Reprinted with permission from "Wiccan Warrior" published by Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. Copyright c 2000 Kerr Cuhulain. All rights reserved.

Each person has the Warrior inside of them. It is a personal decision as to whether you use this archetype or not. Making a connection with the Warrior inside of you is a way of accessing energy and magic that can bring many positive changes into your life. Jungian psychoanalyst Robert Moore put it this way:

"A man who appropriately accesses the archetypal Warrior draws upon enormous resources that enable him to live an empowered life in the service of his fellow creatures... When the Warrior is on-line, we feel a rush of blood and adrenaline, a quickening heartbeat, and a sense of something momentous about to happen. We feel mobilized for action, ready to charge forward to meet life head-on. Our daily concerns fall away from us and we are swept up into a kind of ecstacy in which we see ourselves and the world with a sharpened focus and clarity. Hidden rage is transmuted into energized courage. We come into touch with the great mystery of life and death, and we feel a strange sense of pleasure in the midst of pain."

What Sun Tzu refers to here is accepting reality and working with it. This has always been the true Warrior's way. The most important aspect of a Warrior's perception of reality is honest self-evaluation. "Dishonesty to oneself is bad discipline." I accept my limitations, and either make them work for me or do what I can to turn them into advantages. Each person has natural qualities and abilities as well as certain faults and limitations.

The path of the Wiccan Warrior connects martial disciplines with spirituality. There are many ancient precedents for connections of this sort. One only needs to look at the Asian martial arts to see how the philosophies of Zen Buddhism and Confucianism have been incorporated into them. To incorporate Wiccan philosophies into the Warrior tradition is not difficult. One can find many similarities in comparing modern Wiccan precepts with ancient martial philosophies.

For example, the symbol of the Wiccan religion is the five-pointed star or pentagram. Each point of the pentagram represents one of the five basic elements that form the building blocks of reality: earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Musashi's famous Book of Five Rings (Gorin No Sho), a book of Warrior philosophy written in the early sixteenth century, is organized according to these same five elements: Chi No Maki (The Earth Book), Mizu No Maki (The Book of Water), Hi No Maki (The Fire Book), Kaze No Maki (The Wind Book), and Ku No Maki (The Book of Emptiness). These five elements are the "five rings" referred to in the title of Musashi's work. Centuries earlier, Sun Tzu listed five essential considerations for the Warrior: "The five things are the way, the weather, the terrain, the leadership, and discipline."

For every strength there is a weakness and vice versa. A Wiccan Warrior recognizes the totality of these characteristics and puts them to use in the most appropriate way. You may be a cook, a teacher, a painter, or whatever other occupation you care to name. Every Warrior is different. "It is necessary to polish your own path."

And this is the way it should be. True Warriors are realists. They take what they've got and they use it effectively. Those familiar with Al-Anon's Twelve-Step Program will recognize some of the steps here:

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

10. Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

As a Wiccan Warrior I've taken responsibility for my life. I strive to create my life spontaneously rather than letting it be determined by my past, using the principles and techniques of Wicca. What I am is what I've forged with the energy I've raised and the magic that I've worked. I cause change in conformity with my will.

What does taking responsibility mean for the Wiccan Warrior? In Wicca I found that there was effectively only one law, called "The Wiccan Rede." "Rede" is a Middle English term which comes from the root word "raedan," which means "to interpret." In the second edition of Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary it is defined as, "1. counsel; advice. 2. plan, scheme. 3. a story, tale. 4. an interpretation."

A modern English translation of the Wiccan Rede would be: "Do what you will, as long as it harms no one." The Wiccan Rede is a serious responsibility. It teaches us that every action has its price. It calls upon the Wiccan to examine every one of their actions to determine their implications to others. It calls for a high level of self-discipline from every Witch. The basis of law in Western society is extensive sets of rules and regulations against which most people judge their conduct, a relatively simple process by comparison. It is not an unstructured call to self-examination like the Rede.

Some Wiccan detractors have interpreted the Wiccan Rede to mean, "Do whatever feels good." Over the years I've encountered some people at Pagan festivals and public Circles who have demonstrated by their words and deeds that they seem to have arrived at a similar interpretation. Those who have the least to lose by being public are usually the first to go public. Unfortunately these sort of irresponsible public antics have sometimes made it very difficult for those of us with a lot to lose to follow suit.

The moment I became a cop I put myself under a spotlight of public scrutiny. The moment that I became public about being a Wiccan, this scrutiny was intensified. After all, people have been bombarded with propaganda about Witches being Satanists for years. So it was only natural to expect my department, and the public, to examine me closely and at length to see if I was really some dangerous Satanic cult member. In my case, I knew that the only way that these people could reassure themselves was to allow them to investigate me. The greater the responsibility attached to your profession, the greater the likelihood that scrutiny of this sort will be turned in your direction.

As a Wiccan Warrior, I accept this. A Warrior must be impeccable. To earn respect, you must make yourself respectable. This has meant a certain amount of sacrifice for me. I suppose I could easily have felt sorry for myself for being subjected to such scrutiny and attention. I could have called such treatment unfair and unjust. Others in my place might have felt themselves to be at the mercy of the fates; or would have felt this way, if they did not take responsibility for their actions as a Warrior should. "A warrior takes his lot, whatever it may be, and accepts it in ultimate humbleness. He accepts in humbleness what he is, not as grounds for regret, but as a living challenge." I don't seek pain and frustration. But if they come, a Warrior puts them to use.

This brings to mind two more of Al-Anon's Twelve Steps:

8. Make a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

If my actions unexpectedly result in a harmful conclusion, I do my best to make it right again. I don't try to lay the blame on others. Saying I'm sorry is a start, but by itself it is not enough. Praying, making secret confessions, or paying alms to some deity or church may ease your conscience. But it doesn't make you more responsible and often it does not correct the problem that you created in the first place. It simply gives you a way out, a way to avoid responsibility. Accountability is an absolute necessity for a Warrior. It is a sacred trust that allows you to learn from your mistakes.

I am not saying here that Wiccan Warriors must be public about their beliefs. I am not suggesting that Wiccan Warriors should all become involved in antidefamation work or public demonstrations. What I am saying is that the Wiccan Warrior examines the circumstances of his or her life, and makes informed, realistic decisions based on the facts available. Wiccan Warriors must thoroughly evaluate the neighborhood in which they reside to determine if the risks of being public outweigh the possible gains. If you're a solitary Wiccan in a predominantly Bible-belt town, being public might not be such a wise idea. Sun Tzu once said: "Good warriors take their stand on ground where they cannot lose."

This doesn't make you any less of a Warrior. Warriors don't take stupid risks. Don Juan Matus cautions us: "A warrior ...cuts to a minimum his chances of the unforeseen... [he lives] strategically." It is not a matter of a Warrior being fearless. Only fools do not fear. But the Warrior faces his fears and deals with them. "True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear, but going beyond fear.

A friend of mine, Paul Tuitean, once told me that the difference between a soldier and a Warrior is that "soldiers march and Warriors dance." Warriors dance along the knife edge, maintaining balance of their totality. They celebrate their strength while keeping rigidly under control, only bringing it to bear when it is appropriate and unavoidable. There is an old principle in Aikido: When pushed, you pull; when pulled, you push; you find the natural course and bend with it.

This does not mean that you simply let yourself be governed by impulses. A Warrior thinks before acting, but it's not just a matter of thinking either. Some people say that it has to do with honor. Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines honor as "a sense of what is right, just and true; dignified respect for character, springing from probity, principle, or moral rectitude." The Wiccan Warrior must develop a fine sense of what's called "right action." Simply stated, right action is "what is right, just and true."

What is "right action" for the Wiccan Warrior? It's a sum of all of the things discussed above. A Wiccan accesses the Warrior archetype by accepting reality and making a thorough self-examination. Right action is accepting the Wiccan rede and the self-discipline and responsibility that it evokes. It's about earning respect and facing your fears.

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