Patrimony, Matrimony, Kinship, Ancestors & Ceremony
Stephen Jenkinson & Kimberly Ann Johnson
5 Sessions: Feb 25 – March 24
“Dying people, and dead people too, and marrying people, none of them I’d say have the right to take from the rest of us a crucial rite of passage by which the living are drawn down into the reality that their lives have changed irrevocably.
It isn’t their funeral, and it isn’t theirs to take away. Nor is it their wedding. It’s a village rite, a communal affirmation of the village’s ways of going on, not quite being able to.
The village, or what’s left of it, deserves a rite of recognition of the seismic change in their lives that matrimony would make, given half a chance. Matrimony doesn’t belong to the betrothed. It belongs to the communities that live out and enforce and endure the changes in life that matrimony is supposed to bring.
There is a real, palpable consequence to turning away from public ceremony– and not just for the public.”
– excerpt from forthcoming Matrimony book.
Come, Join the Conversations.
Over the course of 5 Sundays, Stephen and Kimberly will come together live, to explore the topics of Patrimony, Matrimony, Kinship, Ancestors & Ceremony. These are unscripted, realtime encounters. There will be opportunities to submit questions that may be woven into the conversations. These sessions will be professionally filmed, as well as live-streamed.
Mar: 3, 10, 17, 24
9 AM PST /
12 PM EST
5 x 90-120 Minute Live Online Sessions
Access to professionally recorded sessions
“Matrimony is an act of cultural memory.”
“Done well, childhood doesn’t survive initiation. The ferocious childhood preoccupation with the self doesn’t survive it. The stakes are very high. Rites of passage are risks, more than they are affirmations of cultural tradition. The outcomes are uncertain. Personal standing in the community is at risk, but personal development is nowhere to be found. Sanity is at risk. The near future of the community is at risk. So you might imagine that the spirit mechanics of the thing are elaborately conceived, and not casual, and not meant to be cathartic.”
All over the internet, people are selling ‘community’ and ‘ceremonial’ and ‘sacred’ teachings and rituals. This is considered inclusive and it’s considered the opposite of ‘gatekeeping’- where there are rules about who learns what and when. The ethos is that what is fair is for anyone to have access to any information that they want.
Like birth and death, we are enormously compromised if we come to their altar never having been in their presence. These days we hand birth and death over to specialists. Maybe you are one of those specialists. This series of talks is about culture making. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, divorced, married again, never married, never going to marry, a parent, or a godparent. This series of talks includes the history of religion and words and ritual, about how we got from many Gods to one God, and what is becoming of us when we so readily drop the remnants of our ancestors in favor of practice and ceremony that comes from somewhere else.
“Wherever you place your dead, that is where you’ll draw sustenance from. If you feel cheated, betrayed or abandoned by your ancestors, there’s a good chance you’ll respond in kind, a good chance you’ve already done so without maintenance and companionship. The boneyard of homeless people that interior no man’s land of feelings, prejudices, projections and symbols is a junkyard. The debris is wobbly. Heroism, foundation, stories of trespass and debt, identity swaps, artificial intelligence designed by flawed and homeless humans to supersede human flaws and frailties including mortality. Imagine mortality thrown over the chain link fence into the old boneyard- limits are for suckers.”
Listen to Stephen Jenkinson & Kimberly Ann Johnson
“How we are with each other, certainly in the heights and depths of our heart’s life, is how we are with what is holy in this world.”
The connection between me and Stephen Jenkinson began in August 2021 when I asked him for counsel about the devastation I was experiencing. Relationships, businesses, and friendships blew up as a result of the pandemic and its polarizations. That conversation marked me, and many of you. We spoke again the next day, in less than 24 hours, and those became before and after moments for me. Before SJ and after SJ.
Months later, I invited Stephen Jenkinson to have a series of conversations called Honest Reckonings, about each of his major works. At the end of those talks, we wrote each other a letter about the aftermath of working together. Those exchanges became the book Reckoning.
For the better part of 2022 we’ve reckoned all over our countries- from a Masonic temple in San Luis Obispo, a co-working space in Toronto, a concert hall in Asheville, a cafe in NYC, a country club in Ottawa, a living room in Santa Barbara, a barn in Boulder, to a timber mill in San Diego.
In 2023, we reckoned with other brave culture workers for multiple days at the Rowe Center in Massachusetts, Mt. Madonna in California, the Orphan Wisdom School outside of Ottawa, and in Maui. You may have been in attendance at one of these events.
One of the unexpected consequences of working with Stephen Jenkinson for the last two and half years is that I got married. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. I am saying that he, possibly inadvertently, pushed me over the edge.
I also watched a dear friend of mine, someone devoted to freedom, who always said she wanted deep commitment but didn’t need marriage, decide to get married.
I watched the alchemy happen before my eyes in the audience at a Reckoning event as Stephen Jenkinson elaborated on the poverties, as he calls them, of a culture that side-eyes matrimony for all the obvious reasons- women as property, marriages not lasting anyway, religious non-affiliation, and out-dated vows and agreements.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in that situation~ make-shifting a ceremony. With no active rites of passage, we arrive at the altars of birth, death, sex, and matrimony with a pile-up. The unspoken grievances and resentments stack up at the thresholds.
The liminal moments will always be places for potential alchemy, but with little practice and minimal ritual, it’s more likely that we are lost or empty-handed. Or maybe you have plugged into someone else’s traditions for rites of passages, and it works for a while, but you’ve begun to consider what the ways of your people might have been and how those have been so hard to grasp.
As dire world and planetary circumstances intensify and the way people treat one another is increasingly lacking in grace or etiquette of any kind, the hunger for ceremony and anything sacred is palpable.
If there was ever a time to gather around, the time is now.
What Others Are Saying:
- “Punk rock for the somatic conversations people are afraid to have.” – Reckoning Attendee, PA
- “I love the exchange between you two- raw and open and alive in the moment. It brings me to back hanging with my grandparents and their friends years ago. Hearing truth.”
- “Your book Reckoning sizzles in my hands every time I pick up. I can literally only read a few lines at a time. I can frequently be heard saying “Holy Shit” as I pound my feminine hand on the table after some of the doozies you lay down.” – Jessica Jenns
- “Your conversations have brought to the fore my hunger for such interactions and sent me out into the world determined to make them or find them, at the very least, notice and welcome them when they show up.” – Judith
- “I had never been to anything like this event with two energies dancing with each other between two people in a space of conversation. I felt both a part of it and witness. The difference and the oneness.” – J, North Carolina
- I feel so lucky to be on the receiving end of literally anything Stephen says, as I find him to be incredibly wise and prophetic, and I find your perspectives incredibly relieving and validating.” – Anya Kaats
Sundays: Feb: 25
Mar: 3, 10, 17, 24
9 AM PST /
12 PM EST
5 x 90-120 Minute Live Online Sessions
- 5 Online Live-Streamed Sunday sessions
- Access to the professionally produced recordings
- Opportunity to submit your questions
- First glance of pages from Stephen’s forthcoming book
- Access to online Facebook discussion group
Options are available for a single payment, or splitting the ticket price into 2 payments.
2 x $149
Who is this for?
The people who gather for these events are often:
• Culture makers- people who work in therapeutic capacities and are acknowledging the limits of personal development.
• Humans overcome by grief or a life crisis or at a crossroads, realizing that the tools they usually lean on are no longer working anymore.
This may be for you if you are interested in:
• Birth and death as critical thresholds and cultural opportunities
• Rites of passage
• Men’s work and women’s work
• Ritual and ceremony
• Non-traditional family and kinship networks
• Ecological sanity
• Community building
• Oral tradition
• Unauthorized histories
• Intergenerational wisdom
• Rigorous dialogue
About Stephen Jenkinson:
Stephen is a worker, author, storyteller, culture activist, and co-founder of the Orphan Wisdom School with his wife Nathalie Roy. The school is a teaching house for skills of deep living and making human culture that are mandatory in endangered, endangering times. He makes books, tends farm and mends broken handles and fences, succumbs to interviews, teaches and performs internationally.
He has Master’s degrees from Harvard University (Theology) and the University of Toronto (Social Work).
Apprenticed to a master storyteller when a young man, he has worked extensively with dying people and their families, is former program director in a major Canadian hospital, former assistant professor in a prominent Canadian medical school.
Stephen Jenkinson is the author of: Reckoning (2022), co-authored with Kimberly Ann Johnson, A Generation’s Worth: Spirit Work While the Crisis Reigns (2021), Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble (2018), the award-winning Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul (2015), Homecoming: The Haiku Sessions (a live teaching, 2013), How it All Could Be: A workbook for dying people and those who love them (2009), Angel and Executioner: Grief and the Love of Life – (live teaching, 2009), and Money and The Soul’s Desires: A Meditation (2002).
He is also the subject of the feature length documentary film Griefwalker, a portrait of his work with dying people, and Lost Nation Road, a shorter documentary on the crafting of the Nights of Grief and Mystery tours.
About Kimberly Ann Johnson:
Kimberly Johnson is an author, postpartum care activist, trauma educator, structural bodyworker and mother. She graduated Valedictorian from Northwestern University with a BS in Social Policy (‘97).
She studied yoga directly with the three main lineage holders of the Krishnamacharya tradition- Desikachar, BKS Iyengar, and Pattabhi Jois and taught yoga full time for 15 years, while also maintaining a Structural Integration practice.
When radically rearranged by childbirth, Kimberly’s life changed shape to attend to the cultural chasm of postpartum care, and as a result she trained in Somatic Experiencing and Sexological Bodywork to be able to help women heal from birth injuries, gynecological surgeries and sexual boundary violations.
She is the author of the recent Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power and Use it for Good published by the feminist imprint HarperWave as well as the early mothering classic, The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions and Restoring Your Vitality (Shambhala, 2017) – translated into 8 languages. She is the host of the Sex Birth Trauma podcast with over 930,000 unique downloads.
Forgotten Pillars Team:
- Khadija Meghan Rashell Striegel is the orchestrator and organizer of this series, choreographing a symphony of logistics, curating this production with grace.
- Silas Turliuk is the artisan of pixels and code, who sculpts the digital tapestry of our web presence, and weaves visual enchantment into the very fabric of this project.
- Jackson Kroopf is a cinematic maestro, capturing and streaming the series with a seamless blend of technical prowess and creative finesse.