Sublimating agression

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Sciethe
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Sublimating agression

Postby Sciethe » 04 May 2014, 00:11

Not all of us on the board are naturally peaceful, or perhaps were not raised that way and learned aggressive habits.

As an aggressive man from a long line of pretty solid specimens of old fashioned masculinity I've had one or two problems through the years coming to terms with the idea of peace to all things. As a child and adolescent I was taught every field sport, shooting, fishing, hunting. Son of a Marine, I was taught knife combat from the age of 14, and also swordsmanship. I was good at these things. Very good at some of them, and unsurprisingly through my younger years these skills were very much a part of my identity. I am writing this because recently my wife, massaging my back, found a callus on one of my ribs and I had to tell her that it was an old knife wound- I'd forgotten it. That got me thinking, I realised how much I've changed. Like completely. I asked myself why and how.

Do share your thoughts on how your aggression has been transcended, or your continuing journey, I'd love to know, and it may well help others who might also struggle with "Peace to all Beings".

For myself, my instinct to strive physically against others is channelled into duelling with the Epee, I've gravitated to mutual aggression by consent and within strict boundaries. To fight has become a martial meditation, and a source of very strong and valued friendships as between swordsmen and women. A positive outcome. More than that, the withdrawal of aggression from my non-fencing psyche has given me the freedom to pursue other more positive interests which help to fill the space.

Peace be to all beings. :shake: :hug:
S
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Whitemane » 04 May 2014, 04:23

Aggression is a privilege of youth, when you are daft enough and physically resilient to take the consequences. Wisdom is the privilege of age. When you know you can't take the consequences and you look for alternatives.

Athletic endeavors work as an outlet, but I seem to be finding that the best approach has been to examine the roots of my aggression, and trying to dig out that root and toss it on the compost heap of failed ideas.
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby treegod » 04 May 2014, 08:03

As a kid I was very "peaceful". I didn't like competitive sports, and didn't get into fights because I was too scared. At the same time I didn't know how to express my anger well, instead bottling it up until it became implosive or explosive. I did karate, and I think this was something that helped me channel aggressive energy in a controlled environment. Now I do aikido.

It's funny practicing aikido. All the techniques were originally developed in martial arts (various schools lof jujitsu) where there was no ethic of "no harm", but aikido does have this ethic, so all these techniques have been sublimated into something peaceful. There are punches, strikes and a little pain, but they're used for distraction and dissuasion. And if you do hurt someone, you've done something wrong, making it a very difficult martial art to learn. If I was learning the same techniques but without the element of no-harm, I'd be learning a lot faster.

In my dojo there's a whole discipline, from start to finish. There's a whole etiquette that has to be observed (how to enter, when to bow, how to bow, how to sit, where to sit, etc.) and I think this goes a lot towards disciplining and focussing the mind, without which I feel we'd be more distracted and accident prone (one accident I saw was exactly for lack of focus).

It's "peace to all beings", but also "don't mess with me". It's far from being passive, and actually engages aggression and violence to transform it. The ideal is a combination of a martial attitude with a peaceful ethic.

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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby ShadowCat » 04 May 2014, 08:23

For me, agression comes from a whole different place and isn't something to be overcome, but mastered:

I was raised as a very civilised young lady and had to stop building huts and crawling in the mud at the age of about 10 because "girls don't do that". Yet there's always been a fiery vein in me that I needed to express by venting in play that was considered "too male". When I became the age that secondary gendermarkers showed themselves, that play got prohibited and suppressed. As a form of antidote, reminding myself of my own self I've been I've been collecting bladed weapons since I was 12-ish, and I do truly enjoy the aesthetics and functionality of a good blade. Not the average fantasy wallhangers, I gravitate towards functional/tactical both modern and historical. The still power and sleekness of a blade, the silence and simplicity must have been an energetic mirror for the power within that I had to keep cloaked to "fit in" into my fancypants family. The blade is an essential female weapon to me: a knife can both heal and feed, as well as maim and kill, all pivoting on the intent (and skill) of the wielder.

I've trained in unarmed selfdefence and several eastern martial arts, most prominent Aikido. The meditation in movement that are sword-kata's brings me in a deeply peaceful focussed place. Even though I've been in a few solid unarmed fights (mostly jumping in to help someone who's being mobbed) I've never raised a weapon against another living being in earnest. Even so, if it needed be, I most likely would shift into that mental mode where "what needs to be done gets done", a mode that has helped me numerous times and is like a veil, always on hand to pull up.

As a woman who loves to cook and garden, I get a few queer looks when folks walk up to my study and find a nice wall hung full with weapons. Yet, I'm both and I wouldn't be complete without both parts. Healthy agression, as in learning to set and protect your personal boundries and expressing your inner fire, has been constantly suppressed in my youth and I still suffer the mental and physical consequenses of those energies turning selfdestructive by overeating etcetera.

Unbalanced, volatile agression comes from places of pain and unbalance within. My dad numbed it with a beer and a smoke, I channeled it into energywork with my blades. I deem my way the healtier way. Balanced agressive energy that is that resting dragon within, only rearing when needed, yet kept in good condition and wellcared for, is a most essential life skill to master imho.
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Sciethe » 04 May 2014, 08:24

For myself, my instinct to strive physically against others is channelled into duelling with the Epee, I've gravitated to mutual aggression by consent and within strict boundaries.
I'll drop down to my boxers and beat your ass for posting a thread like this. After that, we can have a few pints of pale ale, understanding our straight-love and admiration for one another.
nollaig
Raw, but so well put as always. Where we come from can give us a very not head start in both Druidism, and as people generally, and can make meditation and unravelling the shadow baggage of our past immensely painful. If it's not dealt with it just echoes down the generations. So sorry to hear of it, so glad you've triumphed.
It's "peace to all beings", but also "don't mess with me". It's far from being passive, and actually engages aggression and violence to transform it. The ideal is a combination of a martial attitude with a peaceful ethic.
The whole fencing thing is like that too, although there are Salles and Salles, some have better ethics than others.
Athletic endeavors work as an outlet, but I seem to be finding that the best approach has been to examine the roots of my aggression, and trying to dig out that root and toss it on the compost heap of failed ideas.
Quite, aggression as an indicator that something is wrong with one's psyche.
S
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby xidia » 04 May 2014, 09:05

This is interesting. I discovered I tend to get frustrated/angry about things I can't control, which by definition is a waste of effort, because how I feel is going to make exactly no difference to the outcome. I got a tattoo a few years ago representing the prayer "Grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference."

I do get hurt when something rubs up against my principles (dishonesty, mostly) but I consider expressing that constructively to be a healthy exercise in boundary management.

I grew up suppressing what was originally a very fiery personality, because "nice girls aren't bossy", whereas the same behavior in boys was praised. I learned to acknowledge and accept the emotions in my mid-twenties (which is when I decided not to waste energy on unchangeable things), and I'm now figuring out how to express what's left.

I've never been physically competitive, but I am drawn to learning a martial art with a meditative focus. Westernised kickboxing leaves me mentally cold, but physically energised. So my next step is to find a local teacher of something that maintains the spiritual discipline as well as the physical: Shotokan karate or Wing Chun are the two top runners right now.

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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby xidia » 04 May 2014, 09:09

It's "peace to all beings", but also "don't mess with me". It's far from being passive, and actually engages aggression and violence to transform it. The ideal is a combination of a martial attitude with a peaceful ethic.
This. I guess it's another way of saying "Don't start a fight, but always finish one."

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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Sciethe » 04 May 2014, 10:29

This. I guess it's another way of saying "Don't start a fight, but always finish one."
And therein lies the problem as so explicitly and masterfully expressed by Nollaig, who said what I did not dare to. :shake: A lot of what we experience as adults as anger and aggression as in where did THAT come from is a result of howling injustices done to some of us as powerless children. We can't finish the fight, time has gone by and we never had a chance at the time. There is no recourse and no way back- only a way forward. There has to be healing and it's hard.

Almost everyone has this baggage to some extent, even if they had loving parents. And that's in addition to the instinctual aggression that we're born with. When I started OBOD I thought that I was a reservoir of a thing I termed "Dark Awen"- you can imagine. I was ashamed. In fact I eventually found that my wounded psyche was poisoning the true Awen as it coursed through me. There is no Dark Awen at all.
Unbalanced, volatile agression comes from places of pain and unbalance within. My dad numbed it with a beer and a smoke, I channeled it into energywork with my blades. I deem my way the healtier way. Balanced agressive energy that is that resting dragon within, only rearing when needed, yet kept in good condition and wellcared for, is a most essential life skill to master imho.
I think that this is right, as one way at least. The sense of self-determination and power is extremely important as a part of healing, it's a truism that one must be confident and strong to be kind. That is why seemingly fluffy activities such as counting blessings have such power, once you've acknowledged them they can be spread around.
S
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Aphritha » 04 May 2014, 14:30

Growing up, I had alot of aggression, though I can't consider it 'negative' aggression. I liked to fight. Not random, hostile fights, but I liked to randomly smack a friend upside the head, and jokingly get 'something started'. The fights were friendly, and the participants usually went away laughing, not muttering obscenities. Of course, not all people would engage in this behavior with me, but those who did soon became favorites.
As a 30 year old woman, no one will do this with me anymore. I find that now my aggression has taken on a more hostile nature, though most often repressed. I grumble and complain much more than I used to, and I don't really like that. I've been talking about going to train at the boxing gym for years now, but sadly, I can't afford it. For now, I distract myself with the 'whys' of it. Rather than let myself dwell on "George sure is a jerk!" I stop and think "why is George such a jerk?" It can take alot of energy to 'investigate' this kind of stuff, helping to fill(but not entirely filling) the gap left from my younger physical activities.
Watching animals has shown me positive aspects to aggression. As my cats tumble and flop across the floor with one another, its evident they're not trying to one up each other, or do actual harm, but rather enjoying affectionate time with their buddies. Birds often display this sort of behavior, and is amusing to watch. Though aggression can easily become hostile, I don't think it always has to be.


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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby treegod » 04 May 2014, 20:23

The whole fencing thing is like that too, although there are Salles and Salles, some have better ethics than others.
It's what I was thinking when I saw your comment on "martial meditation."

And it's the same in aikido; there are different schools, and each has its take on what aikido is and how to do it. Some keep with the original ethic of the founder, Ueshiba, and others take the techniques and downplay the ethics and philosophy of it. I'm fortunate to have found the school I'm in.
It's "peace to all beings", but also "don't mess with me". It's far from being passive, and actually engages aggression and violence to transform it. The ideal is a combination of a martial attitude with a peaceful ethic.
This. I guess it's another way of saying "Don't start a fight, but always finish one."
There's an interesting image in aikido which represents "the ideal", which is of an old man meditating quietly on a mountain who emits such an aura of confidence no one dares approach him. If you're in a situation where a fight is unavoidable, then its better to defend yourself, but if you can avoid getting into fights in the first place, better.
Aikido at a deeper level isn't just for self-defense against physical aggression, its about dealing with conflictive energies before they become aggressive.

It's more like "Don't start a fight... and don't allow yourself to get into them in the first place."

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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Sciethe » 04 May 2014, 22:10

Watching animals has shown me positive aspects to aggression. As my cats tumble and flop across the floor with one another, its evident they're not trying to one up each other, or do actual harm, but rather enjoying affectionate time with their buddies. Birds often display this sort of behavior, and is amusing to watch. Though aggression can easily become hostile, I don't think it always has to be.
Great insight actually, |-) it's easy to draw a parallel between cats and other animals play-fighting and us practicing Eastern and Western martial arts. It can turn nasty, but it generally doesn't, especially as we humans have discipline as well. It is bonding. It's also practice in case of real conflict, and maybe a group bonding. My cats scrap from time to time, though mostly they slouch about ignoring each other like the odd couple. Last month we had a strange cat coming in at night to steal their food. Then they came together as team, and saw it off.
The whole fencing thing is like that too, although there are Salles and Salles, some have better ethics than others.
It's what I was thinking when I saw your comment on "martial meditation."

And it's the same in aikido; there are different schools, and each has its take on what aikido is and how to do it. Some keep with the original ethic of the founder, Ueshiba, and others take the techniques and downplay the ethics and philosophy of it. I'm fortunate to have found the school I'm in.
Aikido at a deeper level isn't just for self-defense against physical aggression, its about dealing with conflictive energies before they become aggressive.
It's more like "Don't start a fight... and don't allow yourself to get into them in the first place."
We have a lot to learn from the Eastern martial arts and their philosophies. :tiphat: Western martial arts are not well understood and have a very poor reputation from the point of view of spirituality. I'd never have considered fencing if I hadn't done it before and known it was a "clean" part of my past that could be salvaged.
S
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Gwion » 05 May 2014, 12:33

Perhaps I shouldn’t be commenting here as I’ve never considered myself very prone to aggression (though you’d need to ask others if my self image bears any relation to reality!) partly through innate cowardice and partly through the examples of my upbringing and experience of my life.

As a child I had glasses and, for 18 months, a patch over one eye (which did not make me look like a pirate). I was also pale, skinny and weak which meant aggression wasn’t really an option! In dealing with people in my adult life, I’ve taken care to avoid any display of aggression. As a teacher, aggression towards pupils would have been at best counter-productive and at worst career-ending. As a Deputy and Head, similarly, aggression towards my colleagues would not have achieved much in the long run. I’ve always liked the distinction between aggression and assertion. You can achieve a lot by persuasion and, if necessary, by being assertive; aggression may get a temporary success but just breeds long-term resentment.

If I’ve ever been aggressive towards anything it’s been inanimate objects, but again the outcome never justifies the action: they just break quicker! :whistle:

In my opinion, aggression is the product of frustration. If you’re unable to get your own way (even if that’s just explaining what you mean) then there’s the temptation to resort to force. You may succeed in getting your own way (in which case it might increase your likelihood of using aggression again) but it only breeds resentment and more problems down the line. Better by far to find other ways of getting your point across. :shake: A question I ask myself a lot is “What would be the benefit of this action?” It tends to make me a bit slow and reluctant to take risks but I’ve lived a remarkably peaceful and contented life. (I’ve never bothered too much about aiming for happiness – contentment will do me fine. :cloud9: )

Having said all this, perhaps I’m just trying to justify a lifelong cowardice.
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Sciethe » 05 May 2014, 19:30

Having said all this, perhaps I’m just trying to justify a lifelong cowardice. :oops:
:-) You're a teacher and you're uncertain whether you might be a coward? Gwion, really, no. It takes a special sort of courage to thrive in the world of education. I failed after three years and went back to the land, great staff reviews for ability, secretly miserably nervous and unhappy.
This immensely sensible post shows what a possible ideal is for those of us who start from further back as it were. A life lived by considering consequences for the self and for others and acting appropriately. Perfect. :D
S
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Whitemane » 05 May 2014, 20:59

Gwion, I'm touched by your post, and our lives have some similarities, and you remind me of a very important truth: aggression and courage are not the same thing.
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby DaRC » 06 May 2014, 13:09

I have an energy and a volatile nature; perhaps because I am a Leo in the western cosmology, or because I was born in the year of the fire horse under eastern cosmology. Maybe it's nature and a product of my ancestral genetics or that my Dad grew up working class and spent years in the Air Force or my Mum who had a strict upbringing. Maybe 70's kids were a bit more feral and wild. Who knows, maybe it's a little bit of it all.
ShadowCat wrote:Unbalanced, volatile agression comes from places of pain and unbalance within. My dad numbed it with a beer and a smoke, I channeled it into energywork with my blades. I deem my way the healtier way. Balanced agressive energy that is that resting dragon within, only rearing when needed, yet kept in good condition and wellcared for, is a most essential life skill to master imho.

Sciethe wrote: I think that this is right, as one way at least. The sense of self-determination and power is extremely important as a part of healing, it's a truism that one must be confident and strong to be kind.
Certainly there were aspects of my childhood that were painful and unbalanced. As an august child I was one of the smallest in the class, so I grew up with those issues that the Educationers are only just recognising now. Homelife had it's issue too. By secondary school I wasn't an easy enough victim for the bullies but had internalised my frustration into minor self harm (not in an Emo way where it is almost a publicly displayed badge, this was very shameful and kept hidden).
I then started to play Rugby Union, which is a formalised way for society to sublimate aggression. Rugby Union is basically a legalised punch-up where players are told to save their aggression for the match. The principle being that after the match you then socialise with the opposing team and have fun with them; it's not about hating the opposition as you are all part of the rugby family even if you've been punching the hell out of each other all match. You need to walk onto a rugby pitch wanting to hurt the opposition but should be having a drink, a song and a laugh with the opposition after the match.
Gwion wrote: In my opinion, aggression is the product of frustration. If you’re unable to get your own way (even if that’s just explaining what you mean) then there’s the temptation to resort to force. You may succeed in getting your own way (in which case it might increase your likelihood of using aggression again) but it only breeds resentment and more problems down the line. Better by far to find other ways of getting your point
So once I stopped wanting to hurt people, I was developing philosophically :yay: , but I still had the anger in these frustrating situations as I didn't play Rugby anymore. Physical exercise was the best way to deal with these fight or flight responses - I cycle and the training (aka the work) has similarities to martial arts. I guess it's a masochism like self harming but a productive one - on an angry day I could go and session a short hard climb until I had no energy left or do a flat out circuit and come back elated (due to endorphin and adrenaline kicks).

There are still the flashpoints, usual accompanied by voiceferous outbursts, which have repercussions (I don't hit people, nor take it out verbally on them). What I am accepting now is that these identify pain points where some 'thing' (a process, a communication or a bolt that just won't undo) is broken (usually at work) thus there is a problem to solve and that contemplation of what triggered the outburst can often mean I find the creative solution. It's what I do...I am a problem solver, it's in my nature and anger is a part of it. It's just making sure it's negative impacts are kept to a minimum.

It's why I liked working on Land Rovers and cycling up mountains... you can take a hammer to a Land Rover or beast yourself up a mountain at the end the Land Rover / Mountain is still there completely unchanged and unphased but your anger is gone.
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Heddwen » 06 May 2014, 17:12

Hi all, you got me thinking here and just to add a new twist to the discussion (or maybe throw a spanner in the works :grin: ) I've always been interested in this subject within the confines of druidry. I have tried (and failed) to see how aggression and violence 'fit in' (for want of a better word) with those who are employed within those roles that demand it. Here, I'm talking about the military specifically and other occupations such as physical sports such as boxing ( although this is in a controlled environment)

Try as I might, I can't marry the two. As druids, we call for Peace to the quarters and Peace throughout the whole world. How is this possible if we are engaged in warfare? The standard answer that I've received is that ,'there are many levels of Peace' , but I still don't understand ...I want these levels of Peace clarified!

Now I must stress here that I'm NOT saying that you can't be a soldier and a druid at all. No, far from it. I'm pleased that druids/pagans/witches are having more recognition amongst the military.

I just want to know how it works.

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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Aphritha » 06 May 2014, 17:57

Here's the way I see it:
Imagine being a child, walking home from school. You see an older boy picking on a younger one, becoming physically violent with him. The little guy doesn't have a chance, but you're probably strong enough to do something about it. You step in, and tell the bully this isn't the way. He isn't really interested in what you have to say, and begins in on you.
Now, you can curl up and take it in the name of peace, however you and the younger boy just got a good beating. The bully feels invigorated, and continues to engage in such behavior. Or, you could give the bully a good smack himself. Yes, this was a violent act, but the situation has embarrassed him so much he stops and thinks twice before engaging in fights, dramatically cutting down on the violence long term.
Its a simple example, but I think the concept can be applied to larger. If peace was always to be found by being peaceful, it would require everybody on earth to agree that they want peace, and I think we're far from it.
As to physical sports, I think of it like playing chess with your body. I find it hard to object to sports unless I object to a board game; either way, someone is better, someone wins, someone loses. Its just, will you use your mind or body to compete? Both are valuable pieces or ourselves we shouldn't neglect.
Aggression very much exists in nature. Plants crowd each other out, killing the weak. Animals fight(sometimes to the death) over mates and territory. We as humans have this natural potential in us. If sports or controlled aggression help a person cope with these hostile feelings so they don't come to fruition, I think its perfectly compatible with Druidry. :)


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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby treegod » 07 May 2014, 08:06

Hi all, you got me thinking here and just to add a new twist to the discussion (or maybe throw a spanner in the works :grin: ) I've always been interested in this subject within the confines of druidry. I have tried (and failed) to see how aggression and violence 'fit in' (for want of a better word) with those who are employed within those roles that demand it. Here, I'm talking about the military specifically and other occupations such as physical sports such as boxing ( although this is in a controlled environment)

Try as I might, I can't marry the two. As druids, we call for Peace to the quarters and Peace throughout the whole world. How is this possible if we are engaged in warfare? The standard answer that I've received is that ,'there are many levels of Peace' , but I still don't understand ...I want these levels of Peace clarified!

Now I must stress here that I'm NOT saying that you can't be a soldier and a druid at all. No, far from it. I'm pleased that druids/pagans/witches are having more recognition amongst the military.

I just want to know how it works.
In Druidry, it would seem, personal choice comes before Peace, and each person will have their reasons.

Personally, I have decided for myself that Peace and the military don't go together. I can't reconcile them within me either, which is why I haven't joined any military organisation. But others may not be pursuing Peace (not all druids see it as their ideal) or they may be pursuing Peace as they see fit, and they have a right to it.

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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Whitemane » 07 May 2014, 11:54

The problem with talking about peace is deciding which one of the seven billion definitions one is going to use as a basis for discussion.

Everybody has a definition of peace, and most of them are variations on "people doing things my way." This means anything from a complete absence of conflict, to a degree of self-defence that most would find acceptable, with some extremists arguing that their path to peace is through large-scale or extreme violence.

I believe that the real question is how can we make the world a place where the needs of the individual, and of the many, and of the world we live in are balanced to preserve and protect the whole?

Do we need violence? We can avoid it, because we can always work for a constructive resolution to a problem, but there will be times when even in a well-run world that one group will see a temporary disadvantage as more than they can accept, and they may turn to violence. In that case, a minimal level of a response in kind, coupled with non-violent responses may have to be acceptable.

Now, how do we get to this state with a planet full of imperfect human beings?
May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you,
Guide your way on.

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Heddwen
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Re: Sublimating agression

Postby Heddwen » 07 May 2014, 13:27

I've just checked out the Oxford dictionary and found some definitions for 'Peace' , http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/defin ... lish/peace
which seem to fit in with things the way I see them. Only my point of view of course. I don't see violence and aggression as a peaceful act, even if it is in self defence. There are ways to negotiate and discuss issues without violence and even if things do become physical, I wouldn't necessarily call it a peaceful resolution.

To me druidry works towards a harmonious solution, without it becoming like an idealised hippie type 'love fest' but a fluid and credible answer if not 'calling'. It is part of our druid 'work' as I see it.


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