I became interested in the Mankind Project as the result of reading a Houston Press article regarding the death of Michael Scinto. The article, by Chris Vogel, detailed practices at the MKP’s signature program, the New Warriors Training Adventure. I had heard of the New Warriors Training Adventure at a NARTH conference in 2003 where it was being recommended by various NARTH leaders. However, some of the ministry leaders there did not believe it should be pursued because of reports of nudity involved in New Warriors Training Adventure.
In reading MKP materials, I have been struck by the similarity to shamanistic, pagan and Native American practices. For instance, many pagan and shamanistic rituals begin with the need to create a ritual space via a circle. MKP is no different in that the “container” is created for the same purpose. For instance, the MKP-International PIT 5.2 Facilitator Manual provides instructions for “creating the container” or the ritual space for the weekly meetings. According to the manual the intention is
to teach men how to create and to hold sacred, ritual space. To form a strong and safe container that welcomes ALL of each man, and encourages him to be fully present, and to speak his truth.
Sacred space is set with drumming, music, candles and “smudging.” In smudging, incense, sage or other herbs are used to create an aura of smoke around each man to help create the sacred area for the MKP rituals. According to the manual, smudging is done
to purify and cleanse the energy field that you or I may have brought with us. Smudging creates a sacred space for the group, and it becomes a way we can leave behind the energy of the outside world.
Following the creation of the ritual space, the MKP manual requires an invocation. In MKP, the participants “call in the seven directions.” Those familiar with pagan or earth-based spirituality will recognize this process. Sometimes, it is called, “Calling the Watchtowers” and involves summoning various spirits or energies from the earth. The text of this process is giving here:
CALLING IN THE 7 DIRECTIONS GUIDELINES
Process: Lead the Call from the center of the circle.
Say the following: (Ask men to face each direction in turn)
? Welcome the energy of the East, the direction of the Lover. Welcome the energy of new beginnings, of connection with beauty and the richness of the world. The color of the East is yellow, the color of the rising sun at the beginning of the day. The fear of the East is the fear of pain. The desire of the east is the desire for pleasure, and the emotions are love and hatred. The animal of the East is the song sparrow calling us to a new day. We welcome the energies and spirit of the East. HO!
? Welcome the energy of the South, the direction of the Warrior. Welcome the energy of service, of action in the world in service to the realm. The color of the South is red, the color of blood and of passion, the color of the heat of the noon-day sun. The fear of the South is the fear of losing control. The desire of the South is the desire for power, and the emotions are pride and anger. The animal of the South is the dog, the symbol of loyalty. We welcome the energies and spirit of the South. HO!
? Welcome the energy of the West, the direction of the Magician. Welcome the energy of introspection, going within to find the gifts of healing. The color of the West is black, like the darkness of our shadows. The desire of the West is the desire for order and virtue. The fear of the West is the fear of Abandonment, and the emotions are happiness and shame. The animal of the West is the Bear, that goes into the cave to hibernate, to seek within the darkness the gift of renewal. We welcome the energies and spirit of the West. HO!
? Welcome the energy of the North, the direction of the King. Welcome the energy of wisdom and blessing. The color of the North is white, the color of the hair of the elders. The desire is the desire for freedom and release, and the fear is the fear of Death. The emotions of the North are joy and sadness. The animal of the North is the Owl. We welcome the energies and spirit of the North. HO!
? Welcome the energy of Sky Above, the masculine principle, the energy and spirit of inspiration. The color of the Above is blue and the animal is the eagle. Welcome the gifts of wind and sunshine, the creative energies, the desire for Truth and the emotion of compassion. We welcome the energies and spirit of Father Sky. HO!
? Welcome the energy of Earth Below, the feminine principle, the energy and spirit of Generosity. The color of the Below is green and the animal is the deer. Welcome the gifts of nurture and support, the sustaining energies, the desire for abundant beauty and the emotion of gratitude. We welcome the energies and spirit of Mother Earth. HO!
? Welcome the energy of Within, the principle of wholeness, the energy and spirit of the mysterious. The color of this energy is Gold. Welcome the gifts of balance, oneness, and the connection with all things, for all things are one and all things are related. The animal within is the human being, the desire is for serenity and the emotion is humility. We welcome the energies and spirit of Within. HO!
? Welcome the spirits of our grandfathers, our ancestors, those who have gone before us, and on whose shoulders we stand. Welcome the spirits of the children yet to come, who will stand upon our shoulders. Invite into this circle the spirit and energy of those who guide, protect, and bless us to be fully who we are. HO!
Huddle Up, Arms Around Each Other: Call in any family or ancestors or spirits that
any man would like to in order to complete the circle, missing brothers, family, the sick
Compare this to a ritual sequence described by the website Urban Shamanism.
In order to begin doing shamanic work, we need to be in the presence of Spirit. We need to create a space that is sacred and “out of ordinary reality”. Sacred space is outside of “space-time” to use a concept from the paradigm of physics. Therefore the laws of physics don’t apply, anything can and does happen – this is called magic and miracles.
Shamanic work can be done at anytime and under any circumstances. There are times and circumstances where the formal setting of sacred space simply won’t work. For example, the scene of an accident.
Yet, in most situations this ritual is a way of honoring the work that we are doing and honoring the beings and help that we will receive. Calling the directions signals the spirit world that we are coming over – sort of a spiritual phone call rather than just dropping by.
There are several ways to call Spirit and set the space. Common ways to clear and set the space include smudging with sacred smoke; Native American shaman use sage wands to smudge, and Celtic shaman use different herbs.
In addition Spirit is called using rattles, whistles, flutes, songs, power words. I use a bell stick.
I call the seven directions, starting in the direction of the season – Spring = East, Summer = South, Fall = West and Winter = North. The seven directions are South, West, North, East, Down, Up, and Within.
Martin Prechtel, a Mayan shaman from New Mexico -[ a story all its own that he tells in his book “Secrets of the Talking Jaguar”] – says that Spirit loves eloquence. I love his image of Spirit becoming intoxicated by our poetry. Spirit is so enamored by our creativity that they grant us our requests. This gives me a new understanding of the real meaning, purpose and power of poetry (and any other creative endeavor). It has also inspired me to moments of grand eloquence when I am calling Spirit.
Calling the spirits to join us, protect us, teach us, heal us, guide us, and help us in our work, brings them into our circle and our sacred space. Calling Spirit from the directions, in fact, makes the space sacred.
If you decide to bring Spirit into your daily life by calling in the directions then be sure, when you are all done, to release the spirits and thank them.
It doesn’t matter what technique you use to call the spirits, what matters is your sincerity and your intention. Intention is everything, the rest is just method.
The ritual is also known as Calling the Watchtowers and is described here by the Pagan and Earth-based Spirituality Organization of Christopher Newport University
The following is a typical format of a ritual that one might see if they were to join P.E.S.O. for ceremony. Remember that there is relatively much room for variation.
1) Cast the Circle. As mentioned before, this is an affirmation and a metaphysical change that establishes a sacred space to commune with the divine.
2) Call the Watchtowers. I said earlier that I would explain more about what I meant when I said “corresponding attributes” of the watchtowers. Again, when we call the watchtowers, we are recognizing the cardinal directions, and asking for guidance or strength from the various attributes that the directions represent. The representations vary from culture to culture. There might be some discrepancy here when attending rituals which are more influenced by one culture over another. One culture, the south might represent passion, fire and healing, while in another, it may have an entirely different association. The Occult guru and scholar Aleister Crowley (love him or hate him) made a great deal of progress in studying various cultures, both eastern and western, and trying to find the most commonly accepted attributes of each of the direction. East is most commonly associated with new beginning and the mental realm. South is passion and the spiritual realm. Water is subconscious and the emotional realm. Earth is manifestation and the physical realm. This gives us a convenient representation of the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical body in the ritual.
3) Calling the Divine. This is sometimes called invoking the deity or calling the god and the goddess. It is usually done by the priest and priestess, sometimes with the help of those involved through the use of drumming or chanting. It can be done verbally (through some sort of invoking speech), silently, or a number of other ways
You can read the rest at the website as well as Google for Wiccan or pagan ceremonies such as here and here.
This is only one ritual sequence which is conducted in the MKP. There are others that derive from pagan traditions as well as others which borrow heavily from Gestalt and Jungian psychology and the human potential movement. My point is not to sound spooky and self-righteous in criticism of these practices. No doubt many good people harmlessly engage in them. My point is to provide information for men who hold worldviews which would be compromised by participating in these practices. Men should be told what they are getting involved in. Many religious leaders would no doubt not recommend engagement in pagan rituals no matter how well intentioned the reason. As reported here before, Richard Cohen, and the NARTH website have provided recommendations to attend these weekends. Recently I learned the Irish psychiatrist trained by Richard Cohen, Paul Miller recommends MKP via his ABEO organization as does David Pickup of The Workout Man.
Guts Work and Therapy
Reading through MKP materials, the comparison between MKP processes and psychotherapy are natural. There is much therapy language involved and the types of processes seem like group therapy in the experiencial mode. I do not believe however, that these are processes which can be recommended. Here is an account of the NWTA by a leader. I cannot provide a link but I have verified the source.
Group Process and the New Warrior Initiation
By David Quigley
The New Warrior initiation is a three day weekend workshop that empowers men to reclaim their lost masculinity and their lives through a number of powerful spiritual journeys and rituals. This training is unburdened by religious or political dogma, yet deeply connected to the spiritual foundations of what it means to be a man. This training has positively affected the lives of thousands of men, including helping free men of the violence, authoritarianism, and arrogance which have plagued many men’s organizations over the years. My own warrior initiation in 1997 was a major transformational experience in my life, helping me claim the courage to leave a dysfunctional, abusive marriage, and claim my right to a loving relationship. I recommend this program to every man without reservation. The warrior training is available from the Mankind Project at www.mkp.org.
Most of the powerful techniques used in this initiation weekend are secret, and wisely so. Men’s initiation rituals have been a well kept secret for thousands of years, because to reveal these secrets is to compromise the integrity and power of these rituals forever. So I honor the Mankind Project by sharing them with no one outside our circle of initiated men. But one of the most important processes offered on the weekend, called by most of us “Guts work” and usually known as “group process,” predates the warrior initiation by many years. Group process has been a specialty of mine for 16 years and I have trained several New Warrior leaders in its use. This article is written to describe my use of the “guts” process for men and women in my “Empowerment Intensives” as well as how this work applies specifically to the initiation of men. At the end of the article, I will describe the Group Process Facilitation Training offered by our Institute.
Guts work occurs in front of a group of supportive participants, and is facilitated by at least one trained leader. In the men’s weekend, this process is designed to help each man find whatever inner conflict is preventing him from being a powerful man in the world, and resolve that conflict. These internal conflicts usually contain some habitual destructive behaviors, negative emotional states, negative core beliefs about the world and ourselves, and sometimes postural elements and physical pain or discomfort, all revolving around a particular area of ones life, like our relationship to sex, money, social status, etc.. Together these elements form what Dr. Carl Jung calls a complex. These complexes and the core beliefs they contain can severely limit our ability to succeed in the world. While psychotherapy also explores these complexes, the approach in group process is entirely different
Here is a typical example: a man may feel depressed about his ability to create a loving relationship. His pattern is to enjoy a sexy romance and then, becoming uncomfortable with deeper intimacy, he withdraws after a few weeks, finding any excuse at all to withdraw. He is haunted by one negative core belief that he is unworthy of true love, and another core belief that women cannot be trusted with a man’s heart. This is visible in the man’s body: the more he talks about his relationship history the more visible is the collapse of his shoulders and chest into a slumping position. Like all complexes, this one has behavioral, emotional, physical, and mental components.
Once we have solicited this information from him, we need to get him to the source of this complex within the subconscious mind. That requires a trance induction. Yes, guts work is hypnosis based. But it is certainly not traditional hypnotherapy! There is no place in guts work for a relaxed guided journey with the client lying down in peaceful repose while the hypnotist feeds gentle suggestions.. Instead all group process work requires the participant to be in a very active, dynamic state in which they may be running, crying, screaming, or beating pillows while actively reliving all of the details of a long repressed memory. Or they may be trembling with ecstasy as they perform a ritual dance with the powerful energies of the divine Mother moving through their bodies. While this state doesn’t look like “hypnosis” to the average observer, it is only within this unique altered state that I call the “alert trance” that the true power of group process can be fully experienced. In my Empowerment Intensives and in the warrior initiations we can use the group energy itself, and the mental expectations of the group, to create this altered state. This can be assisted by drumming, music, and ceremony.
Once this altered state is achieved, there are several stages that guts processes go through to find resolution. Let me list them first, and then I will describe how each is accomplished:
First, we must find the person and or the memory which is at the core of the participant’s complex, the memory that is the cause of the negative core belief that fuels the complex.
Then the participant must re-experience in their whole body the terrible pain and despair that was generated by this trauma.
The memory then needs to be changed into a positive resource for healing. Since this is often a childhood memory, it usually includes rescuing the inner child from this past trauma with the help of the group leader, the group, and most important, the adult self of the client, perhaps including the expression of new and more appropriate feeling responses…like righteous anger, compassion, and kindness. (Many guts processes in my experience lead to past life traumas, but this topic is beyond the reach of today’s article.)
The participant may then connect with a new archetypal source of strength, such as a new inner father, an inner King or Queen, or some similar resource. This resource then must be planted in the participant’s body for instant access whenever the participant needs this strength and wisdom during the challenges of their daily lives or when their complex is re-stimulated.
The final stage is to have the client walk through a trial run of the challenge faced in their present life, using the inner resources (and new core beliefs!) he has developed. Through this dramatic re-enactment, with group members assuming the roles of the client’s family, boss, or whoever, we get to see if the client’s new response is stronger and more appropriate. It may even close with a “Vow”. This means that the participant promises loudly to the entire group to call upon his inner resources and his new core beliefs whenever he is challenged in future by his issue. He may even be “challenged”, confronted by other group members who will help him steel his nerves, and affirm his new stance. A successful “psychodrama rehearsal”, including the vow, becomes a delightful grand finale and is greeted by the group with a lively applause, group hugs, and words of praise and encouragement from the group.
Finding the specific memory that is at the root of the client’s problem is much easier than it sounds. A skilled therapist can accomplish this NOT with some long and complicated induction, but simply with a series of body oriented and focused inductions. Words like these are useful:
“We are now going back to the time when you first learned that you were not good enough for a woman to love” or “Let’s go down into that slumping feeling in your shoulders, deeper now with each deep breath” or “Down to the time when your first felt that hopeless feeling in your belly.” The strong body orientation of this type of work gives it the name “Guts work.” This can be profitably combined with some gentle music, progressive relaxation, or a guided journey down a flight of ten stairs. Words of reassurance from other group members of their presence and support can also be helpful. “I’ve got your back, Joe!” “I’m here for you.” Etc.
There are three types of trauma I discover at the roots of the client’s problem. First and most common is the kind of traumas that occurred frequently in the client’s past. People are often confused by these recollections, because they often seem small or even insignificant to the participant. “Well, I see my father reading the paper. He is just ignoring me. As always. What’s the big deal?” While the participant may seem entirely confused that this very ordinary experience is at the root of his problem, I am not confused at all. Think about it. If as a young boy you were continuously rejected and ignored by your father, the consequences of these accumulated “day in the life” traumas would be absolutely devastating to the emerging masculinity this boy is trying to build. In fact, I find these
“day in the life” traumas are the most significant ones in my client’s lives, because each memory may represent hundreds of individual incidents of abuse or neglect.
The second type is the unique, devastating, and often violent trauma that we cannot forget. When mother died at age 10, the time a babysitter molested you, even the trauma of wartime violence, divorce, or illness in the family. Important to my own recovery was clearing the memories of my infancy in war-torn China in 1950.
A third type is the emergence of some repressed and horrific memory which the client was unaware of before entering trance. The emergence of such memories can itself be very shocking. In my opinion, it takes a skilled hypnotherapist to assist in the clearing of such incidents. The good news is that such shocking emergent memories are rare in guts work. My belief is that the subconscious mind will only give us the memories that it is safe for us to process. This has been confirmed repeatedly in my 29 years as a hypnotherapist.
In the second stage, the client must be taken fully into the state of contraction caused by this traumatic memory. Heavy music or loud slow drumming can help. So can the encouraging words of the leader and group participants. “That’s it. Crawl into a ball. Feel how hopeless it really is. That’s right…no one will ever want to love you now. You are damaged beyond repair…Breathe it into every cell.” The more voices that can be enrolled in feeding these suggestions, the deeper the participant will go into their pain. If the client shows stooped posture, I may have them exaggerate these positions. “That’s right. Curl up tighter. Hide. You have to hunch down even further. Otherwise he will hit you again…etc.” Group members can be enrolled to repeat the abusive messages of the past in the exact words and voice tone in which they were fed to the client repeatedly as a child. “You’ll never be as good as your brother, son!” While this may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, I have found over and over that the more deeply the participant can re-experience the pain of their initial trauma, the more powerful will be their transformation. To create some safety in this phase of the process, if it’s needed, one can have another group member lie down with the victim, cradling them in loving arms as they feel their pain. I call this figure the “supporter”, and I make sure each man has one that they have chosen for the entire session. Another way to create safety is to assign another participant to play the role of the abused child, while still other group members play out the dramatic story. Meanwhile the participant watches and weeps, supported by the loving touch of their supporter.
Now we must use dramatic re-enactment to transform this traumatic memory into a positive resource for change. The completion of the “rescue mission” for the participant’s inner child is a complex process with many possible components. We may need to confront the perpetrators of childhood with yells, shaking a pillow, or even in some cases hitting a big pillow with fists or a plastic bat. We may need to acknowledge the good things daddy did for us, honoring his efforts to be a good father, before the initiate can express their rage for the abuse or neglect father perpetrated. I may need to call on other group participants to explain to the initiate what a real father is supposed to be, and do, for his son. Sometimes I do this by calling on a circle of good fathers to surround the client with stories of their own kindness and love in handling their children’s needs, while reassuring the participant that we will find this perfect new father for him. Usually the client’s adult self is the major source of healing, rescue, and protection for this inner child. Remember to always ask the client’s adult self, “How would you want to change this incident?” Although this material is far too complex to be covered in detail here, information can be found on our website about this at www.alchemyinstitute.com/healcld.htm .
I think it is easy to see how memories could be implanted using such techniques. Note the use of pillows and the like. In this context, please see this article by social psychologist Carol Tavris and perhaps consider this video regarding Rage Therapy.
This video is from a PBS documentary, Divided Memories. The video participants give account of a process which is very similar to what the NWTA article above describes as Guts Work. Note one participants delayed reaction to her work with Genesis Associates.
I do not see any evidence that same-sex attraction can be permanently diminished via such processes. Many gay rainbow warriors exist and have not become ex-gay via participation. I do not recommend the MKP to those I counsel and consult with and would especially advise Evangelical Christian men to avoid practices which could compromise their commitments to their beliefs.
You can read the processes involved in the New Warriors Training Adventure at the Rick Ross cult awareness site. Due to a copyright complaint to Mr. Ross from the MKP, the initiation manual is referenced throughout this lengthy series of posts.
Here is a little history of MKP from someone who apparently is sympathetic to the organization.
New Warriors has been criticized by some survivors because of the attitude toward women seems confusing and condescending. Read this interview on the MKP website with Jim Belushi and judge for yourself.
New Rules on Transparency – 2009 (added 8/23/09)
At their 2009 leader training in Glen Ivy, CA, the MKP decided to open a window into the secrecy of NWTA. This blog was mentioned specifically as a source of “misperception.” Apparently what is here will be addressed on the MKP website in the future. As is my policy, if anything is incorrect, I will issue a correction on the blog. Here is the new approach:
Transparency and the NWTA: Next Steps
At the February 2009 Annual Meeting in Glen Ivy the Project Council approved a proposal moving MKP toward greater transparency. The full proposal is included at the end of this note, which is intended to let you know the work we’re doing to put the plan into action.
Changes to NWTA protocols
The updates to our NWTA protocols: Secret Male Ritual, Table 1, On-Site Agreement, Confidentiality Agreement and Integrating the Training will be submitted to the Leader Council Curriculum Chair shortly, and our intention is that the revised protocols will be available to staff men and leaders within a month.
This is the main focus of the initiative designed to increase candor regarding FAQ’s for men coming to the training as well as specifically addressing inaccurate criticism of MKP and the NWTA on the web.
· We are developing a set of FAQ’s to guide men in speaking with potential initiates about the training and the organization. You are encouraged to share information about the NWTA to the extent that it is requested, encouraging men to step into the mystery while answering questions honestly.
· The MKP public website is being revised to include the above material and appropriate “spoiler” warnings. It will include direct responses to some of the specific criticisms and misperceptions on the web (Houston Press, Haven Ministry, Rick Ross, Warren Throckmorton, Reid Baer, etc.)
· A new press kit is being created which will include articles about MKP as well as broader men’s issues.
· We are continuing our work to raise our visibility on search engines, social networks and men’s self-help sites.
We will continue to report back to you as we make these changes and we welcome your feedback.
The MKP Transparency Team
PROPOSAL TO THE PROJECT COUNCIL
Transparency Regarding the NWTA
In our Confidentiality Agreement and the processes Secret Male Ritual and Integrating the Training we ask men not to share the processes on the NWTA. As an institution we maintain this secrecy in how we speak and write about our training. In the last few years we have been criticized on blogs, on websites, and in a suit for not providing sufficient details for men to make an informed decision about attending our training. The ManKind Project has been labeled a cult by some for our refusal to disclose what we do on the training. It is likely that at least some of these attacks could have been avoided if we had provided more information about the training. The cost of these attacks has been significant to MKP and to our centers. At the same time, most, if not all, of our processes have been described in various media, and in some cases our protocols have been made available on websites.
In many contexts, MKP as an institution and we as individuals highly value transparency, and around the globe organizations are being increasingly called to provide transparency about their activities. Nevertheless we have continued to hold an expectation that we can and should keep our NWTA processes secret. Many of us are concerned that knowing more about the training will make it less effective for participants. Others who read about our processes before attending the NWTA say it was still extremely impactful. I have spoken in depth with the Leader and Center Councils about how we hold secrecy and transparency, and the overwhelming response has favored transparency.
I believe that on balance, it will serve the ManKind Project to release our expectations of secrecy and step into transparency about our processes. I propose that MKP begin to provide disclosure about our processes to the extent it is requested by potential initiates and the general public. This means:
· Men who have done the NWTA will be released from any obligation to maintain secrecy about our processes, and will be encouraged to share information about the NWTA to the extent it is requested. This applies particularly to men involved in NWTA enrollment.
· The Marketing Team will be directed to revise the www.mkp.org website to provide an optional detailed description of the NWTA. This will probably look like an invitation for men to step into the mystery of the training by not reading the details of the processes, and a spoiler alert which leads to a webpage with more explicit details. The Team will also be directed to draft new brochures with some additional details. In both media, men will be encouraged to speak directly with men in the centers if they have further questions.
· The Executive Director will be directed to modify our releases and Confidentiality Agreement and the Leader Council Curriculum Chair will be directed to modify Secret Male Ritual and Integrating the Training in alignment with this proposal.
· Our expectations about confidentiality remain unchanged: Information about individual men and their personal processes are confidential.
Executive Director, on behalf of the Executive Committee
This is indeed a change. I am waiting to here how former MKPers see this and am interested in how the Scinto family views this. The transparency is valuable I think given the fact that NWTA uses therapy techniques without regulatory oversight. The proof of the value of this proposal will be in the follow through.
This entry is a work in progress. For more on the MKP, click here. Readers who have additional information regarding MKP or NWTA should send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.