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.


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