What is Male Initiation? An Insight into the Essential Masculine Journey
Male initiation is something that’s all but disappeared from our culture, which is odd, as when men first hear about it, it’s like a fuse is lit in their soul – it’s as if something awakened inside them and says ‘YES, THIS is what I’ve been looking for!’
In our world of meaningless pleasure-chasing, hedonism and smarty-pants know-it-all atheism, we’ve descended into a sort of nihilistic vortex in which we can only source meaning by external worldly intoxicants, possessions and status, as well as angry political posturing and woke ideologies.
This has been a tragedy for the masculine spirit that thrives on earthy challenge, on facing the impossible and overcoming and in getting your hands in the earth and the mud, into the blood and guts of being itself.
I believe this is why modern men feel such purposelessness in their lives, why addictions, simping and hedonistic pursuits are thriving, along with mental health concerns and out-of-control suicide figures.
Modern man has become fractured from his truest nature. His soul wanders aimlessly waiting for the call to great adventure, yet via a blend of corporate brainwashing, world-weary self-righteous cynicism and even misleading pursuits in self-help, he remains lost.
Yet via an understanding of the power of male initiation, modern man can re-find his soul, build out his backbone and create a foundation within life that will sustain him when facing the contemporary spectres of tragedy, nihilism and hedonism.
I know I’m ruining the party early in saying this, but in truth, modern men can’t really hold a proper initiation process in this day and age.
The reality is that all initiation processes involve a significant amount of intense pain, soul-wrenching fear and oftentimes total humiliation.
Such experiences would immediately lead to folks being sued and blocked on health and safety grounds, and this does speak to why modern men are weaker now than in years gone by, just as the modern-day overprotective mother shields her child from all disease, only for the child to enter the world as a teenager with a frail and weak immune system, so too have modern men been sheltered from the brutality of reality and henceforth over-civilized, tamed and soft.
In fact, the very purpose of male initiation in the first place was to prepare men for the brutality of life.
So, while some traditional initiation processes such as snatching a boy away from his mother in the night, or leaving a young lad to endure a wrapping of bullet ants stinging into his arm without showing pain or fear may seem irrational to us, the purpose they served was to prepare a young male to face the pain of life and be capable of facing adversity and conquering worldly challenges.
Yet despite initiation being all but forgotten and banned, life itself can still initiate men.
Life as the True Initiator
Now while most respected voices on initiation processes tend to point to its historical relevance and modern-day impossibility, I would counter by saying that these people are usually aging academics in safe universities sipping warm coffee as they prepare for their next lecture. They make a valid case, yet lack two key things:
- They leave men with nowhere to turn but back to the very immature hedonism and lost boy psychology their striving to escape and,
- They turn initiation into an intellectual pursuit, which renders initiation itself as an intellectual process, not an earthy, spiritual and organic process
Despite initiation not being a common social practice for men any longer, life still does initiate men via its own accord when a man hits an unconquerable obstacle or humiliation that FORCES him to accept he cannot survive off his own ego.
In my view, the most common type of initiation today comes in the form of addiction and 12-step groups.
In an age of perfect science and endless materialism, 12-Step groups ask people to give up reliance on themselves and start relying on a higher power, while living a rigorously honest life and taking full responsibility for their actions.
This may sound like mumbo-jumbo to our modern atheistic, Buzzfeed generation, yet it really does work, as people are essentially beaten into submission via an addiction that shows they’re not incredibly powerful and all-knowing, so must give into something that is.
This is why, in time, many people with addictions who learn to manage and overcome them are actually thankful for the addiction, as it was this that taught them how to have inner peace, humility and a meaningful life.
Now my journey of healing started in 12-step groups and much of the 1-on-1 work I do now is 12-Step influenced – although with a much larger dose of men’s work, personal development and spiritual unfoldment thrown in – and I can say from personal experience that it’s not so much the 12-Steps that heal anyone, it’s the balanced, initiated state of being they point to which guides a man from being lost and hopeless to balanced, engaged and strong.
Now, I do have some hang-ups with the 12-step movements as well, so I don’t think there all perfect – there’s a reason I don’t go to them anymore – but I do respect them and I think the message that modern men need to relinquish a know-it-all mental attitude and pleasure-chasing lifestyle and humble themselves is a vital, sorely missing one.
In an age of excessive compassion and fear of upsetting anyone, any movement that teaches a man that he is self-centred, self-obsessed and that he needs to open up to a broader spiritual plain is very powerful, as it’s this that opens us up to life as the true initiator. In essence, we take a leap of faith in trusting life, the indwelling spirit and the universe – that which built our minds, bodies and souls in the first place – as our guide, not the arrogance and limited interpretations of the human mind.
J.S. Gordon, a man who spent his life researching initiation puts it beautifully: “Initiation is… the name given to the revelation or the new vision that draws the disciple on to greater light; it is not something conferred upon or given to him. It is a process of light recognition and of light utilisation to move into ever clearer light.”
Male Initiation in Action
Now male initiation and spiritual initiation are deeply intertwined because spiritually speaking, the masculine essence is fundamentally stillness, it’s order and strength – it rests beyond the things of the world such as the craving of possessions, egocentric desires, status symbols, and lust for the feminine.
The latter is especially important as many men today go through processes of pseudo-masculine initiation in experiencing a tough time with women, before turning to the red pill, pick-up techniques and bitterness, and while they learn the fundamental sexual dynamics here of how relationships really work, they don’t realize they’re still trapped under the feminine nature, as their whole sense of self is still defined by how they respond to women and the feminine.
Henceforth, male initiation is about going one step deeper, chasing women – or avoiding them completely – may be a step on this journey but it is far from the completion that online talking heads and dating gurus make it out to be, to truly initiate ourselves in the masculine world we must seek to OVERCOME our lust towards the feminine, our concern with social status and how many things we do or do not own.
The mature masculine doesn’t cling or crave, it doesn’t love passionately which is just the seductive cloak wrapped around drama and anger – the world of the feminine – the mature masculine is already rooted in love via a state of pure being, seeing life as a dance between masculinity and femininity in which it must lead with stability, order and a reliance on the divine.
Men who’ve reached this maturity are those who make good leaders, they can resist the pull of lust and build stable lives, stable families and ultimately, stable societies.
That men today are killing themselves in wildly high numbers, that families are falling apart, that societies seem focused on meaningless corporate jobs, wokeism and nihilism is a sign that men are no longer walking this path.
After having my own near-death experience and seeing my life fall apart, only to return with a wealth of gusto in the realization that spirit, not me as an individual is the guide, I’ve made it my mission to work with men as we strive to uncover these ancient paths of initiation, to find deep meaning in our lives and to learn to let go of the things of this world via embarking on a spiritual quest.
By walking this path we can rebuild men and thereby create greater balance in our lives, as well as harmony with the feminine, turning away from easy pleasures and opening the door to a lifelong journey of personal growth, deepening spiritual understanding and brotherhood with other fellas on the same path.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this path, you can check out the 7-Step Path of Initiation I work through with guys – both as individuals and as a group option – you can pick up my book From Lost Boy to Awakened Man which outlines my journey, or you can join the Awakened Man men’s forum where we talk about all of the issues covered in this video and much more.