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

Saturday, June 13, 2009

There Are No 'Drop In' Knights

At the beginning of the Order of Scathach Armoring Ritual (see the Rituals page of our training blog) is the Challenge where the Constable addresses the participants. In part, it reads:

“And some of you have that inward look which tells me that you don’t like what you see when you look in the mirror. You consider yourself weak or flawed or insignificant. That’s a difficult thing to deal with, to be sure. But if you came here to rub shoulders with us Warriors, hoping that you’d gain some respect or honor by association only, then I suggest you get lost. We’ve no time for that. But if you’ve come here to reinvent yourself, to rise from your own ashes like the Phoenix, to be glorious, then you are very welcome indeed. We are here to witness your triumphs and cheer you on.”

Recently I went through our membership list, identifying people that had not been heard from in some time. Some, due to extenuating circumstances in their lives, wished to take a “sabbatical” and be listed as supporting members. The idea was that at a later date, once things in their lives had been sorted out, they would be able to get involved once again in the lessons and move onwards towards mastery of their situation and themselves. I have no problem with that at all. We all have our times of trial and tribulation. Supporting each other is part of what this organization is all about.

Let me be very clear about something: The Order of Scathach will not have “supporting members”, auxiliaries or “fans” of any description who “rub shoulders with us Warriors, hoping that you’d gain some respect or honor by association”. Like we say in our Armoring ritual challenge, we don’t have time for that. That’s why I wrote that into the Challenge. If you want to be part of this Order, you must participate in this Order. As one of our Knights, Dame Devenir, put it: “There hasn't been an Order of Knighthood in history that has ever allowed ‘drop ins’.” I concur wholeheartedly and we're certainly not planning to be the first.

Recently some people have attempted to sit on the sidelines, thinking that just being on the membership list entitles them to show up at all events (while missing all classes). They’ve demonstrated that they’ve got time to waste on meaningless posts but are not willing to devote time to learning like the rest of us. If you simply want an audience for what you have to say, there are plenty of Pagan chat groups. The Order of Scáthach isn’t just a chat group. We don’t mind visitors to our rituals: That’s one of the ways that we let people discover for themselves if this is a path for them to follow. On line students from all over the world are always welcome. We periodically do public rituals for the public to see what we are all about. What we will not tolerate at any Motherhouse is freeloaders who never show up for classes, make no effort to study on line, and yet want to participate in all of our rituals. This isn’t a club for people who are fans of knighthood. It is a Fianna of Warriors. This isn’t a Church. It is an Order of Knighthood. In church you stand up or sit down when told to and sing the hymns that you are directed to. In this Order of Scáthach you stand up for yourself and sing the songs from your heart.

I want the Order of Scathach to be something special, something different. It isn’t going to be special unless we insist on standing up for our Precepts and Code of Chivalry. Let me remind you that one of our precepts is: Who dares, wins. Industriousness is part of our Code of Chivalry, and it is commitment that will earn you your Mastering degree. You can’t “buy” a degree here. This is like a dojo. Hopefully here a colored belt means something.

It is amazing to me how many people wish to be considered experts but never make any effort to learn. They want to be treated with respect and yet they make no effort to earn it. Telling the world that you are a master won't last long if you don't make any effort to be a master. Laziness isn't a path to mastery. People will eventually see through the facade to the real person underneath. Master yourself and you master everything else.

In Her Service
Kerr Cuhulain
Grand Master, Order of Scáthach

Friday, June 5, 2009

Precept of the Month: June

The precept for the month is: Minimal appearance, maximum content. This is a good thing to keep in mind when doing magick. Keep it simple: You want your energy to go to the objective, not into a fancy production that’s meant to get you there.

The principle of chivalry for this month is Industriousness. What you put out there you get back. This links into the article on prosperity magick that I posted the other day.

BB Kerr

Monday, June 1, 2009

Goddess Rising Conference, New Orleans

I will be attending the Goddess Rising Conference in New Orleans, October 30 to November 1, 2009 with a Commandery of the Order of Scathach to teach classes and conduct an Armoring ritual. I've added a link to the sidebar for anyone interested in participating.

BB Kerr