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".


Saigh said...

So, because I carry a gun when and where I legally can, train in defensive shooting, discuss guns, have photos of myself shooting I'm a poser? After well over two decades of serving a certain Goddess and training for potential real life problems (including disasters, to the point of being also labeled a survivalist), I'm just playing?

Actually, I find your post all over the place. You say that gun nuts are posers, then show a reenactor and a supposed militia group, then mention people with wall hangers they don't know how to use. All posers (well, the guys in those photos are, actually, posing for the camera) on the same level. Regardless of whether they actually know what they're doing or if, just maybe, they might also fight their inner demons while also doing these things.

I'm going to say that I never got the "spiritual warrior" thing, as opposed to "spiritual person walking the warrior path." I get that you seem to define "warrior" as something far different than "one who fights" but do you seriously think everyone who uses weapons doesn't do that inner work? Some may not, and some who do might lose, but I do get our opinions on whether losing or not doing it makes someone a warrior or not are different. What I am asking is that if you really belief that people who carry weapons are automatically not balancing as you define "spiritual warrior?"

I don't always carry a gun or pepper spray or a baton (after all I work at a facility where no, um, tertiary weapons are allowed) but I am always armed, because the first weapon is the brain. Okay, there have been times when I have to admit that that weapon has malfunctioned on me, like any weapon one needs to train with it and keep it in good working order. Hopefully it won't misfire in this discussion. ~;)

I'm always doubly armed, hopefully, for the second is ones body. Likewise, that can fail us and needs to be trained and maintained. Everything else is an extension. But sometimes, well and prudently used, those third weapons can mean life and death in this world.

I write about weapons, of various sorts including the brain and the body, because I'm an advocate of women's self-defense and believe that these are important options. I also belong to a fan club, of sorts, where we also uses sometimes very close to cos-play photos and such to likewise promote physical feminism. It's fun and motivational at the same time. Defensive shooting is fun, it's the most fun I think you can have while practicing something you pray you never need to do for real.

Because, seriously, I hope I never do. And I hope if I ever do have to use a gun to defend myself it ends as it has for a couple of friends of mine, without a shot fired. But if I do, I intend to know how, know the laws and be prepared. And, yeah, have the weapon.

So, yeah, I take exception to the idea that someone who carries a gun is a poser. I might argue that some playing with swords are not modern warriors, as they may seem a useless weapon, but I know one guy who does Highland Sword and Irish Stick-fighting with a bad knee so he always has a cane; I'm sure he's got the skills to use it to defend himself from that training. So not so much a poser thing either. (btw, you do know you are holding a sword in your profile photo, right? I'm just saying it seems a bit odd for someone who wrote "the person carrying a weapon is a poser")

So I realize we won't agree on what a warrior is. I think everyone, on the warrior path or not, fights their inner demons and, warrior or not, some win, some lose. I strongly feel a warrior has to be able to fight, the ones I want to associate only do so to defend and never would start the fight. But I do take exception as being painted as a poser.

Noinden said...

Bandia duit Saigh

I think you are selectively reading what I posted, to back your own positions.

First the "supposed Militia" group is a survivalist group here in New Zealand, who I personally know contains both Christians and Pagans who proclaim loudly to the world they are warriors, because they train with guns. While that is their precognitive, they are sort of missing the point, of those weapons do not make them warriors.

That was the point of the post, and while you find it "all over the place", others have not. You are entitled to the opinion you have here, just as I am.

So let me clear this up for you. I find anyone who has to be visibly . armed, be it a piece of junk wall hanger, a knife, a gun, or who has to announce loudly to the world "I am carrying a weapon" is a poser. Not a warrior.

I personally like you am doubly or triply armed when I am out and about, all of which are in the bounds of the law. However the only times I've been seen carrying a weapon have been (a) part of a living history display (b) part of a satirical anti protest (over the Toga party they hold for freshmen students, in a Scots town that was gauling, so a group of us formed the "BLF" (Barbarian Liberation Front) and (c) part of something called pacifist warfare (google it) which again is satire (and the weapons were/are foam).

I've nothing against survivalists, they just don't need to announce to the world "I'm a warrior and I'm armed", that bespeaks ego issues!! Ego is one of the failures of a warrior, that needs to be learned to be controlled.

I'm not saying all warriors are "spiritual" I'm talking of the balance of mind body and spirit.

You are more than welcome to politely express your views here, I know the work you've put into the CR communiy and for women warriors in paganism.

Lastly, I don't and have not ever carried a gun. For two reasons (a) when living in the USA as a greencard holder I lived in a non CCW state (WI) and (b) it's illegal here in New Zealand. However I've plans to have a gun safe installed at home. Similarly I carry a knife that is legal here (a leatherman) and carried a small folder in the Wisconsin (also legal). A warrior needs to be mindful of the laws. I don't like pepper sprays as a weapon as they are not universally effective. Before you go off at me. I'm a Pharmaceutical chemist, who's used lacrymators that make the best peppersprays seem like american hot sauce (weak), I know how conditions are the most important for most of them (even the foam based ones!!)

Saigh said...

Thank you for your clarification.

Just so you know, I used "supposed militia" because while you may know them, I don't, but in the past few months we've had a rash of overt "survivalist militias" coming out and hysterical media attention to them. And therefore lots of photos much like that. On the other hand, I wouldn't know if it was just a bunch of guys who were just having some fun.

I do want to be clear that I do not say that someone on the warrior path HAS TO carry any particular external weapon. As I noted in my post Thoughts on Weapons my primary point is that if you carry a weapon that you should be trained with it and prepared to use it. It was, actually, written before I got my initial training in and started carrying handguns, in that order.

I don't really get into the legal in that post, do I? I guess I should do something about that.
I live in New Hampshire and we are currently a "shall issue" US state (which means anyone legally entitled to a CCW is to be issued one) as opposed to "may issue" (where the chief refuse to issue to someone who can legally own for no reason at all). We may, in fact, be soon a "no permit" state, allowing anyone legally able to own to carry concealed without a permit, but I haven't checked on how that’s going (and I have mixed feelings, the permits bring in quite a revenue for the police).

I can also legally carry open, with or without a permit, but yeah, it makes people nervous and many don't know that's legal. That means the police end up being annoyed with calls from those people. I only carry open on my property, as it's far more comfortable to carry in a drop holster than in a tuckable for me. I do stay aware of when/where I can and can’t carry.

I agree, pepper spray is not always going to work. I had a MA instructor who was a security guard, they used OC and had to train with it. Everyone had to be hit once, but each training they'd ask for a volunteer to demonstrate it on, as well. He always volunteered and always tackled the instructor before starting to vomit. So even someone very determined that it works on can get you.

But he noted, as a security officer, his instructor didn't move, a civilian isn't likely, at least if s/he's smart, going to. The idea is to spray and run. It doesn't always have to be greatly effective if your plan is to run, even the distraction has been enough for some to escape. I know someone who escaped an attack by spraying him breath spray and then booking it.

And with the brain and body as ones first two weapons, if it doesn't work you would hopefully have back up. That's something I'm very strong about, no matter what you use, in some situations it won't work (there are people who have been shot in the heart and didn't go down for some time, after all, Officer Stacey Lim, one of the good guys, obviously, is one who took down her attackers). So the brain has to stay engaged, the body needs to be ready to do whatever else one can.

So, no, I don't think not carrying a gun means someone isn't a warrior. Beyond brain and body, and sometimes we've got issues to work around with those (a man I met only through letters back before the internet, but consider a vital mentor on my path, was a paraplegic but I wouldn't doubt he could hold his own), we all choose our weapons.

I guess I also have a slightly different take on the ego issue to, as I find it's something vital in the Gaelic warrior lore. But a big ego needs to be backed up with actual ability, and an artfulness that keeps one from being just obnoxious and that's sometime not demonstrated a lot these days. After all, Cú Chulainn had a huge ego, but who could question him on it. ~;)

Eamhhair said...

I admit this all confused me when I first read it but Im' easily confused at this point. I recently posted about being worried abot protecting myself and my girlfriend, although she's probably more capapble than me, now that we'er moving to the city again. But I feel called as a Warrior Priestess so I do get the spiritual thing but I still feel a need to improve my fighting skills to be safe. I don't have anything more to add but I might be blogging my thoughts about this and other things coming up recently. It seems I'm finding alot to think about right now. Thank you.