The Four Initiations

We are the social animal. We are the cultural animal. We are the ape that creates culture. You put us down anywhere, and we are going to create myths and rituals. With these four foundational powers (King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover), we are going to create the software we need to actualize our hardware, the potentials in our hardware. If you give us long enough, we will create what we need. We will create initiations through culture which correspond to each of these instinctual lines.

The Four Developmental Lines in the Journey to the Center:
Maturation Toward the Psychological and
Spiritual Cardinal Virtues

Arrows indicate movement toward integration and cohesion.

History shows that this is true. In the past, indigenous people created initiations which corresponded to each of these four lines of development. Take the Royal line (King/Queen), for instance. Men did things together which helped them learn how to mentor, and how to be aware of the need for sacrifice on behalf of the whole tribe. However, they did not leave this to chance. This is the key. They did not have the same assumption that contemporary people do, that you just let a person grow up and they will be mature. None of the indigenous people made that mistake.

They also realized - and Gutmann's (1987) book makes this very clear - that the old people of the earth, the tribal peoples, knew that you had better initiate the Warrior in the young man. If you do not initiate the Warrior, then the aggressive energy in a young man is going to damage his community and himself, too. They came up with the software, the tribal initiations, from the Masai to the Zulu to the Zuni, to help the young male learn the proper and appropriate use of aggression. Because he is flooded with it so early in his life, he does not have the life experience to tell him how to use it wisely. The elders must do that.

The old peoples of the earth did not have ordained clergy; instead, they had initiations for men in this energy. Men learned their ritual responsibilities, their initiation into the Magician. There was no such thing as a man in a tribe of indigenous peoples that did not have this ritual responsibility, that did not take his place in the circle of men in the long house. If you have not been in The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and looked at the long houses men were in prior to the modern era, then you should plan to do so.

They all knew there had to be some sort of initiation, some sort of ritual place and channel for the erotic, Lover energy. They knew a man needed to power up in the erotic, and they knew that this erotic energy was the universal solvent. Without an initiation, it will dissolved everything - personalities, homes, fortunes, whatever.

Initiation at Midlife
The mid-life transition has a different mid-life dynamic for men than women. Research shows that when men move into mid-life, many of them become depressed, passive, suicidal and addictive world-wide. Men in mid-life, in other words, move from the Warrior energy right into the heart energy, into Lover energy, and a lot of them collapse into a puddle, an abyss, a male mid-life emotional swamp. Renaissance poetry used to call this the "Slough of Despond" (for folks who are not from the South, a slough is an old creek that is full of water moccasins, it's hot and wet and full of quicksand). Even if a man had a good Warrior initiation in the first half of life, he is in danger of losing connection with it when Lover energy floods him. At mid-life, the Warrior must be consolidated to balance the flood of Lover energy and allow it to be integrated into the self.

Masculine Initiation
Time is late and we are in a desperate situation. Look at your political leaders and listen for anybody that is going to step up and name masculine initiation, or the lack of it, as a serious world-wide problem. You are going to have to listen a long time before you hear anybody that is even talking about this, and even longer before you come across anybody who really knows what is going on. Those in the echelons of power do not have a clue that it is not merely economics, it is not merely education, it is not merely any particular social location or television show or rap song, that is the source of our difficulties: it is the whole lack of a system of masculine initiation and eldership.

If you look at the Gutmann book, what does he say? He says that in every indigenous culture the older men bonded together as peace chiefs. They bonded together with the young men to help them understand what all this aggression is for. They offered young males a vision of masculine maturity.

Gutmann, D. (1987). Reclaimed powers: Men and women in later life. New York: Basic Books.

Moore, R. (1997). Masculine initiation for the 21st century: The global challenge. The New Warrior Handbook.

The Quartet of Books: The King Within, The Warrior Within, The Magician Within, The Lover Within.