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Ep.07 – Jeddy Azuma

I was lucky enough to have another chat with Jeddy Azuma, founder of the rising man movement about the real undercurrent of initiation. There are many forms of initiation that we can move through in our lives if we choose to. The choice is yours.

If you want to initiate yourself Jeddy and myself both offer pathways to help you navigate that process:

Check out jeddys men work at

Instagram  @risingmanmovement

Check out my Tatu pathway at

Full Transcript:

Mark Nara: Welcome back everybody. This is the tattoos with intention podcast. I’m your host, Mark Nara. And in this episode, we have a very special guest he’s the first person from outside of the tattoo sphere. He’s going to be giving us some insight and some. Information in regards to the bigger circle, that tattoo is a part of when you start participating in it in a very intentional way.

I’ll introduce him in just a minute before I do that. I just want to say that there is still time and room to get involved and to enrol in The 7 principles of Tatu Philosophy course that I’ll be running. It starts on the 27th of September. It’s going to run for 10 weeks and it is a massive process, not to be taken lightly.

It is an initiation of sorts for sure. So it’s an act or an educational process. That’s going to introduce you into a very new way of receiving your tattoos. Of perceiving tattoos, generally and globally from when you walk out of the other side of the course, and in the same way, it’s going to induct you into a community, In fact, is the private community space that was born out of the first course, and is already proving to be an amazing tool and benefit for anyone that’s within it.

Holding people’s process. Giving them accountability with what it is that they’re locking into their tattoos and why they’re marketing themselves in the first place. And I feel it’s going to be one of the, one of the beautiful jewels that we’re going to be able to pass on to the next generation as well.

So head over and join that community, just request access, and you can come on in and see what’s going on there. What conversations we’re having. And fill out whether you want to get involved in this coursework now, or if it’s something that you want to shoot for. you’re all welcome, I definitely encourage it.

So in this week, this week’s episode, we’re chatting with a gentleman who. I was lucky enough to jump on his podcast a little while back the rising man podcast. So his name is Jeddy Azuma. He’s the host of the rising man podcast, which is in the top one 50 educational podcasts. He’s also the creator of the rising man movement.

And has been in the field of men’s leadership and empowerment for the past year, 10 years, as a rites of passage guide, mentor and leadership coach Jedi has impacted the lives of honey hundreds of men on his mission to initiate an entire generation of yeah. Men into power and purpose driven service to the world.

He is a founding father of the conscious man brotherhood and a lead coach in the man-cave unleash the beast and Kings court. And despite his many roles and contributions to quote unquote men’s work, Jedi considers his most important job to be that have a father and a husband. To quote jetty. I always knew I wanted to make a major impact on the world.

We just had no idea of how that I’d do that in my twenties, after numbing myself with substances and fear-based behaviors for years, I finally found a path in men’s work and rites of passage that fed my soul. At that point. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would give this medicine back to the men around me.

Now I’m clear that the gift I have for my people is to prepare the next generation of men to lead their families, communities, and themselves powerfully and confidently into uncertain times. Beautifully said Jedi. And without any further ado, I’m going to let this conversation roll and I’d love to hear any feedback that you have drop some comments and, yeah.

Share it with your friends. I look forward to chatting to you all soon.

I just wanted to start by saying thank you for being on.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah, man. I’m honored to be here, man look forward to the conversation.

Mark Nara: Yeah. You’re going to actually be the first guest on the podcast. That’s beyond the walls of the actual tattoo world.

Jeddy Azuma: Ah, yeah. Yeah, another deep honor

Mark Nara: it’s super good. And I’ve been waiting to step into this arena, like starting to talk about the bigger picture.

So not just tattooing, but you know what tattooing is a part of that bigger circle that. That I feel tottering to part of and the people that I’ve been working with also see, so thank you for being that inaugural person that steps in, and yeah, we’re going to talk about initiation. We’re going to talk about rites of passage, accountability, and obviously we’ll link tattooing into it.

cool. So thanks for being here, mate.  the first thing I want to talk about is initiation. which, a lot about since you take a lot of men through it yourself, you’re the founder of the rising man movement, as I said, in the introduction and, coming from your website, the purpose that you guys have there is that the mission of the rising men movement is to initiate an entire generation of men.

Well done sir, that’s super good.

Jeddy Azuma: let’s circle back in 50 more years and you can congratulate me then we’ve got a lot of work to do.

Mark Nara: Yeah, totally. Yeah. but to have that, motivation’s just, very honourable, and you want to create a world in which all men are prepared to lead with integrity,  express themselves authentically and serve the communities that have raised them. so let’s talk about that a little bit, like what’s your perspective on initiation in our, like in our modern world, what’s that entail for the men that you’re working with?

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. it’s a great question and it’s a good place to start to purely textbook definition of initiation is admission or acceptance into a secret or private society.

So it’s funny, they use the word secret and private, but I can take those words out the way I look at it. It’s having men who’ve gone through an experience, usually a challenging experience, something that a gauntlet or a journey that they have to go through to demonstrate some level of. Worthiness or ability or readiness to accept the responsibility.

And then they’re inducted into this group organization, society by men, who’ve gone through the same thing. So initiation is really just an acknowledgement that you are ready to be a part of this community. And if we go back far enough into different generations, different cultures, especially traditional peoples indigenous peoples initiation was.

What they did to identify when a boy was ready to step up and accept the responsibilities of manhood to be a protector, to be a provider, to be whoever the community needed him to be. And so when we talk about initiation in modern times, most of us haven’t experienced something like that, or we’ve had different versions of a similar idea that aren’t quite connected to that.

Foundation of culture that these traditional peoples have and had and have had for a long time. Yeah. So creating those opportunities is so important because when do we know that we are ready to step up into Manhattan? It did. When I started growing hair on my face, is it when I have sex for the first time, all of these.

Questions that we have about what does it mean to be a man are not answered because of the absence of initiation in our culture? For most of us, obviously not everybody.

Mark Nara: Yeah, totally. Or to bring up the conversation we had when I was on your podcast. I said, my initiation into manhood was becoming a father. And I stumbled into that. I didn’t, I wasn’t aware that it was going to be so initiatory, yeah. I loved that. You pulled out those different types of initiation, whether it’s like natural. built-in initiations that happen, I think you said moving out of home and supporting yourself for the first time and then obviously becoming a father or like having sex for the first time.

But then there’s like more plans, pathways of initiation, which is the type of thing you’re curating for men at the moment, so what does that look as a, an experience? what would people expect if they were to be led through an initiatory experience, by yourself or by the rising man movement?

Jeddy Azuma: there’s another important term that we’ve got to define, to understand this. And that’s Rite of passage.

Mark Nara: That was next on the list. You’re a mind reader.

Jeddy Azuma: Let’s talk about it so that we can, so we can really know what we’re discussing here. Yeah. So for me, a Rite of passage is a ritual death and rebirth.

Ceremonial death and rebirth. If you will, where we go through a process with intention and purpose of leaving a part of ourselves behind. Letting that part of ourselves die and then allowing new possibilities, new experiences, new insights, new wisdom to be born. And the way I’ve been taught to understand rites of passage is that there’s two stages.

The first stage is severance, like severing, cutting something. So that’s like shedding the skin going through the experience, stirring up all your stuff, and then letting go of the things you don’t want to carry with you into this new chapter of life. Yeah, the second stage is threshold. So for us threshold is when you.

Step across the physical animal, Oracle threshold into your four days of fasting. And in that space, sometimes they call it the in between worlds is where all the magic happens. That’s where the medicine come through. The experience of being alone, being without food, without contact with any other human beings out under the stars for four days and four nights.

Provides you with medicine and experience a journey and adventure insights, for if you ever spent alone by herself, out in the wilderness with no food and no other distractions, the only outcome is listening to that internal voice. That is the deepest core of truth you have. So whatever that is, everyone’s experience is a little bit different, but whatever that wisdom is, you take that with you and come back across the threshold.

And then. For the third stage, which is actually the hardest part. I believe it or not. The hardest part is not going without food or being by yourself for days, but taking your experience and incorporating it into your life, so the third stage is called incorporation and incorporation is just another word that really means embodiment. The Latin incorpus is to bring into the body. So to embody that wisdom, that medicine that you got in your experience into this life is waiting for you. So to meet, to step across the threshold, there’s a part of you that has to be shed let go of, cleansed, purified in a lot of these traditional ceremonies of vision quest and Micha, and some of these other more traditional ways.

There would be a purification process of going through a sweat lodge going through different types of ceremonies and preparation, and then going out into your experience, and then being welcomed back, going back into the sweat lodge and, purify repurifying yourself as you come back as this new baby being born into the next year chapter of your life that was waiting for you.

Mark Nara: Yeah. Yeah, totally, man. That’s beautiful to hear it laid out in that way. I, I personally have gone through that process with someone here in Australia. A teacher who was, Navajo. So we had the purification aspect there, which was really great, fundamental for sure. And to start it.

I feel like that was the severance more than anything is getting in that lodge space. And so when you walk people through it, it’s at a bit more of a modern context, but,

Jeddy Azuma: yeah, so it’s, so it’s something that’s been adapted, so there’s just to. They make things really clear or what I’m taking people on is not a traditional Lakota vision quest or nature is the word that they use for their ceremony.

It’s something that was taught by my teachers in a community called condor clan here in Southern California, that learned from another school of teachers called the school of lost borders, who was given the blessing, doing this work from a Lakota elder, so through the lineage over the course of three decades, 30 years, that wisdom has been transmitted.

And the process that we have now called compass has been born from that. So we take guys out for four days and four nights, solo wilderness, fast under the stars. we only ask the men to fast from food, traditional ways. It’s usually food, water, and oftentimes sleep. I don’t know what your experience was like, but I know that’s usually a big. Component is don’t sleep for four days.

Mark Nara: we had food and water fast, sleep. It was allowed, but, it was encouraged to like push that boundary as

Jeddy Azuma: Push that edge.

Mark Nara: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. yeah. Yeah. Awesome. And that’s amazing. And I think it’s beautiful to see an evolution in these traditional rites of passage, because they’re in a new world, right?

the world’s changed. We’re changed people. We have changed challenges. Everything’s different. So I think that adaptability is really important pace, in our modern times, for modern men, right?

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. I think, the whole idea. I wasn’t back there in more ancient times, so I haven’t been able to talk to the ancestors that way, but from what I can, yeah.

Maybe I was who knows. But what I can gather from it is that the, at the core of it, the purpose of this was to prepare a boy for the life of a man. And in order to do that, they had to put them through a challenge and reminds him that life is life doesn’t is unforgiving. The world is unforgiving it’s harsh.

At times. Nature can be really violent and in order to be able to protect. A family, a village, a community that required that a man was capable of protecting and knowing what his limits were. So the most important piece of it in my perspective is bringing and man to his edge limits to the point yeah.

Where he feels like he’s on the brink or cusp of death. And to find his way back from that.

Yeah, totally. Totally. and that’s really important too. It’s like the, I think the first stage that you’re talking about where it’s the separation, or the severing of something, obviously it has a lot of relation to tattooing itself, which is why that’s always been a, a.

An act that’s been linked to initiatory experiences and rites of passage as well. but if we link those two, like the initiation and the rights of passage in those stages, like why they’re doing that, like, why are they participating? Why they’re beginning this process. Yeah. And I think that the third aspect that’s super important is, for the community.

And you talk about that a lot in your work too. it’s so you can serve the community, ultimately serving and understanding yourself. First and foremost, so you can serve that community, the kind of larger picture.

Yeah. and there’s a lot of people and organizations out there that offer wilderness fasting that offer different rites of passage and initiatory experiences.

What I got from my teachers. and I’ll shout them out right now. Kent Pierce, Shawn Berry to two men who have been anchors and cornerstones in my life. And what they got from their teachers is the importance of incorporation. That the whole idea. The reason that this model works and has worked for millennia for humans is that the boys would go out, they’d go through an ordeal and they would return with a gift with clarity on who they were and how to be.

A contributing member of their community. And then the community would witness them in their gifts would give them a new name, would identify them specific role and contribution to the community and then hold them accountable to that because they all knew they watched him grow up. And now, as you flash forward to our current modern existence, we don’t have communities that raised children together.

They don’t have a village that’s capable of. Watching and nurturing a boy into manhood, grippy, traditional ways, and then continue as incorporation support. So we make sure that’s embedded in the culture, what we’re creating with rising man. And with compass that initiated men come back to support the guys who were coming across, because we all know the challenge of bringing a big gift and bring medicine back into a world that doesn’t know how to receive and initiated it.

So that is, that’s really an essential core piece of what we do here is that if there’s no community to give your gift to.

Mark Nara: Yeah, totally. It’s like, you need to come back to a community, like you said, that knows how to receive it. And one of the words I used on the other side of the tattoo experience and where I feel community’s important and kind of lacking in the tattoo space is the community needs to hold that person in the place that they’re moved into, to sort of avoid that backsliding that happens.

like there’s so many experiences, like you said, there’s other, fast nature fasting experiences, or it’s a lot of times you can get tattooed and you might see the process that you’re going through, who you were and who you’re moving into. But if no one else is there to receive you on the other side of it, And hold you, then you’ve got a lot of opportunity to backslide. it’s like that the accountability piece is missing. Cause you’re only accountable to yourself then.

Jeddy Azuma: Right. And this opens up a much greater dialogue around culture, this modern culture and how, you know, depending on who you talk to, a lot of people believe that there’s a very deliberate, systematic process that they’ve done to make us forget who we are, where we come from.

To institutionalized racism and gender, all of this stuff that has literally washed culture out. Yeah, just the two generations even. we talk about the Western world. Ancestry comes from Japan and from Italy and I don’t speak either of those languages. My grandparents came here from Japan and they never taught my dad and his is his brothers, the language.

And therefore it never made its way to me. We eat some of the traditional foods, but aside from that, man, there’s a lot of tradition and legacy that got lost. And that’s just the, that’s the story of the migrant immigrant families that came from another place to live in the modern world, chasing the American or the Western dream of  easier, more safe, more secure life, but I don’t think they at least, I don’t know, but I don’t think that they recognize the cost that they were paying for that.

Mark Nara: I don’t think that they could see it, because there’s there’s that one, one angle where it’s like chasing the dream has caused a lot of the movement.

And the sort of degradation of culture, but it was also like the running from like the nightmare for some people too. Right? Like my grandparents came over from Slovenia in 58 and they didn’t teach Yugoslavian to, my father or my auntie or anything either, because of like the horrific things that were happening back where they were just like wanting to start something fresh, you know?

So the cold disappeared. In that way as well. but I

Jeddy Azuma: think I mentioned to, that I definitely don’t know what all of our ancestors were doing, but I’m sure they were doing it because they wanted the best for their kids and the best future for their total. For me, for you, for the future generation, that I’m sure they were always operating off of what they thought was best at the time.

Nobody could have foreseen this.

Mark Nara: Yeah. Yeah. And then I think like we have those two angles on the current, situation too, right? It’s like we’re lacking all of these, bits of culture and these traditions, but then there’s that opportunity for a new one, you know, like this real sort of like unified space where, somebody is going to be born from it.

there’s going to be that new, minimal, acceptable standard of what it is to be an initiated man or woman in this new world, ultimately that’s what we’re working towards.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. And I think it’s infinitely more complex because as far as we know. I don’t think there’s ever been this many humans on the planet.

And so it’s, you know, we’re literally living on the cutting edge of a massive social experiment. What does it look like when there’s eight billion in humans with all these different belief systems, different colors, shapes, sizes, values, opportunities, all of those things to try to find any degree. Of universality to me is a pipe dream.

And in fact, I think that’s, it creates more division than anything else. People getting so attached to what’s true. And what they believe, because that’s what makes them feel safe. It’s all of these other problems. It’s the reasoning why we war and conflict and political bullshit.

Mark Nara: Yeah. Yeah.

Jeddy Azuma: We all want everybody to believe what we believe.

And there’s no way to do that with that many people on the planet.

Mark Nara: Yeah. Except accepting, except rights difference. you’re saying that it’s a pipe dream. Was there any part of you that thinks it’s a potential.

Jeddy Azuma: that to me is if we keep doing it the way we’ve been doing it.

Yeah. I would have given up a long time ago and I almost did, that’s what sent me off on the path of men’s work was when I finally started seeing the real nature of the world when I was in my early twenties and in my college years and starting to ask more questions, I studied social justice as a minor when I was in school.

And I was just, I saw some really dark. Painful things traveled to some third world countries and saw how other people were living on this planet without even knowing how privileged I was to be growing up in middle-class and, playing a bunch of sports and going to private schools and all that stuff.

So that’s, that’s where I really started to sink into the hoax, all this darkness and I’ll get my early teens. It didn’t have any of the tools or resources that I do now. And I just felt like it was a bigger problem than I could handle. So I numb myself with weed, tobacco hanging out and having a good time.

Yeah. I used to call radical idealism thinking that, peace and love. We’re just going to rain free and everybody was going to flip a switch and it was all just going to change overnight. And. That continued not to happen. And I felt more and more pain until I decided to numbing myself from the pain wasn’t working for me I anymore, before I needed to go lean into it. And so yeah, without going into that story too much, what I currently believe is that we do need to change. We need to change our approach. It starts with what you just said about radically accepting other people’s truth, but also being able to expect acceptance from other people.

When we share our truths and have respectful dialogue and discourse about our belief systems and come to. Mutual agreements to solve problems. we literally have all the technology in the world to solve every problem we can resolve and even still reverse some of the global warming issues.

We can clear all the plastic out of the ocean. We can make a world where women feel safe and then feel free to express themselves. But we’re spending too much time arguing over who the next president’s going to be.

Mark Nara: Yeah, totally. Totally. what would you say would be a. a tangible tool, someone could take away and implement in a daily life around, struggling to accept a person of others, because there are a lot of people that are just quite righteous at the moment.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah, righteousness is poison in my opinion. And I’ve been a righteous man before with my own family. I remember when I first became woke, quote unquote. Yeah. And I went back home and I told my mom and my dad, all these things that they didn’t know and why I knew better. And, I was not very humble at the time.

And really one of the tools, I guess, are things that I needed to lean more into was curiosity. Expecting that there are things that I don’t know and being willing to have my truth change because I don’t believe the same things now than I did when I was like five years old. I have completely new beliefs about the world.

Some things continue to pass the smell test over the years, and I’m open to those things changing at some point, too. So I think it’s more a matter of being certain in what’s true to me in this moment. Also having a curiosity, respect for what other people may present to them. Yeah. So anyway, I’m willing to have a conversation yeah.

With anybody and willing to hear you out. And you can tell me anything. You can tell me that you’re a white supremacist pedophile and I’ll say, okay, tell me why you think that’s a useful contribution to society and. by the end of it, there may be something that makes me feel differently, you know, that’s streaming sample to give, but yeah.

that level of, okay, I’ll hear you out and I won’t judge you for it because who am I to say that my truth is better than yours, as long as you’re willing to offer me the same kindness.

Mark Nara: Yeah. And respect. I think that’s a good one. Good combination there. That’s nice.  so for yourself, to lean into that other story,  what I have been some of the initiatory experiences that have led you to walk this path, from that 20 year old, that was, unaware and privileged and traveled the world and started to numb out what happened on your path.

Were there any major points.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. if I’m reverting back to the definition of initiation that I gave, some of them that stand out where the first time that I sat in a sweat lodge when I was 23, I was visiting the Navajo reseration.. They call themselves the Dine. So the dine reservation out there in New Mexico.

that was one of them for me. The first time I sat in a men’s circle, it feels like an initiation, especially the one that I sat in was. Guys that were twice my age when I was 25 years old. So that felt like initiation. And then there’s been a couple of men’s retreats and workshops I’ve gone through that really felt like initiatory experiences where there were guys who’ve been through it on the other side, who were calling me and the other men in that space and welcoming us and celebrating there’s a.

There’s that element to it. That really feels like it. Although, and then also, getting married and becoming a married man and becoming a father, like you mentioned, you know, fatherhood is like a private club, and you get in there. it’s a, you know, you find out that other men, other fathers can relate to just because they’re you have that experience.

Mark Nara: Yeah. Yeah. I’m interested in that little. Part of the passage there, early twenties,  were , I was in the same boat. I was like, ah, starting to numb myself to the world, and then went into sort of a work phase as well. But there’s this little point that I think is important to focus in on.

And I know a lot of people that would be listening to this can find themselves in this place. It’s like, how do you move from that part of, of the story where , you’re aware of things, but you’re numbing out. And then getting into something like your first sweat lodge, cause they’re worlds apart.

there’s like a flick that has to switch there where you go. I don’t want to do that anymore. And I want something that’s going to give me more, and all of a sudden these things that are almost misunderstood start to appeal to you, right?

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. That’s an interesting question. I think a huge part of it is just divine timing.

I didn’t go out looking for a sweat lodge. It was, I was out there. I was on the reservation three months. I was finishing, an internship as a physio. Cause that’s what I was studying at the time at the hospital on the reservation. And I’ve always been involved in volunteering and community stuff since I was a kid.

So while I was out there, I volunteered at the bar and girls club and just relationships that I made with people who. Saw me and who I was inviting me to different things. And one of those guys said, Hey, there’s a, what lodge happening this week? And it’s for men that you’d like to come. And I said, sure, that sounds incredible.

Especially when someone told me what it was about a little bit more of the purpose behind it and what we’re doing in there. So part of it is just divine timing, following your footsteps. that’s why I ended up on the reservation in the first place. I just come out of a really painful end to our relationship.

I was in that stage of my life. I would really get fully invested in attachment to a drought navigating, and it was a really painful separation for me. Not a lot of closure. And I just wanted to get away. I just want to get far away. So when the opportunity came up to go and travel and fulfill a requirement I had for my schooling and also, I was like Shiprock, New Mexico, Navajo Northern Navajo medical center.

what is this? Okay, sure. Let’s do it. It just sounded like an adventure, but there was something in my gut that felt right. There was like 175 other places I could’ve gone. And for some reason, the middle of nowhere, New Mexico is what I chose. And even just the drive. Cause I drove, I know you’re from, from Australia, but I drove from essentially the East coast to the Southwest, which was like almost a 2,500 mile journey by myself.

And I, I’d never been further than a couple hundred miles from where I lived at that point in time in the state. So I drove all the way across the country that like a Rite of passage in itself because. It’s very emotional. There’s a lot of like tears that came up while I was on the road and

Mark Nara: totally,

Jeddy Azuma: yeah.

All kinds of stuff.

Mark Nara: Yeah. Pilgrimage, how interesting is that? I love it. The divine timer. First lodge I got in, was this a similar thing? I was like other side of the world in Mexico and Def of tattooing. And someone extended an invitation to get into a sweat lodge. And I was like, what’s that? it’s like a sauna, but we pray.

And I was like, okay. They go, it definitely was a yeah. Initiation that was unintended, and took a bit of time to drop into afterwards.

Jeddy Azuma: And those ways you also. At least the lodges and the prayer communities I’ve been around. You don’t just invite anybody off the street into those things. So it could go back to this idea of initiation, someone, whoever invited, you saw something, they might’ve saw a piece of themselves in you.

I seen guys in the sweat lodge and the pair community, one of their, one of their bros who’s tweaking out on drugs. who’s just been completely lost and they bring them to that space cause they used to be there and then say, Hey, you know what? This helped me. come pray in this space.

It’s just, you just get your butt over here. Sometimes. That’s what initiation looks like too. It’s not always this going out and looking for it and asking somebody to guide you on it. Sometimes you just get pulled into it.

Mark Nara: Yeah. I think that’s super important to look at too. It’s like, the other side of the.

Of the initiatory process. Right? So it’s like be unaware that you’re about to be initiated into something, but there are these like guiding hands on the other side, and that might be, the kind of inbuilt roles and responsibilities that come with that perspective of being initiated, where it’s okay, cool.

When I’m looking out for other people within the community, And because it’s not an inbuilt thing with our communities now, it’s like, we’ve got to take it on upon ourselves to sort of usher in the next wave of men or women or people, that could find healing or could find direction or God, and so grounding in these experiences.

And, I think that’s important to note, that when you go through it, start doing your pot and having your eyes peeled.

Jeddy Azuma: And, I think there’s a bigger part of just trusting the process. Yeah. I know. I know that’s something that a lot of people say, but. Really just trusting that your life is unfolding exactly as it will.

I used to believe I used to have a certain belief in destiny that our entire life narrative was predetermined and set out for us. And I still believe a lot of that, but not in this, not in the traditional sense of there’s like a history book somewhere with my destiny. I could go read if I was like a deity or a God.

I just think that the idea of destiny that your life is going to unfold. However it’s going to unfold and you have influence over how that unfolds by the choices you make, the choices you make are exactly what needed to happen, so that you could have your human experience. There’s no right. There’s no wrong.

I don’t think that there’s inherently bad or good. There’s just different versions of the human experience. And. I just think that’s really important to recognize, but if you find yourself in a place where you’re darker, you feel alone, you don’t know where to go. That you’re just looking at how do you want your life to unfold?

But what is compelling you to move forward? In your life. Cause that’s what I needed when my life was like, the couple of moments in my life where I felt like there, ain’t no point of being around here anymore. Cause I think both of us have those. It was what would I actually want for my life instead of waiting for something else to inform me from out here.

That makes sense.

Mark Nara: Yeah. Totally finding it within yourself. Yeah,

Jeddy Azuma: Which is not easy not easy. That’s why community is so useful. That’s why men’s circles are so useful because you don’t feel so crazy when you look around and see a bunch of people nodding their head. When you say, I don’t want to be here. I don’t know what my life’s about.

I really hurt from things that happened in my past. And I don’t know what to do with them. And a bunch of guys are saying, yup, me too, bro.

Mark Nara: That’s okay. Oh yeah.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. Normalization of it.

Mark Nara: It brings that acceptance piece back in. Sure. Super important. Cool. So I wanted to, like I wanted to loop around and get to your actual tattoos.

we talked a little bit about it on your podcast. Know, we talked a bit about your first one, so I just want to revisit it here a little bit for the people that are listening and haven’t heard, the episode we did on your podcast. So the first thing I really liked is that you called, You called the tattooing experience like a bookmark, that was the analogy that you ended up pulling in the chat that I really loved, like just turning the corner on a page, in a book and all of your markings and ended up being these different bookmarks through the process.

And your first one, was before you turned 18. No. You said your mama come along and sign and that it was quite a big event because it was the first time you made a choice about your body and what mattered to you and how empowering that was. so you told us like talk us through the first one and how many tattoos do you have?

What’s that sort of journey looked like for yourself. and yeah.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. let’s see, just to give you a number off the top of my head, I’ve got one too. Three four, five, five. I got five right now. that first tattoo I got, yeah, I was 17 years old. It was on my 17th birthday. I’ll, yeah, I’ll never forget it because I needed my mom to go and sign off.

That’s how it was in New Jersey, the state where I grew up and got my, of, and my dad wasn’t about it, but my mom had a few tattoos, so she was, she was supportive of it. She actually got a tattoo right after I did.

Mark Nara: That’s cool. Like

Jeddy Azuma: it was really cool. Yeah. I mean, she’s got like four times as many tattoos.

I do. so it, like you said, it was that choice. And I feel like it wasn’t initiation for me, not just into being a tattooed person, but an initiation into the beginning of my adulthood, because I definitely wasn’t an adult after that. Didn’t make me this suddenly this mature man, but it should me into this space of, Oh, now I make decisions for myself.

And sometimes I make decisions that people won’t agree with. And now I’ve got something that I wear on my body that reminds me of that. So that I thought was, what’s the phrase that you use. Cause bookmarking is how I think that you had a word for it.

Mark Nara: Yeah. I used the, the term of a link in a chain, like a chain of memory.

Yeah. It’s very similar.

Jeddy Azuma: Similar. Yeah, exactly the same concept. I can remember exactly where I was. I remember the guy who did my tattoo. I remember what it smelled like, it’s like, I wouldn’t call it a trauma, but it’s like other traumatic things that happened life where you can just so vividly, remember it.

Cause it makes an imprint on your brain. It just reminds me so clearly at that moment. So I can also remember what the wait, my perspective on the world. At that time. I remember I was dating my girlfriend that I thought I was going to marry at the age of 17. And I remember she went and got a tattoo there, like a couple of weeks later, too.

So it brings back all these memories of that time in my life and the way I thought life was going to go and what I thought life was even about, so different than where I am now. And that was. 1815 years ago.

Mark Nara: Yeah. How good is that man? Like when you can see how far you’ve come, because you have those reference points.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. Yeah. and same for all my other tattoos, I remember where I got it done. I remember what the studio looks like. Even though you go in there, you spend, a couple of hours, sometimes a half a day, and that’s the only time I’ve ever been in those places in my whole life.

But I can remember. The what the building looks and I’m not the kind of person that takes in all details of things. That’s not my printing or my way of making memories, but I can remember the smell. I can know what it looks like. I can remember what the person who did it looked like and what they were wearing.

So it’s an interesting mechanism of creating strong memories and, like bookmarks planning down flags are in our history.

Mark Nara: Yeah. I mean, are you talking about like how significant the imprints are? It’s like, There’s no, like there’s no second guessing why it’s being part of ceremony and sacred pathways for so long, you know,  I’d love to hear a little bit about the ceremony that you are approaching, you said this, the Sundance last time we spoke was coming up and it got canceled. but you’re moving towards something that’s similar in nature. and that’s going to be something that leaves you with a mocking as well. it leaves participants within that community with a marketing.

And if you think of the psychological imprint, the memory imprint. You know, all your tattoos, the five tattoos you can think of all these different places that these experiences happened. and I always think about like, for cultures that had tattooing as part of that, the ceremonial pathways, then all of those experiences would have this continuity that you get within, a sacred container, over time, even intergenerationally, For

Jeddy Azuma: sure.

For sure. And just before I start talking about the Sundance and piercing ceremonies, I was always really attracted to the symbolism. So the conversation you and I had, about, I think record keeping was also what you said, right? Record keeping was something that really stood out to me. that was a little bit of a new awareness for me, because I was always interested in the symbolism of what is, what specifically was I getting on my body and what did it represent? Yeah. And so whether it’s tattoos or it’s, conventional scarring there, they all carry meaning and symbolism to them that gives color to the story.

So if it’s, if the tattoo or the Mark itself is like a bookmark and the context or the context of it is like the ink on the page, right. It’s written the color and the detail of it. Yeah. So, so yeah, I mean, there’s a reason I got the Japanese letters. I got on my, on my shoulder here when I was 17 and the words that I chose, and there’s a reason that I’ve got these bear paw prints on my arm.

I’ve got one here to represent my wife and represent my son. And we’ll put another hear from my little daughter soon. so they all carry meaning to me. And, and where are you? Where are you put them on your body? Right? I put this one here because I wanted to, I wanted them to be the first. People that are.

And the first thing that I thought about when I started doing my work in the world, cause I always wanted to remember that it’s for them and that be doing things for them means I’m rippling that forward into my grandchildren, my great grandchildren and all the people that will come after me. So I wanted that reminder.


Mark Nara: Yeah. That’s beautiful.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. Yeah. I’m on this side, this is this big old one that I’ve got here. It’s a little bit. Included there is a, is this, Mayan artwork from the tomb of a Mayan Canaan Macau. And it was such a big statement for me to have a big colorful tattoo on my forearm.

At the time I was 25 years old. And to have something like that was like, Hey, ain’t no that back. And there’s no way I, this is me expressing myself and not being afraid to show who I am. Cause at that point I was still like, If the world didn’t accept me if I go all in

Mark Nara: yet. totally pushing that boundary as well.

Yeah. I mean, the symbology is, it’s like the personalized aspect of this thing that underneath, you know, at the core, all the markings that they’re saying, but you get to add your. Your layer of personal flare to it, which speaks so much to where welds out, the complexity of where the welds are, how much choice we have now, the diversity that’s available now, I talk about that with a lot of people where it’s like, Trying to accept what it is.

They’re going to get tattooed. It’s like, you’ve got a choice. people didn’t have choices. You go back 10,000 years is like, you get this, that’s it, you know?

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s a whole another conversation. A whole, another podcast episode, right there is how. The addiction to variety and choice.

It comes with some major consequences.

Mark Nara: Yeah. let’s look at the piercing, the ceremony you got coming up because that’s something where, you have to move into a space or whoever’s receiving piercing, moves into a space of acceptance, to receive a marking and step into a ceremony and give an offering.

And. No, that layer of choice is definitely removed from that, there’s just the choice to participate.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. And so for people who don’t know, the Sundance is a traditional. Ceremony of the Lakota, who were, Plains natives here in the Americas. And this is one of their most sacred ceremonies.

It’s something that’s been shared with other tribes and other cultures now. So we have, you have Sundances all over the world, but the original ones, your first year on the Plains and the is, and I am not. Hey, Sundancer, I’ve only been a supporter up to this point. My uncle is a Sundancer my brother and my best friend in the world is a Sundancer.

I’ve come to know many others from going out and supporting for the past few years. So I, we don’t consider myself an expert in speaking on the topic, but I told you I would speak on what I do believe I know, and what I understand, and my teachers appreciate that. So going back to the sweat lodge or the NDP ceremony, like you said, the sauna with prayer, that’s like a real simple way of oversimplified way of describing.

It definitely is. It’s basically the context there is. It’s the first ceremony that was taught and it’s the first of the Lakota, the rights they have seven and it’s reentering the womb. And going into the womb. Cause the sweat lodge is just this tiny little tent that you can’t stand up and you can just crawl in and sit cross legged and have your head hit the ceiling and you sweat.

And it’s hot and there’s water in there and there’s like steam. And then you emerge from the image in your cleanse and purified, and the context is being born again and the emerging out of the moon. So after coming out of the womb, You when you’re a baby, you’ve got an umbilical cord. And so the Sundance is four days of fasting from food and water and praying with there’s a central tree that the dancers dance around and some dancers they Pierce through different parts of the body, right?

Sometimes it’s the chest, the arms. Okay. Back different places.

Mark Nara: Yeah. I thought it was only on the chest, right?

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. So that’s usually the place that they start, but people who’ve been dancing for a long time and have had different visions in form, the dance that they have. Cause the dance, the sun dance, each person dance is their prayer.

if you have a dream about hanging out for me back then, they were like, all right, let’s do it. Wow. Honoring the dream.

Mark Nara: Wow. That’s fascinating   

Jeddy Azuma: to again, I don’t want to, I’m not the expert, but that’s what I’ve understood. And so the way I was taught is that you come out of the sweat lodge.

Cause every day when the dancers go out, they, they sweat in the morning. And then they dance all day and then they sweat at night when they finish. And then they come out and do we do four days of that. So they’re coming out of the womb and then they’re attaching them. They’re piercing here through their skin and attaching themselves with a rope to the tree.

And the tree is the mother. And then at some point, whether it’s, on the second, third or fourth day, for some of the dancers, they break. From the tree and tear the flesh. And then that flesh has given it as an office offering back to the tree, back to the earth as a symbolically, as a symbolic gesture of prayer for the people, cause in indigenous culture, there’s reciprocity is one of the most important elements given to us, always a given and a receipt, right?

Yeah. So the offering of flesh, specifically the offering of flesh. Is important because, and originally, only men would Sundance because women, they give offerings of their flesh and blood every month when they have their first period, men don’t have that. So this, it was our way of giving flesh back to the earth.

And the way I was taught is that fleshed is really the only thing that we have to do. Everything else is something that’s borrowed. if you give somebody a bottle of water, that’s water that you’re burning from the planet and passing it along, but it’s not really yours. So the only thing we that we really, and even our bodies are not technically our own we’re of the earth, but we can choose to give our flesh back to the earth and make that fresh offering.

So I’ve done that, the, the, cause not, not the piercing part, but. For supporters, they also allow you to give tiny offerings of flesh at different parts of the ceremony. cutting off a little piece of your skin and folding it up and giving it to the tree. It’s really powerful, man. And that whole teaching about having something to give back.

And the only thing that we actually have to give back, I put a lot in perspective for me about life and about the world and about what I do. Totally.

Mark Nara: I hadn’t heard those parts of the story before of the teaching or for about, flesh being the only thing we have and that everything else is borrowed.

And I think that is just super insightful.

Jeddy Azuma: Yeah. Yeah. And even that our bodies are borrowed, we get to inhabit them. And if, cause if here’s the thing, the beautiful thing about traditional wisdom that I love is if you really embody and embrace that. And that’s something that’s been handed down from one grandfather to grandson, to the next grandson, to the next grandson, you’ve got that appreciation that your life is really not your yours, your body and your life is really not yours.

It’s all borrowed. And would you treat your body the way that you treat your body? If it was no. If your friend lets you borrow one of their most precious items, No, do you manhandle it and knock it around and stuff it under your bed. And I know, I think it’s because we think we own our bodies.

We feel entitled to treat them however we want, but looking at them as a gift, I think it’s not like you bought a car. It’s at least it. You’ve got to give it back someday. So you gotta take good care of it. You got to keep it clean. You got to put good fuel in it and not run it to the core. yeah, that’s made a huge impact in my life.

Mark Nara: Totally. I think about when you’re saying like, would you treat your body the way you do if you knew it was borrowed right. From a friend and it’s a boy might, looping back to up, this started this, a blame lap, but a man wouldn’t, especially once he sees all of the people on the other side that are holding themselves and.

caring for themselves in that way, caring for the planet and have that view, but you have to be initiated into it. that’s the thing, I have to be glad it into that perspective. so yeah,

Jeddy Azuma: you have to have access to that wisdom to know that’s the other thing is, and that’s what I think is so important.

I was just doing a podcast the other day and we were talking about. cultural appropriation, cultural appreciation. And I’m not native blood. I’m not native born. at least not in the way that most people understand. And the key to all understanding all this is that we are, y’all have one common ancestor and that all of these medicines and teachings and practices were designed to help us remember that.

So remember everything we just talked about that we’re a part of this planet. They, we’re not separate that we don’t have special rights and privileges because we’re humans that all life is sacred. And when we all look at life through that perspective and we all, we believe it and live it and teach it, then all the other problems go away, man, we don’t throw you don’t throw your plastic bottle in the ocean after that.

No, that’s your home

Mark Nara: relative then I think that is a beautiful, insight to finish on. Thank you for sharing that. I think we reached a really nice point there for people to sit and brew and contemplate whatever they’re doing after they listen to this chat. So thank you so much for going now with me and with everyone.

just quickly. a few minutes before we wrap up, so you can get to your next appointment. Do you want to just fill people in on, where to find you, what offerings you have available and coming up, how can someone action stepping into these things we’re talking about right now, if they need to what’s there available to them on your end.

Jeddy Azuma: Thank you, man. And really appreciate you having me on here. I really enjoyed this conversation and just your energy and your vibe, which could go in, For me, I always say, go check out rising man work. The rising man is the movement that I’ve started at is gathering momentum. It’s we’ve got a huge presence in Australia and the U S and.

Any other countries. So check out what we’re doing there. Check out the podcast, the rising there and podcast, and go to my personal Instagram at Jeddy Azuma or the at rising man movement for the rising man Instagram. And that should lead you to just about whatever you want to find. But I also say send me some direct messages because I love talking to people, having real conversations.

I’m an accessible dude. I’m not, I’m not somewhere out in space that you can’t reach. I love hearing from people. So hit me up.

Mark Nara: Yeah. Beautiful. Thanks mate. Appreciate that. And yeah, highly recommend everyone check it out. I know a couple of men here that you’ve been working with, so we’ve both been working is, so it’s cool seeing the different layers of that work sort of crossover.

It’s been great. And, yeah man, I’m keen to have some more chats down the line, so we’ll just stay in touch with each other and I wish you all the best with the piercing ceremony coming up.

Jeddy Azuma: Thank you, bro. Yeah, I love we’ll put a bookmark in this episode and pick it up next time. I could just say one more thing for everybody.

Who’s listening. please support this brother. I’ve been doing it in the podcast game for two and a half years. And two, it’s truly a labor of love to capture these conversations and make them available. Okay. The people, no, this is something that you, because you love it because you’re going to care and you want people to have new perspectives.

So if you’re listening, support this man, spread the word. Tell 20 of your friends about this episode and what you do in here and anything you can do to get behind him do it because that’s what allows us to keep doing what we do.

Mark Nara: Thanks brother. I appreciate that.