The Solution for Today’s Man: Initiation into Manhood

Sociologist Michael Kimmel suggest that many men between 16-26 are trapped in what he calls “guyland.” It is a holding ground where young men can remain boys and never really grow up and when they need to, they can act like grown men.

This problem affects all men, no matter their race, religious point of view, or socio-economic status.

If men actually followed their heart (their own inner wisdom) and were taught how to be more conscious, there would be less violence, greed, corruption and bloodshed among one another. How do men get in touch with their deeper nature and truth?

But how does a man get more in touch with himself and his own wisdom?

Three main ways:

  1. Initiation into manhood
  2. Mentorship
  3. A Men’s Circle


Enter Joseph Campbell, a mythologist who did a renowned series of interviews with Bill Moyers on The Power of Myth. Campbell outlines what he calls “The hero’s journey.” George Lucas drew from this model when he made the Star Wars epic. The Lion King and the Matrix series were also modeled from the hero’s journey. I run my wilderness trips and trainings based upon this classic model.

The hero’s journey has three basic stages:  severance, initiation, and the return. Campbell asserts that in order to successfully move on to the next developmental stage in our life, we have to go through a rite of passage. Campbell also purports that the all hero’s journeys have one thing in common—the ordeal.

The ordeal is something challenging we must face and on the other side is the reward that we must bring back to our community.  For thousands of years, tribal and indigenous cultures initiate young boys into manhood through formal rites and rituals.

The entire intiation process leads a man toward deeper and deeper self-knowledge, the key to fulfillment and realizing one’s potential in life.

Let’s look at the popular film The Matrix. In the Matrix, the main character Neo (Keanu Reeves) was just a computer geek who worked for a lame firm and hated his job. Without “the call” toward something else, he would have been like many men—shut down, unhappy, bitter about life and stuck on the hamster wheel at a job he hates, growing increasingly bitter and resentful toward others and life in general.



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