An enquiry into modern manhood

An online programme


William Ayot and Nicholas Janni




William and Nicholas together bring over sixty years of experience, devoted to the interdependence of the healing, artistic and spiritual traditions. 


We invite you to join a global community of men committed to exploring our deeper natures, our vulnerability and wisdom, our power and our hearts. Our programme is a journey of deep enquiry that opens the great topics of a man's life without offering easy answers or solutions. No previous men's work is necessary, and men of all ages, races, creeds and sexual orientations are welcome


The programme offers nine live meetings, each devoted to one theme, between which we will encourage you to meet together in small groups to further support and learning. We will also have a community website where we will share relevant texts, research, insights and news.

[As we put this out, our world is being irrevocably altered by the coronavirus pandemic. We hope that by the time we meet, the worst will be behind us, leaving us to deal with the aftermath and any changes Covid-19 may have triggered. On that basis we reserve the right to alter dates and timings for the benefit of the group as a whole.]  


As men we are surrounded by many distortions of manhood, with too few mentors or role models we can look to. This is a unique opportunity to have the honest conversations that men rarely have, to create a safe space in which to be vulnerable together - an essential part of discovering our deeper selves and possibilities. 


We intend to honour intellectual rigour while noting that we, as men, can use our intellect to avoid our feelings. In doing this we seek to bring our physical 'sensing-body' and our emotional 'feeling-body ' to as practiced a pitch as our intellectual 'thinking-body'.




Poetry will be a rich part of the programme as will meditative practices and the invitation to turn towards those parts of us, the wounded as well as the inspired, the dark as well as the light, that we have knowingly or unknowingly cast into the shadows.s.



The Programme will consist of nine 2.5 hour live meetings with William and Nicholas, with self-facilitated small discussion groups between the meetings.



                       To register: send an email to

Please include your name, age, nationality, location and what draws you to the programme

Live Meetings

1) Introduction to Men’s Work


An opening session that lays out the ground and terms of our enquiry, while exploring paradoxes and possibilities.


o  The Paradox of Masculinity – Provider/Defender or Caring/Sharing Lover

o  The Numbing of the Male Heart – The Cultures We Live In

o  The Human Shadow – and Negative Potential. 

o  Male Naïvety & Denial – Avoidance and Escape 

o  Accessing Male Emotions – Soul work and the Feeling Body

2) Men and Feelings


 Exploring our relationship to fear, grief, anger, joy and      shame

  • Understanding feelings in the world of men, beyond ‘positive’ and ‘negative’

  • Which feelings are blocked in me, in my family, in my culture?

  • Finding the precise language for our feelings. 

  • Discerning the difference between thought and feeling

  • Grief and Fear as the keys to male healing

3) Facing our Fathers


Every man needs to review, renegotiate, outgrow or heal his relationship  with his father. 

  • How the hurts of fathers are passed on to sons

  • Competition, emulation and expectation 

  • The shadow of our fathers – failure and humiliation

  • The absent father – the hole in a man’s heart

  • Initiation and the need for blessing

4) The Darker Side of Feeling


While asserting that no feeling is ‘negative’, in and of itself, we look at how our present culture can toxify and poison our feeling-lives, and that of others.  


  • Stressors and triggers that hold and provoke male anger

  • Distinguishing between anger, rage and violence

  • Emotional Fusion – my feelings or yours? 

  • From Socialisation to Toxicity – Shame and the Roots of Addiction and Violence

  • Blocks and Binds – the feeling behind the feeling

5) Lineage


     Who am I and where do I come from?


  • Understanding our intellectual, emotional, spiritual and cultural inheritance

  • The ground of Belonging, the experience of Exile

  • Where do these feelings come from – personal background, ancestry or collective?

  • Trauma and deep ancestral healing

  • Discovering the ‘golden thread’ of lineage

6) Power


In a world where men are expected to be ‘powerful’, but are often held down within masculine hierarchies, how do we develop a healthy relationship with power? 


  • Winners and losers in male pecking orders

  • Power with vs power over, and the experience of powerlessness

  • Personal and cultural abuses of power

  • Smoke and mirrors – the illusions of power

  • Sourcing and recovering – the healthy expression of power

7) Exclusion and ‘Otherising’


Exploring the way in which men create 

separation, alienation and false hierarchies.


  • The grounds and the consequences of ‘otherising’ 

  • Tribes, gangs and outsiders – where are we ‘in’, and where are we ‘out’?

  • Race, class, caste and sexual orientation

  • Self-destruction - internalizing the hatred and oppression of others

  • Money and poverty – the single biggest separator between men

8) Sex, Relationship and Intimacy


The patterns, habits and misconceptions that can inform, inhibit and distort male sexuality


  • The difference between ejaculation and orgasm

  • The ‘perfect body’ – male self-image and body shame

  • Male touch deprivation – rediscovering our responsive body

  • The tainted looking glass – pornography, distraction and impotence

  • Sacred sex

  • Intimacy – gateway to love, caritas and compassion

9) The Holy Grail – Generativity, Creativity and Spirituality


In the end, we explore how ‘doing our work' can bring us to a fuller, richer more satisfying state of being 

  • The Waste Land and The Holy Wound – Regaining Male Generativity 

  • The Gift of the Soul – Giving ourselves to the world anyway

  • Handprints in the Cave - What we pass on and what we leave behind

  • Connecting to the Other – into Great Silence – Re-Finding Nature

  • Returning Home – Compassion and the Healing of the Wound


Nine 2.5 hour live meetings

with the user-friendly Zoom video platform

Each meeting will include:

  • Input from Nicholas and William

  • Guided reflective exercises

  • Sharing in small groups

  • Sharing in the large group

  • Suggestions for takeaway reflection topics

Meeting dates:


November 8th, November 22nd, December 6th, December 20th 2020

January 10th, January 24th, February 7th, February 21st, March 7th 2021

at 2.00pm UK, 3.00pm CET, 6.00am PT, 9.00am EC, 9.00pm HK

Each meeting will be recorded, audio and video, and posted on the private programme website

We hope that by the time we meet, the worst of Covid-19 will be behind us, leaving us to deal with the aftermath and any changes it may have triggered. On that basis we reserve the right to alter dates and timings for the benefit of the group as a whole.

In the hopefully unlikely event of changes we will of course refund you if requested.


Cost of programme: $695 + VAT for UK/EU residents

                           To register: send an email to


Please include your name, age, nationality, location and what draws you to the programme

William is an award-winning poet, author, teacher and ritualist. Over three decades, he has facilitated men’s groups, led men’s rites of passage and worked with men in rehab, prisons, personal development and organisational contexts. He uses poetry and the arts to teach leadership in boardrooms and business schools around the world, and currently teaches at INSEAD. William also designs and leads rituals for individuals and groups in his purpose-built ritual garden in Monmouthshire, Wales. He has published four collections of poetry, a prose book on ritual, and is currently writing a book for and about men in a time of epochal change

                                                 Nicholas has devoted his life to the development of consciousness.                                                           In his first career he was a theatre  director. He taught acting at The                                                          Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and directed his own theatre                                                  company. He has spent over 30 years researching the theory and the                                                        practice of ‘the zone’ of peak performance and has studied and                                                                  practiced multiple mind/body disciplines and drumming with masters in                                                  Africa and Japan.

For the last 20 years he has worked with organisations, NGO’s and senior leaders worldwide and teaches at the University of Oxford Said Business School and the IMD Business School in Switzerland. He studied intensively with modern mystic Thomas Hübl 2013-18 and leads intergenerational and collective trauma group work in the UK, US, Israel and The Middle East.