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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in mens mysteries

 How to Plan Manhood Ceremonies - RTC 31 - Laurie Christine

Of Full Disclosure, and the Wisdom of the Ancestors


“Seriously? People have been asking you that?”

I'm talking with the mother of a boy that we'll soon be initiating into manhood. Incredibly, people have been asking her, “What will be happening at the Man-Making?”

Otherwise known as the Men's Mysteries, these are the ancient oath-bound rites by which the tribe's boys become the tribe's men. The traditional answer to this question—just possibly (so old are these things) one of humanity's oldest sayings—would be: What no man may tell, nor woman know.

“What have you been telling them?” I ask her, a little taken aback.

I've been telling them, How the heck would I know?” she says.

There are no women at the Men's Mysteries, nor men at the Women's. Any pagan should already know this. If it's non-pagans that are doing the asking—there will be a few at the after-party, friends of the boy, and their families—they'll be getting a crash course in pagan culture.

I note that no one has been asking this question of me, the actual keeper of this Mystery for the tribe. A sudden mischief seizes me.

“You have my permission to tell them that we'll be plotting to disempower women and subvert the matriarchy,” I say, grinning.

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Pin su Bull-roarers

“Hey, it's N, the soon-to-be-man of the hour,” I say. “You all ready for your circumcision tonight?”

It wouldn't be a rite of passage without a little gallows humor beforehand.

“Ha, ha,” he says. “Pagans don't practice circumcision.”

I check my trousers.

“You sure about that?” I ask.

He snorts and shakes his head. What do you do with an elder who thinks he's a comedian? The expression on his face says: You're incorrigible.

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To a Boy on His Way


Here's a true word: It's hard to be a man.

Oh, you'll hear the voices, saying: This is what it means to be a man. That is what men are.

Don't believe any of them. They're all wrong.

Here's another true word: There's not just one way to be a man.

When I was your age, I heard those voices, too. Much of what they said wasn't me, and so I thought: Well, then, maybe I'm not a man.

But the voices were wrong, and so was I.

Here's what I had to work so hard, and for so long, to discover: There's not just one way to be a man. In fact, there are lots of different ways. Which way is yours?

You're now on a quest for your own manhood. Always remember, your work is not to be this or to be that, but to discover just what kind of a man you are. What does manhood look like on you?

Keep your eyes open. Who are the men around you that you admire, and want to be like?

They're the ones who can teach you. They're the ones to learn from.

What kind of man will you be? That's what it's up to you to figure out for yourself. You're the only one who can.

As you embark on your quest, let me just pass along a sage bit of drollery that I once heard from a wise elder.

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To the Mother of a Boy About to be Initiated Into Manhood


Oh, don't worry, you'll get to see him coming up out of the woods all right: the triumphal return to the village. Hey, he's the star: this is his night, his party, after all.

We'll send a runner up to let you know when we're finished with the...doings. Then we'll bring him up—you'll hear us coming—and...let the party begin.

Oh, we'll need a bag with some clean clothes for him to wear coming back. New ones would be best. No symbolism there or anything.

By the way, if he has any friends from school or wherever that he'd like to ask to the party, by all means invite them. Let the cowans be jealous. See if I care.

Anyway, it'll be good. This ritual is a masterpiece, I tell you, a f*cking masterpiece. And talk about self-authenticating. Once you experience this stuff, you just know that this is exactly how we've always done it.

Which, of course, it is.

Well, all this is assuming that he actually survives, of course. (Grins.) But I wouldn't worry too much about that if I were you.

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 Consider baked beans | Food | The Guardian

First off, I'm a man. I've never participated in the Women's Mysteries; by definition, I cannot, and never will.

Nor, being a man of honor, have I ever asked my women friends to reveal to me the secrets of the Women's Mysteries. (Being women of honor, of course, they wouldn't have told me, even if I had asked.)

Nor, frankly—although I am not sworn to guard them—would I reveal to you the secrets of the Women's Mysteries, even if I knew them. Call it a professional courtesy.

This much I can tell you, though: behind those Mysteries, Men's and Women's both, stands yet another Mystery.

That's what I'm about to reveal here.

Kind of.


This coming Summer, the men of the Driftless Tribe of Witches will be celebrating the Men's Mysteries, in conjunction with the Rites of Man-Making.

As Mysteries do, they will end with the oath of the Great Silence, in which we swear to keep secret that which we have seen, heard, and experienced.

(At the heart of life with honor lies the ability to keep a secret; but that's a mystery in and of itself.)

Liturgically speaking, the Men's Mysteries are a self-authenticating masterpiece. The central metaphors are so deep, so articulate, so true that I'm staggered each time I re-encounter them: so true, so articulate, so deep that they have the power to create transformation in those who experience them for the very first time.

They encode in themselves a deep meaning which lies at the very heart of our tribe, and define us as a people.

As guardian of these Mysteries, there is much that I am pledged not to reveal, nor will I reveal them here.

But let me tell you my suspicion about the deep Mystery underlying them all.

Call it an educated guess.

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 Premium Photo | Milk in wooden bowl on black background top view free space  for your text

 Who comes?

A boy of the People, N son of N,

that he may die to his boyhood

and be reborn a man.


Faces white with ash, the men come for the boy; but first, one final rite.

A wooden bowl in her lap, the boy's mother sits on a three-legged stool. The boy kneels at her feet.

Hands on his head, she bestows her blessing.

She gives him the milk. (So began his life as a boy; so also, now, it ends.) When he has drunk, she takes the bowl.

He rises, and turns to go. Never, as a boy, will he return.

From behind, she gives him a push between the shoulderblades.

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 Classic Potato Pancakes Recipe Recipe | Epicurious


I was born in a time (and place) where men didn't learn how to cook.

Here's the story of how I did.

Now, let me mention from the outset that raising men incapable of preparing their own food violates ancestral precedent. In the old tribal days, every war party or hunting party would take along a few youths—men-in-training—to cook for them. These would already have learned to cook in the Boys' House, where you made your own stew, stir-about, and oat cakes, or went without.

For numerous reasons—personal affinity foremost among them—I became vegetarian at 18. (It is, admittedly, a very freshman year kind of thing to do.) In those days, that made eating out difficult.

One night as, for the umpteenth time, I was cobbling together (at a steak house, no less) a meatless meal for myself from the “Sides” menu, sitting with my baked potato, tossed salad, cottage cheese, and glass of tomato juice in front of me, I had my Scarlett O'Hara moment.

“As the Goddess is my witness,” I vowed, “I'll never piece together a meal out of 'sides' again!”

So I learned to cook.

Even my father, who (you could tell) for years felt kind of ambivalent about his gay son who liked to cook, learned—after my mother stopped cooking (surely after 50+ years, she'd earned the right)—to love the fact. When I came to visit, he would always have suggestions.

“So, how about potato pancakes on Friday?” he would say.

Friday it was. Indeed, my potato pancakes are some of the best.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Round about the cauldron go...
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    There is a Methodist church north of the James river that sells homemade Brunswick Stew for a few days each year. My parents love

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