Philosophy Articles

MichaelJDangler's picture
Last night, I was reading Mark Twain's fascinating book, Following the Equator, and came across the following description: "The system [of pledging to break a bad habit] does not strike at the root of the trouble, and I venture to repeat that. The root is not the drinking, but the desire to drink. These are very different things. The one merely requires will--and a great deal of it, both as to bulk and staying capacity--the other merely watchfulness--and for no long time. The desire of course precedes the act, and should have one's first attention; it can do but little good to refuse the act over and over again, always leaving the desire unmolested, unconquered; the desire will continue to assert itself, and will be almost sure to win in the long run. When the desire intrudes, it should be at once banished out of the mind. One should be on the watch for it all the time--otherwise it will get in. It must be taken in time and not allowed to get a lodgment. A desire constantly repulsed for a fortnight should die, then. That should cure the drinking-habit. The system of refusing the mere act of drinking, and leaving the desire in full force, is unintelligent war tactics, it seems to me." Twain was, of course, discussing the manner in which a person should break a bad habit. Habits, he tells us (using drinking as his prime example), have two components: the act and the and the desire to commit that act. In order In order act to avoid an act, to break a habit, Twain suggests that we must remove the desire, not merely cease the act, for the desire will always manifest eventually. Upon reading this passage, I found myself considering those habits that we encourage within ourselves: diets, exercise, and even proper dental hygiene. We learn to diet, not because we eat things that are good for us routinely, but because we have a desire to look and feel better. We are able to keep our exercise routine, not because we do the exercises in a certain order, but rather because we have the desire to have abdomens that make women swoon or bikinis that make people stop and stare. Children learn to brush their teeth not through rehearsal of the motions, but through a desire to keep the cavity monsters at bay, and this develops later into a desire not to kill your date with bad breath. What does all this have to do with Druidry? How can the concept of desire versus act inform our Paganism? One of the most common issues Dedicants have is their inability to maintain a formal, consistent personal practice of meditation or daily devotion. Often, we begin strong and soon, rather inexplicably, our personal practice tapers off or ends quite abruptly. I suggest that perhaps our problem is not with the act, it is with the desire to create and maintain that act throughout our entire lives. Twain states that if you can repulse a desire for a fortnight, you will beat it soundly. By that same token, can we then build the desire over the same amount of time? Of course, ridding one's self of a desire is a simpler, more clear-cut thing than creating a desire. When seeking to ignore a desire, you simply do something to remove it from your mind (exercise works wonders here), but to plant a desire is more difficult. If the removal of a desire requires something to distract you from it, then it stands to reason that the creation of a desire will require things that focus attention on this desire. Let's consider first how to build the desire to do daily ritual. As our goal is to remind us of ritual in order to build the desire to practice it, the first thing to do is fairly obvious: build an altar. It doesn't matter if it's an elaborate piece of carved limestone or three bowls and a stick; what matters is that it is visible to you once, twice, or even three times a day. If you decide to put it into your bedroom, you might take the following things into consideration: place it right next to the door, not in a back corner somewhere, or perhaps atop the vanity in front of the mirror. Make sure it is in a location where it will be seen (or even stumbled over) every day. This will start to remind you of the worship you could be doing. Next, we'll use a tactic gleaned from motivational speakers everywhere: affirmations. Take a 3x5 index card and write the words, "Today I seek to honour the Gods." Tape this to your mirror in the bathroom, to the steering wheel of your car, or laminate it and paste it to the wall of your shower, again making sure that it's in a place that you will see it every day. If you're feeling really frisky, you could even sigilize the phrase and post it in that form. Finally, as icing on the cake, you can start reading hooks, watching movies, or listening to CD's that turn your attention back to the Gods. These could be fantasy fiction, religious works, or things like Ceisiwr Serith's A Book of Pagan Prayer (a personal favourite of mine). You might also write rituals for use when you do start the devotions, or prayers of praise. Once you have all this set up, don't take any action. Let the altar sit unused, read the affirmations but don't recite them, read the book or listen to the CD exclusively for a fortnight. By the end of that fortnight, you should be ready to begin daily devotions. More to the point, you should be eager to begin devotions. If you aren't yet, give it another week. As Twain said, action always eventually follows desire. Here, we're simply looking to place a positive desire into our minds for constructive use. The same process can be done with any form of daily mental discipline, from meditation to Tai Chi. Simply replace the altar with a meditation seat or a Tai Chi mat, the affirmation with something more appropriate, and the book with something such as the Tao Te Ching. Nearly every Dedicant has issues with this section of the DP, and those of us who are no longer working through it often feel a need (a desire, if you will) to go back to the daily devotions and meditations we once did. Hopefully, this essay can help.
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Member-64's picture
(Originally published in Druid's Progress 11)In today's society we are accustomed to the separation of church and state. One of those functions which falls on the 'state' side of the formula is the handling of crime, or justice. This is so ingrained in our way of thinking that one person, when asked about ADF's response to crime, replied that if a crime isn't committed specifically to defame our organization, it should be of no concern to us.ADF is a Neopagan organization, but one of our priorities is learning as much as we can about authentic Paleopaganism, and putting that knowledge into practice when useful, (and when it doesn't pose ethical problems for us). But, of course, for the ancients there was no separation of church and state. In Greece a serious crime would make the criminal polluted. It would call for ritual purification of the city and anyone with whom he'd come into contact. The crime itself was often an offense against at least one of the gods, and divine justice might call for pursuit of the criminal by the Furies, a trip to Tartarus, or payment exacted in future lives. Of course there were human institutions of justice to determine guilt and mete out punishment, but they were linked closely to religion. Some of the most famous trials in Athens were for 'impiety', and, from the religious side, when the gods were most wrathful and it took nothing less than a human life to appease them, it was likely to be a criminal or prisoner chosen for the triple death or other sacrifice.So, if we were thinking more like our cultural ancestors about major crime, what are its religious implications, and what should our response be? On the one hand, in Greece at least, a criminal could seek sanctuary in a temple. Once granted that asylum the criminal would be in the hands of the god, and for others to violate that trust would be to bring a curse onto themselves and their own family. But how would the god treat his new charge? Unlike Christianity no god died to suffer for our sins, so the responsibility still rests solidly on the shoulders of the criminal, and presumably the god would give the criminal ways of paying for his crime.In our literary sources the criminal is shown to suffer for his crimes, even when he is unaware he is committing them. It is not the intention which displeases the gods, but the violation of sacred law itself. So Iocasta is driven to hang herself and Oedipus pricks his own eyes out with the pins in her clothes and wanders the earth as a beggar. The interesting side to this is that in committing a crime someone crosses the line between profane and sacred, which is how they become polluted. But that also means they are touched by the sacred powers: only in his blindness can Oedipus truly see. When common people made curse tablets they threw them into graves of victims or criminals, or left them at the sight of a recent hanging or murder because those spirits were thought to be especially powerful, or to at least have the attention of greater powers, like the Furies, Persephone, Hecate or other chthonic deities.Because of the divine madness aspects of the criminal, one person suggested that the problem is that someone is standing in the place of the daimons and that a purification is in order. At least in the Greek there is no historical precedence for this, since those who were touched by divine madness were seers like Cassandra, and we never see anyone trying to purify these people, or cure them of their madness, but instead use their gifts.Paul Maurice suggested another model based on the concept of weregilds (wolf-money) of the Norse, wherein the criminal had to pay the family or the victim for their loss. Historically, if he didn't pay, then his actions brought about a blood feud. Conversely, if the family chooses not to accept the weregild they start the blood feud. If he could not convince his family of his innocence, the violation of the law without recompense left him without a community, or lawless, a wolf rather than a human, to be treated as such, (i.e., he becomes an outdweller). Applied to ADF, if we were not convinced by his appeals, he would be exiled from the organization.The question we need to ask isn't whether the criminal has hurt our organization, but whether he has violated sacred law and is polluted. If so, our response needs to be twofold. First, we need to purify our community (if the criminal was a member) through ritual, and also purify those with whom the criminal has come into contact. A common ancient way the pollution was eliminated was through exile, so throwing the person at least out of contact with the membership would have historical precedent. Second, we should offer advice to the criminal as to how to pay for his crime. What was the nature of the crime? Which deities has he offended? What do they demand? Our 'spiritual support' would be less like a priest listening to confession and absolving the criminal of his sins and more like a constant reminder that what he has done is serious and he will get no rest in this lifetime, the afterlife, or the next lifetimes until he has paid for it.
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Member-64's picture
(Originally published in Druid's Progress 12)Most people assume, that if you can touch an object, taste it, or hit something with it, it must be real, and their knowledge of its reality is based on the direct apprehension of the facts at hand. Fiction, on the other hand, because it is made up by us, is not a fact we can apprehend directly, and is thus either false or unreal. I am arguing that the reverse is true: that our access to reality is based on fiction rather than fact, that we understand something only insofar as we tell ourselves a story about it. By this I mean that fiction is inherently more 'true' than fact, and that what we call facts are actually nothing more than good fictions- ones which we deem most reasonable to accept.Many people might say 'I am sitting on a chair. I know it is a chair because it IS a chair- it is objectively real. I know it because I can feel it, and if I could I would throw it at you.' First, our knowledge of this as a chair is available because a long time ago some adult pointed and said 'chair,' and when later we asked what's a chair, he/she said 'something made for you to sit in or on.' We understand this as a chair because we have a story about what a chair is and we tell ourselves that this fits our story. Its objective reality doesn't tell us that it is a chair; we recognize it is as a chair because of our concept of chair. It is through the concepts, not the external facts, that we know objects to be the kinds of things which they are.'Fine', you might say, 'but what about the object itself, without the name. I still know it exists and is hard even before I can speak or understand words.' Kant answered this by arguing that you only see through the instruments of your eyes. Things could appear very differently if we could see them directly, without any limitations. But just as we can't see anything without our eyes, so too can we not apprehend anything without categories of understanding. As an example, we say that striking a match causes it to flame. But how do we know that? Perhaps through experience: I notice that every time I strike a match, it then flames. David Hume pointed out that all this shows is that in the past we have a constant conjunction of two events: the strike, and the flame. There is nothing in this constant conjunction which gives evidence of necessity, or that it will continue in the future. We don't have evidence of cause, but of co-incidence. He concluded that since our belief in necessity can't derive from perception of events in the world, it is no more than a fiction - a bad habit, in fact. Kant responded that necessity can't come from the external world, but it can come from us. It is because we order things as cause and effect that we have any concept of cause, or of necessity. In our chair example, it is because we have a category of understanding of 'substance' which enables us to process a sensation into a something, an object.The second response I have, following directly from the first, is that though there may be an objective world, we have no direct access to it, only a mediated one. That mediation is subjective, or based in the subject. Our perception, our very concept of reality is at heart subjective. What is most real to us is not 'raw reality' but the assumptions which underlie any judgment we can make, including the assumption that things exist, that there is an external world, etc.My claim that fiction is more basic than fact in no way implies that every fiction is worthy of acceptance. We have many criteria to distinguish good fiction from bad. In science, for example, in order to be accepted it must be testable, it must be the best explanation, and meet all of the other criteria scientists have for good theories. Or, if it is a claim about the physical world rather than a theory, then in order for the story to be good it must be consistent with the best theories available. (It is extremely bad fiction, evaluated by the criteria of science, to think that if you just believe a bullet call do you no harm, then it won't.)In the subject of history, for example, some of the criteria of good fiction is how well our story fits with the evidence we have, with the goal being to determine what really happened. Since we have no direct access to history, but only tile accounts under evaluation, historians ask a variety of questions to determine what was most likely: which sources were least motivated to lie, which were most thorough, which were closest to the event bring described, what is the consensus on ally given event, etc.Now, to turn to my second argument, I believe we are using the wrong criteria to evaluate religious fiction. Most people seem to believe that the issue with religion is whether the gods, or god, etc. exist, and they evaluate religions according to how each one answers that question. But religion originally was not about a commitment to metaphysical beliefs, but a set of practices. (Religion has to do with performing rites in the proper manner.) In fact, one of the main difficulties of scholars is that in many cases, they can't connect known behaviors with beliefs. Religion, more than any other field, tells us what kinds of activities to perform. (Ethics tells us what to do in particular situations, where religion tells us what ritual behaviors to perform on a regular basis.) Therefore the yardstick of good fiction in religion shouldn't be how well it answers the question, 'do the gods exist' but how well it answers the question, 'what are the gods like, what practices do they demand?' Their existence is utterly irrelevant to religion; it's their attributes which are essential. If people judged the religion by the values it espouses, the place it gives them in the universe, the image of divinity it upholds, then no one would choose a religion which made him hate himself or whose values were impoverished.I am not claiming that the issue of whether or not the gods are real is irrelevant, but that their reality is based not on existence, but on attributes. The verb 'to be' has three uses: the existential, predicative and veridical. According to the existential, 'to be' means to exist; in the predicative, to be some property; and in the veridical, to be the case, or to be true. The gods are real if they 'are.' But though they are, that doesn't mean they must exist. Instead the gods are real in the predicative sense, or insofar as they have properties we accept as real. I, for example, don't believe that omnipotence makes any sense whatsoever. Because I don't accept omnipotence as meaningful, or exemplifiable, the Hebrew God is less real to me.You might argue that if something has a property, it must also exist. But many people are willing to grant that Pegasus has wings without also agreeing that Pegasus must therefore exist. I'm not suggesting that the gods don't exist, but that religion doesn't provide the answer to that question, nor should it. That is a personal choice, while religion is providing a public basis for action, a consensus about values, etc. We can all have access to what the gods represent, and have that be meaningful in our thoughts, actions, decisions, etc., without taking the added step of affirming that the gods exist in some particular form. Since religion is about the practices the gods demand, we can follow the religion just by following the demands.But how can we follow the demands unless we believe that there are gods out there making those demands, and that we can perceive them in some way? This question religion must answer. While we may not have direct access to metaphysical entities, we must have some kind of epistemic basis on which we all agree if we are to practice the same religion. So one criterion for good religious fiction will be how well its epistemic basis transmits the demands of its gods to its adherents. Religions of the book have the advantage of a very clear common basis of rules, but the disadvantage of less responsiveness to particular circumstances. Religions based on divination may be very responsive to particular questions and problems, while providing less of a common base of agreed-upon norms. Regardless of the nature of the epistemic basis, however, each religion will have to provide an answer to that question, and how well it answers that question will partly determine how good that religious fiction is.One advantage in the shift in criteria from claims about which gods truly exist to what values they represent, what practices they demand, etc. is that it better fits our intuitions about how to judge religion. If the criterion is about existence, whichever religion best answers the question about which gods exist would be objectively true, and everyone should follow it. Because the criteria of values must satisfy us each individually, no one religion could possibly be right for everyone. Religions whose fictions are richer are likely to satisfy more people, but just as long as we have different views of the world, different values, etc. no one path can claim objective truth.In conclusion, the concepts which make reality real are in us rather than out there. And what makes them real has to do with the web of beliefs which allows us to interpret our experiences, so we in fact experience them rather than numbly undergo a barrage of sensations. It is that web of beliefs which constitutes our reality. Because the beliefs are in us, they are subjective. Since they are more true of us and the way we must see the world than they are of the world itself they more closely resemble what we call fiction than what we think of as fact. This is really only to say that what is meaningful does not derive from what is true, but the other way around. Truth is a subcategory of meaning, the fictions which constitute all of what we call reality.
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none's picture
by George CooneyIn order to be at peace, it is necessary to feel a sense of history - that you are both part of what has come before and part of what is yet to come. Being thus surrounded, you are not alone; and the sense of urgency that pervades the present is put in perspective. Elisabeth Kubler-RossPagans know life as a process rather than a stasis. For us, being is always in motion. Even when our lives seem steady and predictable, our beliefs tell us we are moving towards the next transition: the Corn plant stands under the Sun, day after Summer day, on its way to the time of seed-making and dying; later, the dry frozen seed will endure for months in the unchanging dark under the Earth, on its way to the time of sprouting and ascent. Our liturgy is based on these transitions; by our ritual celebrations of the turning of the Wheel through the cycle of the year, our minds and spirits are led to rehearse our own journey through growth, death and rebirth.Issues of death are much in the world's news these days. When should a patient, or a family member, reject medical treatment intended to prolong life? Will assisted suicide become an accepted part of the physician's repertoire? On one hand, we hear of brain-dead individuals kept alive by machines; on the other, we see the prospect of medical rationing, with insurance companies deciding where to allocate scarce treatment resources. Opinions are offered from a multitude of perspectives: social, moral and economic. We must decide where our own beliefs lead us; what is to be our attitude towards death?Our Pagan tradition reaches back a long time for answers, back to the days when humans first awakened and began to wonder about the Goddesses and Gods who turned the Wheel. From the teachings of our fathers and mothers in those early days we learn that life and death are a polarity, like a two ends of a magnet; we see this polarity in our everyday lives, manifested in a constant tension between that which builds and that which breaks down. The familiar yearly cycle, from the rising sprout to the rotting stalk, moves in the space between those poles; and that cycle is reflected in the longer story of our own life's progress.First, we are conceived and birthed; our potential becomes specific; Spirit forms the word that is us.Next, we grow into maturity; our life gathers experience and takes its shape; our activity adds to the complexity of the world around us.Finally, we die; we release our life into Spirit's unlimited potential.In practice, of course, moving along the Wheel is not easy. Even though we know that death has its place, most of us are not ready to embrace it nor even to think about it. Instead the desire for continued life occupies our will. From the depths of our nature we resist death, and we rage against its approach. When death seems to come too soon, we protest, saying "Oh no! Not yet! Not now!" and there is the sudden desperate screech of brakes, the clawed fingerhold on a rock face, the heart jolted back into rhythm in an emergency room. Instinctively, we act to preserve life. Lugh the Lightbringer, the god who ripens the Corn, symbolized this instinct, and we call upon him in our fight for life.Yet die we must. As Sherwin Nuland points out in his book, How We Die, we must die for the sake of our species; if somehow we contrived to live forever, we would quickly overwhelm our environment's carrying capacity and all perish like lemmings. "Must," in biological terms, thus carries not only its ordinary meaning of inevitability, but also a sense of appropriateness. Our need for death is personified in Herne the Hunter, sometimes called Cernunnos by the Celts. He is the god of culling, who takes away life for the sake of balance and health in the world.There is even a point where we know it is time for death. Those who work with elders or with the terminally ill have seen people come to that point: the demands of continued life become unreasonable in terms of pain, bodily dissolution, failure of dignity, and loss of contact with one's surroundings; when life no longer returns value in measure with those increasing demands, then we begin to see death as timely. Herne's approach does not inspire the same rage and resistance when our instincts tell us death is timely; and when the Hunter has finished, even our mourning has a different flavor. We still grieve the empty space the dead person has left in our lives, but the other, angry sense of life unlived - of death cheating life - is absent. When someone we know has a timely death, it is easier for us to give inward assent to the ancient truth that life and death - Lugh and Herne - are really showing forth the same Spirit.What distinguishes the Pagan moral attitude about death is that it affirms the polarity between death and life, without making that polarity into a duality. We do not label as "evil" the force that moves living things towards death. At one moment we might be fighting with all our strength to save our own life or someone else's; at another moment we might be struggling to let go, so death can play its part. Both efforts are "good" in their season. It is our perception of the timeliness of the death that makes the difference. When death approaches out of season (as we perceive it), we struggle against it at the side of Lugh, the Warrior who brings Light and Life. When we believe life is completed, we are ready to call upon Herne the Hunter.As the world struggles with present-day death issues, it has much to learn from our old religion. For example, if our health-care delivery system learned the appropriateness (and sacredness) of a timely death, emphasis might shift away from hopeless intervention, and move rather in the direction of honoring the transition. Good pain management, home surroundings, and time for parting interaction with family and friends can help a patient wind up this round of living and get on with his or her death. Perhaps such a shift of emphasis might reduce the demand for assisted suicide, once patients realize that a timely death is available through the mainstream health-care system.For each of us, it is important to decide the place of Lugh and Herne in our lives. What is "timely death" for us? Will we call the hunter when we can no longerplay a round of golf?make love?sit our grandchild on our lap?taste food?recognize our friends?Where do we draw this important boundary? The persons closest to us must be part of the decision-making process, as must be our medical caregivers; because when the time comes, we may not be able to express ourselves. Our wishes should be in writing (some states have laws about how the writing is put together) and our friends and doctors should be well aware of what we want. As far as Fate permits, the life-death decision is our own; we should do everything possible so that our journey from this life reflects our beliefs, and honors the Lightbringer and the Hunter between whom our Wheel has turned.
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none's picture
Crime: Sacred or Profane?Fiction As RealityCalling the HunterPagans in RecoveryNew Complexities in I-E Caste Systems & CosmologiesCreating the Desire for WorshipWarriors and their Weapons
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IsaacBonewits's picture
Originally published in Druid's Progress #8Our story so far: In the first few episodes of our continuing saga, All My Oakgroves, we've established two key concepts for understanding the world(s)views of the Indo-European Paleopagans. The first concept is a polytheological and sociological one called the "trifunctional ideology," discovered by Georges Dumezil and his followers. The second is a related cosmological one of the "Three Worlds plus Fire," identified, I believe by me, from a variety of Dumezilian and other IE studies.Dumezil had the brilliant insight that the same major characters kept showing up in all the different IE myths and legends of which we had records; furthermore, they seemed to reflect a common social structure among all the IE cultures. There were usually two deities who ruled over matters of magic and law; he called this the "first function" of "magical and judicial sovereignty." Examples include Odin and Tyr, respectively, from the Norse pantheon, and Mitra and Varuna from the Vedic. The "second function" includes the war gods (often, but not always, thunder gods as well) such as Thor and Indra. Then you have the "third function" of fertility; this was usually handled by brother-sister pairs such as Freyr and Freya or else by twin brothers such as the Asvins.The IE cultures all had stories of two "Wars in Heaven:" the first, a battle between the current Gods and a previous generation of (often monstrous) deities, such as the Formorians (Irish), Giants (Norse), Titans (Greek), Devas (Iranian), or Asuras (Vedic); the second, a war between deities representing the first two functions on one side against those representing the third function on the other, such as that between the Norse Aesir and Vanir. The current Gods, of course, beat the previous ones (though often taking some of them into their ranks), and the deities of first two functions either conquered or established a truce with the third function deities, resulting in the divine status quo of the myths.The social structures depicted in the IE myths and legends reflected the three functions: clergy (who were responsible for magical/religious and judicial functions), warriors, and producers (farmers, fishers, herders, craftspeople, etc.). Leading each IE tribe was a "king" who had responsibilities towards all the other functions and who was usually married to the local Earth Goddess. Dumezilians speculate that the "war between the functions" stories represent memories of IE conquests of local (non-IF or earlier-IE) peoples by invading clergy and warriors. This fits well with the usual theories of bloodthirsty patriarchal Indo-Europeans raping, pillaging, and looting their way across Europe and Asia, though not so well with more recent studies indicating that IE cultural diffusion may have been rather more peaceful than that, albeit stressful to the changed cultures.As for cosmology, the IE tales make constant references to land, sky, and various sorts of waters (lakes, rivers, springs, the sea, etc.) as comprising all of normal physical reality. For example, there was one famous Celtic chieftain who reportedly said that he had only three fears: that the sky would fall down upon him, that the sea would overwhelm him, and that the earth might open up under him. I believe references to these three events occurring as punishments for oath breaking can also be found. Parallels often existed between the functions and the "Three Worlds:" clergy were associated with the Sky, warriors with the Waters, and producers with the Land. Fire was viewed as extremely sacred and existed in all Three Worlds (caste-wise, it was associated with the kingship which affects all other castes). Multiple associations were created between aspects and incidents of mythology, the caste system, the Three Worlds plus Fire, sacred trees, the multiple deaths of king, and so forth - not all of which fit perfectly.Over the last few years, it's become increasingly clear that these views of Indo-European polytheology, sociology, and cosmology are just too simple. As Deborah Lipp pointed out, they leave no room for the forgotten or rejected people and spirits who exist in every society and religion, and they ignore a number of complexities. In fact, I think I've been suffering from "monothink" the popular Western fantasy, based on monotheistic thinking patterns, that there is one best explanation for everything - as have almost all the other Western scholars I've been studying. So I decided to try using "polythink" by taking a polytheistic, pluralistic approach to the same materials. New answers quickly became a parrot. In this essay, I'd like to share them with you.For the first time in several years, I've re-read Alwin & Brinley Rees' Celtic Heritage, in which they discuss the ancient Irish and Welsh cosmology and social systems from a Dumezilian approach. Most of their discussion focuses on the Irish, so I'll concentrate on them for now. The Irish caste system had the king on top, then the druids, then the warriors. So far, so good; this is the same IE social structure I just reviewed. But their third "producer" caste was split into an upper and a lower class. The upper producer class consisted of the wealthy farmers and advanced artisans, the lower of the folks who got stuck with the society's dirty work - agricultural serfs, satirists, clowns and jugglers, kitchen help, etc.Each of the castes traditionally had a province of Ireland symbolically connected to it: Connacht for the druids, Ulster for the warriors, Leinster for the free farmers, Munster for the serfs. But in some of the old tales, Munster was split in two: East Munster for the regular serfs and West Munster for the weird ones. A similar cosmology of "provinces" arose in ancient Wales.The "weird ones" included social outsiders such as foreigners, aboriginal (pre-Celtic?) people, sorceresses, madmen, criminals, etc, plus various types of supernatural "Outsiders," such as elves, giants, Formorians, banshees, and so forth. In short, when we talk about the Outsiders, we mean people and spirits associated with aboriginal mysteries, female power, danger, magic, and chaos in general - frightening concepts to a patriarchal culture obsessed with maintaining the cosmic order. There is also a hint (via the aboriginal and female power concepts) that this part of the cosmology is intimately associated with the local Earth Goddesses.The people at the very bottom of the social scale were thus associated with the forces of primordial chaos. I believe the ancient Vedics had a very similar caste system, with the Sudras (or "untouchables") separated from the lower part of the producer caste and associated with female power, demons, and magic. Paradoxically, in Ireland and Wales (and India?) these forces of chaos were intimately connected with the king who resided in the center of the system (in the "Middle Province") and who was the primary guardian of order. So while the ancient Irish and Welsh had one cosmology of four provinces plus the center, they simultaneously had one of five provinces plus a center/outside combination.Naturally every physical province had all kinds of people living in it, and indeed these cosmological/social patterns were apparently repeated within each province and within each caste. Among the members of the clergy caste, for example, the druids per se, who presided over sacrifices and were judges as well (the magical and judicial rulerships), corresponded to themselves. The diviners/poets corresponded to the warrior caste, because of their connections to death and the ancestors (for divination) and the creation of epic poetry celebrating the accomplishments of the warriors. The bards corresponded to the farmers (as providers of musical nourishment and support), and the lesser musicians (no doubt along with the servants who helped with various druidic activities) to the serfs. Perhaps the highest ranking local or national druid corresponded to the local king or national "high king" and also had a connection to the Outsiders. (Consider that Odin, who was king as well as chief magician of the Aesir, learned seidr - "women's magic" - from Freya.)Simultaneously, although the Rees' don't make this explicit, the other castes had members who corresponded to these druidic subcastes. Among the serfs, for example, we can find sorcerers (= magicians), satirists and soothsayers (= poets and diviners), clowns and jugglers (= bards), etc. If indeed every major caste had subcastes within it reflecting the larger pattern, then you could very quickly get many subcastes. If the larger pattern had then been reflected into each of the subcastes to produce sub-subcastes, you would have eventually gotten a result similar to the Hindu caste system (and I'll guess that's exactly what happened in India).Is this all confusing? Very. Yet, as the Rees' put it, "the co-existence of contradictory cosmological systems is by no means peculiar to Celtic traditions." Rees & Rees make a very good argument that we may need to think of the lower half of the "third function" as a distinct, if not separate, "fourth function." Perhaps the "Outsiders" constitute a fifth function as well.Another way to consider this "fourth function" however, is as the "shadow side" of the third. As most of you know, Indo-European metaphysics seems obsessed with the alternation of polarities, usually described as "dark'" and "light." There's a dark half to every Celtic day, month, and year, for example. It's occurred to me that Dumezilian writings about the "dual" first function (magical and judicial), the confusion over the roles of "berserks" and "werewolves" in the second (warrior) function, and the roles of the third (producer) function's twin (or sister-brother) deities, all would be much clearer if we assumed that each function has a dark (= dangerous) side and a light (= safe) side.That would give us a pattern where the first function would consist of the magician (dangerous) and the judge (safe); the second function would be the werewolf (dangerous) and the hero (safe); and the third function would give us the serf (dangerous) and the producer (safe). The Outside/Center function then consists of the Outsiders (dangerous) and the king (safe). What the mythologies make clear, of course, is that these "dangerous" and "safe" categories do not equate with "evil" and "good," since you can have, for example, good Outsiders and evil kings. However, the conservatism of most tribal societies would lead to prejudices for and against the safe/ dangerous polarities.Before we leave the topic of social castes as reflections of metaphysical beliefs, and go on to a very brief discussion of cosmology; here's a correction about our former color coding system in ADF. Rees & Rees mention in a footnote that Dumezil, in Rituels Indo-Europeens a Rome, attributed blue and sometimes green as the color for the third function. Rees & Rees agree by listing the matching Irish colors. Previously I've said that blue belonged to the warriors, and I may have been in error, perhaps caused by the fact of the Norse having yeoman warriors (who would mix the second and third functions). For now, let's try using the following color attributions, slightly different from those published before: clergy = white, warriors = red, producers = blue or green, serfs = brown, Outsiders = black. So if we want to be democratic and decide that we have no serfs or outsiders in our community, then our three primary colors could be red, white, and blue! That ought to annoy just about everybody...J.D. LaBash of Stone Creed Grove has repeatedly mentioned to me that the Three Worlds of the Land, the Waters, and the Sky, don't work properly for Lithuanian mythology and cosmology. Instead, they used terms that are usually translated as "Sky," "Land," and "the Underworld." The Vedic peoples are said (in English) to have used "Sky," "Middle Air," and "Land" as their Three Worlds, while the Norse had a total of Nine Worlds instead of three. During a cosmological lunch at Wellsprings this year, J.D., Paul Maurice, Ian Corrigan, myself, and several other participants came to some tentative conclusions of how one cosmology can reconcile all these seemingly different systems.Firstly, Mircea Eliade pointed out in several of his books the nearly universal tendency for tribal peoples to have a cosmology with a vertical axis (a World Tree, a shamanic pole, a magic mountain, etc.). In Indo-European terms, that vertical axis may have originally reached from a "Celestial Realm" in the far heavens (where dwelt the distant creator deity and sometimes the major tribal deities), through the "Middle Realm" (of ordinary mortal activity), and down to an "Underworld" or "Chthonic Realm" (where demons, dead people, old deities, and other chaotic beings dwell - i.e., a lot of the "Outsiders").Secondly, the Three Worlds of the Land, the Waters, and the Sky may all have been on a horizontal axis filling the Middle Realm, and reflected into the Celestial and Chthonic Realms as well. The ancient Irish, for example, had "Lands" in the Celestial Realm and underneath the ocean (which was equated with what I'm calling the Chthonic Realm). There were also Celestial and Chthonic "Waters", and possibly types of "Sky" as well. This sort of multiplication could be done in various ways by the different IE cultures, including dark/light variations, leading to different numbers of what are usually translated as "Worlds."Thirdly, Fire, as a primeval divine force, was seen as existing in, and communicating between, all Three Realms and all Three Worlds. The stars, sun and moon were Celestial fire; underground coal, peat, or volcanic fires were Chthonic. In the Middle Realm, fire existed in the Sky (lightning, smoke), on the Land (camp, hearth and forest fires), and even in the Waters (alcoholic beverages, soma).Finally, some of the confusion in IE cosmological studies may have been caused by the translators. We have to remember that none of these ancient peoples used modern English, so the words we see in translations may not be precise matches from culture to culture. As one example, the term in Sanskrit that gets translated as the "Middle Atmosphere" or "Middle Air" may really mean (local or near) "Sky," while the word usually translated as "Sky" in Vedic cosmological studies may translate better as what I've called the "Celestial Realm." I don't read Sanskrit so I don't know for sure, I just have my suspicions.So how can we tie all of this up into a nice neat package? We can't. Some of our confusion about Indo-European cosmologies can be explained, if not simplified, when we realize that the IE peoples loved to combine simple units into amazingly complex patterns (look at Celtic interlace, for example). Just as castes could be subdivided to reflect other castes, then divided again to display a dark/ light polarity; so too there could be Worlds within Realms (or vice versa?), each split along the dark/light line.They might even have been split again along an Otherworld/Here polarity (which would explain why there are so many ways to get into Faerie - via Sidhe hills, ocean voyages, diving into lakes, becoming a bird and flying there, etc.). The "Otherworld" is a concept that shows up universally in religions as the "place" where spirits live. Usually it's perceived as interpenetrating mundane reality or the "here" in which most people live their lives, but with particular locations where it is easiest to contact. The Otherworld isn't the same as the Underworld (Chthonic Realm) or the Celestial Realms, but it is connected to them, as it is to the Three Worlds. The supernatural Outsiders might have been viewed as living mostly in the Otherworld and using its connections to travel throughout the realms and worlds. Each IE culture would have associated various sorts of beings, from the demonic to the divine, with each of the "places" we've defined. Among the Irish, for example, the Outsiders were usually chthonic, but were sometimes associated with very distant lands, waters, or skies. The dark/light split might also throw some light (you should pardon the expression) on the "good demons" and "evil gods" in different IE myths, many of whom are said to be descended from both dark and light spirits.What does all this mean for ADF? To begin with, it gives us a new vocabulary with which to discuss these ideas for the next couple of years. It also means that those of us who are comfortable working with the Three Worlds of Land, Waters, and Sky can continue to do so. Others may prefer to focus on the Three Realms of Celestial, Middle, and Chthonic existence (OK, J.D.??). The dark/light or dangerous/safe polarity can be used, as can the Otherworld/Here polarity (just don't get trapped into evil/good dualisms). Fire burns through all these categories of reality (yes, there is dark fire - consider Balor, the evil sun god, for example) and can be used symbolically to tie them all together (with the smoke carrying the sacrifices up to the Celestial Realms).When creating new liturgies based on the standard ADF pattern, you can choose the combination of these concepts that most closely matches the ethnic pantheon with which you are working, then use it to "recreate the cosmos" and to do the preliminary power raising. If the English text of your rituals uses this new vocabulary of realms and worlds, and you follow the new liturgical design by creating your vertical axis first, followed by your horizontal, then people from other ADF groves attending your rites will have no trouble understanding what you're doing.You can also use this cosmological overview as a guide to laying out your ritual site, as I describe in my liturgy article elsewhere in this issue.And that's enough for now - all these metaphysical and cosmological interlaces have given me a headache...
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IsaacBonewits's picture
(Editor's note: This article was written in 1990, so many of the resources it recommends may be out-of-date. Be sure to verify that any newsletters or organizations still exist before sending any funds!)Like many people in the helping professions, I grew up in a dysfunctional family, the child of parents who grew up in severely dysfunctional ones. I had a number of unpleasant things happen to me as child and became an anorexic (yes, it happens to males too). I've got most of the personality characteristics of people from such backgrounds: low self-esteem, a fear of both failure and success, a tendency to attract and be attracted to people from similar backgrounds, compulsive rescuing, a terror of making mistakes (which leads to writer's block), an unwillingness to ask for what I need, etc. For a few years, my co-dependent enabling behavior towards a best friend's alcoholism almost destroyed ADF. Last year my son, Arthur, was born and I've become determined to break the cycles of dysfunction before I start repeating my parents' patterns.I guesstimate that if we added up all of the Neopagans who are current or recovering alcoholics or drug addicts, adult children of alcoholics and/or drug addicts, adult survivors of childhood abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual), have eating disorders (such as anorexia or compulsive overeating), who are sex and/or love addicts, etc., that we would wind up with 99% of the entire Neopagan community - and 150% of our clergy.Here are some definitions I've stolen from the W.E.B.S. material (see below) "addictive behavior is the compulsive use of destructive substances or behaviors to relieve, temporarily, the psychological pain that arises from abuse, or deprivation of basic needs, in early childhood." (Various sources) "Toxic shame is the core of addiction" and compulsive/ addictive behavior is "a pathological relationship to any mood-altering experience that has life-damaging consequences." (John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You)Our community's Dionysian reaction against the Apollonian asceticism of the mainstream religions has been used by many of us to excuse substance abuse and compulsive/ addictive behaviors. This reaction was justified, but the dualistic extremes which many of us reached have caused great pain to ourselves and our loved ones.Before Matthew Fox, the heretic Catholic priest who invented Creation Spirituality, was officially "silenced" by the Vatican, he wrote and published a brilliant open letter to Grand Inquisitor Ratzinger, called "Is the Catholic Church Today a Dysfunctional Family?" (Creation, Nov./Dec. 1988). He showed just how easy it is for a religious organization to become as crazy as an alcoholic family, when its leaders and members don't pay attention to their personal power and control issues (see my open letter to Selena Fox last DP, and the responses in this and next DP). Dealing with these issues has become increasingly important, not just to my personal life, but ADF and the entire Neopagan community.All of this finally got me to join 'Twelve Step" group. I'd been familiar with the Twelve Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Al-Anon, etc., for several years, having many friends involved in them. Participating from the inside has been a revelation. I've discovered many other people who can't remember most of their childhood, who are filled with inexpressible rage, who can never find the right Mother's Day or Father's Day card to send because they all seem inappropriate, etc.There are problems with the Twelve Step programs as they currently exist. Perhaps the major one for a Neopagan is the fact that, despite an officially 'nondenominational" position, most interpretations of the program use mainstream monotheistic language when talking about the divine. The overwhelming majority of Twelve Steppers talk about an omnipotent, transcendent male deity as their "Higher Power" (and for them it works). The underlying theology is guilt-based and emphasizes the powerlessness of the individual in the face of addiction and/or obsession. These problems have been used by some Neopagans to avoid getting the help they need.I won't go into a missionary trip about the Twelve Step programs, especially since I'm just a beginner at them. They have their weaknesses (mostly polytheological), but they are nonetheless the most powerful and effective systems I have ever seen for healing the inner child and giving the adult appropriate life skills. I believe that all of us, especially the clergy, could learn a lot from them. In time we will create our own versions that are more in keeping with Pagan principles and beliefs (see recent issues of Green Egg magazine). Meanwhile, there is nothing better available for those of us who are in pain from addiction, obsession, and/or victimization issues.There are plenty of Pagans working with the programs now. In fact, just about every festival I've been to in the last couple of years has had Pagan Twelve Step meetings. These are usually multi-program meetings (people from A.A., O.A., N.A., Al- Anon, etc.) devoted to discussions of how the Twelve Steps can be adapted by Neopagans. There are even support groups meeting in local stores.Other Pagans have been trying to invent entirely new approaches, such as the W.E.B.S. (Women Emerging and Becoming Sane) material coming out of Berkeley, California (write to Starwhite, c/o Lifeways, 2140 Shattuck Ave., #2093, Berkeley, CA 94704 - enclose a few bucks and a large SASE). Many Neopagan organizations are starting to deal with issues of addiction and obsession, and/or requiring their clergy to about these issues.So I can't recommend highly enough an unfairly obscure (one might almost say "Anonymous") Neopagan publication called Pagans In Recovery. This quarterly newsletter costs only $8.50 per year ($2.50 for a issue). Make out and mail your checks to: "Church of Earth Healing," 22 Palmer St., Athens, OH 45701. Everyone planning on becoming ADF clergy or on becoming counselors any sort inside the Neopagan community, should subscribe if they want to be able to help their fellow Neopagans (let alone themselves) deal with these issues.If you know of other Pagan-based recovery groups and publications, be sure to let us know about them. If any of you would like to write an article on how ADF polytheology can work with a recovery model, we'd love to see it! To those of you who are struggling to resolve these issues in your lives, remember: you are not alone.
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Member-64's picture
An argument for continuing to permit to carry weapons at festivals.Wellspring and at Muin Mound Madness, a member of ADF and of the Warriors Guild carried a sheathed spear around with him. At both festivals, there were individuals who felt justified in criticizing him for doing so. At Wellspring, someone was indignant at the fact that he would carry a weapon when there were children attending the festival. At Muin Mound Madness, someone criticized him for carrying a tool of war in a spiritual setting with no obvious purpose for doing so. The first individual raised the topic on the ADF e-mail lists, where it has created much controversy since. It is my purpose here to present the issue to the greater membership of ADF, and to argue for the position that the organization should not adopt a policy against the carrying of sheathed weapons at festivals. For the purpose of this article, "weapon" will refer only to those weapons which do not have an obvious utilitarian purpose. No one is proposing that knives and staves be regulated. The weapons at issue are those with blades or points. While there are those who question the legitimacy of weapons in any ADF contests, they appear to be a very small minority. The debate, instead, concerns under what circumstances weapons should be allowed. Most have agreed that warriors should be allowed a space in which to practice. The most controversial topic is whether the privilege of the warrior to carry a sheathed weapon should be restricted.There have been five arguments presented thus far for a policy to limit the carrying of sheathed weapons to going to or from practice or a ritual where the person is allowed to bring his weapon. The first argument is that sheathed weapons are inherently unsafe, and especially dangerous to have in the presence of children. But what is so dangerous about a sheathed weapon? I have not verified the claim made by one person in the discussion, but have no reason to disbelieve, that in the SCA they have had large events with many people carrying weapons for over fifteen years, without a single incident. They train their members from the first day in the safe handling of weaponry and protocols. The perfect record, given the number of people and the length of time involved, would seem to indicate that sheathed weapons are not inherently unsafe, so long as sensible roles are in place and enforced.As for children, the argument is that, they could get into the weapons and hurt themselves. But how would a child get into a weapon being carried by a responsible adult? Further, there are plenty of dangerous things that a child could get into at a camping event, like knives or other sharp tools, fire, tent stakes, hammers, thorns, insects, etc. But we do not have policies to ban these things, or to prohibit children from going barefoot. Since sheathed weapons carried on the warrior's person represent a far smaller danger to the child than these other common camping hazards, why should they be singled out for proscription?Finally, although the warrior is responsible for the safe handling of his or her weapon, the parent is responsible for his or her child. If the parent is worried about the child's "getting into things," then perhaps the parent ought to be watching the child more carefully, or not bringing him or her to a camping event in the first place.The second argument is that visible weaponry gives us a bad image-that if a roving reporter came and took pictures, we could receive bad national publicity. But this seems rather far-fetched. Once again, if the SCA can hold huge events with lots of people carrying around weaponry, and yet do not receive bad publicity, why should this be a likelihood at a small festival with a few people toting around spears or swords? Further, if the reporter is looking to feed the fears of society, he is more likely to focus on the fact that we are worshipping ancient gods, or have members whose sexuality the general populace finds threatening, than on the fact that there are a few archaic weapons floating around. Is possible bad publicity something on which we should be basing our policies?The third argument is that weapons are a tool of war, and that killing has no place in ADF, and seeing the tools of killing should not be forced upon people who just want: to attend a religious festival. My response is that ADF is not a pacifistic religion. Our very concept of the Druid as a magical religious functionary of any of the Indo-European societies is based on Dumezil's work showing that Indo-European societies had a social structure of three functions. The warriors, as Dumezil's second function, were basic to the very structure of society. Their function was to keep the dangerous outdwellers at bay, and in order to do that, they had to deal with death and killing.The response given for this argument is that although we draw our inspiration from the ancients, that does not mean that everything the ancients did is meaningful for us. We do not want our warriors defending our community against outdwellers, since we do not perceive any external threat. And I agree that the lesson to be learned from the ancients has nothing to do with creating an armed guard against possible intruders. But death and killing are part of our reality. Living in the modem world does not make conflict, death or killing obsolete. By looking at how the ancients understood these issues we can find the hero's journey for ourselves.As for the argument that killing has no place in our religion. I think it is safe to say that ritualized literal killing of humans does not have any place in ADF. Ethical1y, however, I don't think our religion has a problem with someone killing in self-defense. We have no belief that we should be pawns of fate. The emphasis on self-responsibility would suggest that we have an obligation to defend ourselves in case of attack, If someone is skilled enough to do so without harming his attacker, that's great. If it is a choice between his life or mine, I would argue that ADF religion would support my decision to take his, assuming I could. Further, until we declare ourselves vegetarian as an organization, we implicitly accept the killing of animals in a context other than self. defense.Metaphorically, killing definitely has a place within ADF. Killing is about putting one's own needs before those of another, either in the context of making a decision that an animal's life should be ended so that you may eat or have his skin, or in the context of defending against harm. Recognizing the role of killing may help us to take on the responsibility of being prepared w defend ourselves in case we should be attacked. Drawing and defending boundaries that hurt others' feelings in order to protect oneself emotionally is a metaphorical killing. To knowingly decide to cut off support to someone because you need to use your resources on your own needs is a metaphorical killing. One can kill a friendship, a relationship, a marriage, a business partnership an organization, etc. I don't think we have any belief in eternal relationships- what is united by the gods shall not be parted by man. So long as our ethics accept endings as well as beginnings, we accept the metaphor of killing.So long as the warrior-function, and all it entails about protecting boundaries, dealing with conflict, accepting death, taking responsibility for causing harm to that which threatens the boundaries we protect, is a basic element of our spirituality, the claim that killing has no place in ADF is unjustified. We would be doing ourselves a grave disservice by not embracing the lessons to be learned from the warrior path, and it would be a violation of the very concept of the organization, committed to drawing its inspiration from the ancients.The mythology about the gods and the heroes is full of conflict. Combat is part of our cosmology. The cosmic order was partly established through combat. The social order is partly maintained through combat. Not everyone in the social order is willing to play by the roles, and of course, there are those outside the social order, Warriors stand between the city walls and the outdwellers. They need their weapons to fulfill their function of keeping the dangerous forces at bay. Thus weapons, as the symbol of the warrior, and the tool of death, have a vital place in our religion. Though there are those who may not wish to be reminded of this, they are not justified in the belief that killing is not part of ADF religion, and do not have the right to demand of those who wish to carry weapons that they not do so, simply because they do not want to see them.The fourth argument, following on the third, is that even if weapons have a legitimate role in the religion, the warriors should be considerate of those who do not want to deal with them, those who do not wish to have the lesson of death and killing thrust into their field of vision. To this I have proposed that "safe space," where no weapons are allowed, be set up for those who wish to camp without having to dea1 with weapons. Further, I have suggested that there be specific areas set up, not immediately next to the weapons-free space, where warriors can practice with their weapons. This way someone who does not wish to deal with weapons has the option of not doing so. But consideration goes two ways. If those who wish not to see weapons would like the consideration of the warrior who would 1ike to carry the weapon, then they need to be considerate of the warrior's needs as well.The fifth argument is that if the community has concerns about the warrior's carrying weapons, and the warrior has no obvious reason for doing so, then the warrior has no inalienable right to carry a weapon, and it should be restricted. The idea is that because weapons are perceived as a threat, it is up to the warrior to prove the necessity of carrying a weapon before he has the right to do so. While I certainly agree that the warrior does not have an inalienable right to carry a weapon, why should the onus be on him to prove the necessity of carrying the weapon, when no one has been able to show that his doing so causes any actual harm? The pagan community in general accepts the precept that if an action does not cause any harm, there is no reason why some. one should not be allowed to do it Simply making people nervous is not causing harm. More is needed to prove that the carrying of weapons represents a. real threat.Even if we give consideration to those who dislike weaponry merely because it makes them nervous, we still need to weigh their concerns against the needs of the warriors who wish to carry their weapons. To do this, we need to discuss the several purposes working with weapons serve for the warrior. While I recognize that the legitimacy of working with weapons is not at issue, in order to explicate their overall significance to the warrior, I'd like to start there. Most obvious working with weapons helps hone the warrior's skill at using the weapon. Physical dexterity is one of the virtues most basic to the warrior. Another of the virtues of the warrior is discipline. Practicing and competing with a weapon requires more concentration, hence more discipline, than practicing and competing without one.Third, the ability of the warrior to defend himself is augmented by knowing how to use a weapon. Fourth, use of tools from the past links us with the past. Properly learning how to handle a weapon links the warrior with the heroes whose craft he honors. It is an offering the warrior can make.Fifth, weapons can be used to act out combat, through competition and through dance. These are valuable spiritual exercises. They allow the warrior to get a. taste of the "glory of battle" without fax11l consequences. The warrior can't get much of a sense of the glory of battle the further the competition is away from battle-like conditions. To be dealing with something that can inflict harm is much more serious than to deal with styro-foam toys.The relationship of the warrior to his weapon is very personal, as we see in historical accounts and mythology. The ancients played games with weapons, they practiced with weapons, they danced with weapons, they took care of their weapons, they passed on their weapons to their children as great treasures, or were buried with their weapons, and they fought with their weapons. Their weapons were an integral part of who they were. The weapon completes the warrior. It gives him his characteristic tool with which he can do what he has prepared to do. His weapon is part of his identity. What would Herakles be without his club?In addition to practicing with his weapon, the warrior benefits from carrying it with him, attuning himself to it and attuning it to him. The weapon is to the warrior almost a living entity with a soul of its own. Its character is partially defined by the material of which it is made and by its form. These determine what kinds of tasks the weapon can do well and the physics of how it will behave. Its character is partly defined by the history of the kind of weapon it is. The noble tradition of a Samurai sword will be pan of a Samurai sword, even if it is newly created. Finally, its character is defined by its individual history. If it has a particularly bloody history, for example, it may have a "bloodthirsty" quality to it.By spending as much time as possible with a weapon, the warrior can get to know it. If the weapon is meant to be part of his identity, he will feel it. If not, he knows to put it aside, or pass it on to another. The time he spends handling it allows him to attune the weapon to him, so it will perform optimally. It also allows him to know what not to do with the weapon.Simply carrying the weapon. thus, has a value for the warrior. In addition, although he may not be practicing, he may choose to do a kinetic meditation. He may alter his consciousness to a state of heightened awareness, anticipating possible danger. It is part of the role of the warrior to accept responsibility for death. His weapon serves as a constant reminder of this responsibility and of the seriousness of his role, during his meditation.In conclusion, one of the nice aspects of going to a festival is that one can wear the clothing of one's choice, one can spend one's time outside, doing activities one can't normally do in one's mundane existence. It is a retreat where one can express oneself in a way one can't normally, and can engage in activities one can't normally. It is precisely because this is one of the only contexts in which one can walk around carrying a spear that the right is so precious. This right should not he taken away when the only weight on the other side of the scale is that seeing weaponry makes some people nervous.
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