I started engaging with men’s self development approximately 2 years ago. My first steps were with a non-affiliated organisation in Manchester that would meet monthly for food, a talking circle and some sort of workshop led by a member of the group. Many workshops ended up being incredibly rewarding as we shared meditations, lectures and interactive body movement sessions that involved us stepping out of the ‘mould’ and challenging ourselves a little bit. I even led a workshop on herbal medicine.
I started to really look forward to these meetings as I realised how rewarding it felt to be heard by other men when I shared what was happening in my life. I also became aware of how important it was for me to spend time with older men who had gone through challenging life experiences who I could ask to help me with feedback on situations that were current for me.
Overall I was happy with my first steps into men’s work but the truth was I yearned for more. Within the group I noticed men who had become drawn to an organisation called the ManKind Project (MKP). This involved men traveling to a centre to go through an initiation that meant they could then access their local MKP group that meets weekly or every other week. I was quite fascinated by the sound of the initiation even though those who do it swear not to talk about the intricacies of the weekend with others. Fortunately I was lucky enough to see men from the non-affiliated group go to complete their initiation and return. It was upon witnessing their return that my desire for deeper men’s work really began to burn.
I instantly noticed a difference in the men who were involved with MKP or who had returned from their initiation. Their demeanour, language, communication and presence was infatuating. They clearly looked and felt different to me. It wasn’t too long after sharing space with these new MKP men that I knew I had to take that journey into the mystery myself. I could feel the fire burning within and I couldn’t rest until those deeper steps were taken.
Fast forward to June this year and I finally made my trip to Droghada, Ireland to attend my initiation with MKP. Before traveling I had stuffed my mind with some classic men’s development books. The most helpful being ‘King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine’ by Gillette and Moore. This book really laid down the foundation of how men’s work with MKP really takes hold. The theory is that men have 4 innate archetypes that have perpetuated history, art, culture, media and psychology since men were men. Within each man the archetypes take shape in certain ways that can be immature or mature with a shadow element attached to each one. If men do not develop their souls then each archetype can be an immature manifestation with darker shadow aspects that will exhibit themselves in negative behaviour patterns. This theory was part of the psychologist Carl Jung’s work on male psychology. This book lays them out in a clear and concise pattern for men to understand the foundation of men’s work. I experienced a lot of identification with descriptions of each archetype and how I felt each one within me was more mature or immature than the others.
With a basic understanding of the archetypes I attended my initiation and have never looked back. The initiation is centred around the warrior archetype and gives all men who complete it the same foundation or footing with which to engage in MKP circles or trainings. I have since attended numerous local MKP weekly meetings and further training with the organisation.
My personal growth has been quite unbelievable to behold. Working on darker elements of my psychology that hold me back or sabotage myself and others around me. I feel that MKP and the archetypes have given me a map or compass with which to become aware of how my mind can be a source of power but also a source of darkness. This is becoming a powerful project where I have already seen an incredible amount of growth in just 6 months. I feel like my confidence has improved, my relationships with friends and family, I feel like I am more honest and also more on time to events or meetings. I have even noticed that my food intolerances have improved. Coffee is now something that really elevates me and doesn’t make me anxious and even gluten is now something I eat at the dinner table. I believe all of these reflect a more balanced, integrated and developed growth within me to become the man of integrity I have now seen in older men who are part of MKP.
My clinical work has also improved as i begin to notice the archetypes at play in my male patients. This has been crucial to helping me understand more about addiction, self-harm, mental health problems and male psychology.
Overall this path of men’s work has become something far greater than I could have imagined when I first took those steps 2 years ago. I have my brothers by my side and the bond I feel with these men grows deeper with every week. Men’s work is here to stay and will only grow as men discover that the way to change the world and yourself is to fully empower and integrate your psyche, your emotions and your vision for a better life and world.
More information about MKP UK and Ireland can be found at: https://mankindprojectuki.org
Medical Herbalist and Flower Essence Therapist
BSc (Hons) Herbal Medicine
National Institute of Medical Herbalists
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