Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Battle of Proof II

The challenge facing some of my Knights now is what to do when the Seneschal challenges them at the entrance to the Mastering ritual which will make them Masters: “How will you demonstrate your Mastery?”

Last weekend after our Litha ritual, one of them had an epiphany: They had been thinking of asking for their Mastering (in our order you must ask for it, it isn't given to you automatically), but like so many others they were stuck on what their Battle of Proof should be. And they suddenly figured out that, in their case, all they had to do was stand up in front of the Challenge formation and unveil a symbol of what they had accomplished as a result of all they'd learned through dedication to the Warrior path represented by their Magickal Weapon. Without saying a word.

As simple and as elegant as that.

I said in an earlier post to my Order that the Battle of Proof is a short demonstration. And this can take the form of an actual demonstration involving your chosen Magickal Weapon, the one that you dedicated yourself to in the Arming ritual that made you a Knight. It could be a bojutsu kata, a display of swordsmanship, or an Arnis siniwali form. But think about this: What does your Magickal Weapon represent? Creativity? Will? Vision? Strength? Spirit? Then consider: What could be a symbol of this path that others can see? An action? A statement? A symbol? Let me remind you: The Battle of Proof isn’t really about fighting or martial arts. It is about Mastery. Remember that saying that I told you about by Paul Tuitean? It goes:

Soldiers march. Warriors dance.

You will also recall that I reminded you what my definition of a Warrior is in my books Wiccan Warrior and Full Contact Magick:

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.

Again: Being a Warrior is not about fighting, it is about winning. It’s not about using your hands, it is about using your head. 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. Remember your Sun Tsu: “Those who render others armies helpless without fighting are the best of all.”

Once again: The Battle of Proof needn’t be long or elaborate: In fact it is better that it is short and concise. If an expression of your Mastery takes the form of a physical demonstration involving a Magickal Weapon, like a kata, no problem. However, don’t get hung up on that. 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. Or it could be as simple as a gesture, a symbol, that represents your achievement.

One way to look at the Battle of Proof is like a Zen Koan. For those of you unfamiliar with that: In Zen Buddhism, Zen Masters give their students riddles called koans to solve. The Japanese word “koan” (the Chinese equivalent being “kung-an”) means “public case”. That’s exactly what this Battle of Proof is, a public case. In answering a koan the Zen student is allowed to do anything. Anything at all. As in this case, the answer can be a gesture, a pantomine, a statement, or a single word. An old Zen poem states:

Everywhere I went I met with words,
But I couldn’t understand them.
The ball of doubt within my heart
Was as big as a wicker basket.
The Master, from his mat of felt,
Rose up like a dragon,
And, baring his right arm,
Struck my chest a single blow.
My ball of doubt, fright-shattered,
Fell to the ground with a crash!

The first koan of the Inzan School of Zen is:

“In clapping both hands a sound is heard: What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

The answer? The student faces his Master, takes a correct posture, and without a word, thrusts one hand forward.

As simple and as elegant as that.

The Battle of Proof is my koan to you. Like the Zen monk, you can do anything within reason to answer it. So be creative. Look closely at what your Magickal Weapon represents and chose wisely. Remember, one of our precepts is: Minimal appearance, maximum content.

In Her Service
Kerr Cuhulain
Grand Master
Order of Scáthach

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