History of WA Men's Gathering

Many years of combined and individual experience has been compiled to make the WA Men's Gathering a success story. It is hoped that this guide will serve as an inspiration for other groups of men wanting to organise similar events.

The concept of the WA Men's Gathering Inc. grew out of a perceived need to produce a single group entity that would continue to organise Men's Gatherings in WA on a regular basis. In the past these Gatherings have been organised by the Men's Health and Wellbeing Association (WA) Inc., the Australian and New Zealand Men's Leadership Gathering (ANZMLG) Inc. and the MensWork Project Inc.

The Fremantle Men's Group took up the challenge in 2003; they founded and produced the first Gathering under the WA Men's Gathering Inc. banner, the theme chosen was 'Celebrating the Courage of Men'.

Dolmen at Point Walter
Year Theme Location
1995 Creating a Vision for the Future Pt Walter CC
1996 Work, Play & Love: Finding a Balance Pt Walter CC
1997 Men, Sex & Relationships Pt Walter CC
1998 A Gathering of Men Pt Walter CC
1999 Men's Health & Wellbeing Pt Walter CC
2000 Men Behaving Creatively Pt Walter CC
2001 ANZMLG: Extending the Boundaries Pt Walter CC
2002 The Nature of Man Camp Simon
2003 Celebrating the Courage of Men Camp Simon
2004 Celebrating the Man I Am Camp Simon
2005 Men for all Seasons Camp Simon
2006 From the Head to the Heart Camp Simon
2007 Creating Brotherhood Camp Simon
2008 Conquerors to Custodians Camp Simon
2009 The Times, They Are A Changing Camp Simon
2010 Manhood Camp Woody
2011 Lost in the Male Swanleigh RC
2012 Lifting the Bonnet on Manhood Swanleigh RC
2013 Conscious Connections Pt Walter CC
2014 Opening the Male Pt Walter CC
2015 Coming of Age Pt Walter CC
2016 Celebrating & Connecting Husbands, Fathers & Sons Pt Walter CC
2017 Connecting the Stories of Life's Stages Pt Walter CC
2018 Amazeing Manhood Pt Walter CC

These Men's Gatherings provide a unique opportunity for men to meet together in an environment that encourages honesty, trust, the true expression of feelings and the creation of a real way for men to be together in a safe and enjoyable environment.

Guideline Manual for WA Men's Gathering Inc.

What is a Men's Gathering?

In the words of John C Robinson, the American author of Death of a Hero; Birth of the Soul, his description of a Men's Gathering covers it all:-

"It is an event organised by men and for men only. The gathering may be as small as ten to fifteen men, or as large as one hundred or more. It may last a day, a weekend, or sometimes longer. It may take place in conference halls, churches, campgrounds or wilderness. Typically it is planned around a theme personally relevant to all men. Its structure often includes didactic presentations, community discussion, and opportunities for small group and one-on-one sharing. Equally important are experiences that awaken male energy, instinct, and soul – including poetry, myth, story telling, drumming, ritual, song, dance, exercise and skits. Although men are almost universally sceptical and uncomfortable at first with the idea of such experiences, the majority end up loving them.

One of the most powerful stabilisers in a men's gathering is the recognition of elders. The older men, who are usually in their late fifties to seventies, are asked to sit in the front with the leaders. Often for the first time in their lives, these men are welcomed and appreciated as elders. It is a profound and beautiful experience. In telling their stories, they are recognized for all they have learned and experienced, and all they have to teach. Moreover younger men finally get a chance to be with older men, to seek their counsel and blessing, to learn more about their own parents, and to grasp the great achievement of simply making it through all they have experienced. When elders speak in this context, even when diffident and unsure, they are deepened and so is the community.

As the gathering unfolds, and the grime of civilization washes clean, something palpable happens in the small groups and in the gathering as a whole. A kind of village forms, a community of men that becomes comfortable and familiar. And beyond that, something changes in the individual and collective consciousness – a slowing down, deepening, and opening occurs, especially in wilderness retreats. Men become more like men. They get more comfortable with male energy, humor and beauty. As the soup thickens, a powerful and timeless experience of individual, collective and archetypical masculinity emerges, and along with it a kind of mythic consciousness. This consciousness begins to feel the earth, woods and streams in the ancient ways.

Finally, there is an experience of oneness that gels in a men's gathering. Singing, dancing, or moving to the rhythm of drums and self-made music, music that emanates from their own cellular beat, men feel joined as one. Likewise, a single man's poignant sharing of emotion or a riveting conflict between two men can galvanize the whole community into a common experience of masculinity. In this moment of oneness, individuality and isolation are transcended, and every man is an irreplaceable part of the whole."

John C Robinson