Old Grandmother Growth:
Men, Boys and The Trickster
At this year’s Minnesota Men’s Conference we will tell stories of Old Grandmother Growth and the Trickster. Old Grandmother Growth could be seen as the many faces of the Goddess, which help to curb the insatiable appetites of the trickster and turn him towards life.
We will also praise the peculiarly masculine spirit of the trickster. A young man’s movement towards the trickster is a natural thing and is needed for him to survive and to live well in the world. The feeling of play in youth becomes in adolescence the trickster’s ability to give the slip to the hard tooth of life, that thing that wants to eat us.
The Minnesota Men’s Conference was started by Robert Bly in 1984. This was shortly after the interview between Keith Thompson and Robert Bly called What do Men Really Want? This first conference, as well as all the ones following have included the telling of old stories, the gifts of poetry, making music together and opening our hearts to grief, which sometimes appears when men who trust each other gather together for a few days.
This conference has been blessed with many fine teachers such as Michael Meade, James Hillman, Terry Dobson and Etheridge Knight in the 1980’s. Robert Moore, John Lee and Aaron Kipnis joined us in the 1990’s. In 1993 with the addition of Malidoma Somé, Miguel Rivera, Onaje Benjamin and Martín Prechtel, the conference moved towards a richer diversity of thought and a deeper connection to our ancestors. In the last few years we have begun to ask that men who have been given the honey of the old stories and soul teaching give some of this sweetness back to younger men. So again we are inviting 30 young men between the ages of 13 and 20 to attend this years conference.
We are asking all the men to reach back toward young men-both the fathered and the fatherlessand to work out rituals and ways of communication in order to offer to the younger men what the culture as whole does not.
We are delighted to have James Hillman return during this year’s conference. He will be with us for a day during his trip West on a book tour.
John Lee talks on grief, anger and the trickster all over the country and we are lucky to have him for three days this year.
Aaron Kipnis who has just published his new book, Angry Young Men, will discuss the difficulties young men, particularly in the cities, are facing.
Miguel Rivera will be here, bringing his new book, a translation of the Guatemalan poet, Humberto Ak’abal, Poems I brought down from the mountain, which began during the 1995 Minnesota Men’s Conference.
Matt Cohen will teach martial arts and playful dance to young and older men.
Martín Prechtel and Robert Bly will both be teaching in the morning this year, carrying on in their usual way with poems and stories. Martín has just finished his second book, Long Life, Honey in the Heart, Stories of Mayan Initiation.
We’ll have some writing workshops this year. A few hours each afternoon will be given to ritual activity and we’ll have one night in which we do nothing but sing.
We have extended the conference by one day, so that we will have more time for fun and companionship
This years conference will be held once again
at Camp Miller, a beautiful YMCA camp on
100+ acres of woods, fields and waterfront,
on Sturgeon Lake 100 miles north of the
Twin Cities. The cabins, dining room and
main meeting lodge are a combination of
rustic and modern. The camp staff are superb,
the food is excellent and the sauna is always hot!
The Minnesota Men’s Conference is supported entirely by participant fees and individual donations to the scholarship fund. Help reach out to a young man by sponsoring him to this year’s conference. Please send a check or money order for $10, $25, $50, even a full scholarship