What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

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DaRC
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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby DaRC » 03 Nov 2010, 14:05

Hmm I'm not so sure that 'Sacred Warrior' died out in western society with Machiavelli and the Enlightenment.
True I would say that their role was often subverted and undermined by fanaticism. There are strands that continued - looking at the Salvation Army and the Quakers - who both had fearless people doing good work (the Quaker ambulance men in WW1 were legendary) .

However, I guess we're discussing a mystic code similar to that of Bushido which would be the old Chivalric code - this seems to have developed in the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine from a heady mix of Irish Bards, French writers (such as Chretien de Troyes) and her involvement in the 2nd Crusade. Within history the ideal of the 'Sacred Warrior' seems to be an ideal reflected in poems and stories in much the same way as modern Hollywood heroes represent cultural ideals. In the modern interest in Arthurian legend and Bushido I would suggest that the ideal of the 'Sacred Warrior' is still very much alive.

In many ways the western ideal of the 'Sacred Warrior' is steeped in the knowledge of what is good kingship. I was asked to write a view of Anglo-Saxon Lordship by Beith a couple of years ago, I did write (foolishly as a message which then got lost before posting) and haven't got around to re-writing it. Many of the ideals of the western Sacred Warrior come from the Heroic ideals of the earlier age and can be taken from those in the Song of Roland:
To fear God and maintain His Church
To serve your liege lord in valour and faith
To protect the weak and defenceless
To give succour to widows and orphans
To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
To live by honour and for glory
To despise pecuniary reward
To fight for the welfare of all
To obey those placed in authority
To guard the honour of fellow knights
To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
To keep faith
At all times to speak the truth
To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
To respect the honour of women
Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
Never to turn the back upon a foe.

Yet I notice in this that there is little attention to the arts. In this respect later on men who were educated aspired to become Renaissance men. They were expected to know and understand philosophy, scientific teachings, be able to compose and appreciate literature (in several languages) and art whilst additionally being able warriors and dancers. This is a noble development from the Chivalric code.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby mantis » 03 Nov 2010, 14:51

I think going back to the beginning of this thread,that there has been sacred warriors in the west,but too become one or learn to be one would be near on impossible.Where as in Japanese and Chinese martial arts traditions to follow the footsteps of the sacred warrior is far more accessible.
In fact one of my students is on a type of pilgrimae next year to live and train in Japan.

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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby skh » 03 Nov 2010, 14:57

One person I personally think of when I hear the term "sacred warrior" is Mahatma Gandhi (though he's not fully in the western tradition, I admit). He never used violence himself and tried to abandon it as soon as possible from his sacred fight, the fight for freedom for his people. Instead he used other weapons, like financial and economical pressure, ethics, speeches, publicity and his own example. He didn't try to stay out of hardship, but shared it with his people. In the end, when he was afraid that he couldn't convince his people of the right (that was non-violent) way to go, he used his last "weapon" by sacrificing his life - he wanted to show them how much he was convinced of the necessity to stay away from violence, he was being "deadly earnest" - and fastet himself to death.
He might have starved himself to death if necessary, so I don't question his willingness to do so -- but he was in fact assassinated.

(Nothing to do with the discussion, just move on ;) )

peace /|\
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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby Eilthireach » 04 Nov 2010, 08:27

Hello all,
hello Dave!

Thank you very much for that knowledgeable contribution! I think one of the main problems about the western spiritual warrior is that we know too little. For example, I didn't know that the Rolandslied contains such a summary of values.

I know of several medieval reenactment groups in Germany that try form a code of chivalry for our age and attempt to live by it. There are some groups representing medieval knighthood, others include Knight Templars reenactment groups, others try to rediscover and reformulate the tradition of Western swordsmanship along the lines of Eastern martial arts. Unfortunately the results that these groups achieve rarely come to the knowledge of a wider audience.

For many spiritual seekers of our modern times, the approaches of warrior, monk, warrior-monk and the likes seem to hold little attractiveness, which is why those paths are rarely treated in (other than historical) literature.

For example "To obey those placed in authority" sounds outdated in an age where the magical motto seems to be "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law". On the other hand, even Aleister Crowley himselfs wrote of love being "(...) the damascened inscription upon the swords of the Knight-monks of Thelema." (Liber II)
The concept of the spiritual warrior is timeless and intercultural and has spanned centuries and continents. It is an archetypical image.

Interesting discussion. :D

Many greetings from beneath the Bavarian Alps,

Eilthireach.

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby Huathe » 04 Nov 2010, 15:30

Personally, I believe they were a substantual practice of martial arts and professional swordsmanship in Europe but the tradition has been lost, unlike those traditions in the orient, especially Japan. I would love to see the similarities and differences in them if any new knowledge ever came to light or if any new record was ever found of the " lost " martial arts of Europe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miyamoto_Musashi

:sword:
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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby Eilthireach » 05 Nov 2010, 07:35

Hello all,

concerning the practice of martial arts and swordsmanship in Europe there seems to be a common European tradition of what is called 'fencing manuals' (German: Fechtbücher).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_arts_manual

Eilthireach.

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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby DaRC » 05 Nov 2010, 13:27

Hiya - there is also this book which contains the 16th Century English Martial Art information
- click on Book List then look for English Martial Arts http://www.asbooks.co.uk/
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image

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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby Coreylee » 26 Nov 2010, 05:48

There is also a book by John Michael Greer called "The Spirit and the Sword" about the mostly lost Western Martial art of fencing. A very intresting read from a wonderful author.
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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby Eilthireach » 26 Nov 2010, 08:39

I can confirm the 'wonderful author', I have read his book on the Kabbala and it is excellent.

Eilthireach.

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
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Re: What is the Western tradition of the 'Sacred Warrior'?

Postby mantis » 26 Nov 2010, 22:21

there is a western martial art ,in the uk called Stav,that is of viking origin,that blends fighting techinique of staff,sword and axe with the runes.
The founder is norwegien,originally he trained in aikido in Japan,but went onto rediscoverind ancient norse methods of combat.It does have alot more to it than just methods of combat.There are a number of clubs within the uk teaching medievel forms of fighting.


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