tragedy? Or are we willing to shoulder the responsibility of being the hero of at least our own story, if not yet that of others? And more importantly, are we willing to do what it takes to become that hero, or do we want it to be served on a silver platter? Collectively, how do we as men ensure that we are creating the best possible framework for moving ourselves collectively forward and upwards?
Each man considers where he needs to find forgiveness inside himself. And for himself. We weigh and consider the price that must be paid to move forward. There are no shortcuts and there are no easy ways out. Reality must be faced. Alone, most of us would never have the courage to do it. But standing with a tribe of brothers, we see clearly, not only how chickening out will not only cause us to lose face in front of all the other men. But also how the man at your side is counting on you lifting your part, holding true to your integrity and staying to your path, so that he can be strengthened in holding true to his alongside you.
A new map
So on Saturday evening we bury that which we killed on Friday evening. And we see it far more clearly than before. The Tyrannical Father is recognised for what he represented – our projection of the darkness of our own heart onto the world around us. We can withdraw the projections back to ourselves. Stop being afraid of all the shadows around us, and realise that they are merely shadows cast from the masks we place over our own heart. The real shadow that needs to be harnessed lives within and is a part of ourselves.
And having put our fathers to rest, we are able to fully experience a true rebirth, a resurrection of body, mind and soul. From the desolation of a culture of wokeism, and the nihilism that follows the rejection of that, we are now ready to step out into a new world. A new world where we are no longer the victims of circumstances beyond our control, but rather the synergistic mediators between the chaos of existence and the wisdom we have received. And importantly, no longer the atomised individual, standing alone as a solitary tree in the desert, but an integrated part of the forest of existence and community, finding my contributive role and enjoying the shade, shelter and nourishment of my brothers and sisters around me.
Why we do this
That is the story of the EMG, and the state we want to send the participants home with – a state of empowerment and inspiration. But not only that. We also want to send them home with the concrete connections with real men living in their near geography as well as a plan of action to engage in men’s work, by starting a men’s group, bringing in members of their community, and then spreading the mission, like ripples in the water.
Many today are suffering from an individualised and fragmented society where men are separated from their tribe and thereby weak. No one benefits from weak men. Everyone benefits from strong men. We need more strong men. We men stand strongest when we are able to take our place as a contributing part of a team or a community.
We see joint action in the world through men’s work as the optimal path right now to the betterment of men. By committing to shared goals with others, and working towards them, men meet difficulties and opportunities for growth. By building the strong relationships required for joint action, we create the network of support that we need to get through the tough times and face our shadows. Making stuff happen in the world is not easy. Men’s work is a space where men can ensure they are gathered around an explicitly positive vision and purpose, and where they can try, fail, learn from it, and try again.
Bringing it all togetherFinally, we must note, men’s work is not a goal in itself. Our communities benefit from being diverse and inclusive, and certainly from including men and women. t, Men reconnect with their masculinity and strengthen it. The easiest way to do this is by being around other men. Therefore there is a need for men to come apart for a while. To call each other to account. To inspire each other. To challenge each other to face our fears. And to come back to our partners, our work, our communities and society, with renewed strength, focus and integrity.
That is why we are members in men’s groups. That is why we do men’s work. That is why we are going to the European Men’s Gathering this August. If this post speaks to you, then join us!
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