Saturday, February 28, 2009

Precept of the Month: March

The Precept for the Month of March is: Develop a sense of right action. Right Action is what Robin Wood describes as finding the balance point: “The spot where all the possible outcomes on one side of a decision are weighed against all the possible outcomes on the other side, and they come out even.”[i] Grace and guilt do not exist. The Wiccan Warrior replaces guilt with responsibility and honor. Right action is having a sense of impartial justice. A Warrior must put aside bias and favoritism. The Wiccan Rede reminds us that what is right for you must also be right for others.

The principle of chivalry for this month is compassion. There’s a lot of people hurting out there these days thanks to the down turn in the economy. Let’s help them if we can.
BB Kerr

[i]. Robin WOOD. (1996). When, Why...If, pg 22.

Eostre Biscuit Recipe

There are several regional versions of Eostre biscuits. Here is our variation on it:
Eostre Biscuits
1/2 cup butter
¾ cup sugar or berry sugar
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons currants or sultanas
zest of one lemon
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Amaretto or brandy
a little extra caster sugar
Whisk flour, spices, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat the egg to the butter mixture. Add the lemon zest, amaretto and currants. Add the flour mixture and combine to form a soft dough. Take pieces of dough to form 1 – ½ inch balls. Flatten these out to make cookies and line them up on a baking tin lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C (350 F) until golden brown. Another variation that I like is to substitute a ½ teaspoon of ginger for the mace and two tablespoons of Jamaica rum for the Amaretto.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Magick Results

Dear Friends:

Last Monday a Commandery of the Order of Scathach convened at Aurora’s place in Surrey, BC. We did some warding magick for Aurora, as well as some magick for our sister Karen here and prosperity magick for Vonita in South Afrika. Vonita had asked us for prosperity magick to help her in a job search. Vonita wrote to tell us what happened:

“This week, I had two signs which I take as very good and that things will work out. On Monday, a dove came to my office window and tried very hard to get inside, clicking its beak on the window. He continued with this, even when my colleague rapped on the window. I could see that the bird could definitely see me through the window, because when I stood up to take a closer look, it stopped what it was doing and looked at me. Then it started again. I even put my hand right up to the window, and he did not fly away. Then a second one came along and did the exact same thing.

“This morning, I opened my cupboard door and found a ladybug sitting on one of my jackets. This is the second one I have seen since the weekend, but I thought that it was quite peculiar to find one like this.

Also, 3 People have also phoned me during the past week to set up an interview for a job.

Thanks again to you and the group.”

Well done to Aurora, who was the “steersperson” sending our energy and to everyone involved.

BB Kerr

Celtic Martial Arts

One of our members just found this link to a discussion of Celtic Martial Arts:

BB Kerr

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Almond Tarts

Almond tarts seem to be one of the favorites for the agape at our Order of Scáthach rituals, so I thought that I’d post the recipe. Almonds are the kernel of the fruit of the Prunus dulcis, which resembles a peach, but is inedible. They are perhaps the oldest known nut crop. There are two types: Sweet and bitter. Bitter almonds contain prussic acid and must be blanched and roasted to make them edible.
Archeological evidence shows that almonds were being collected from the wild by the inhabitants of Franchthi Cave by 10,000 BC, and in Turkey, Syria and Palestine by that time or soon afterwards.[1] By the third millennium BCE cultivation was probably under way in Jordan. Almonds were typically included in ancient Greek banquets. The ancient Romans often used them to flavor food and their sugared almonds were one of the first known sweetmeats. Ancient people also prized almonds for their medicinal properties.
Medieval recipes often included almond flour or almond “milk”, which was used as a substitute for eggs on days of fasting.[2] Almond paste is the basic of many Medieval cakes and confections, such as macaroons and marzipan. Sugar coated almonds, called comfits, were offered as wedding gifts in Medieval times.
Almond tarts are one of my favorites. I use a sweet dough based on Italian pasta frolla for the crust of my almond tarts.
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups (300 gm/11 oz) flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
Almond Filling:
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups finely ground almonds or almond paste
½ teaspoon almond extract or amaretto
Crust: Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add flour and mix to form a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Take balls of dough about 1 inch in diameter and press them into each recess of a greased miniature tart tin to cover the bottom and sides.
Filing: Beat the eggs in a bowl with a whisk. Add the other ingredients and mix together well. Put about 1 teaspoon full of filling in each tart crust (they’ll be slightly mounded when full). Bake at 325 F for about 25 minutes. The edges of the crust should start to brown. Makes about 2 dozen. Let them cool completely. Some people like to dust them with a little icing sugar and/or garnish the tops with sliced almonds. Some like to put a sugar glaze on the tops. I like to frost them with a butter cream icing:
½ cup butter
3 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons cream
Cream the butter and 2 cups of the icing sugar together. Add the vanilla and milk, then the remaining cup of icing sugar.
Variation: You can put a tiny bit of jam in the bottom of each crust before putting in the almond filling. This makes each tart a bit like a Bakewell tart.

Kerr Cuhulain

[1] Food in the Ancient World From A-Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 6)
[2] Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000 Volume 2, (p. 1717)

A Warding Mission

Last night our Commandery met at a member's place to do some warding magick for her “stalker”. I thought that I’d describe what we did for those who weren’t there but sent energy to assist.

As I’ve outlined in lesson 4, wards such as the magick Circle that Wiccans typically put up around their rituals are simply a screen that keeps out the random negative energy that is in the neighborhood. It is kind of a “duck and cover” exercise. However, if you’re dealing with someone either deliberately sending negative stuff, or deliberately drawing energy away (as was the case here), then you need to drop the shields and engage the person. Remember the old martial arts adage: “When they push, you pull. When they pull, you push.”

What we did was a two part process. We first put up a ward around Aurora’s townhouse. For this we stood in a circle and faced outwards, with Aurora in the middle. The five of us put out the energy to create the ward while Aurora in the middle pushed it out to the perimeter of the property: Aurora was most familiar with the boundaries of her space (it is her space, after all), so she was the best person to do this. The rest of us focused on the intent behind it. This is a similar process to the one that I used to put up double wards around Dûn Scáthach.

Next, each of us went to one of the doors to the place (there are 5). We stood facing the door and focused defensive intent on the portal in front of us. This is something like created a “haunted house”: We were imprinting the entrance with the thought that if anyone with hostile intent showed up, they’d pick up on the message: “You are in danger. You are not welcome. You do NOT want to come through this door.” We wanted that person to feel as if someone was right behind them. That person that you think that you see in your peripheral vision, but when you turn to see, you can’t see them. That person that you fear that is on the other side of the door, making you want to turn around and run away. The closer you get, the more you want to pee yourself and run. This stalker guy is going to see me staring right through the front door with my sticks in my hand. He’s going to see Sir Ravin waiting with his bo. He’s goign to see Dame Janus waiting with her bubbling cauldron of caustic energy. He’s going to see Dame Sorayah waiting with her spear and two jaguars. He’s going to see Dame Ravin standing there with a water barrier behind her and a bo in her hand. People with no evil intent won’t feel it: If they feel anything it will be security, as will Aurora. In fact she commented on how she felt more secure the moment that we finished.

Thanks to all of you who couldn’t make it but sent energy to assist.

BB Kerr

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Scáthach Symbolism

The symbol of our Order originated back in the early 1990s before I wrote any of my Warrior books and was experimenting with a training coven. The name of that coven was the “OODC”, which stood for “Our Own Damn Coven”. It was a name that started as a joke but stuck. The OODC was what got me thinking of the concepts that I needed to develop for the Order of Scáthach to become a reality. When I sat down to create a symbol for this concept, this is what almost immediately came to me. Looking back at it now I see that it encapsulated much of the meaning that has become the Order of Scáthach now.

What does that symbolism mean to me? The moon represents the divine feminine. It represents the intuition and psychic power that directs and inspires us on our path as Warriors. The branch silhouetted against the moon is a symbol of the divinity which shines through us and illuminates our Warrior path. The upright branch represents the divine masculine. It represents the life energy, chi, that flows through us and helps us to grow and achieve on our Warrior path. This branch, with it’s three leaves, represents our growth as Warriors through our three degrees: From Novice to Squire to Knight and, ultimately, to Master.

The three leaves also represent the dubbing ritual that forms part of the Arming ritual that makes us Knights. This is where the Grand Master taps the initiate with the sword first on the right shoulder, then the left shoulder, then the right shoulder again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Battle of Proof

“Courage was mine, I had mystery
Wisdom was mine, I had mastery.”
Wilfred Owen, Strange Meeting

To qualify for the Mastering ritual that makes a Scáthach Knight a Master, candidate Knights need to come up with a short demonstration of their Mastery for the ritual. This demonstration is called the Battle of Proof. At the entrance to the area where the initiation is to take place, the Seneschal challenges each initiate: “How will you demonstrate your Mastery?”

The Battle of Proof is a short demonstration in which the candidate for initiation may actually use their chosen Magickal Weapon. It could be a bo kata, a display of swordsmanship, or a siniwali form. This option has clearly been one of the first things considered by candidates for the upcoming Mastering. This is not surprising, since this is a Warrior tradition, and since our training is clearly influenced by martial arts. We all dedicated ourselves to Magickal Weapons at the Arming ritual that made us Knights. The candidate for the Mastering knows that they have to bring that Magickal Weapon to the Mastering Ritual to become a Master. So it is not surprising to me that so many of you approaching this milestone seem to be struggling with the upcoming Battle of Proof. If you don’t succeed, you won’t get initiated. The problem is that you’re all thinking martial arts as fighting. Let me remind you that in that very first class I taught you:

Soldiers march. Warriors dance.

Let me further remind you of my definition of a Warrior which I gave you in that first lesson as a novice:

A Warrior is a person who makes a fearless and objective inventory of their personal characteristics and then uses this information to take control of their life.

Being a Warrior is not about fighting, its about winning. It’s not about using your hands, it is about using your head. Remember your Sun Tsu. This is especially true of this situation, because in the Mastering ritual you become the Magickal Weapon. The Mastering is about the fifth pair of Magickal Weapons: Mind and spirit.

The Battle of Proof can indeed be a physical demonstration involving a Magickal Weapon, like a kata. However, this is not the only option. It can also be a recital, a poem or haiku, or a song you wrote to honor your Warrior path. It could be a Warrior dance, a demonstration of psychic ability, or a written essay on a related subject. If you’re dedicated to the grail and cauldron it might involve healing or cooking (the cauldron as the cornucopia, remember from Lesson 13?). If you’re dedicated to the stone and shield, it might be something that you forged or made (basic anvil magick - remember Lesson 14?). It just has to be something that demonstrates Mastery, that is to say, understanding of the true meaning and symbolism of the Magickal Weapon that you are dedicated to.

The Battle of Proof needn’t be long or elaborate: In fact it is better that it is short and concise. Presumably the candidate would not even be here seeking this initiation if they had not already met the requirements by demonstrating the Mastery that they wish to be recognized for. Specifically, before applying to be initiated as Masters they must be able to write and perform Sabbat rituals, teach classes in the subjects that are part of the magickal curriculum of Scáthach, and prove that they have engaged in charitable work of some sort for their community. They also must be able to prove that they’ve attained some level of mastery of the Magickal Weapon to which they dedicated themselves in the Arming initiation.

And this brings us back to the Battle of Proof, because that’s exactly what the Battle of Proof is for.

So be creative. Look closely at what your Magickal Weapon represents and chose wisely.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Warrior Magick Class

Just a reminder that my Knights and I will be teaching a Warrior Magick class at Grimoires Books in New Westminster, BC, at 5 PM on Sunday, February 15.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Imbolc 2009

Here are some photos of the Order of Scathach's candle making workshop at Imbolc 2009.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Pen

Here’s a bit of trivia for you. I’m sure that most of you have never heard of the 1st Baron Lytton, whose proper name was Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He was an English novelist, poet, playwright and politician of the 19th century (1803 – 1873). Though you probably don't know his name, you do know some of his words. He achieved immortality by giving us several expressions that we commonly use today, including:

“the great unwashed”
“the pursuit of the almighty dollar”
“it was a dark and rainy night”

Now I want to talk about a particular Magickal Weapon, related to the wand and staff. This Magickal Weapon is typically around 6 inches long and fits easily into the hand.

I want to talk about the common pen.

Right about now you’re probably thinking something like: OK, Kerr’s about to make a joke. He’s about to wax humorous.

Actually no, I’m not.

Or maybe you’re thinking: Why is he changing the subject? I thought that we were talking about authors.

I am.

Imagine that you are a police recruit in the academy. You’re in a use of force class and I am your instructor. “I don’t need to tell you,” I begin, “That it is a jungle out there. I am sure that you are all aware that that you need to be on the lookout at all times for suspects armed with weapons. I’m sure that when you hit the streets you’ll be looking for knives and bats and guns. That’s good. What you probably don’t realize is that in reality, the weapon that the suspect uses against you most of the time will not be one of these weapons. It won’t be a knife, a gun or a blunt object. Statistics prove that this weapon will most likely be what happened to be at hand, not a weapon that the suspect had brought into the area with the deliberate intent of being used in an assault.[1] For example: the most common stabbing weapon after the knife is the common screwdriver. A very common stabbing weapon is the common pen or pencil. Your heart is just an inch beneath your skin. It is possible to stab someone to death with a pen.”

I hope that you are all now taking the pen seriously. I always have. Not just because I used to be a cop, either. I am a writer, after all.

I defended this Pagan community for 25 years. I didn’t show up at churches armed with a bat, a ritual sword, or even a pen. I did show up at churches like Vancouver’s Glad Tidings Church to deal with evangelists like Bob Larson face to face. I went there with empty hands. I was armed with words. I took on the hateful con artists and frauds that disseminated misinformation causing endless suffering to members of our community. You know how I did it. You’ve seen my 182 articles in the Witch Hunts column on The Witches’ Voice web site. You’ve probably read my book Witch Hunts. I fought them with words. On several occasions I attended civil courts to give evidence in defense of members of the Pagan community. I wasn’t packing a side arm. I was simply armed with words. It was words that I used to defend the rights of Pagans in the emergency services when I was leader of Officers of Avalon.

At each Armoring ritual that I conducted before I founded the Order of Scáthach in November of 2007 at least one of the eager persons that came forward seeking to dedicate themselves to the Warrior path carried a particular Magickal Weapon. What was the weapon that they placed on the altar to be consecrated as part of this ceremony? It was a pen.

This did not surprise me. I didn’t question this. I did nothing to prevent them. The wand and the staff are connected to fire energy, and that is the energy of inspiration and creativity. What better symbol of that but a pen? When it was time to return the Magickal Weapons after the Armoring oath I looked them in the eye, handed the pen back to them firmly, and said: “Receive this from the hands of the Goddess, and know that you are welcome in this company.”

The Seneschal at my Armoring at Florida Pagan Gathering in 2005 wasn’t surprised either: She was Wiccan author Kristin Madden. Nor was the Seneschal presiding at my Armoring ritual at Convocation 2006 in Michigan. She was Denessa Smith, founder of the Tempest Smith Foundation, which fights against bullying in schools. Nor did another of the Warriors assisting me at that Detroit Armoring: Wiccan author Chris Penczak. All three of them understood the power of words.

After the Arming ritual at the recent Warrior workshop in September 2008 in Nanaimo, I was approached by one of the people who had come there that day to learn from our Knights. They asked if they could ask me a question. I told them to go ahead. They’d noticed that one of our new Knights being initiated had presented a pen as her Magickal Weapon. “I thought that the initiate was supposed to present a weapon to be consecrated”, this person said, “But she had a pen”. I smiled and nodded... and waited patiently in silence. The person asking me this question looked puzzled for a moment. Then their face cleared as it suddenly dawned on them. And that person then said to me another famous line by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron of Lytton, this one from his 1839 play Richelieu:

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

“Exactly,” I said.

Yes, there are definitely times when you’ve got to grab a serious weapon like a sword or a stick to deal with a situation. I’ve survived many fights over the years that I was a cop and in some cases used weapons to overcome adversaries. You all know that I still train with martial arts weapons. However, as Knights we also know that one of Sun Tzu’s precepts was: "Those who win every battle are not really skillful- Those who render others' armies helpless without fighting are the best of all."[2] Very often the way that these Warriors achieve that is with words. Thus the pen is a perfect example of one of our precepts: Minimal appearance, maximum content.


[1] ROWETT, Colin. (1986.) Violence in Social Work: A Research Study of Violence in the Context of Local Authority Social Work, pg. 135.
[2] Sun TZU, Thomas CLEARY, trans. (1991). The Art of War, pg 18.