Why do we do the things that we do?

Where did we start?

We started Stone Circle from the realisation that there simply aren’t enough genuinely masculine places where the average man can express what’s going on for him, without judgment, criticism or joining a club.

It was dawning on us that this lack of an outlet was leading to many of the social problems that trouble modern society. We had been to a number of ‘new age’ meetings, courses and events, where the men there were able to express their feelings, role-play scenarios and get in-touch with their spiritual side.

There is nothing wrong with these types of activities, they provide a very beneficial service to a large number of men, but they are not main-stream or accessible enough to the vast majority of men, and often require a great deal of courage to sign-up to.

“Sometimes a Man just needs to throw a pound of tea and a loaf of bread into an old sack, and jump over the back fence.”

John Muir

American naturalist and author

So we started Stone Circle with the simple objective of organising weekends where groups of men could go and ‘be in the Wild’, talk about the challenges they face in their every-day lives, what it’s like to be a man in the Modern World, if they so desired.

The skills we have learned over many years of being in the Wild – along with the learning from our own personal journeys – is what has driven the creation and the evolution of Stone Circle.  This experience is what we offer to all mature men in the hope that it provides the tools and abilities to help Men like us regain and keep control of our lives, before things get out of hand.

The challenges facing Modern Man

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45, and accounts for a staggering percentage of the deaths of men between the ages of 45 and 55.  That equates to one suicide every two hours.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this is that over 40% of men who contemplate suicide don’t feel they can talk to their friends.  They have friends, but they don’t feel able to engage them about whats ‘keeping them awake at night’.

It is the constant barrage of expectations that a man faces: not to ‘have feelings’, to show fear, to cry, to ask for help. To be lean, fit, a perfect father, lover, son and brother.  

To strive to be the best is an admirable and desirable trait of masculinity, but the denial that can come with the pursuit of perfection is corrosive and dangerous type of repression which is the root cause of much of the world’s suffering.

The journey towards suicide is littered with despair. Long before a man chooses to take his life, he may well turn to drink, to drugs and even affairs to take his mind of his unresolved problems.  This can quickly escalate to addiction and abuse, to more despair and more problems. a vicious cycle that can so often end in death.  All because the man in question doesn’t have the simple ‘right’ to share that something is wrong with the people he holds closest.

How many groups of young men take to the streets at the weekend, all desperate to discuss their own particular crisis, all determined not to show any weakness, and all denied the simple right to be heard.

“[Men] will grow up expecting by the time they reach mid-life they’ll have a wife who will look after them and a job for life in a male industry. In reality they may find that they reach middle age in a very different position. Society has this masculine ideal that people are expecting to live up to. Lots of that has to do with being a breadwinner. When men don’t live up to that it can be quite devastating for them.”

Clare Wyllie

Head of Policy & Research, Samaritans

How do we break the cycle?

To address the problems men face, we must first change the way we ‘deal’ with these problems, many of these techniques are remarkably simple and effective.  

A lot of the recommendations revolve around exercise, fresh air and a change of scenery, but high on the list is simply to talk.  Talking is a powerful key to unlocking these problems, and reducing their power over us. Talking with each-other, with our families with counsellors or professionals.

In summary, the key strategies for addressing depression – outside of medical treatment – are:

  • Explore the reasons for feeling depressed or overwhelmed – which simply means discussing the whole issue in some detail with someone that will listen, and not judge. Where we can the opportunity to be ‘authentic’ about how this impacts on life and consider, letting emotions come to the surface.
  • Exercise, release natural endorphins, and ‘get away’ from the environment which is causing distress. Especially get out of the city and into nature, especially forest. There is significant evidence of the effects of ‘forest therapy’ in the treatment of depression.
  • Eat properly, and eat regularly. A proper balanced diet can help to combat stress, and the act of preparing a meal can be a distraction in its own right. Look to remove stimulants and drugs, such as caffeine and alcohol, from the diet.

The advice of a medical professional should always be taken in regard to mental health: the underlying cause may be a chemical imbalance which requires medical intervention.  However, the above points are essential to a healthy life in all situations: if someone is feeling overwhelmed or has clinical depression – the above actions will go a long way to improving the outcome and quality of life for that individual.

Change the environment, change the status quo

We have found, through our experiences, and through the experiences of many Men that we have talked with, that one of the simplest and most effective ways of combating the pressures of Modern Life is to simply escape it for a short while.

When we do, the pressure and panic fall away, and we get time to think.  When we can think clearly, the problems seem smaller and solution much more obvious.

When we can’t see the wood for the trees, we go and spend time in a forest.

Escaping the Modern World can be a challenge when we don’t know what we are doing: escaping from one hostile environment into another, somewhat like jumping out of the frying pan and into the camp-fire.  So, by learning some of the simple and ancient techniques of Bushcraft, we can equip ourselves with the physical tools and mental skills we need to be safe and comfortable in the Wild.

We can also do something to repair our damaged masculinity, by learning how to be self-sufficient in the Wild, making shelter, warmth and even foraging for food.  These skills have an amazing ability to raise the spirits in the moment, and build long-term self-confidence for the future.

Safe and comfortable is core to what we do. We plan to keep ourselves out of situations that require any sort of real survival skills, whilst getting far enough away to be free. To do this we need to know how to avoid getting into dangerous situations (prevention rather than cure) and most importantly how to do so whilst being comfortable. If it’s not a pleasant experience then it will take away from our experience and make things worse. That is why safety and comfort are key to all our weekends.

You can see a full list of our courses on the ‘What we do‘ page, with links through to full course descriptions.

This is why we do it

We created Stone Circle because we’ve been here ourselves. We have known men who have gotten into despair, into depression and some who have taken their life.

We hope that through Stone Circle, we will continue to be positive, constructive and happy Men, who can help other men to escape from the Modern World, recharge themselves and face their challenges.

We hope that you will want to find the courage within yourself to join us in the Wild.