HIDDEN WINE presents
27th Annual Mens Conference

Please join us this year as we gather again to create a place of story, song, and community to connect to our ancestorial legacies, deeply grieve, and let our souls be mirrored in the beauty of nature and being human.

Sept 13th-18th, 2011
Camp Miller,
Sturgeon Lake, Minnesota

go to main Mens Conference page

Testimonials of past attendees:

At my first conference, I was relieved at how at home I felt amongst these guys of all shapes, personalities. Everybody was fully there and having a great time. Martin Prechtel, Robert Bly, John Lee, Miguel Rivera, and Doug von Koss, five unforgettable, funny, brilliant men, were the conference teachers. From the moment it started, the conference had a good taste. It was a mix of nourishing stuff, a feast of large and small group activities, sharing, story telling, singing, reciting poetry, practicing martial arts, listening to musical performances, sufi dancing, doing more in a typical day than can be easily digested or dreamed about sufficiently. One goes home from the conference with a huge hunger awakened, the desire to eat all of Russia for example, or to partake of Argentina. All the nourishments men don't give themselves, under the rules we so often live by, are available at the conference in plenty, including an unlimited supply of good home cooked food, a sauna and a lake. But the main event is the wisdom of the the varying cast of men who teach at the conference in any given years. It is their big hearts, the nourishing bread of their ideas, and the conference rituals and activities they lead us in that renew us in our knowing what we know in our genes but tend to forget at this moment in our culture, that as men we should be generous with one another and offer support as needed for each other's growth.

— Jim Lee

Have you ever arrived somewhere for the first time by yourself and feel immediately like you are in a group of friends? The Minnesota Men's Conference is this type of place. When I say friends, I don't mean people being overly friendly, trying to be nice. Here everyone is just being themselves and giving everyone else the freedom to do the same. Through-out the week it was such a relief that here are no concerned "mother-types" asking you what's wrong if you don't feel like talking or are feeling some sadness of a past event or just plain frozen - I felt the freedom to just feel whatever it was I was feeling. In fact if anyone wants to spend the day or even entire time there and not talk to one single person there is freedom to do that as well. Or if you want to share your experiences, there will be plenty of people to do that with as well. There are no obligations.

Generally for us guys to meet new friends and then be able to have heart to heart chats with them, it can take weeks or even years to get to that stage, but at the conference guys are open to listening and sharing their own experiences. If you've felt alone in your life at times, you get to see first hand that you are not alone - and see how we are all going through similar struggles and joys.

At some point during the talks, teaching stories, the poetry, the singing, the activities or just hanging out I found myself relating to others there as if they were all brothers. In this relating there is a type of rest I felt - that the part of me that was always constantly on guard against others, competing at work or for a parking spot, could rest here - and instead of worrying about what could be lost, I found a new strength inside me.

When I went back into the city of Montreal after the week, I felt both charged-up and more at ease - I felt a new respect and connection for everyone else out I came in contact with in the city - I found myself being much friendlier and respectful to others (even other drivers) and receiving much friendliness and respect in return - something deep in me was now treating every other guy like a brother. Anyone I met was just seen as someone who might attend a conference like this one day or maybe the friend of somehow who would go, and therefore capable of that same acknowledgment of each other as fellow travelers on this same journey. I looked on women with a new respect as well, as each one was seen to be as a possible wife of a friend I haven't met yet or maybe their sister or mother or a new friend to myself. The world had become for me a much more comradely place.

I found a strength in acting out of a place of knowing that no matter how different or strange we look to each other, we are all in this common experience of life together and are more similar than different. I attended the Conference in 2006 and I will say its one of those life changing experiences that stick in your bones for years afterwards.

— Mike Pohorly

17 years now after warily going to my first Men's Conference at camp Miller, I have enduring gratitude at the difference it has made in my life. It didn't "fix" me or "solve" my problems. It was simply an amazing glimpse into authentic beauty in the community of men, which has encouraged and strengthened my life ever since. I am especially grateful that my son got to experience that last year. It was the most positive and enduring transformation I've seen in him, at a time when he needed something good the most- something I could not give him by myself.

— T. Sage Harmos, Colorado

I remember what my life was like before I first attended the Minnesota Men’s Conference. I was pretty dependent and was rather insecure. After I went to the Minnesota Men’s Conference, I was a different person. With the guidance of the teachers that were present at the conference and some of the other great men that were attending the conference that year, I began a journey of change. Here I am, nearly a year after the conference and the progress that I have made is astonishing to me. I am fourteen and have two jobs and feel way more independant. I feel so much more comfortable with putting my self out there in the world and much of this is due to the guidance and extraordinary experience at this conference. If you are in your early teens and feel somehow lost or are not quite sure how you want to grow into a man, this conference is the place for you. It will not solve all of your problems or answer all of your questions, but it will provide you with a “toolbox” to allow you to explore your manhood.

—"Bucky" H, age 13 who attended in 2010 with his father Sage

I started my journey in Men's work at the age of 34 when I found out that my third child was going to be a boy. A feeling of anxiety began to build up inside me that was markedly different than before with the birth of my two daughters. I was feeling very inadequate to the task, all alone and scared. It all came gushing out of me one evening with a group of friends who got together occasionally to explore issues of spirituality. As I began to talk about my concerns and fears, I said that I had lost touch with all of my old friends from high school and college and as soon as I said it I began to cry. That really startled me because I had not cried in years. At the end of the group session one of the men who was in the group asked me if I would be interested in starting a Men's group. I agreed and we each asked a few other friends to join us. The first meeting was at my house and one of the men brought the copies of the now famous New Age magazine interview with poet Robert Bly titled "What do Men Really Want?"
  We continued to meet every third or fourth week, our group grew from five to seven men. About two years after our first meeting  our entire group along with our spouses, went to hear Robert Bly give a talk and read Iron John in a church basement in South Minneapolis – it was packed. I can still remember that evening - the excitement in the room  - as this incredible poet animated and brought to life the story of Iron John. 

  Of the many things spoken that evening, two things really grabbed me. One, It was impossible for a boy to become a man without the active intervention of older men and that the father was not able to do it.  It was up to the other men of the community to do this. Secondly, that it was time to bring back the authentic rites of passage for young men….and, that it might take a hundred year or so, but why not start now?  He suggested that we start a Men's Conference in Minnesota to begin this task. That image, of bringing back authentic rites of passage, struck me in a way that no other words spoken that evening did. And the idea that it would take a hundred years or so began to sink into my bones. It reminded me of our ancestors who would begin the task of building a Cathedral knowing that they would die before it was completed. This deep longing inside me was beginning to awaken... I did not know it that evening, but I had already signed up. 

  I went to work the next day, painting a house with my good friend and small Men's group member, Doug Padilla. Doug had met Robert in the late 70's at a poetry reading and, according to Doug, they shared a bottle of wine after the reading. Unbeknownst to me, Doug had stayed after the Iron John reading and offered to organize the names of all who expressed an interest in attending a Men's conference. Robert agreed and with in a week or so asked Doug to organize the the conference. A short while later, Doug asked me if I would help him as he was feeling a little bit overwhelmed. We formed a partnership and named our new venture "Hidden Wine" and organized the first Men’s Conference in September of 1984. It was held on the edge of the wilderness near Ely, MN. About fifty men attended that first conference with Robert Bly, Michael Meade, Terry Dobson and Richard Close.
    For myself, and for many of the men there, it was a transformative experience.  Something awoke inside of us that had been dormant for a long time. This deep longing that was in our bones all along was being activated. It was as if walking on the earth, in the wilderness, taking the time to be with other men, telling our stories and seeing where it fit in to the BIG Story, crying  and laughing together, drumming and singing together.... somehow, these things combined were the right ingredients to spark our Remembering... You could feel the spark coming up from the earth through our feet. It was there. It was palpable.
  And now, 27 years later, I hear a similar story over and over again, from men who come to the Conference for the very first time.  For myself and many others of us who have been coming to the Minnesota Men's Conference over the  years…it renews our faith and commitment to continue to build this  “wilderness cathedral” of authentic rites of passages for young men for generations to come.

— Craig Ungerman - Hidden Wine co-founder

photos here

All wounds, stories and experiences are welcome and needed and will be honored.

Register by calling Craig Ungerman at 860-942-1658
or email him at: hiddenwine@earthlink.net

September 13th- 18th, 2011

with Robert Bly, Ed Tick, Malidoma Somé, John Lee, Miguel Rivera, Danny Deardorff, Martin Shaw, Doug von Koss, Tom Gambell, and many other teachers...

go to main Mens Conference main page

The only choice left is between non-violence and non-existence. That is where we are today."

Dr.Martin Luther King Jr., April 3,1968,
one day before he was assassinated

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