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Author Topic: Wiccan Warriors?  (Read 8801 times)
Mike
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« Topic Start: February 26, 2009, 02:37:52 pm »

I've heard this term tossed around a bit, but I'm at a loss as to what it entails exactly. I've searched the forums but couldn't come up with anything real specific. Is there anyone out there that knows about this?

Blessed be,

Mike
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« Reply #1: February 26, 2009, 03:05:21 pm »

I've heard this term tossed around a bit, but I'm at a loss as to what it entails exactly. I've searched the forums but couldn't come up with anything real specific. Is there anyone out there that knows about this?

Blessed be,

Mike

I suspect this originally goes back to the book Wiccan Warrior.
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« Reply #2: February 26, 2009, 07:50:36 pm »

I've heard this term tossed around a bit, but I'm at a loss as to what it entails exactly. I've searched the forums but couldn't come up with anything real specific. Is there anyone out there that knows about this?

Any kind of Pagan Warrior is someone who takes on what they consider the best aspects of the ancient Warrior class of various cultures. It has much to do with service and protection for the community. If you ever find yourself in a public circle you are likely to see one or more people who do not join the circle proper but instead walk the perimeter, these people may consider themselves warriors and are prepared to defend the circle from attack; physical, mental, or spiritual.

There is also a book called "Wiccan Warrior: Walking a Spiritual Path in a Sometimes Hostile World" by Kerr Cuhulain. It is out of print but still available used. Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Wiccan-Warrior-Walking-Spiritual-Sometimes/dp/1567182526/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235695566&sr=8-3
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« Reply #3: February 27, 2009, 12:19:07 am »

I've heard this term tossed around a bit, but I'm at a loss as to what it entails exactly. I've searched the forums but couldn't come up with anything real specific. Is there anyone out there that knows about this?
I'm going to start by agreeing with Lyric - that particular phrase came from the title Kerr Cuhulainn used for his book.  You can figure that the overwhelming majority of uses of that phrase will have "intellectual lineage" back to the book - that is, the person tossing it around may have read the book, or may just have picked the term up from someone who had (or from someone who themselves had picked it up from someone who had, and so on - and, alas, some of those will be instances where the original "reader" only read the title).  So, to find out more in that specific sense, the book is the place to look.

If you're looking for more on the concept, a more common (and less Wiccacentric) term is "Warrior's Path" - searching the TC forums for that will give you more concrete results.  For the most part, those of us who identified as Warriors in this sense before encountering the book found it disappointing - not bad, exactly; mostly, just so 101 that simply having integrated the concept enough to identify by it meant we were already beyond that point.  (And, of course, those who weren't Wiccan/Wiccish found that it didn't really address their perspective at all)

There's some "history of the modern neoPagan movement" background related to this, that I could give a rundown on, if your interest goes that far.  One bit of it that I feel it necessary to mention, though, is that "Wicca" as used in this post - and in Cuhulainn's book - is specifically Eclectic Wicca/NeoWicca; it'd be an entirely different discussion (if it came up at all) in BTW contexts.

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« Reply #4: February 27, 2009, 09:01:37 am »



I'm glad you were able to post more details. I felt bad about my short post, but not having a bit of Wicca in me, I only barely remembered there was a book by the name!  Tongue
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« Reply #5: February 27, 2009, 11:05:22 am »


There's some "history of the modern neoPagan movement" background related to this, that I could give a rundown on, if your interest goes that far.  One bit of it that I feel it necessary to mention, though, is that "Wicca" as used in this post - and in Cuhulainn's book - is specifically Eclectic Wicca/NeoWicca; it'd be an entirely different discussion (if it came up at all) in BTW contexts.

Sunflower

And as one of the probably couple score people who were intrumental in the warriors and such disucussion within the Neopagan movement, I can also provide some details of the history.
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« Reply #6: February 27, 2009, 05:16:42 pm »

And as one of the probably couple score people who were intrumental in the warriors and such disucussion within the Neopagan movement, I can also provide some details of the history.

I'm interested, Peter.
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« Reply #7: February 27, 2009, 05:55:24 pm »

And as one of the probably couple score people who were intrumental in the warriors and such disucussion within the Neopagan movement, I can also provide some details of the history.

I'd definitely be interested in hearing from you both.  I identify as a warrior path type, but I came to it somewhat sideways.  (There was a lot of "oh, other people do this, and *that's* what they call it.  Huh.")
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« Reply #8: February 27, 2009, 06:23:55 pm »

I'm interested, Peter.

My involvement dates back to 1987.  Pagan Spirit Gathering in WI run by Selena Fox.  I ran into a couple of other pagans who were either in the military or their spouse was in the military.  I think there was already a few people trying to do a military pagan networking thing, but I'm fairly sure it wasn't a pre-planned class / event for the festival.

First result was a small snail mail list run by one of the people. Remember this was before the internet was publically available, or computers were really common.

The meeting took place at the ADF camp, next to Isaac Bonewit's van.  Isaac isn't noted for his liking of the military, so he wrote about it.

Probably about 6 months later (I don't have the copy of the magazine anymore) Isaac wrote an article titled "Warriors, Soldiers and Cops, Oh MY!".  It used to be on his site, but seems to be gone.
He tried (and I think failed) to describe differences between warriors, soldiers and such.  I thought he failed by using loaded terms, etc.

Some time after that, a group sprang up called Guardians of the 4th Face that did site security at pagan festivals.  I met the founder years ago; but never had a chance to actually work with them.

About 3 years after that (roughly 1992 or 1993) a group of people started a the Warriors Guild in ADF.  I thought it suffered from a bunch of conflicting visions of it's founders.  Was it supposed to be a security group for ADF events?  Was it supposed to be teaching military combat skills? or was it to be "spiritual"?  The pull was from a martial arts / Palistian Liberation Organization trainer on one side and a former US Marine enlisted man (E-3 or E-8 depending on who you asked) on the other.  I dropped out of that a few years later due to internal political BS.

I feel that the neopagan movement, in particular ADF at the time, has a romantic view of warriors and a negative stereotype view of soldiers. They have also tried to extend warrior to mean just about anybody who is doing anything that offers even a bit of a challenge.
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« Reply #9: February 27, 2009, 10:35:02 pm »

I'm glad you were able to post more details. I felt bad about my short post, but not having a bit of Wicca in me, I only barely remembered there was a book by the name!  Tongue
Heh - you can't know everything about everything.  That's what's having a forumful of people with a variety of fields of knowledge is for!

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« Reply #10: February 28, 2009, 12:30:08 am »

This is a very different piece of the history than mine, and pretty much all stuff I didn't know before.  It's fascinating seeing how it fits with what I do know.

... Isaac isn't noted for his liking of the military, so he wrote about it.

Probably about 6 months later (I don't have the copy of the magazine anymore) Isaac wrote an article titled "Warriors, Soldiers and Cops, Oh MY!".  It used to be on his site, but seems to be gone.
He tried (and I think failed) to describe differences between warriors, soldiers and such.  I thought he failed by using loaded terms, etc.
Isaac's attitudes were - at least in my own experience and from what I've read - far from uncommon in late '80s/early '90s Pagandom (also, no surprise about the loaded terms; it's a bad habit of his).  Many of those who identified with the "warrior" angle were cautious about saying so; it tended to get shocked looks, remarks questioning whether they were really Pagan, and occasionally ostracization. 

OTOH, these aren't folks to whom knuckling under comes naturally.  I can't speak authoritatively on anyone's motivations but my own, but the choice I made, right from when I first connected with my local community in '91, was to be open about it, try to explain it in ways that Pagandom-in-general could connect with (f'ex, talking about ways people could fight for what they believed that didn't involve violence), strive to make the Warrior's Path more acceptable within Pagandom - and if I got ostracized, so be it.  (I didn't; instead I became one of the focal points for others of similar leanings - turned out there were quite a few.)

I strongly suspect that others, in other locations, made similar choices; I also strongly suspect that was a significant motivation for Cuhulainn in writing that book.

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I feel that the neopagan movement, in particular ADF at the time, has a romantic view of warriors and a negative stereotype view of soldiers. They have also tried to extend warrior to mean just about anybody who is doing anything that offers even a bit of a challenge.
I tend to agree (I'm inclined to attribute it to the high prevalence of readers of fantasy in the movement, and at least somewhat to Dan Millman's book Way of the Peaceful Warrior), though I found that quite a lot of people, back in the late '80s/early '90s, didn't differentiate much between the two and saw both negatively.  But, yes, romanticism - heck, I did, when I first identified with the concept (late '70s, so I have the mitigation of being something like 17 at the time), though I was aware that the definition of "warrior" I was using owed much more to popular fiction and such than to historical reality.  (For me personally, the primary influence - as with so much of my early practice - was Andre Norton's Witch World books.)

These days, the romanticism prevails, often in ways that are outright oxymoronic and make my often-starry-eyed 17-year-old self look like a hardheaded realist.  The extension of "warrior" you mention is part of that; I'd guess that it comes partly from the verbal gymnastics of people like me trying to get across that, no, it doesn't mean I deal with things by beating on them, and partly from (non-esoteric) neoPaganism's anxious and self-conscious egalitatianism (have to make sure anyone who wants to identify as a warrior has a way to kid themselves that they fit, now don't we?).

Romanticism is a running thread in the background of this, and so is Isaac Bonewits, who was very influential in the neoPagan movement's self-image as "earth-centred, nature-based" (I think he may have been the one who originated that particular phrasing; at the very least he has been a major promulgator of it, and is to this day) - that "nature-based" was so often cited as the reason one couldn't be both Pagan and a warrior reveals just how romantic a view of "nature" was involved - and as an (exoterically) Wiccish religion/set of religions.  That ties in to the point I made in my earlier post; the segment of the neoPagan movement we're both talking about is the publicly-available segment - BTW and other oathbound, initiatory trads were certainly part of the movement as a whole, but only their non-oathbound (and leaked) materials were a significant factor in the premises of the rest of the movement.

Lots of loose ends dangling from that, but tying all of them up properly would require at least a lengthy essay.

Sunflower
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« Reply #11: February 28, 2009, 07:08:24 am »

This is a very different piece of the history than mine, and pretty much all stuff I didn't know before.  It's fascinating seeing how it fits with what I do know.
(snip)
Lots of loose ends dangling from that, but tying all of them up properly would require at least a lengthy essay.

Sunflower

Snipped because my comments about the post are more general than about specific bits and pieces.

yeah, very hard to summarize the issue. We are dealing with feelings, motivations of lots of people from a number of years ago. 

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« Reply #12: February 28, 2009, 08:21:30 am »

Snipped because my comments about the post are more general than about specific bits and pieces.

yeah, very hard to summarize the issue. We are dealing with feelings, motivations of lots of people from a number of years ago. 
<smacks forehead> That's why I have so much trouble being concise about this stuff - that so much of what shaped the movement is about emotions and motivations (especially the not-so-pretty stuff... but that's often the very stuff that did the shaping).  Not that I didn't know that in a general sense, but it put things in better focus to have it stated that way.  Thanks.  (Now to see if having it in explicit form helps.)

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« Reply #13: February 28, 2009, 09:02:39 am »

Probably about 6 months later (I don't have the copy of the magazine anymore) Isaac wrote an article titled "Warriors, Soldiers and Cops, Oh MY!".  It used to be on his site, but seems to be gone.

It looks like there is a copy of it on this page, about half way down: http://www.sacredwell.org/wiccans_military.html

Quote
He tried (and I think failed) to describe differences between warriors, soldiers and such.  I thought he failed by using loaded terms, etc.

Isaac and I had a long discussion about this article on GEnie in the 1990s. Our different views and prejudices on the military had the discussion going in circles.

Quote
I feel that the neopagan movement, in particular ADF at the time, has a romantic view of warriors and a negative stereotype view of soldiers. They have also tried to extend warrior to mean just about anybody who is doing anything that offers even a bit of a challenge.

IMHO, the latter was (and still is) an attempt to "neutralize" the warrior term by expanding its definition so much that it becomes meaningless. I spent most of my life in San Antonio. As it is a military city with a number of air force bases and an army post, there was often a lot of problems in the Pagan community with folks who thought being Pagan meant one had to be a pacifist and had to consider the military bad and Pagans who were actually in the military. One of the things I saw quite a bit of was trying to change the meaning of the term "warrior" to mean participating in anything tough or competitive. That way the anti-military Pagans could deal with the reality of warrior deities by deciding that playing tennis or participating in a chess match was being a warrior.  Unfortunately, while one may be able to make sense out of such ideas theologically, in actual practice, they seemed to be used many to put down military Pagans and Pagans who were not anti-military. 
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« Reply #14: February 28, 2009, 12:49:13 pm »

It looks like there is a copy of it on this page, about half way down: http://www.sacredwell.org/wiccans_military.html

Isaac and I had a long discussion about this article on GEnie in the 1990s. Our different views and prejudices on the military had the discussion going in circles.

IMHO, the latter was (and still is) an attempt to "neutralize" the warrior term by expanding its definition so much that it becomes meaningless. I spent most of my life in San Antonio. As it is a military city with a number of air force bases and an army post, there was often a lot of problems in the Pagan community with folks who thought being Pagan meant one had to be a pacifist and had to consider the military bad and Pagans who were actually in the military. One of the things I saw quite a bit of was trying to change the meaning of the term "warrior" to mean participating in anything tough or competitive. That way the anti-military Pagans could deal with the reality of warrior deities by deciding that playing tennis or participating in a chess match was being a warrior.  Unfortunately, while one may be able to make sense out of such ideas theologically, in actual practice, they seemed to be used many to put down military Pagans and Pagans who were not anti-military. 

Yes, that's the article.

I had pretty much the same results with Isaac.  Although I think he was more open to my points than to those of a couple of founders of the ADF Warriors Guild. 

Excellent point about the blurring and neutralizing the term warrior. And at the same time pushing soldier to always be a negative term.
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