Syncretic Symbols, Sacred Geometry and WOOTW #53

The seal of biblical king Hezekiah. Note the winged scarab and ankh motifs.

Last week I posted about how certain symbols and ideas just keep showing up across time and cultures.  Now I see an article which points out that things often reappear because people love to borrow and re-use things that are powerful, meaningful, fit into their existing knowledge structures, and/or are just plain useful.

Specifically, the article I read was about the discovery of King Hezekiah’s royal seal (right).

Note the Egyptian winged scarab and the ankh.  On a Jewish king’s seal. 

This famous biblical king was comfortable borrowing symbols from the very society which had oppressed his people about 700 years earlier.  And yet, by the biblical accounts in the Book of Kings, he was a highly respected and conservative king, a reformer who “purified and repaired the Temple, purged its idols, and reformed the priesthood.

Religion is the technology of consciousness.  Like all sciences, it builds on the discoveries and innovations, the successes and failures, of previous thinkers.  

Judaism sprang from Canaanite and Babylonian religious ideas.  Judaism collided with Egyptian and Greek religion and spawned Christianity.  None of this is theft.  It’s the way humans and their cultures innovate, grow and evolve.

When we see further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants (if I may borrow and paraphrase from Isaac Newton). 

And now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #52

Wrestling Conditioner #1: Set timer for 5 rounds of 2:00 minutes each, 10 mins total.  Make sure you’re fully warmed up before you begin, and go all out with no breaks.

Round 1, circle the bag.  Place a heavy bag on the floor (if you don’t have a heavy bag, here’s how you make one).  Put forearms on bag and toes on floor — these will be your only points of contact for this 2 min round. Circle the bag using only legs and feet, alternating directions, until the timer beeps.

Round 2, mount the bag.  Mount and strike 10 times as hard as you can. Body lock the bag, barrel-roll, regain mount, and repeat until the timer beeps.

Round 3, roll the bag.  Lie on your back with heavy-bag perpendicularly on top of your body. Roll it up and down across torso, pushing and pulling like a rolling pin. From time to time, press up the bag and let it drop on your torso to maintain or establish your tolerance for the stresses of wrestling. Continue for entire round.

Round 4, defend the bag.  Lie on your back with bag on top of you longways to simulate an attacker mounting you.  Strike 10 times.  Body lock the bag, barrel roll until your back on the bottom and repeat until the timer beeeps.

Round 5, side mount the bag and scissor.  Side mount the bag and scissor your legs 3 times.  Keeping chest pressure on the bag, switch to face other end of bag and scissor 3 more times.  Scramble or circle to other side of bag with forearms and toes only. Repeat until the timer beeps and you’re done.

Drawing Meditation.  This is a lesson in sacred geometry.  Get paper and compass and sit down quietly at a table where you can work in comfort and silence.  Set countdown timer for 10 minutes.  Clear your head, regulate your breathing, and follow the steps in the photo set below to draw the central geometric shape of the Cabal Fang symbol.  When you’re done, spend the remainder of the 10 minutes meditating on the diagram before you.  Do the two circles seem symbolic of anything?  How about the area where they overlap?  What else speaks to you?  Record your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in your training log or journal.

 

 

 

Who Will Save Us From the Saviors?

A great review from a remarkable author. Beware — fascism and communism, as dangerous as ever, are known to shrug off the swastika or the hammer and sickle and slink about in other guises…

Gary Lachman

Here is my review of a recent book that, to my mind, offers a questionable solution to an undeniably pressing problem. We need to ensure that our cures are not worse than our afflictions. My thanks to Quest Magazine for posting the review, which originally appeared in their Winter 2017 issue.

How Soon Is Now? From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation
Daniel Pinchbeck
London: Watkins, 2017. 232 pp., hardcover, $24.95.

In September 2005, Daniel Pinchbeck had a revelation. In order to save planet earth, he would have to start a global revolution. Such thoughts were not foreign to him, or to many others at the scene of his visitation, the Burning Man festival, held in the Nevada desert.

Many were on his wavelength and shared his ideals. But a strange urgency had come over him, and he went through a kind of personal enantiodromia, when one’s values suddenly turn…

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I’m Related to President George Washington

So it turns out that I’m related to President George Washington.

If you look at the family tree below,  Pres. Washington is underlined.  His great-aunt, Anne Washington married one Francis Wright.  The Wright family line wends its way down to Jesse Woodrow Naff, my maternal grandfather.

You can read about in the book The Washingtons. Volume 9: The Presidential Branch: Six Wright Lines by Justin Glenn. My granddad is on page 443. I guess that makes me and Pres. Washington distant cousins.

Anyway, this all started because I watched the movie Hacksaw Ridge — the story of Desmond Doss, the conscientious objector who won the Medal of Honor for saving 75 men — without even touching a gun.

Doss’s story reminded me of my granddad’s.  He was a paratrooper medic who carried a gun but, because of of Brethren beliefs, refused to fire a shot.  And he didn’t. For his entire five years of service.  Here’s another excerpt from Glenn’s book — my mom is Betty Naff Mitchell.

When I googled Grandfather Naff, one thing led to another and I found out he was in Glenn’s book.  Here’s a picture of my granddad.

Small world…

Jesse Woodrow Naff, my maternal grandfather.

Fish, Eyes, Rabbits and the Workout of the Week

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”  ~Ecclesiastes 1:9

One of my assignments in the seminary (did I mention that I’m an interfaith minister and I’m enrolled in an online seminary in pursuit of Holy Orders?) was to meditate on the image of the vesica piscis, otherwise known as the Christian fish symbol.  This meditation comes from Chapter 10 of Inner Christianity by Richard Smoley which is, by the way, a really excellent book.

Left: Eye of Horus. Right: vesica piscis

As I meditated on the symbol it began to fade in and out focus as often happens when meditating on objects and photos.  But soon thereafter, in its semi-focused state it seemed to look like an Eye of Horus. Once I saw the similarity it was hard to maintain focus because my mind began to race — and then I was involuntarily pulled out of the exercise by my intellectual mind’s desire to explore the similarities in the myths of Horus and Jesus.

 

Left: Isis and baby Horus. Right: Mary and baby Jesus. Note that Mary and Jesus are inside a flaming vesica piscis. That’s not a coincidence.

Certain things just make sense to humans — visually, mathematically, culturally, spiritually and so on — and those things just keep showing up across time and cultures.  Again and again and again.

This weekend Christian people are will be celebrating Easter, which typically aligns with Jewish Passover and is named after a pagan goddess named Ēostre (if you believe the Venerable Bede anyway).*

So no matter what your religious affiliation may be, give some thought to celebrating Easter tomorrow.  Color some eggs to symbolize rebirth.  Give the kids a chocolate bunny, or treat yourself.  The ancients believed that rabbits could reproduce without losing their virginity, so they were associated with Mary and Jesus.  And they were fertility symbols long before that.

To burn off all your eggs and peeps and chocolate bunnies, here is the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #52

  • Core Workout.  Set timer for 1:00 min rounds and complete alternating rounds of 8 Push-ups and 16 Neck Bridges (8 forward and 8 back) all on the minute (OTM).  In other words, do 8 Push-ups and then rest until the timer beeps.  Then do 8 Forward Neck Bridges, 8 back, and then rest until the timer beeps.  Repeat 6 times for a total of 12 minutes.  See video below for variations applicable to beginner, intermediate, and advanced players.
  • Meditation on Eye of Horus or vesica piscis.  Pick one and sketch it boldly on a piece of paper.  Set timer for 10 minutes.  Place your sketch at eye level, assume your preferred meditation posture, and focus your eyes on the object as you regulate your breathing (you may find it helpful to narrow your eyes a bit).  Record your experience in your training log or journal.

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* This is why the modern idea of “cultural appropriation” is a step backward rather than a stop forward — encourages people not to share ideas and think of themselves as one race, one species, and generally equal.  People have been sharing and borrowing and influencing each other since time began.  That’s called evolution, progress and dialogue, and it’s a good thing. Christians borrowed from Hebrews who borrowed from the Egyptians.  The Romans stole from the Etruscans who were influenced by the Greeks and the Phoenicians.  And so on.  Now, if you rip stuff off and pretend you invented it, well that’s called “theft.”  And that’s not nice.

 

Incorporation and WOOTW #51

Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. is now a real live corporation in the Commonwealth of Virginia and its 501(c)3 application is in the final review stage.  Fingers crossed, soon we’re going to be a real live, tax exempt non-profit.

In popular slang terms, “Cabal Fang is a thing.”

One of the things we’ve had to do is sharpen our message and streamline things so that there’s no ambiguity in our structure, message or actions.  What that means is that the Order of Seven Hills martial arts club — the first and founding Cabal Fang martial arts group — is going to be changing its name to the Cabal Fang Temple.  This was a tough call, but one that we agreed needed to happen in order to advance the art.

In order to honor the fantastic work we did, the discoveries we made and the camaraderie we shared under the old name, we’re going to incorporate two of the things we do at the club into the Cabal Fang canon — our pledge and our flag.  Look for them in the second edition of Cabal Fang: Complete Martial Arts Training Course from Querent to Elder.

More to come.  And now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #51

  • Practice the Star of Ishtar for a minimum of 10 minutes (that’s the Cabal Fang version of a “combat clock”).  Do this by attaching a pool noodle to a sturdy object at shoulder height using a bungee cord or rubber tie-down.  If you have 10 minutes you can make an arm out of a pool noodle, a scrap of shrubbery, and a meter of duct tape (see video below).
  • Full Pyramid of the following: Jackknife Push-ups, Jackknifes (bent or straight knee is fine), and Get-ups.  Beginners to a peak of 5, intermediate 7, advanced 10+.  The square of the peak = the total number of reps per exercise.

 

Like the WOOTW? ( )Y ( )N ( )Other

Owls symbolize wisdom. Part of being wise is knowing that meaning resides at the intersection of change and stability, that it is the respiration between chaos and stagnation.

This past Saturday I posted Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #50.  In a couple of weeks I’ll be completing my commitment to do these for a full year without missing a single week.  Question is, should I keep going or change direction?

Do you want me to keeping posting the workout of the week?   If so, show love in the comments.  If not…

Lack of praise for the #WOOTW and/or few replies will indicate that I need to be wrapping up this dog and pony show and coming up with something fresh and new.

If you’re sick of the workout of the week, make suggestions.  What do you want — a technique of the week, a pitfall, drill, concept of the week, or what?

Let me know.  Because this stuff isn’t for me it’s for you.  I’m going to be working out and coming up with new drills, workouts, ideas and concepts whether I blog them or not.  You just gotta tell me what you want on the menu!

 

Truth and Consequences: Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #50

The other day I posted a video analysis of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  One of the things I mentioned was the nature and symbolism of Prince Philip’s Sword of Truth and Shield of Virtue.

During his fight with Maleficent in her dragon form, Prince Philip loses the Shield of Virtue because that’s what we all do.  We’re human.  We mess up, we make mistakes, we do things that we know are not in keeping with our own moral and ethical codes.  But as long as we hold tight to truth the way that Prince Philip does in the movie, we can slay any dragon and ultimately regain our virtue.  Because making a commitment to speak the truth is more than just a speech modifier.  If you do things you’re ashamed of you’ll have to lie about what you did.  So telling the truth is a behavior modifier too.

Truth may be the highest ideal known to man.  That’s why it figures so prominently in the initiations of Cabal Fang.  Individuals and cultures that do not revere truth may reap short-term rewards of one kind or another but eventually they will completely lose their virtue and have no way to regain it — and some dragon or other will eat them up in their bankruptcy.

Hold tight to truth my friends, and aim your compass toward it like it’s true north.  You’ll screw up because we all do.  But at least you’ll be able to get back on course!

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #50 — Slip and Bob Drill 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

  • 10 minutes of slipping and bobbing.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and practice the 4 slips and the bob outlined in the video below.  When you feel comfortable, start trying to do them along with someone calling out random number patterns.  If you train solo, use this audio recording or make your own using the voice memo app on your phone.
  • Heavy bag 4 x 2:oo/:30.  Go after a heavy bag with maximum ill intent, just make sure that between each combination you (a) complete at least 2 slips or bobs, and (b) you circle the bag rather than standing stock-still.  Hit while you move and move while you hit.
  • Meditation on Truth.  Look into your past starting with most recent history and find a time when you were less than truthful.  Now set a timer for 10 minutes and assume your chosen meditative posture.  Untangle that lie through meditation.  Use your imagination to step into the scene.  Relive the incident.  See if you can come to understand why you weren’t truthful, what you should have done, and what you think you might do the next time you’re in a similar situation.