In the video above, filmed in 2008, I guide young men through celebration ritual using traditional West African Drumming and spoken word as a means of expression, initiation, and transformation.
The wisdom of the ancients is not just something for interesting ethno-anthropological studies, read by academics secluded from the societies in which they are rooted. Rather, these studies are ways of mapping the future for one’s own self, family, and society. As in music, without a conscious attempt to integrate rhythm, all that one creates is noise.
It is my belief that troubled young males are in trouble precisely because the containing structures of myth, ritual, and mentoring are not there to help them traverse the dangerous path from youth to adult. Left on their own, they make “noise” and are punished for it. It is thus all the more essential to explore ancient practices and find effective ways of bridging the gap so that an almost-lost generation becomes the fire that burns for the good of self and other rather than a wildfire that destroys.
Drumming is essentially a spiritual act. Ritual is a mythic act. I have been drawn to drums and have been a participant in and creator of ritual for a long time. Connection and community is what is needed in the modern world, especially for troubled males. In working with youth, the drum allows me to lead with the very instrument that brought me immense healing in my own adolescence.
The fact that drumming is an ancient cultural art form brings present many generations of practice and tradition. Bringing cultural authenticity to the activity of drumming can deepen the import of the essential work of individuation, as it will activate ancestral patterns which lie dormant in the psyche of each person.
A resurgence of mature masculinity is needed in our modern world raging with the fires of destruction. This is happening in part due to its men acting out against a veiled sense of psychological impotence. Understanding and activating masculinity on an archetypal level allows males to complete their psychic development so that they do not have to destroy projected targets outside of themselves in compensation for the rage of repressed, unfinished business.
Keys to this mystery can be found in part by heeding lost truths of collective tribal ancestors. Attaining healthy masculinity on a cultural level is crucial to survival as a human species, for it incorporates right functioning of the ego toward the good of the whole person and society. For the future of society, it is imperative to tend, nurture, and empower the soul and being of male youth. Without youth, there is no future.