Books by Joseph Jastrab

Released: Aug. 1, 1994

A flaky journey into the heart of dimness that is the Men's Movement. Jastrab, an instructor at a survival school and a guru of the Men's Movement, offers (with freelance writer Schaumburg) his own and others' experiences of the Vision Quest. Appropriated from traditional Native American spirituality, the quest is a central ritual of the movement. Jastrab discovered the importance of the rite while in the Utah desert, when he felt the overwhelming presence of ``feminine power.'' Later, after being introduced to Native American teachings, he knew he must unite the roles of priest and naturalist. The stories related stem from a series of retreats conducted by Jastrab in the Adirondacks of New York between 1982 and 1993. The ritual as practiced by Jastrab combines a wilderness trek with prayer, self-purification, storytelling, ancient myth, Native sweat lodges (a favorite New Age sauna), and- -literally—howling at the moon. He admits that all this really amounts to is men, alone together as men, acting ``like a bunch of damn fools.'' It even involves what he calls ``ritual humiliation.'' A credo of his teaching is ``No foolishness, no growth.'' The goal is to reconnect men to images of manhood in the living earth and in the Great Mystery. Besides corrupting a lot of indigenous American wisdom, the quest also involves the legends of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King, and animistic talk of Rock People and Pan and satyrs. Quotes from gurus and heroes of the New Age and the Men's Movement such as Robert Bly and Carlos Castaneda abound. There are also passages written by retreat participants and signed with the Indian names they take, such as Earth Drum Dancer, Stands By His Heart, and Soaring Eagle. This utter silliness would be offensive if it weren't so funny. Yet the reader will be constantly and wincingly aware that the authors are perfectly earnest. Read full book review >