Message from Artwan, freshman year
New Mexico State University 2012

Hey Stephen,

College is definitely a wake-up call. I was not mentally nor emotionally ready for it, however, I am doing the best I can. It has truly been a journey since my last trip to the mountain and I have had one hell of a college experience, so far.

As your read this letter to our brothers I want each and every one of them to think of their past, their childhood. Imagine everything being different; come on guys challenge yourself, what would you change?

Sacred Path storyteller STRONG BEAR

Personally I would not change anything. I have been through so much and my past experiences have shaped my philosophy on life. Many of us were not as privileged as others but does that mean the underprivileged do not deserve a shot at success. Success is determined by the decisions you make and though most of you may believe that at risk kids place themselves in the flames that they spark; it's more complex than that. I have learned so much about myself and can say since our last encounter I have developed as a young man. This retreat means so much to me. This retreat was our safe haven, our heaven away from hell, not a piece but a whole chocolate cake.


The memories I created are forever implanted in my mind and on my heart. Strong Bear, Stephen, and our dear beloved Timothy whose obituary is hanging on my wall as I type this letter, are real role models and men. They listened to us and understood us as misunderstood. The majority of us were crying for a way out, and most of us have gotten lost on our journey to freedom. My twin brother has been my biggest concern for years now. At the age of 20, he has already had two kids, been to prison, released on parole and now he's back there facing two attempted murder cases with young Myron as well who is only 17. All I can say is pray.

When I speak to my best friends, Darren and Nijal, we always reminisce on the retreat and most times state that we wish we never left the mountain because we’d rather die to the mountain than at the hands of ignorance. That retreat was our home away from home. It was the first step to different lives. It started to build leaders, instead of followers. It helped mold men instead of cowards. The type of ethical values it taught were teamwork, responsibility, humility, endurance, and to simply enjoy life. Something memorable was the Call to Adventure, we will never forget the challenges and how we were supported and able to complete those tasks. I miss that place more than home . . .

Stand-up comedian/TV/film star KEVIN HART was a special featured guest along with Meta World Peace at the MCLA poker tournament fundraiser produced by Richie Biren that raised $25k for the Call to Adventure program.

I attend New Mexico State University where I am a part of so many organizations and I'm the spokesperson for BSA (Black Student Association). I am planning on becoming a Doctor, pediatrician to be exact. There have been so many challenges during my college experience, but nothing tougher than my past. There is so much that needs to be said that won't, but I'm going to wait for those nights where you hear the beat of the drum and the voice of Strong Bear telling those stories. Those are the night's expression flows from our hearts.

I look forward to seeing you guys soon and, Kevin Hart, it would definitely be a pleasure to meet you one day sir. Keep up the good work. You are doing a wonderful job and I'm happy to see you supporting a cause that will benefit teens that have nowhere to go nor hide. So for them I want to say thank you. Thanks to all of you because you help create a life-changing experience for young men that might not see the end of next week. These young men are confused and feel like no one is there for them. From experience even parents turn their backs and lack support. So join the cause, the movement, it's worth it I promise.

In brotherhood,

Artwan Green


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Message from Artwan, 
New Mexico State University Graduate 2017


LOVE: The Key To All Things

Love! The key to all things. My journey began years ago, when I was a child filled with rage and disappointment towards life itself. The oldest of five siblings in the house with no solid father figure present. Forced to take on responsibility that made me feel less than a child and more like a slave to my household. My community was infected with gang activity and I felt trapped in my mind. A boy far away from his dreams. A boy in the shadow of the peers in his community. A boy unaware of his destiny.­

ARTWAN and CHRISTINA, close friends and brand new New Mexico State University graduates

I have been a member of The Sacred Path community since I was eleven years of age. That’s approximately fourteen years of exposure and dedication to a community filled with inspiring men. I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by men who are not afraid to say that they are broken. Men who look past the color of my skin and promote strength through my pain. Men who are chasing after serenity and peace. These men have been fuel to my flame. These men have inspired me to seek humility and grace. These men have shared their most intimate memories. These men helped me develop character. These men are spiritual warriors.

Throughout my college journey I have experienced a great deal of loss and adversity. I was homeless for a whole year living in a small single occupancy dorm room with a friend. I lost my Grandmother to Parkinson’s, my best friend to gang violence, and two cousins to cancer. I also was sick for about 8 months during my senior year. In and out of the hospital experiencing multiple procedures.  All this while working two jobs. 

Front row L to R: CHRIS (Artwan’s older brother by father Arto), ARTWAY, DEREK (oldest brother by Stephen) Back row: MEAGAN (Arto’s current wife), ARTO (Artwan’s father), FRAN aka “Mom”, DR. J aka “Dad," AISHA (Artwan’s aunt) KATHY (Artwan’s mother), PETE (Artwan’s uncle)

Through all this adversity I was constantly reminded by Dr. Stephen Johnson, my mentor and father, that I was not alone. That I was not going to be easily defeated. I have many great accomplishments and have been awarded and honored by my university on multiple occasions. Robert Frost wrote a piece titled “The Road Not Taken.” I constantly read through this poem as a reminder that I took a road many guys with similar circumstances have avoided.  As I approached the finish line I began to weep. I wept because the support and memory of my spiritual tribe and family on that mountain was present. This leads me to the purpose of this note.

THANK YOU SACRED PATH. Thank you for seeing a warrior in a young boy from the streets on Los Angeles. Thank you for molding me into the man I am today. Thank you for all your support mentally, physically and especially FINANCIALLY. A lot of men have contributed to my cause and I have not forgotten about that. I appreciate every single prayer, every single donation, and, most importantly, the relationship we have shared. You men have changed my perspective on life and have given me a real understanding on what it means to be a man of honor, a man of responsibility, a man who walks with purpose, a man who loves without borders, a man unafraid to express himself, a man who has always been a brother!

With all my relations.

Artwan Green


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Click here for Dr. Johnson's reflections of MCLA's Sacred Path role with Artwan  





Patrick Reynolds, long time member and participant of MCLA Sacred Path Retreats, Executive Director and founder of  "Smokefree America," has put on his altruistic hat and has taken the executive director role of Be An Elf, A Christmas Charity. 

Be An Elf's mission is to make underprivileged children smile on Christmas morning, and to inspire the public with the real spirit of Christmas. Starting December 1, the non-profit group launches a nationwide annual campaign to recruit volunteers for the US Postal Service's® Operation Santa program, which for over 100 years has been distributing letters to Santa written by kids in need. Their letters often ask Santa only for a toy, Christmas dinner, clothes or other basic needs.  



Anyone from the public may read children's letters to Santa starting the first week of December. Volunteers may adopt the letters that move them most, take them home, and later mail their gifts directly to the needy child or family. There’s no middle man or charity when people participate in this way; it’s micro-philanthropy, direct from each volunteer to a child. Volunteers catch the true spirit of the holidays and put smiles on the faces of underprivileged kids on Christmas morning.

In 2017, children's letters will be made available at 15 post offices around the US, mostly in large cities.

Some people feel alone and sad over the holidays, and find comfort and inspiration being part of this program. Others have families and bring their kids, to teach them the meaning of Christmas.  


Be An Elf was awarded a continuing $10,000 per month in-kind grant from Google for free advertising. Be An Elf is not affiliated with the US Postal Service's®Operation Santa program, but supports the program by recruiting new volunteers and making it easy to learn where and how to volunteer.

Every year around December 1st, the group posts a list of the current season's participating postal branches and hours of operation, and sends out a news release to create additional public awareness of the venerable USPS® program. The website offers a roadmap and excellent tips for volunteering for this wonderful holiday program. To learn more, visit 


December 2017

Greetings MCLA Sacred Path Community,

On Saturday, November 11th, I had the honor of walking my 33-year-old daughter, Dana, down the aisle in preparation for the exchange of Sacred Vows with her fiancé, Alex Kapustin.  During the five years of getting to know each other, a friendship developed and a budding romance blossomed into a bond that appears to be well suited for longevity.


I was asked to contribute a reading for their nuptial ceremony and I chose to speak on the significance of Sacred Vows.  I’ve included my message to Dana and Alex and those in attendance in this newsletter.  I think you’ll find it helpful, especially if you haven’t re-read your vows in a while, and maybe not even since you first exchanged them

At dinner, following the reception, I offered a toast to the Bride and Groom, their wedding party and guests. In the closing of my toast I expressed that life can be hard.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  But, we don’t have to go it alone.  Family, friends and loving companionship can get us through even the most arduous of challenges. 

If you really want to get to know yourself, put yourself in a committed and intimate relationship, preferably with someone who you feel is your soulmate,,, at least your equal

Dana and Alex, I trust that the two of you will aspire to remain the best of friends.  As a therapist for many years I know the research on what constitutes a sustainable relationship.  And, the cornerstone of the foundation is the friendship stone. 

When the veneer fades over time, and it will.  When the due is off the lily so to speak, it’s your friendship that is enduring and will get you through the hard times.



One more piece of advice, if I may, keep your vows where you can see them.  Reread them to each other at least once a year on your anniversary,  if not more often.  The Sacred Vows that you have spoken today are the other cornerstones to your foundation.  You have set your intention in the bedrock for your future together for the years ahead.  And we are all blessed to have been your witnesses.

Changing gears, a long time friend, Mindy Fradkin AKA “The Princess of Wow” and founder of “The Smile Revolution,” is bringing her one woman show (Ageless Wonders:  When did I become a Senior?) from New York to Los Angeles for one night only at the Whitefire Theatre on Friday night, January 19th, 2018. 

Roland Mousaa, who attended one of our retreats a few years ago is Mindy’s musical arranger and will accompany her onstage.  Roland’s roots are embedded deep in Woodstock and go back to his relationship with music giants Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Richie Havens and others.  Click on the promo flier herewith for advance tickets.  It promises be fun with plenty of smiles, levity and hilarity.  It’s also a great opportunity to include the women in our lives who I’m sure will enjoy Mindy’s off-the-hook creativity.

The March River Retreat is on schedule and proceeding nicely.  Advance registration is now open and there are spots still available; but, if you’re interested, please don’t wait to place your deposit to reserve your spot since they are limited.  Read more about this event and join the Tribe that will have an experience of a lifetime.



Obviously, many men are being taken to task for their apparent inappropriate behavior toward women with whom they have been in contact.  I’m going to address this in a new article that I’ll have ready for the January newsletter, if not before.  In the interim, I want to encourage you to reconsider my book The Sacred Path:  The Way of the Spiritual Warrior - Journey to Mindful Manhood.  It was published 5 years ago and yet it is probably more on target for what’s going on with men today.  If you know someone who is going through the challenges of being a good man, please consider encouraging that he read the book.  And, 'tis the season for giving, so it will fit nicely in someone’s stocking or as a gift for one of the nights of Hanukkah. 

In the spirit of the holidays, we at The Men’s Center/Sacred Path Community wish you and your family a very Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas!





Reading on Sacred Vows for Dana and Alex’s Wedding

During the wedding in Cana, Jesus performed his first miracle when he became aware that the hosts had run out of wine for their guests.  Jewish weddings could last a week and running out of wine could be a disgrace for the bridegroom since it was his responsibility to have plenty.  So, Jesus transformed the water for washing, held in earthen jars, into wine. More than enough; and, actually the very best wine, for all of the guests. 

What was the significance of this miracle? 

One interpretation is that it was a manifest expression of the renewed Covenant with God through Christ.   Perhaps the transformation of tasteless water into precious wine also served as a metaphor for raising one’s consciousness. In other words, change your thinking, change your life. 

Dana and Alex, the sacred vows you are going to speak today are more than just words. When you speak a sacred vow out loud your voices project your promises into the deepest reaches of the universe.  Universal Intelligence and Divine Creativity engage with you to support your pure intentions.

A vow is both a tool in order to facilitate transformation within yourself as well as an expression of Will.  A sacred vow, once spoken, becomes a part of your existence forevermore.

When you make a promise, a subtle yet powerful shift takes place in your soul where your intentions are stored.  Thus, to make an oath is to communicate to the universe and to your deeper self your commitment to the principles most important to you.

Your view of the world around you may change, and your predominant thoughts and feelings will no doubt evolve with time, but the Spirit in which your oaths are spoken today will remain unaffected.

It is up to you to determine how you will stay true to your vows while your inner-and outer-world existence is transformed. Your strength and character will inevitably be tested as circumstances may make keeping promises increasingly challenging, but after you have shown yourself steadfast many times, your appreciation of the sanctity of your vows will become securely consecrated in your mind and soul, forever.






A message from the Associate Director


I write this with lots of gratitude for many people especially the ones who made this retreat so great.  Much of what makes our MCLA retreats exceptional are not only the speakers and the breakouts, but the care and love given to our sacred containers.  I want to thank the veteran men of MCLA for being open to new ideas, ceremonies and locations.  For the new guys, I hope you had a great and fulfilling retreat.  The other day I was on the phone with Rob and we were discussing how fast the “thrill” of the retreat can subside with all the tasks and demands of life in Chronos.   After many moments of recollecting the years of retreats we’ve collectively done, one realization ultimately flowed to the surface:  The hill is simply practice for life off the hill.  So, how do we take what we “got” on the hill and bring it down with us?  Sorry to say, but you can’t.  To take the magic, the comradery, the energy, the smells and all the other things that moved you on that mountain is virtually impossible.  Therefore we must find acceptance that life on the mountain is separate than life off of it—Herein lies the grief.  So to deal with the grief, let’s first accept the loss.  Next, find someone that you had a shared-experience with so you can commiserate as well as celebrate those memories.  Talk about how you are feeling being off the mountain and how you are doing with the transition.  Burn some sage to indulge your limbic system and remember that the only time that ever exists is “now.”  You are worth it.  We are all here for you.

With love from your brother,

Michael Lewis, MD

Director's Message: November 2017


Greetings MCLA Sacred Path community,

Changes are in the Fall air.  Starting with our 31st annual men’s retreat in which close to 60 participants witnessed the changes first hand from the revisioned commencement ceremony all the way through to our refashioned closing ceremony.

The Newly inspired Intention-Tipi on the lower field - now called the TPC (Tipi Container) was created to supplement our existing indoor container

I want to express a deep sense of gratitude to Dr. Michael Lewis and Rob Bruce, our Associate Directors, for their creativity, commitment to excellence, intentionality, dedication and all around competent leadership.  Their hands-on shepherding of this last retreat was certainly of value to me and it made an imprint that could be felt by all involved.

Thank you Wisdom Council brothers for your generosity of spirit in stepping up in so many valuable ways. The program was quite full, including Tribe and Community times including a variety of presentations and breakout sessions facilitated by Clyde Terry, Mike Henry, Mitch Roth, Nick Stein, John Mafrici, Michael Lewis, Bruce Figoten, Ed Carrico, Rod Louden and Bill Flaxman.  Kudos to Anthony DiMaggio for engineering the Sacred Container to hold the space for us in such a good way!

 Award winning director, Frederick Marx giving a moving presentation on the struggles veterans endure upon returning home. CLICK PHOTO TO LEARN MORE

Award winning director, Frederick Marx giving a moving presentation on the struggles veterans endure upon returning home. CLICK PHOTO TO LEARN MORE

With gratitude to our two keynote presenters Dr. Pierre Grimes and Frederick Marx for sharing your wisdom with us.  The brilliance of Christo Pellani still has men commenting on his Fisher King Myth performed in two sections. The Inipi Sweat Lodge ceremonies facilitated by Bill Arena and Dan Stanton with the able assistance of fire keepers Paul Stanton and Adam Zawadzki deepened the spiritual impact of our program.

We’re currently in discussion regarding a potential one-day program for sometime in January or February and the planning for the March River Retreat is already underway.  Enrollments for the March retreat have begun and there are still some openings at this point.  If you haven't attended this special retreat before, it’s a wonderful experience. You can sign up today.


Stay tuned for more updates. 


In brotherhood,

Stephen Johnson, Ph.D.



Viking Therapy: Where Men Fight Their Demons

The Viking Therapy Club:
Where Men Fight Their Demons

By Douglas Shaw
BBC World Service UK

It looks like the set of Game of Thrones. Wolin in Poland hosts one of the world’s largest gatherings of Viking enthusiasts each year.

Hundreds come to recreate Viking culture - and take part in fierce, competitive battles. Many are drawn by a passion for history. But, for a significant number, it’s a way of escaping their past - a past scarred by violence.

The Viking scene attracts people who are combat veterans, former football hooligans and others struggling to come to terms with violence.

It also seems to appeal to men who have lost direction in their lives and are looking for a sense of purpose.

Four members of the international group called the Jomsborg Vikings, which is about 2,000 strong, explain what draws them to the Viking world, and how it has changed their lives.

Max Bracey - or Maximas von Bracey, to give him his Viking name - leads a British Viking contingent called Ulflag.

His day job is running a shop that sells Viking paraphernalia in Walthamstow, London.

“A lot of these people are adrenaline junkies,” he explains.

“They really want to take part in something where they feel alive, with a sense of brotherhood.”

It gives them a release of the natural violent urges that we humans have”

He continues: “This is [also] a way of exploring how our ancestors lived.”

He embraced Viking re-enactment at a low point in his life.

His father had died of cancer, and a long-term relationship with his girlfriend had come to an end.

He tried various martial arts, but none fully satisfied him:

Qanun Bhatti is the chief trainer of the Ulflag Vikings in the UK.

He suffered abuse as a child, when he was six years old.

“I had quite a lot of anger issues. Violence just became a bit of a way of life.

“An angry child doesn’t know how to deal with emotions, but by being violent.”

Even as he was struggling to come to terms with the abuse, he had more violence to deal with in his adolescence.

Growing up in London in the 80s and 90s, he says he was victimised for being Asian and Muslim, picked on at school and attacked by skinheads.

Qanun believes joining the Vikings has healed him.

“Being able to let out my frustrations and aggression in a controlled manner is very beneficial for me.”

It has also given him a new sense of belonging.

[I feel] accepted and for want of a better word, loved.”

Qanun has experienced racism within the Viking world, too. People have commented that he should be playing the part of a slave, on account of the colour of his skin, he recalls.

But according to Qanun the true Viking message, which the Jomsborg Vikings try to promote, is one of tolerance and diversity.

“Vikings were so curious about anything that wasn’t the norm, it was part of their special culture. They were inveterate explorers.

“If someone walked in and was a different skin colour, rather than being: ‘You are different to us, we are afraid,' they’d be like: 'Wow, who’s this? We want to know about this person because they are different to us.’ They were excited.”

“It’s a brotherhood, once you’ve been taken in, you’re in.”

Norman in the 1990s (Dariusz Gis, 1996)

But Norman Hewitt struggled for a long time to be accepted as Jomsborg’s first black Viking.

His first job was to convince himself.

“It’s not really my scene. I thought there weren't any black Vikings because we weren't taught anything like that back in school.”

In the early 90s in London, he was embroiled in the world of football hooliganism. He was persuaded by a friend to join the Jomsborg Vikings. This gave him a new focus and outlet for his physical aggression.

On joining and doing some research, he decided to take the Arabic name of Bin Yusof, to reflect that Vikings mingled with North Africans.

Norman fights less these days, but remains an international training officer for the Jomsborg Vikings, where he is held in high esteem.

Anyone who is ethnic, or say, female, has to work double-hard to gain respect.”

Norman believes that if he had been a poor fighter, he would still have been gradually accepted, but he would not have achieved the same level of respect.

He experienced racism and “funny looks” from some quarters at Viking events across England, he says.

Some people were uncomfortable seeing a black Viking.

It was worse at festivals in northern Europe. He even thinks he was specifically targeted at some battles:

“Being black, it was hard to be recognized. One of the main reasons I do it is because we were there. I don’t see why it’s not written in history”

Blunt weapons are used in competitive battles between Vikings, and marshals enforce safety rules

Igor Gorewicz has been organizing the battles at the Wolin Festival in Poland since the late 1990s.

He says he has seen it transform the lives of hundreds of men.

People who had problems in their lives became good Viking citizens by releasing their aggression in a moderate way.”

The change can take effect after just a week of Viking martial training, he reckons.

The Viking code is all about creating strong men who know how to behave well, says Igor:

It allows you to be a tough man, while still respecting others. It also allows someone to escape the baggage of their past because one's Viking reputation rests purely upon their actions in the Viking world.

Igor, himself, used to be part of a violent scene in Poland called ‘metal-heads’. He describes it as football hooliganism, without the football.

Igor now takes his Viking message to schools and correctional facilities for young offenders.

He believes he can reach out to troubled young men that traditional authority figures, like teachers or magistrates, cannot.

Igor admits that the world of Viking re-enactment does draw a minority of people with racist views, attracted to the idea of re-creating a white, warrior culture.

“In all the cases I know, when they join our society, after a short time, they stopped talking bullshit.”



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Read Douglas' original article on the BBC World Service UK website

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   THE 31ST ANNUAL SACRED PATH MEN'S RETREAT  returns to the mountain Oct. 19-22. It's a truly life-changing event that shifts men's consciousness from Surviving to Thriving. Click here to register today:   MCLA Fall Retreat Registration  .

THE 31ST ANNUAL SACRED PATH MEN'S RETREAT returns to the mountain Oct. 19-22. It's a truly life-changing event that shifts men's consciousness from Surviving to Thriving. Click here to register today: MCLA Fall Retreat Registration.

Sacred Path Men on the Mountain in 10 Days


The clock is running. Exactly 10 days from today an incredible group of mindful men will gather on the mountain for the 31st Annual Sacred Path Men's Retreat beginning Thursday, October 19th. This is the perfect time and place for men to recharge their batteries, to examine what's truly important in life, and share the good energy and positive male companionship of other good men on the path. Click here to register right now and be part of the action.




"The Spiritual Psychology of Mindful Manhood"

Our very own Dr. Stephen Johnson, founder and wayshower of the Sacred Path retreats for the past 31 years, kicks off our program with "The Spiritual Psychology of Mindful Manhood."




Click the video at right to view MCLA's heartfelt tribute to Dr. J entitled "The Sacred Path," the amazing 30-year story of our annual Sacred Path Men's Retreats.



"Sacred Breathing"

John Mafrici and Dr. Stephen Johnson will co-facilitate Sacred Breathing sessions, a gentle yet extremely effective way of touching our feeling center, locating and releasing unconscious causes of negativity, empowering us to reverse old decisions and make new choices, grounded in high self-esteem and spiritual certainty. Powerful. Life-changing.



"The Betrayal of the Self
and Power of Dreamwork"

Internationally-acclaimed philosopher and master teacher Pierre Grimes has been hailed as "A true Jnana Yogi" and "The only living Platonist on Earth" among many other descriptive superlatives. Come learn from a true master.
Click here for details.

"From Stress to Strength
. . . through Meditation"

Nick Stein will facilitate a breakout session on Mindfulness Skills and explain the best, most practical methods for enjoying the phenomenal benefits of meditation. 
Click here for details.



"Men's Health & Hazards"

Dr. Michael Lewis will and Dr. Bruce Figoton will share some shocking facts about men's overall healthcare, pharmaceuticals and tangible things you can do right away to live a strong, healthy lifestyle.


"Emotional Transformation Therapy (ETT)"

Presentation by Mitch Roth introducing this life-changing, non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical approach combining traditional psychotherapy with the use of visual brain stimulation and colored light therapy for fast results.
Click here for details.





Frederick Marx will discuss his new film about the terrible challenges facing veterans today as well as his personal Buddhist approach to living a good life.
Click here for details.


"PTSD & Firefighters Down"

Clyde Terry & Mike Henry will share the challenges faced by military people and first responders and the common traits of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). MCLA is a proud supporter of FireFighters Down and supports the amazing, healing work of this local organization. Click here for details.



"Curriculum Movement For Men"

The body shares its ancient wisdom with us when we listen. David Carico leads us in an amazing technique to improve our health and vitality by simply listening to and following the movement that is naturally occurring every moment in our bodies. Click here for details.




Manly Musicians Christo Pellani & Tommy Holmes team up for other-worldly musical meditative journeys to enhance the mind, body and spirit. Click here for details.


"Monster Relationships"

Taming the beasts that are killing your relationships. Rod Louden will share some amazing insights about positive relationships beneficial to ALL men in ALL walks of life in ALL of our relationships with other people.
Click here for details.



"Orchestrating success in your life"

Dr. Bill Flaxman will explain how to self-manage difficult or uncomfortable emotions and problem behaviors that arise from challenging health-related, work related, or personal relationship situations that men face.
Click here for details.


The 31st Annual Sacred Path Men’s Retreat will be an excellent opportunity for good men to withdraw from the typical pressure and constant challenges and unrelenting drive for success in the modern world.

Go ahead. Be bold. Take a few days for yourself to relax and regroup and go inward and connect with your higher self. When you join us on the mountain you'll experience the profound peacefulness and energetic bliss of being part of a tribe of good men. You'll feel such power and peace and joy. The Sacred Path men's retreats have been called "life-changing" and "extremely positive." You deserve a break. Come join us.

Life is short. Go ahead. Reserve some time for yourself in the presence of other great men. Come join us on the mountain in October. Click here to register today.



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Click here to register for MCLA's Sacred Path Fall Men's Retreat


Healing the Father Wound You Never Knew You Had

Healing the Father Wound You Never Knew You Had

By Jed Diamond

There is one problem that surpasses all others in its impact on men, women, and society. It is the father wound. We focus on the importance of mothers in determining the well-being of children. However, the father wound, resulting from physical or emotional absence of the father, has been largely ignored. The father wound may be the most pervasive, most important, and least recognized problem facing men and their families today.

Here’s how one man described his wound:

“My dad had a ‘nervous breakdown’ when I was around 5 years old. I’m 73 and still remember the ‘shame.’ My mother used to take me with her to collect him after he had been given ECT – still hurts today. Not only the father wound, but because my mother took me as a surrogate partner, my life has been littered with very nice women who could never live up to her standards, even though she’s been dead for 32 years. I’m okay but still working on those wounds and doing my best to help others heal too.”

The father wound doesn’t just impact men’s lives. Here’s how one woman described her experience:

“I feel very threatened and feel like my partner is going to leave me all the time. I have a lot of chaos in my life and nothing seems for certain. I was the ‘black sheep’ of the family on top of the dysfunctionality of a father who was present physically, but not emotionally. I feel that getting older I have become more scared and in more pain. It has been very difficult for my partner. I don’t want to hurt him anymore. He is too good for that.”

On May 7, 2016, six months before the Presidential election, I wrote an article “The Real Reason Donald Trump Will Be Our Next President.” In the article I concluded, “Mr. Trump seems to have suffered abuse, neglect, and abandonment as a child.” He was raised by a father who worked seven days a week, whose basic value was “win at all cost,” and had little time for his role as a parent. Many people identified with Mr. Trump’s rage, without recognizing the underlying cause, and voted for him. When wounded children grow up to hold important political offices, the impact can be felt throughout the world.

As a psychotherapist who has treated more than 30,000 men and women over my long career, I have seen the devastating impact absent fathers can have on the lives of their children and how the wounding causes problems at all stages of life. Boys and girls who experience the father wound often become adults who unknowingly wound their own children. Once I recognized and understood the prevalence and importance of the father wound, I could help people recover from problems that had previously been resistant to both medical and psychological interventions.

According to the National Center for Fathering, “More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.”

The father wound impacts four critical areas of our lives:

  • Our physical health
  • Our emotional health
  • Our relationship health
  • Our social and political health

The effects of growing up without a loving, engaged, father ripple through the generations and contribute to many of the most serious problems we face in our society today including:

  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Depression and suicide
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Sexual addiction
  • Poverty
  • Divorce
  • Crime
  • Broken marriages

In order to help people, we need to understand why most people don’t recognize that they have a father wound or that it is the cause of many of the problems they experience in their lives. It’s difficult to believe that childhood trauma can be at the root of problems that occur thirty, forty, or fifty years later.

The life-long impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) has been demonstrated by landmark studies by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Kaiser Permanente. These studies have been conducted over the last twenty years and show that most people in the U.S. have at least one ACE, and that people with four ACEs— including living with an alcoholic parent, racism, bullying, witnessing violence outside the home, physical abuse, and losing a parent to divorce — have a huge risk of adult onset of chronic health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and alcoholism.

Scientists are still debating how emotionally damaging experiences in childhood can have physical effects years later, but by now it’s pretty well established that they do. One of the more promising lines of inquiry shows that adverse childhood experiences damages the immune system.

The impact of absent or abusive fathers is one of the ACEs that has been largely ignored. For most of us, we block out early trauma. It was painful at the time, but we survive and get on with our lives, hoping to put the memories behind us. However, what we don’t remember can cause problems later in life.

Fortunately, we now have a host of treatments to heal childhood trauma and its impact on adults. I wrote about four helpful techniques in my book Stress Relief for Men: How to Use the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Healing to Live Well. These techniques include EFT (tapping), heart coherence, Earthing (grounding), and attachment love. They work equally well for women.

Healing begins with understanding and accepting the father wound and the impact of other ACEs in our lives. To see if you have been effected by Adverse Childhood Experiences you can get your ACE score here and you can also learn more about the ACE studies. If you’d like to learn more about the book I’m writing, From Madness to Manhood: Healing the Father Wound You Never Knew You Had, drop me an email. Put “Father Wound” in the subject line and be sure and respond to me spamarrest filter if you’re writing for the first time.

Please share your own experiences and comments, which are always appreciated. They are my reward for spending so many hours writing articles that I think will be helpful to you.




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Read Jed's original article on

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Jed Diamond, PhD, LCSW, has been helping men, and the women who love them, for more than 40 years. He is the Founder and Director of MenAlive, a health program that helps men live long and well. Since its inception in 1992, Jed has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men's Health Network. He is also a member of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), the International Society for the Study of the Aging Male and serves as a member of the International Scientific Board of the World Congress on Gender and Men's Health. His work has been featured in major newspapers throughout the U.S. and more than 1,000 radio and TV programs. Jed lives with his wife, Carlin, on Shimmins Ridge, above Bloody Run Creek, in northern California. They are proud parents of five grown children and 12 grandchildren.

Philip Gross, A True Spiritual Warrior

Philip Gross, A True Spiritual Warrior

by Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
MCLA Executive Director

I recall the day I was packing up in my room at the end of one of our retreats in 1997 when Hector Escarcega, who was on the Sacred Path Wisdom Council at the time, brought one of the participants to meet me.  Hector suggested that Phil Gross, AKA “Coach” Phil would be a valued member of our Council.

Phil expressed how much he enjoyed the retreat and declared that he would very much like to get involved with our organization. He was encouraged to attend 3 retreats in a row, which was our policy, and if he still felt the passion, he would be invited to participate in a Wisdom Council meeting so that he could learn more about the inner workings of The Men’s Center/Sacred Path.

Phil followed through with the protocol and did indeed join the staff and commenced what would become a 20-year tenure in our organization. He served as a Tribe Leader, managed our bookstore, and then stepped up his game by suggesting that we return MCLA once again to a 501c3 non-profit organization. It had been a non-profit for at least the first 10 years of the 30+ years that it has been in existence. Phil did the work and paid for the fees to recreate the corporate entity. He also purchased, out of his own money, handsomely embossed mugs as retreat takeaways, and monogrammed shirts to commemorate MCLA’s 25th Anniversary. He was a frequent contributor to our scholarship fund.

Phil had a special place in his very spacious heart for our Call to Adventure Rites of Passage program for fathers and sons, boys and mentors. He always brought his “A” game sharing his multifaceted background with all of the skills, talents and gifts he so generously offered to each and every member of our community from the younger ones to the older men.

Phil loved who we are and what we do. He was truly one of the most decent, kind, caring and generous men who has been involved with MCLA over the years. We have lost not only a really good man, but also a key player within our organization. He served in so many capacities and yet was so understated that it would at times be tempting to not fully appreciate who he was and the gifts that he gave. He deserved all of the acknowledgement that he was afforded, and more.

I was lifted up by his belief in me and my vision for the Sacred Path Community. He was fully in support of the mission of MCLA. In addition to everything that he offered, he also gifted me a full year of weekly coaching as I was writing my first book. That provided me with a very personal experience of Phil’s coaching prowess.

I know that Phil was also very engaged with his LandMark Forum community and as an instructor with the L.A. Unified School System. He was also involved in the administrative and policy making part of academia. We shared a bond in being fellow Trojans. We would text each other around our football games and the traditions and spirit of being a member of the USC family.

Perhaps the most telling example of his generosity was demonstrated via his relationship with someone he befriended at the Inside Edge Mastery organization.  Nick Rath was a true mentor, having supported hundreds of Foster children and providing parenting education within the L.A. Unified School System. Phil realized that Nick’s life was on the line, and would be drastically shortened if he did not receive a donated kidney.  Phil volunteered to determine if he was a match, and he was.  The surgery was scheduled and successful.   Phil and Nick became blood brothers from that point forward.  It was such a pleasure to witness their bond at our retreats.


To sum it up, Phil’s passion for serving others became one of the cornerstones of the foundation for our SP/MCLA work in the world. He is missed and will be missed. Each member of our community who has passed has left an indelible mark on the history of what we stand for and what we have endeavored to do. Phil’s mark will stand out for many years to come.

Thank you Phil for being you and for leaving us with memories of the mindful man that you shared with us . . .

Rest In Peace,


Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
Executive Director



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Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years. He is a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth. Click here to visit

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Philip Henry Gross Memorial Celebration
-- Sunday, September 24 --



A Memorial Celebration honoring the life of our very own Philip Henry Gross was held Sunday, September 24:

400 S Main Street
Los Angeles 90013
1:00 pm to 4:30 pm

Contact Susan Hornik
(323) 447-8154

Click here for event details on facebook:  PHIL GROSS MEMORIAL CELEBRATION


January 21, 1954 ~ September 4, 2017
(age 63)




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memorial celebration obituary page
Philip Henry Gross  
January 21, 1954 ~ September 4, 2017
(age 63)