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.

1 comment:

d. oak said...

a perfect offering for Brigid! Thank you!o