Welcome to the
New Orleans Men's Center
An NOMC History in Poetry
By Kraig Schmidt
Brothers, the tale I tell today is of a great gathering that was said to have taken place, a gathering of men. It is said that this gathering was begun upon the meeting of two great spiritual teachers. Men that carried the unspoken truths, the masculine secrets, that all men knew but were never spoken.
One man carried the traditions of his people, the native people of this continent. He was taught by the grandfathers in the rites of the sacred pipe, the purification rites of the sweat lodge, and was a pipe carrier himself. He also knew the power of calling on the ancestors, and had a deep love of his mother, the Earth.
His passion for these things made him a great and powerful warrior, and was held in great honor by men for his unyielding strength in times of trial, and his loving straightforward honesty.
The other man brought with him the teachings of the East, an ordained monk with the capability to sit in silence and quiet. His ancestors gave him the gift of meditation and contemplation. He was a silent warrior, carrying the sacred knowledge of Self. He was revered as a great teacher for his silence and the wisdom that was passed not through words, but Being.
It is said that at the time these two men's paths crossed there could be heard a great thundering, and loud neighing rising deep from within the Earth, a sound that the old ones said resembled the rumbling of the great "Horses of Power" sleeping deeply in the earth waiting for men strong enough to take their mount.
Now after many lodges and councils, these two men went out in search of other men of strength and spirit. Men who carried the masculine knowledge that was not yet spoken, but always known. They searched not in the palaces of the rich, but listened for the cries of lonely men, tormented by their strong masculine soul, full of stories and myths but with no other men to share. These two spiritual men knew this pain well, and how torturous it could be if the great secret was never spoken aloud in the company of men.
Slowly the numbers grew, men began to meet and share the secret, and support each other in the knowledge of the awesome power of their being. They were no longer defined by spouse, lover, society or career, but by the power of their own masculine soul.
Oh, how the ancestors smiled on these men, and blessed them with the power of four totem animals, and the men formed clans in honor of these animals.
The first of these the Turtle Clan, the oldest symbol of mother earth, a great grounding force, a starting place, a home and center for men to come.
And as men came a second totem animal was given by the ancestors and the Wolf Clan was formed. The wolf is the pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas who returns back to the clan to share his medicine. The Wolf Clan was the bringer of family to these men. It was then that they understood they would no longer be alone.
The third totem given by the ancestors was the Crow, the keeper of sacred law, and the breaker of sacred law. You see, Crow bends the laws through shape shifting and change, bringing to the men the power of diversity, trickster energy and conflict.
Now before the forth totem was given by the ancestors, the crow energy would be realized in its fullest potential, for a great change was to take place among the men.
Their leaders, the two spiritual men, had begun to realize their need to leave and continue on their own personal journey. There would be no more feasting at the table set by these two men, no, no more meals of great spiritual food prepared and fed to us by these kings.
It would now be expected of us to hunt for our own food, cook, clean and dress the meal. Who had the knowledge to prepare this spiritual food? Who would be strong enough to take the leadership and direct the hunt? The men became scared and in their grief and loss, some left, never to return, some went in search of other kings, never realizing their own potential for kingship, and some men stayed, why, they did not yet know. Their meeting became one of intellectualization. The soul and feeling had disappeared, the food became stale and dry. New men continued to come, the food still better than the scraps they had had in the past, but its energy was lost, and most of all the great masculine secrets and stories of strength and once again become unspoken.
And with the unspoken words was lost the power of the great hag, the crone, the trickster disappeared and Ictome' with him, there were no more mudheads learning to copulate, and the poetry, stories and myths disappeared, along with the "Great Priapus" and his heavy load.
Soon the cries could be heard again, the cries associated with the pain of soul death and unspoken stories. The ancestors knew it was time, Yes, time for the fourth animal of power, the totem of the Snake.
And so the Snake Clan was formed in honor of the fourth gift. The Snake and its power of transmutation. The ability to ingest the traditions and teachings, both old and new, to integrate the two, shed its tight and restrictive skin, and move forward into wholeness.
Now it is at this point that the story ends, some say the myth was lost and only partially found, with the ending missing, and no title other then the initials NOMC scribbled at the top of the page, some say it never existed and was a fantasy created by an idiot, a mere fool, and yet others say it is true and that this place exists, yes still exists today in the places where men share their secrets and fears, where they have a safe place to mentor and be mentored, and where they come together in honesty and soul.
The great question that is placed to us in this story is, as men can we afford not to share the great secret, the masculine knowledge that all men have but is rarely spoken. Can we afford to let our children, brothers, never know our vulnerabilities, and we never challenge our ability to trust.
[This was the history as Kraig Schmidt (Wolf Clan) saw it in the first quarter of 2001. Since then, the turtle clan was retired, the crow clan became inactive. Active clans include wolf, snake, bravemen, and spirit. On December 19, 2005, Craig Schmidt added the following…]
...And the story continues. Just as grandmother spider weaves her web, so does the myth of NOMC. It is a story that has changed in tonality from an experience of the writings of the past, to one that is deeply prophetic. The author, still unknown, writes of a substantial change that is to take place within this group of men only known to us as NOMC. I will cease any further commentary on the writings and begin with what was recently discovered.
...Brothers, the last I wrote I spoke of a new clan, the snake clan. The ancestors had bestowed upon us this new energy, the energy of the snake, and transmutation. All waited patiently, wondering what great strength would come from snake. A great feeling of passivity began to creep over us; many began to feel the stagnation and fear of the unspoken truths becoming lost again. For snake had coiled himself up and was unwilling to bring forth the energy we were searching. Why still had we not learned that this energy does not come from without, but from within. So snake remained tightly coiled, trying to teach us his power could not be taken from him, but must be realized in each man. There grew great fear in the men, what had the ancestors in store for us now. The elders retreated, not sure of how to approach this change, once again going into a place of seclusion, coiling tightly like snake himself. So the new brothers went out to search for themselves, there was no initiation by the elders, but called themselves the brave men clan, and this they certainly were. For without the direction of the elders they were on their own. They struggled to find the unspoken truths but could find no one brave enough to give voice and speak. They wandered for years among the old clans calling on turtle, wolf, crow and snake. But their cries only landed on deaf ears. Where else could they turn but to the great Spirit Him Self. They became disconnected with masculinity in the physical form, rejected by all the earth clans before them; they themselves became disconnected from the earth. They searched the skies for answers and became spiritual seekers; they even changed their name to the Spirit Clan in the hopes of direction from above.
...It is at this point my brothers where my story becomes almost unbelievable, but bear with me because I speak of the truth. You see the Spirit Clan had stirred up an element deep within the bowels of the earth, for spirit without embodiment does not exist in the earth plane. Oh, how Spirit so loved the man strong enough to take mount of the great horses of power. He spoke his commands and once again a great rumbling was felt in the earth as his steeds began to stomp, and spit. They shook themselves forcefully as if awakened from a great sleep. The men also felt this great rumbling, awakening from their own slumber. Snake began to uncoil, as did the elders, and in opening felt the power of great Priapus. So Priapus, with his great cock engorged, laying out 15 feet in front of him, penetrating all things both spiritual and physical, spoke,
..."I say to you there will come a clan, a new Totem, that will be bestowed upon you by the ancestors. It is a direct descendent of mine, and will bring with him an integration of the spiritual, physical, and sexual energy that has not been felt by men, for many a year. This clan will penetrate the mystery around it, and be receptive enough to integrate all aspects of masculinity. It will give voice and body to Spirit. You will once again hear the giggles of the mud heads attempting to copulate, knowing no shame, grasping at everything they can catch. There will be feasts of great food and spirit and all will eat from the table equally. The stories will begin again, pregnant with the masculine truths men must continue to share among themselves. There will be deep feelings and emotion; anger, joy, and passion will once again heat up and temper all around it. All men will become kings again; there will be no head of the table, but only the great circle that has no beginning and no end, no ruler and no servant".
...Now brothers in hearing this there was great hope. The men began to debate and attempt to define what masculine wholeness would be. There were great councils formed to predict this new Totem, of masculinity. Many speculated, and the need to have this energy labeled and understood became of great importance. The group became divided, and sub councils were formed, and sub councils were attached to the sub councils. Soon all time was spent in council after council, attempting to define what this future masculinity would be. Suddenly while in the middle of a council meeting a great stench was noticed, and with the arrival of the smell of rotting meat in walk the hag, the crone of all crones. She walked into the center of the council and lifted up her stained dress, yes lifting it above her shoulders exposing her old and shriveled breast, pendulous and void of all nourishment. Her vagina appeared to be dry and scab like, with legs as skinny as tree limbs. She stared at the men and began to cackle, horse and guttural, while bending over she began to grunt and strain as if about to give birth. And in her straining began to fart and pass noxious fumes, dark black gasses were emanating from her body, and with one last grunt she passed a massive foul smelling turd, black and tarry containing partially digested testicles she had recently eaten. She pulled down her dress and began to laugh, oh how she laughed as some of the men became sick and passed out. And as she began to walk away she spit out two words, "define this," pointing with one gnarled and bony finger at the still steaming turd in the center of the circle.
...It is here the story ends. What are we to think? Are we to assume that maybe there is no definition of masculinity, that this new totem will be each individual man living and giving voice sharing with the whole, our stories, feelings, and understandings that define masculinity? No one man or council can impose their own definition of masculinity on another.
...There is rumor that NOMC did get their totem from the ancestors. IT IS SAID THAT HE IS EVERY MAN THAT WALKS THROUGH THE DOORS AND INTO THE CIRCLE, PICKS UP A DRUM AND COMES INTO CADENCE WITH THE MUSIC OF EACH MANS HEART BEATING AS ONE. For it is known that no one man drumming can create the harmony of the circle, but the music of each mans heart that brings wholeness and connection.
...Does NOMC still exist? Who knows? But it is said that in the fall and spring, if you listen carefully in the quiet of the night. There can be heard mysterious sounds. They are described as a crackling of a bonfire, footsteps dancing while drums beat in the background, stories being told by strong masculine voices, with laughter and screams seeming to echo in the woods. People have reported hearing them for over 10 Years now, so you tell me. Does NOMC still exist?
[The New Orleans Men's Center celebrated its 15th Anniversary on October 2-3-4, 2005 at King's Arrow Ranch. This was a working retreat to help clean up the sacred space after hurricane Katrina. 20 men came and worked in harmony to accomplish the mission. They called the Retreat "Chaos"! A new beginning, new men came, even the grandfathers, and the spirits of Winfred & Harold came from the hereafter to bless us with the energy.
The Spring 2006 retreat was held and a Fall 2006 Retreat is scheduled. The story continues…]