Mens Forest Group – Further information
“And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.” Machado
How does it feel to be a man these days? And what might men aspire to?
For thousands of years these have been critical questions for men to ask of themselves, and of each other. Somehow we seem to have stopped asking, to everyone’s great loss. This is for men who want to start asking again – for our own sakes, and for everyone else’s.
Now more than ever, the world needs men who have heart and soul.
Communities thrive if they have real role models, men (and women) whom younger people can look to for strength and guidance, for an example to aspire to as they confront every person’s challenge of how to walk through life. They need men who can listen without judgment, and wholeheartedly support their adventures – men serving a cause greater than themselves.
However, a man does not become a role model automatically or overnight. There is work to be done, first for our own selves and then for our communities and households. We are not perfect. Good! Wisdom tends to come from having made mistakes: clumsily, outrageously, wholeheartedly… and still come out the other side. Let’s put our mistakes to good use.
Perhaps we can challenge and support each other in the pursuit of rediscovering our role as men, playing very near our edges but always in a safe and supported way. Through our own process and with the help of some Wise Ones, we can find our own answer to this calling to move closer to being the men we aspire to be and that our communities need us to be.
We get together in the ancient fashion: men round a fire. And we begin to visit the places we dare not visit in our everyday situations, or cannot easily visit in everyday relationships.
We do not perform. We question. We explore an inquiry together… What does it mean to be a man today? What men do we aspire to be?
Not as philosophers, but as real men with real experience and real questions – and now with a group to share them with.
This over-arching inquiry will help us develop our own capacities for being mature men, provides the focus to our activities and aspirations, common ground to our personal journeys and will allow the positive effects of attending the group spill over from the fireside and into the community. The group will provide powerful peer support as we look inside, rediscover our gold and then bring it to light.
It can never be predicted what will happen when a group of men turn up in nature openly and wholeheartedly, but it is always deeply affirming and generative. As well as talking together about our personal histories, fears and aspirations, we will also invite the practical and creative – a craft, for example. Or story, poetry or whatever any individual is moved to offer. These are media to get us out of our highly civilised selves and back in touch more with the Wild Man (we do not have to see ourselves Survivalists, Storytellers and Poets to manage this).
We expect to stir the pot and get some much-needed medicine from visiting elders, and no doubt from nature itself.
Collectively, over time, we shall be able to find ways and inspire each other to step up as men outside the group, in whatever way or shape we each find that to be.
What it is not
This is not a workshop. This is not therapy. We’re going back to a time when men round a fire was a normal, and utterly vital, thing to do.
The group is being convened by, and will be facilitated by, Chris Packe who lives in Forest Row (www.chrispacke.com). But Chris will come with no answers, no “toolkits” beyond a knife and an axe; only his own questions and experience as a man.
And that’s what the other men will bring. We will all contribute. Different people will find themselves leading no doubt. And sometimes one man’s contribution might simply be to turn up and just sit there quietly listening, staring into the fire. This is valuable, and men do not do this enough – you are welcome here.
When and how much
Once a month on Friday nights from 6.30pm, each session about 3 hours. The group is expected to be up to 8 in size, with no entry requirements beyond being men who wish to rediscover their gold, serve their people, and who are willing to take the risk of pushing their boundaries (in their own way).
Group members will be asked to commit to six meetings; without this commitment, nothing of substance can happen. And without making this commitment, we are unlikely to be able to make any greater commitments that we aspire to.
The group members will need to pay £15 per session.
In Gooselett’s Wood which runs along Witches Lane north of Splayne’s Green and Fletching (details directions will be provided).
Being in the woods can be made to be very comfortable and accommodating; this is not a “Tough-Guy” thing. What it does lend itself to is a more primal, elemental atmosphere, where the modern day obstructions to a more ancient form of masculinity might not be able to operate so well.
And generally there are a million more interesting things to do in a wood than in a room.
TO JOIN, PLEASE CONTACT JOLENE AT EARTHED