I felt that I would suffocate and drown any time I approached my own sorrow, or anyone else's sorrow, or the sorrow of the world. Since I couldn't live in my own sorrow, I couldn't touch anyone else 's...For a man...the wall around his heart must be broken open without breaking his spirit...Part of the functions of initiations...was to open their hearts to sorrow and release the fire of their spirit. Both water and fire need to come out.
—Michael Meade



I. The Call

II. Departure/Entry

III. The One Guide

IV. Trial

V. Passage

VI. Return

VII. Home



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I. Can I name specific ways I was physically, emotionally, or sexually hurt or abused now or in the past?
Can I express what I feel about how I was treated?
How do I continue on now with the feelings it produced?


There is a pain--so utter
It swallows substance up--
Then covers the abyss with trance--
So memory can step
Around--across--upon it
—Emily Dickinson
Children will not remember...the material things provided but...the feeling that you cherished them.
—Gail Grenier Sweet
Only boys keep their cheeks dry.
Only boys are afraid to cry.
Men thank God for tears
Alone with the memory of their dead,
Alone with lost years.
—Vachel Lindsay
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.
—Robinson Jeffers

II. Can I name the unmet needs that my recurring difficulties with people and my addictions are trying to take care of?
What about boundaries: how free am I about allowing other people to say yes or no to my requests or needs; or about allowing myself to say yes or no as I wish to theirs?


We try so hard to get from others what once we missed.
—David Richo
We tend to long sexually for whatever is lacking in our ...development.
—John Sanford
In practice it means...the woman of your choice represents your own task that you did not understand.
—Carl Jung
The human animal needs...freedom from intrusion. privacy quite as much as...understanding.
—Phyllis McGinley

III. What particular images about being myself, being a man, or having my male sexuality, do I carry from my father, my mother, other people in my life, or from experiencing my society's expectations?
Do I define myself through other people or things-- in what ways?


Go back to yourself. For nothing can begin from nothing, and it is from your past, and from what you are at this moment, that what you are going to be must spring.
—Andre Gide
tr. John Russell
The hero idealizes his absent father; this gives the heroic son a taste for performance that knows no limits...In extreme cases, only the trauma...from some catastrophic event...can put a stop to it.
—Guy Corneau
If dad's first love was his work, we take our job to be our full-time mistress and wonder if Dad is watching from his grave as we work ourselves into an early one.
—John Lee
I grew up to have my father's looks, my father's speech patterns, my father's posture, my father's walk, my father's opinions and my mother's contempt for my father.
—Jules Feiffer
Denying what actually happened between his longings and his father's reactions to him keeps to [a man] returning to his father...A man has to get out of his parents' village with his longing intact. Facing the wound from the father makes clear the unfulfilled longing and makes a man's inner life more real.
—Michael Meade

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