Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Problem? Yes indeed!

It’s around fifty years (give or take a few depending on which stories you believe) since neo-paganism was born from the mind of Uncle Gerry. In times past that would make us an infant religion, yet neo-paganism has been fortunate to have been born just in time to catch the waves of globalization and more importantly the World Wide Web, and social media. Where a spiritual movements would have had to rely on the spreading of ideas as people migrated (even on a “missionary” quest that takes a lot of time!), now someone can share a YouTube video, or create a mashup, and you might get the attention of a few dozen, to a few thousand people!

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So it’s not surprising that in this intensely fluid environment, that a lot of “antagonism” can be built between people who may never meet. One of the “best (read worst) places to see this is Usenet where flame wars and trolls abound. What has also come from these situations are internet personalities who seem to think that they are the worlds experts on any subject under creation. Paganism is not short of these people, and what you will find with these people is that they will associate themselves with more legitimate personalities especially when they pass on.

Recently I saw a rash of borderline real personalities, and many internet personalities attaching themselves to the passing of Isaac Bonewits. While this is not uncommon with anyone “famous” who passes (and probably has not been a new trick for millennia), it is still in bad taste, especially with comments of “he was my student” and “we were great friends”. This behavior is usually to make the “personality” in question seem more authentic or to have more authority over anyone who questions them. Again these are not new tricks. However unlike in many other situations neo-paganism has the option of those in the role of the Warrior stepping in. I was fortunate to have talked to Isaac over one such claimant before he died, and he had replied that he was never a student of the person claiming it, also he barely knew the man. I had his permission to post his reply anytime it came up from this person, and I’ve done just that. This of course has made me no friends with the claimant, but to be honest I’m not out to make friends when I stand up to these sort of people, I’m there to preserve truth and the name of the person being victimized. 

Isaac Bonewits reply 

This is part of the role of the warrior: To do the unpopular job that no one else is willing to do, but do it for the betterment of the members of the tribe.

Slan agat


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Eating Bitterness

The Shaolin monks have an expression they use to admonish students who become discouraged after encountering difficulties and obstacles in their path: Eat bitterness. I really like this analogy: You take that obstacle or problem, chew on it, extract the lessons, the value from it, process it, and then leave it behind you as waste that can become fertilizer for future projects for both yourself and others on your path. The knights of my Order of Scáthach dump the fears that they've overcome in a place outside our group astral temple in a place we call the "Perilous Glen": These become symbols of their achievement, examples to those that follow on behind them on this path of what can be overcome and reminders to them (should they need it) of obstacles to avoid in future. Obstacles become stepping stones to achievement and then symbols of their triumph.
Obstacles and reversals are a part of everyday living. There are some variables in life over which nobody has any control, like the earthquake and tsunami which just happened in Japan. Modern knights, however, place themselves fully in charge of those things in their lives that they do have control over. Doing this offsets the effect of life’s variables. We have control over many of the things that go wrong in our lives. It is amazing how many people out there fail to take advantage of this ability to control their fate. They sit back and pray for someone to help them instead of looking within for the means to help themselves. So ask yourself this: What can I do today to change my world? You are the only person who can change the situation that you find yourself in.
Modern knights are shape shifters, making adjustments to handle the situations that they find themselves in. You shape your life and behavior to sway life’s circumstances to your advantage. Modern knights own up to their mistakes and their shortcomings and do something about them. The Wiccan Rede tells us “harm none”, and that includes ourselves. If you want to master your situation, you need to master yourself first. You are not at the mercy of the elements and fate unless you chose to be. Chose power and you won’t have these problems.
And if you come up against an obstacle in your path? Simple. Eat bitterness.
In Her Service, Kerr Cuhulain
Order of Scáthach web site: http://www.dunscathach.com/
Kerr Cuhulain’s blog: http://kerrcuhulain.blogspot.com/
Kerr’s latest Smashwords book: Modern Knighthood: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/34975
Check out Kerr’s daily affirmations:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wait did the earth just move?

A short time after I wrote my last blog, a disaster hit New Zealand, and reminded me of a topic that should be near and dear to anyone who aspires to the role of a warrior.

Disaster preparedness, I am not talking about being a survivalist, I am talking about planning sensibly for an event which qualifies as a disaster. It could be an earthquake as that which occurred in Christchurch New Zealand, it could be tornadoes, a hurricane or cyclone, floods, or mass civil unrest. Whatever it is, being caught totally unprepared is a rather unfortunate thing.

A warrior should learn what likely issues can occur in the place they live. So let’s go through mine.

When I lived in Milwaukee WI, I had to be prepared for snow blizzards in winter, and tornadoes in Summer. To that end, I made sure at work I had a good jacket as well as one at home, as well as the ability to get home if motor transport was out (i.e. good weather proof footwear, and thermal undergarments to add if it gets bitterly cold), at home I made sure of a decent food supply that would not rely on power (cans, opener, MRE etc). In summer I knew to keep an eye on the weather and bug out to the evacuation point at work, or to the basement of my apartment.

Now I live in New Zealand and there are some other concerns. Thankfully I was raised here. Here earthquakes are a fact. We are on the fire ring of the Pacific, and while my home town of Dunedin is less prone to them, they still happen. Complacency is also not an excuse. Christchurch suffered its first ever earthquake September 4th 2010. It was on an unknown fault. Yesterday a more shallow, weaker (6.3) earth quake has done much more damage, and caused fatalities (rising as I type).

So learn how to respond to an event like this. Keep supplies, extra first aid, get a first aid certification (Red Cross is standard), oh and if you possibly can, become trained in Urban and rural search and rescue. Serve your community, even if it is just checking on neighbors, or stopping tempers fraying, but serve them. Again I say, the warrior is there to serve!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You shall know the measure of a person….

Warrior spirituality as I’ve often mentioned here, does indeed make many pagans a little “uneasy”, not in the least there is an implied if not explicit martial aspect. It is a common misconception in many circles that anyone who walks the path of the “warrior” is a hoplophile. A small percentage of those who ascribe to the warrior path of spirituality do indeed fit the hoplophile profile, they worship exclusively at the altar of the cult of the firearm or they must always be armed, and let the world know. This image is sadly a misrepresentation of the warrior.

One of these is a Warrior, the other two are playing dress-up. Can you guess which is which?

Warrior spirituality is not so much about the battles in the world around us, but more about the battles within us. When a battle is external, we still fight those internal battles; we strive to conquer our fears, our weaknesses, and our failings. We strive to seek balance. How we achieve this takes many forms, for some (myself included) it’s martial arts and exercise. For others it is inward seeking, and meditative. However, no matter the form it takes, it is not the form that matters so much as the battle waged with ourselves. We win some, we lose some, but we fought the battle, and that is what matters in the end!

So why do some people seem to feel weapons make the warrior?

  1.  Some who follow the warrior path mistake the tool for the spirit. In times long past, the right to carry a sword was earned and was a symbol of the warrior. It was a sign of office, as sign of responsibility, and a sign of duty. Not a sign of right.
  2. Just as you will see many neo-pagans with a large amount of esoteric symbolism in jewelry, you will see some warrior focused pagans, who decide to carry a weapon as a symbol of their path.
  3. I will be blunt about this; the person carrying a weapon is a poser. They like the look, they like the feel of people being shocked at the large stainless steel wall hanger (i.e. piece of junk) sword they carry, or the gun they always have to point out.

Over the years I’ve seen a few individuals who have missed the point of Warrior spirituality totally. These have ranged from late teens who fall into category 3 above. I’ve also had the misfortune of knowing one “gentleman” who decided that anyone who wished to disagree with his views on the subject, was an enemy, and to be threatened.

It returns to the point of what I feel a warrior is: Someone who forges themselves into a weapon and who struggles within themselves to seek balance of body, mind and spirit. 

Edit: I am clarifying a point here:

I am not saying a warrior should not be or never is armed. I'm almost always armed on some level, however for me it is always to the level the law lets me be so armed. In Milwaukee WI I carried a small folding knife to the size allowed by law, however I never obtained a gun, because WI is a non Conceal Carry state, owning a hand gun was pointless. Here in New Zealand, one may never carry a gun for self defense. I am planning on obtaining a gun licence, and a fire arm (with a gun locker), however that is not a self defense item.

What this post has been about is those who feel to be a warrior they MUST have a weapon visible or they need to announce they carry one. Sorry that is not a warrior, it is indeed a poser. The warrior is the weapon not the tool. Like they say "guns don't kill people, people do", I say "Swords don't make the warrior, disciplined training does".

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Rebel vs the Warrior

Rebellion is often a useful instrument of change, as we've just seen in the recent citizen's uprising in Tunisia. Yet simply rebelling and doing the opposite of whatever friends, family or society seems to want for you is not the Warrior's way. That isn't rebelling for change, that's rebelling to avoid change. the Warrior is not just a rebel. The Warrior tempers his actions with the responsibility implied by the first half of the Wiccan Rede. Rebels raise and use energy only for themselves. To accept freedom without responsibility is to turn hedonism into religion. The rebel is the shadow side of the Warrior.

The malcontent has no boundaries. Malcontents identify others as the source of their problems, rather than taking responsibility for the changes needed in their lives. Blaming others is simply making excuses for what you don't like about yourself. Indian doctor and author Deepak Chopra tells us that "When you blame and criticize others, you are avoiding some truth." Nobel Prize winning writer Herman Hesse tells us that "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself."

Malcontents don't take responsibility for their lives. You can't sit back and hope to turn into what you want to be. You can't sit back and hope that life turns out the way that you want it to. You must forge your reality. As author Hanns-Oskar Porr once said: "Don't just find yourself. Make yourself." If you don't see yourself as being the way that you would like to be, no one else will either. Remember the old African adage: "Nobody will think you're somebody if you don't think so yourself."

I have encountered people who profess to be Wiccan who seem to interpret the Wiccan Rede to mean: "Do whatever feels good". Perhaps they are thinking of Crowley's "Do as thou wilt"? I run into Pagans now and again who bully their way through the community using that excuse. Hedonism is an attitude that Pagans cannot afford to indulge in. You cannot be so self centered and claim that you follow the Rede. You cannot embrace freedom without any consideration for how your actions will affect others. You must accept responsibility for yourself.

Using the right for individual expression as an excuse for behaviour that is harmful to others is reprehensible. It is a direct violation of the Wiccan Rede. Our Pagan community has fought long and hard for society to take us seriously, and such irresponsible behaviour threatens that sought after respect.

If you want respect, you have to give respect. If you're upset about how people think of you, the first thing to do is to look at yourself. Playwright George Bernard Shaw once said that "Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." A Warrior must be impeccable. To earn respect you must make yourself respectable.

I'm not saying that you should conform to other people's ideas of who you are or what you should be. The other half of the Rede tells us to be all that we can be, to go out there and be glorious. That is what "do what thou wilt" means. As we say in the Order of Scathach, who dares, wins, and what you must dare is to be yourself. American poet and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us: "Insist on yourself. Never imitate." Remember the old adage: "Be yourself. An original is always worth more than a copy."

In Her Service, Kerr Cuhulain

Order of Scathach web site: http://www.dunscathach.com/

Kerr Cuhulain's blog: http://kerrcuhulain.blogspot.com/

Kerr's Latest Smashwords book, Modern Knighthood: https://smashwords.com/books/view/34975

Check out Kerr's daily affirmations: