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A Melbourne Men's Group Draws Inspiration From Tribal Practices

Where do men go when they need someone to talk to? Many men are now finding support through local mens groups where they can seek the counsel of other men who may have gone through similar life situations. We spoke to the leader of one group and found out what inspired him to run it.

Every fourth Tuesday, in a modest suburban yard in the present day metropolis of Melbourne, a gathering of guys defy the infamous Melbourne weather conditions to sit around an outdoor fire and share in the 'Mens Fire Circle'. At the last meeting, the Mens Fire-Circle celebrated its fourth anniversary, so in acknowledgment of the event, I met with the facilitator and creator of the Mens Fire Circle, David Mollet, to discover a bit more in respect to what exactly the group does, including why it came into being.

Interviewer "So tell me David, what was it that led to you starting the Men's Fire Circle?"

"It was just after I turned fifty. For me I felt it was a fairly major milestone and in the days following I noticed myself reassessing life, and one of the matters I was considering was just how discontented I was with the quality of spiritual leadership offered in our society. It appears that our religious organizations have given up the majority of their ethical authority, and then I noticed myself imagining what my life would probably be like if I lived in a hunter-gatherer culture where people knew themselves as an integral part of a tribal community ... It was about then that I had this epiphany and I said to myself "You have now reached fifty Dave, that means you're an elder, so just what are you intending to do about it, guts-ache and be a baby or lift, be a leader and be part of the solution."

"That idea seriously made me sit up and take notice and so in the following few days I chose to set up a mens-community based upon the old customary tribal values of Men gathering around fire to explore men's concerns, and the idea for the Mens Fire Circle took form."

Interviewer: "Why did you choose a Men's Circle, why not just a circle for every person?"

"That's an important point. At the time I felt a firm inclination to inspect tribal societies for getting ideas. I intended to return to something closer to nature, it also seemed to me that in tribal cultures there was a definite highlight placed on initiation events and a realization of both the different needs, as well as the particular roles in connection with each gender. What's more I had a hunch that if in their wisdom, tribal leaders had indeed seen value in males and females getting together according to their specific gender to inquire into and guide each other through the experiences common to their own gender, accordingly I concluded, it would definitely be an excellent choice for the gathering I create to follow their insight too."

Interviewer: "How have you ascertained the gender restricted parameters to function, have you found it to be useful or do you miss out on the counterbalance of the feminine?"

"At first I felt uneasy about this, however paradoxically, what I have actually discovered is that it appears much easier for a number of guys to get in touch with their feminine side in circle if women are absent. I expect that there are two points at play with this. One is that, frequently men desire to discuss issues they're dealing with in their personal relationships, and doing so only with their own gender appears to give them a little bit more freedom to share freely as well as candidly concerning the way they feel relative to 'the woman' in their lives. I believe they experience that other guys can recognize their issues more effectively. Possibly it's due to the fact that we have actually all been accorded with equivalent social conditioning, so we are operating from corresponding expectations.

The 2nd factor is that when the fire-circle is all males, it means that for most of the men present there are no sex-related distractions. There's no bidding for the attention of ladies, no attempt to "make it" with the other sex. With prospective sexual distractions taken out, this seems to permit everybody to be more soul searching."

The Men's Fire Circle convenes in the evening on the 4th Tuesday each month, in Greensborough, a suburb of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia. You can look up the meetup site with all the details of get-togethers, and also the option of registering for e-mail notifications of the gatherings, here: http://www.meetup.com/Mens-Fire-Circle-Greensborough-Victoria/

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