Category Archives: Mysticism

Archangel Ikigai? (and the Workout of the Week)

A friend of my friend Leo by the name of Nolan wrote an interesting piece about ikigai.  Ikigai is a Japanese concept  which means “a reason for living; a meaning for life; what makes life worth living; a raison d’etre.”¹

Here is Nolan’s ikigai diagram. Click the picture to read his excellent article.

What’s remarkable is that the diagram often associated with ikigai is also the symbol we in the martial art of Cabal Fang call the Rose of Barachiel.

I don’t think this is a coincidence.  If you’re going to find your ikigai — a reason for being that resides at the center of passion, vocation, profession and mission — you’re going to have to ask yourself a lot of questions about what you want and need, what you aspire to and what you’re good at.  In Cabal Fang we associate Archangel Barachiel’s rose with prayer, and to pray is to ask.

The ikigai diagram and Barachiel’s rose both contain an eye, literally and symbolically.  Both direct you to look within, to self examine, to view yourself truthfully, to ask for insight.

As I I’ve pointed out before, the eye symbol is one of the main characters in the the story of humanity’s spiritual evolution.  It shouts out, “pay attention!”

There’s another connection too.  In Cabal Fang, we often conceive of Archangel Barachiel as the optimal practitioner of our art, which encompasses being in control of Powers of the Sphinx — “To Know, To Will, To Dare; To Keep Silent.”  These four overlapping areas parallel the four zones of ikigai:

  • To Know = Profession (a professions requires specific knowledge)
  • To Will = Mission (a strongly felt aim is advanced by the power of the human will )
  • To Dare = Passion (your passion is what overcomes your fear and makes you courageous a.k.a “daring”)
  • To Keep Silent = Vocation (your vocation is what you want to do in your silent heart-of-hearts)

If you thought this was interesting, you’d really like the Cabal Fang Study Guide (especially if you like martial arts).

And now for the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #85

  • Bear-hug Walks for grappling strength.  Set a timer for 3 rounds of 1:30/1:00.  Pick up a heavy bag or sand bag, secure it in a bear-hug body lock with a good wrestling grip and pace back and forth until the 1:30 is over.  Rest 1 min. and repeat twice more. Use the heaviest bag you can safely manage.  If the first round is too easy, add some weight — I strapped dumbbells to my heavy bag to get there.
  • Calisthenics pyramid.  Complete a full pyramid to 7 (1 rep of each exercise, 2 of each, 3, 4, etc. up to 7 reps, then back down to 1 of each — 49 reps in total) of the following: Handstand Push-ups, Get-ups and  Split Jump Squats (x2).  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need in order to finish.  If you can’t do Handstand Push-ups, do Jackknife Push-ups (basically get into Downward Dog and do Push-ups to your upper forehead).
  • Meditation on the eye.  Sketch or print an eye symbol — an Eye of Horus, an Eye of Providence, an ichthys symbol, a Hand of Mysteries, a Hamsa, etc.  Set up the sketch or image at eye level and settle into your favorite meditative posture. Regulate your breathing, narrow your eyes, and spend 10 minutes meditating on the eye. What is the eye saying to you? What do you think is the central truth of the symbol? Record the results in your training log or journal

Leo

 

Keaton Jones, Part 2

Sparked by the story of Keaton Jones, yesterday I blogged some advice for dealing with bullies.  Overnight the story continued to evolve and then devolve.  A brouhaha ensued.  Pictures circulated of Keaton’s family holding Confederate flags.  Allegations of racism started flying around.

And then the internet, which wanted Keaton and his family to be either saints or devils, did what it always does.  It drew apart to into extreme camps.  Because people want easy answers.

The irony is incredible.  What if Keaton and/or his family are bigoted?  I’m not saying that because I refuse to make a snap judgment based on the Twitterverse, and I believe one should first take the log out of his own eye before pointing out the speck in somebody else’s.

But let’s just say for argument’s sake that he/they are racists.  What do you think would change their point of view?  Do you think a multiracial and universal outpouring of praise and support would make them see the world differently?  Maybe.  But most of what was previously offered is now being withdrawn as the social media tide flips to the opposite extreme.

Racist or not, Keaton was bullied and his pain is real.  If the bullies have a legitimate problem with something Keaton said or did, the kids can work it out if they talk.  But if talking breaks down and one side gets physical, let the other side put up their dukes.  Both sides will soon learn that petty scuffles are stupid and that violence stinks (and it hurts).

Then, if they all apologize and can manage to forgive and forget, they can shake hands and treat each other with new-found respect.

So I stand by my advice of yesterday, to parties on all sides.

“REPAY KINDNESS WITH KINDNESS, EVIL WITH JUSTICE AND REPENTANCE WITH FORGIVENESS.”

~Robert Mitchell

Keaton Jones, Put up Your Dukes

[I wrote a Part 2 to this post — read it here.  ~Mitch]

The internet’s response to Keaton Jones’ emotional video about his experiences being bullied has been remarkable.  I was heartened to notice that many folks, famous and otherwise, reacted the same way I did – they felt like Keaton was an incredibly likable kid, and that he ought to put up his dukes.

That was the advice I gave my son when he was getting bullied, some time around age 10 or so.  I told him “sticks and stones” — ignore all insults and taunts — but if a bully pushes you, push him back.  If he punches you, punch him back.

I was bullied as a kid. I know how it feels.  I also know how it feels the first time you let a bully know that you’re not going to take any more and you hit him in the chops one good time.  It feels pretty darned good, but not nearly as good as it does to walk to class with your head held high for change.

In support of my argument I present the following points:

  • Each time a kid lets it slide it’s more likely to happen again.  Psychologist David Coleman agrees, and he says parents should tell their kids to fight bullies.
  • Telling boys to “use their words” doesn’t work.  Young boys learn mostly by action not by talking, and when it comes to linguistic communication they might might not catch up with girls their age until high school or even later.  Both bullies and the bullied learn something from a scuffle.
  • Scientific evidence suggest that the Golden Rule isn’t as effective as an alloy. Carl Sagan explained it very well in Parade magazine back in 1993.  He calls it “the Gold-plated Brazen Rule” and it’s basically with works like this: Be nice at first.  If the other person persists not playing nice, give back what you got.  But as soon as they turn nice, forgive and forget.
  • Kids need to solve their own problems without excessive adult interference.  It’s how they learn to be functioning adults.

How do I, as an interfaith minister, a seminarian pursuing Holy Orders and a martial artist, reconcile all this?   Shouldn’t I be advocating the Golden Rule?

Well, the Golden Rule as given in Luke and Matthew is “Do to others what you want them to do to you.”  And there is also Proverbs 27:17 — “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”  I don’t think the Bible says you should never ever put up your dukes.  If I ever become a bully I want somebody to teach me a lesson so I learn to change my ways.

So, all in all, here’s my Interfaith, East-meets-West version of the Golden Rule that combines Confucius and Christ in equal measure:

“Repay kindness with kindness, evil with justice and repentance with forgiveness.”

~Robert Mitchell

One Wild Weasel of a Workout of the Week (#83 to be precise)

A weasel going after a basilisk

Are there weasels in the workout of the week?  Nope.  But as you’ll see in a minute there are crabs and bears!  The weasel is yours truly — because there’s so much going on around these here parts that I’m as wild as a weasel stuck in a corn bin!  

First off, the 501(c)3 paperwork came through, and Cabal Fang Temple is officially a tax exempt public educational charity.   I’m about to bust my buttons!

Second, we’ve got two big events at the temple this month — a Vigny Canne seminar in two weeks and a solstice event on the 21st. Both are going to be more fun than you can shake a stick at! ¹

Third — and the reason I’m using all this country hick verbiage — is that I’m happier than a pig in slops with the material I’m picking up in Mark Hatmaker’s Frontier Rough & Tumble martial arts program (you’ll have to subscribe to his RAW service to get the lessons but you can get a flavor for it on his blog).  What’s new is old and what’s old is new — more detail to come in future posts — but it’s fast becoming clear that some of the old world martial arts techniques I used to think were only side dishes just need a little extra pepper to look just like FRT, and then they can go smack dab in the middle of the table next to the biscuits!

And fourth, I’m really making progress in the Holy Orders program at Ekklesia Epignostika. It gets more and more beautiful and enriching (and more difficult!) the further I go.  More to come on that too, but in a year or so, you might be able to call me Father Mitchell.

Without further ado, this wild weasel presents the crabs and bears included in…

Workout of the Week #83

  • Warm-up thoroughly. Complete a full pyramid to 8 of Push-ups, Jumping Jacks and Zombie Squats (that’ll get you to 64 total of each).
  • Heavy bag PT circuit.  Put on your MMA gloves and go after your heavy bag with maximum malice, like your life depends on it, with full power and speed, until you gas out.  Then crab walk around the bag in an 8′ circle twice while you get your breath back — that’s about 50 yards. Then go at the bag again to failure, followed by two bear walk circles. Another round on the bag until you gas followed by crab walks, another go at the bag and then bear walks, and you’re done — four circuits total. Take as many 12-count breaks as you need to avoid throwing up.
  • Stretching contemplation.  Walk that off until your heart rate is under 100 bpm and then do some stretching contemplation.  Clear your head and stretch out as your normally would, only practice contemplation as you do so — that is, keep your 8/4/8/4 breathing pattern and let yourself “sink into zero,” the absence of thoughts.

————————————————–

¹ Vigny Canne is a form of walking stick self-defense?  “Shake a stick?”  Get it?  Look, these are the jokes.  They’re not near as funny if I have to tell you when to laugh!

The 50 Most Influential Books

Nobody does anything in a vacuum, sure as heck not yours truly.  We all stand on the shoulders of giants!

Many giants have taught, mentored and helped me in my search for martial and spiritual knowledge — some of them face-to-face and some by means of their incredible writings.

For those who’d like to browse the same stacks and walk the same library mazes that I have trodden, here is a list of the fifty books that influenced me most in my development of the martial art of Cabal Fang.   

[In alphabetical order by author’s last name:]

Simplified magic by Andrews, Ted
More Simplified Magic by Andrews, Ted
Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism by Anonymous
The Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version by Anonymous
Bulfinch’s Mythology (Laurel Classic) by Bulfinch, Thomas
Myths to Live By by Campbell, Joseph
The mythic image by Campbell, Joseph
Occidental mythology by Campbell, Joseph
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Carnegie, Dale
The Alchemist by Coelho, Paulo
Explorers of the infinite by Coffey, Maria
The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford by DuQuette, Lon Milo
The Story of Philosophy by Durant, Will
The Complete Michael D. Echanis Collection by Echanis, Michael D.
The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Emerson, Ralph Waldo
The 4-Hour Workweek by Ferriss, Timothy
The 4-Hour Body by Ferriss, Timothy
Karate-Do: My Way of Life by Funakoshi, Gichin
The Complete Guide to the Tarot by Gray, Eden
A Witch Alone by Green, Marian
Beowulf: Two Translations by Hall, Lesslie and Gummere, Francis
Tarot as a way of life by Hamaker-Zondag, Karen
The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Hartmann, Thom
No Holds Barred Fighting by Hatmaker, Mark
The Clinch (No Holds Barred Fighting) by Hatmaker, Mark
No Second Chance: Reality-Based Self-Defense by Hatmaker, Mark
Boxer’s Book of Conditioning & Drilling by Hatmaker, Mark
The Gladiator Conditioning Workbook by Hatmaker, Mark
The Emerald Tablet by Hauck, Dennis William
Dark night of the soul by John of the Cross, Saint
Modern Man in Search of a Soul by Jung, C. G.
Modern Magick by Kraig, Donald Michael
The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus by Lachman, Gary
Tao of jeet kune do by Lee, Bruce
Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls by Leslie, Edward E.
A book of five rings by Miyamoto, Musashi
Living the martial way by Morgan, Forrest E.
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Pirsig, Robert M.
Timaeus and Critias by Plato
The last days of Socrates by Plato
The complete idiot’s guide to shamanism by Scott, Gini Graham
Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition by Smoley, Richard
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Stone Jr., Brian
The Idylls of the King by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Tsunetomo, Yamamoto
Mysticism by Underhill, Evelyn
The Rider Tarot Deck by Waite, Arthur Edward
Nature, Man & Woman by Watts, Alan W.
Behold the Spirit by Watts, Alan W.
Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Watts, Alan W.

The Emerald Lamp Video Series

I just uploaded the first episode of my new video series entitled “The Emerald Lamp.”

In keeping with the Hermetic Quaternary — “To Know, To Will, To Dare: To Keep Silent” — the Emerald Lamp Video Series is intended to provide knowledge, inspiration, exercises and meditations for those intent on cultivating their better selves.

In the first episode: Series intro, the Hermetic Quaternary a.k.a. the Powers of the Sphinx, the Cross of Light, the compass, the inspiration of Bob Kelman, how to break exercise plateaus and a reading from Richard Smoley.

How do you get it?  You can watch it now by supporting me on Patreon — just $1/month will give you access! — or you can wait 30 days and view it on my Youtube channel.

Blood Compass: WOOTW #81

Workout of the Week #81 is wrapped around what we’re doing at the club this month.  So, since our external focus is Mettlecraft, the PT is extra brutal and the internal work is extra challenging.

If being enlightened was all just navel gazing, holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” then everybody would a flippin’ spiritual master. 

Real spiritual work is about self-examination, discernment, integrating the shadow, and all sorts of difficult and sometimes unpleasant endeavors.

Time to sack up or back up.

Note: Confused by all this talk of symbols and monthly focuses and so forth?  It’s all fully explained in  Cabal Fang: Complete Martial Arts Study Course from Querent to Elder which you can get on iTunes, from Barnes & Noble, KOBO or Smashwords in any format.

Workout of the Week #81

  • Half-hour Pyramid.  Select 4 to 7 calisthenic exercises. Less is harder because you’ll do more reps of the same exercise!  So beginners = 7, intermediate = 5 or 6, advanced = 3 or 4.  Set timer for 15 minutes.  Climb the pyramid until the timer beeps.  Finish the set you’re on, then try to climb back down before the half-hour is done.
  • Heavybag Compass Drill.  Set a timer for 4 rounds of 2:00/:30 or, if your round timer won’d to fractional intervals, use 3:00/1:00.  Resist the temptation to do longer rounds — you’ll start pacing yourself, and that’s not the goal.  Round 1 focus on Form.  Go slow and make your body mechanics as perfect as you can.  Round 2, focus on Accuracy.  Pick your targets carefully and try to hit them perfectly.  Round 3, go for Speed.  See how many shots you can throw before the timer beeps.  Round 4, go for Power.  Make every shot a knockout blow.
  • Blood Compass Meditation.  Set a timer to beep every 3 minutes.  Assume your meditative posture of choice, regulate your breathing, close your eyes and start the timer.  You’re going to do 4 segments of 3 mins each as follows:

1. Visualize a chalice hovering in front of your forehead and imagine that it contains the the blood of your chosen god or goddess.  Think about where you look for guidance and what you worship — not in theory but in practice.  Are you are properly demonstrating and directing your devotion?  When the timer beeps…

2. Imagine the chalice descends to hover in front your lower abdomen  and that it contains the blood of your ancestors and kin.  Think about what you’ve inherited biologically and emotionally from your ancestors.  Are you using discernment to determine what you’re carrying that’s positive and what’s negative?  Are you passing on the good an jettisoning the bad?  Are letting go of emotional baggage?  When the timer beeps…

3. Now the chalice hovers near your right shoulder and it contains the blood of friends and heroes.  Who do you associate with?  Who do you aspire to become?  Are you associating with, and looking up to, the right kinds of people?  If not, why is that?  What can you do to sort that out?

4. And finally, the chalice moves left and hovers near your left shoulder and it contains the blood of sacrifice and nourishment.  Are you making sacrifices for the benefit of yourself, your family, your community and your nation?  Are you respecting the sacrifices of others?  Do you respect the lives of the plants and animals that have died to nourish you?  Are your meals more sacred or decadent?

When you’re done, record your thoughts and realizations in your training journal and add action items to your To-Do List.