As a young man I had many teachers. During the pivotal years of 12 and 13, my greatest mentor and teacher helped me enter manhood in a conscious way by sending me into the woods, into nature to find the answers to my life questions. How can nature provide these answers?
Since the Industrial Revolution, humanity’s goal has been to overcome nature, to be stronger than nature. In contrast, my mentor showed me that living with respect for the natural forces, paying attention to the elements and focusing one’s attention on meeting one’s needs teaches a person a great deal of honor, respect, self-responsibility and integrity. A poorly made shelter can result in hypothermia, while learning fire making and caring for your fire making kit can save your life. Hunting animals with respect for the life they give to sustain your own can make the difference between getting an animal for food or starving. Paying attention to earth’s natural rhythms helps to keep one in balance physically and mentally.
Robert Bly in his book, The Sibling Society, says that the world is being run by uninitiated men. Earth people always had a Rite of Passage for their young men and women. The entire community brought their youth consciously into adulthood and nature’s lessons were always the foundation for their teachings.
My own Rite of Passage involved traveling around the country for a summer experiencing nature. These experiences culminated with a solo climb up Mount Shasta. Upon reaching the summit, I was to create a code of honor by which I would live my life. The physical and metaphorical experience has remained one of the guiding forces in my life. I vowed that I would dedicate my life to connecting boys and girls, men and women, all people, to the spirit of our natural world.
In the last fifteen years, I have had the opportunity to put many young men through a Rites of Passage. My challenge to adults has been my own personal challenge which is to mentor young people into adulthood. I have found that most adults wished that they had the opportunity of Rites of Passage when they were kids and have asked me to share the code of honor with them.
Mother Earth is our greatest teacher. I only provide the space for the Earth to do her work on the young men and women who choose to enter adulthood in a conscious, time-honored way. No one is too old to live an initiated life.