Once a month, in a quiet suburban back garden in the modern metropolitan area of Melbourne, a community of men bear the notorious Melbourne weather conditions to assemble around an outdoor fire and participate in the 'Mens Fire Circle'. Just recently, the Mens Fire-Circle observed its fourth year, so in recognition of the milestone, I met the facilitator and founder of the 'Mens Fire Circle', David Mollet, to learn a bit extra on just what the community does as well as why it came into being.
Interviewer "So what led to you starting the Men's Fire Circle?"
"It was when I turned the big 'five-O'. It was a pretty momentous milestone and in the days following I noticed myself reassessing life, and one of the considerations I was turning over was how discontented I was with the quality of spiritual leadership readily available in my culture, or lack thereof. It seems to me that our religious establishments have forfeited all their moral authority, and also I noticed myself fantasising about just what my life might feel like if I was in a hunter-gatherer culture where individuals related to themselves as an integral part of a tribal community ... It was about then that a separate voice (in my mind) spoke with me stating "You have just turned 50 Dave, that means you are now an elder, so exactly what are you intending to do about it, whine like a victim or step up, be a leader and do something about it."
"That idea truly made me sit up and take notice and in the following few days I decided to start a mens-community based upon the traditional tribal values of Men meeting around fire to talk over men's matters, and the idea for the Mens Fire Circle was created."
Interviewer: "Why did you decide on a Men's Circle, why not just a circle for every person?"
"That's an interesting point. At that time I really felt a powerful wish to look to tribal cultures for my inspiration. I intended to get back to something closer to nature, it also seemed to me that in tribal cultures there was a real importance placed on rites of passage ceremonies and an appreciation of both the different needs, together with the roles among each gender. What's more I was aware that if in their wisdom, leaders of tribes had indeed witnessed value in males and females congregating according to their specific gender to go over and hold the space for each other with the particular difficulties common to their own gender, then I concluded, it would be a wise practice for the fire-circle I create to follow that as well."
Interviewer: "Exactly how have you found the gender exclusive parameters to operate, is it useful or do you miss the counterbalance of the female aspect?"
"At first I had qualms about this, however paradoxically, what I've realized is that it tends to be much easier for most guys to be in contact with the feminine aspect of themselves in circle if females are not there. I believe there are two factors contributing to this. The first is that, often men desire to articulate concerns they are having in connection to their personal partnerships, and doing so solely with their own gender appears to supply them a little bit more ease to exchange freely and honestly regarding the way they really feel with respect to 'the woman' in their lives. I believe they experience that other guys can probably comprehend their dilemmas more easily. Perhaps it's because we have actually all been accorded with comparable social conditioning, so we are running our lives from the very same presumptions.
The second point is, when the circle is all guys, there aren't any sexual distractions. There's no bandying for the attention of women, no trying to "make it" with the opposite sex. With the majority of potential sexual complications set aside, this appears to support everyone to be more genuine."
The Men's Fire Circle comes together in the evening on a monthly basis, in Greensborough, a suburb of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, Australia. You can locate the web site with all the information of upcoming events, and also the option to sign up for email notifications of the gatherings.