Category Archives: Mysticism

Real Life Demon Slayer: Training Involution #141

The Demon Plankton possesses Spongebob Squarepants — a common cartoon trope

Betrayed by a loved one?  Had a friend turn out to be a stranger?  Regretted something you did and wondered why you did it?  Faced down an addiction?  Clawed your way out of a bad relationship?

Then you know that demons are “real.”  No, they can’t pass the Amazing Randy sniff test.  But if you conceive of them as harmful patterns of behavior that repeat across time, they are 100% real.

Belphegor a.k.a. Ba’al Peor from Numbers 25:1–15

Demons don’t take over the way Plankton takes the controls from Spongebob.  You have to “invite them in.”  In the movies, you must buy the cursed book, say the forbidden words, or move into the evil house.  In real life you have to try that cocaine, visit that strip club, or gamble with your rent money.   That’s how the “demon” gets a foothold and you introduce the possibility of ending up addicted, sexually obsessed, or homeless.

Maybe believing that “demons” can “possess you” if you “let them in” is a useful fiction that prevents negative behavior patterns — you know, kind of like other useful fictions, such as “porcupines can shoot their quills” and “all guns are loaded.”  Behaving as if porcupines can shoot their quills and treating all guns as if loaded effectively help prevent pain and suffering.

But surely demons don’t have agency.  Or do they?  Does the rabies virus have agency?  Viruses aren’t conscious.  And yet rabies makes the infected want to bite, which is the primary means of transmission.  Sure seems like rabies has agency.  Mammon, demon of riches, seems to manifest whenever people obsess about wealth.  Is the demon Mammon a conscious entity repeatedly leading people astray?

I don’t know what demons are, nor do I understand their agency.  All I know is that they are “real” enough to be harmful and scary.  And real enough to be exorcised.

Demon Slayer: Training Involution #141

What does it take to kill a demon?  Cold?  Fire?  Enchanted weapons? Exorcism?

  • Freeze.  For a 200 count (about 3 minutes), hold a pose taking as few 12-count breaks as you must. Beginners, hold a Horse Stance.  Intermediate, Plank.  Advanced, dead-arm hangs from a Pull-up bar or Crow-stands.
  • Burn. Complete 200 reps of an exercise.  Beginners, Bicycles or Crunches.  Intermediate, Push-ups on knees or Steam Engines.  Advanced,  Down-ups or Kettlebell Swings.
  • Slice.  Complete 200 strikes per hand with your practice weapon of choice.  Tactical pen or kubotan keychain, walking stick or cane, rattan stick, wooden knife, tomahawk, nunchaku or what-have-you.
  • Exorcise.  Set timer for 15 minutes.  Assume meditative posture of choice.  Whisper a 10-to-14-word prayer — aloud as you inhale, silently as you hesitate with lungs full, again aloud as you exhale, and once more silently as you hesitate with lungs empty.  Repeat until timer beeps — roughly 200 recitations.  This will force you into box breathing and facilitate a deeply meditative state.  Your prayer can be religious or secular, general or specific.  Even atheists can pray — pray to Light or Truth.  “O Light, drive away all darkness and show me the way I pray thee.” I used the Prayer of the Heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

Lapses and Slips: Training Involution #140

 

It’s okay not to be perfect.

I was meeting with the other members of the Cabal Fang Temple’s board of directors the other night, and the past suddenly rushed in on me.  I remembered what it was like, way back in 1986, when I first stepped into a martial arts studio: I was 80 lbs overweight, had never done much of anything athletic, and I had the work ethic of a wet square of toilet paper.  Training two hours per week  was almost too much for me back then.  But I didn’t quit.

So what I’m saying is, don’t think you have to be perfect.  Just do your best, maintain incremental improvement, and don’t quit.  If you mess up, don’t beat yourself up so much that you give up — just keep going and do better next time.

Full disclosure: In last week’s T.I. I said, “If you’re not doing two constitutionals per week you’re not doing Cabal Fang — the world’s only martial art with a minimum fitness requirement.”  And yet last weekend I got sick and ended up  only doing one constitutional this week — and I’m the chucklehead who founded this crazy martial art.

Lapses and Slips: Training Involution #140

This month’s focus is Self-Defense vs. Weapons. What if you get cut? Can you move with one limb incapacitated?  If you have to use a weapon to defend yourself, can you move around and fight without dropping it?

  • 10 minutes on a slip ball.  If you’re bored, try the drill outlined in the video below.
  • Armed self-defense gauntlet.  Set a timer for 2:00 rounds and pick up a wooden practice weapon — stick, knife, doesn’t matter.  Complete a round each of of strikes vs. Heavy bag, Get-ups, Sit-ups w/ Strike, Sprints w/ strike, and then do it again (16 mins total).  Drop your weapon penalty = 50 Push-ups.
  • Get it?  “Lapses and slips”?  The training session has slips and “lapses “– an obsolete word for intervals and the origin of the word “laps.”
  • Have you done two constitutionals this week?  If not, here you go.
  • Record everything in your training journal.

 

Power Generation: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Economic

I made this short video back in December and forgot to release it!  So here you go.

I didn’t talk about it in the video, but those of you are into Hermetic philosophy and/or alchemy will probably notice something very esoteric in this, which is the union of opposites.

As is attributed to the legendary alchemist Mary the Jewess, “Join the male and the female, and you will find what is sought.”  I will explain no more, so as not to rob you of this realization.  Meditate on this and you will see.

Journals and Logs: Training Involution #139

This month’s Cabal Fang focuses are Self-Defense vs. Weapons — with a touch of offense as well — and “The Quill” (journaling).  Try to make some kind of journal entry every single day this month, even if it’s only one sentence.

Journals and Logs: Training Involution #139

  • Complete this month’s log constitutional.  No partner? No log?  No problem!  Use a dumbbell instead of a log (I chose a #30).  Do not put the dumbbell down unless you’re doing an exercise that requires you to do so.   Rack the dumbbell two-handed and perform Log Press (25 full), Log Squats (25), Log Hops (25 full ), Log Sit-Ups (25), Log Lunges (50), Log A-Lifts (25) and Log Curb Touches (100).  See video below.
  • Choose your weapon and start attacking.  Choose the blunt weapon of your choice — wooden knife, walking stick, tactical pen, whatever you prefer — and set  a timer for 10 mins.  See how many attacks you can launch before the timer beeps.  Switch hands every hundred strikes or so.  I chose walking stick and completed 920 strikes.
  • Star of Ishtar form 25 times.  If you don’t know the form get the Cabal Fang Study Course and read up.

 

Year-End Review: Training Involution #137

From Christmas Eve through New Years Day I don’t do much training.  Just my forms (Star of Ishtar, Fool’s Journey and my old Korean Karate forms) and my health maintenance stuff (grip health, therapy rollers and bands, etc.).

You don’t have to take the holidays off like me.  Push through if you want.  But I highly recommend you take at least two weeks off training per year — preferably in two, one-week chunks.   I usually take off 12/24 – 1/1 and then a second week in the late summer for my annual beach trip to OBX.

But, whether you’re on a break this week or not,  you should take some time to complete a Year-End Review.

If you don’t review your year, how are you going to do better in the next?

I just finished my new Action Plan for 2019 — you can look at it here.  What I do is print this thing out once per month and paste it into my training journal.  Any unrealized goals from the prior month get moved the new sheet, and all month long I put the hash marks in the “(     )” slots to keep track of how I’m doing on the daily/weekly/monthly tasks.  Here’s a pretty thorough rundown of my organizational method over on my Patreon page.

Year-End Review: Training Involution #137

Most people set New Year’s resolutions that are largely arbitrary and then fail to establish any performance metrics.  Don’t do that.  Set meaningful goals with valuable payoffs and then monitor your performance to insure progress.

  1. Get out your training log and spend some time reviewing your entries.  You do keep a training journal, right?  Training journals are not optional in Cabal Fang martial arts.  Look, we don’t have very many rules, but keeping a training journal is one of them.  So if you aren’t journaling, go get a spiral note book or something and start writing stuff down so you can do a year-end review next December.
  2. Take as much time with your review as you feel is sufficient, necessary and/or available.  Might be fifteen minutes or three hours — whatever is necessary and sufficient to make sensible conclusions and set meaningful goals.
  3. What did you well in 2018?  What did you do poorly?
  4. What are you going to do better in 2019?  
  5. How are you going to do better in 2019? 
  6. What are your performance metrics going to be?

If you’re going to make 2019 your best year ever, the future is now.

 

The Hermetic Mysteries of Christmas Revisited

I’ve written about the Hermetic Mysteries of Christmas before —  here and here.  What’s a “mystery?”  In the religious sense, “mysteries” are the wondrous things we feel when we put ourselves inside a myth and allow ourselves to fully experience it as if we are there.  The word mystery comes to us from Greek musterion and Latin mysterium where it means “a secret rite or ritual.

Within Catholic and Orthodox Christianity we see embedded the esoteric methods and essential nature of the Greco-Roman mysteries — updated to serve the goal of Christian salvation.

Four Ways to Seek the Christmas Mysteries This Year

  1. Gospel Reading Meditation.  Get out your Bible and turn to the gospel of Luke.  Read Luke 2:1-20.  Then close your Bible, shut your eyes, and regulate your breathing to a steady rhythm.  Imagine that you are one of the shepherds, sitting by the fire with your friends and brothers, watching over the flocks, when an angel appears.  Allow the story to unfold in your mind’s eye.
  2. Go to a live Nativity Scene.  Try, despite the presence of the other viewers, to imagine you are one of the shepherds as outlined above.
  3. Experience the Joyous Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Click here for instructions.  If you have never prayed the Rosary before you are in for a treat.  The basic idea is that you repeat certain prayers while you meditate on the Joyous Mysteries — the Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Nativity of Jesus, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
  4. Watch this amazing lecture by Jonathan Pageau.  See below.  Jonathan is an Orthodox Christian icon carver, a skilled artisan who understands Christian symbolism as deeply as any churchman — perhaps even more deeply — having spent so many intimate hours carving these sacred images.

Experiencing the Christmas Mysteries as if we are fully present within them is the greatest Christmas “present” we could ever hope for.  

Restricted: Training Involution #136

Cabal Fang Temple here in Richmond VA volunteered to assist Food Not Bombs feed the homeless last Sunday.  Afterwards we washed dishes. We were too INVOLVED to take pictures of ourselves, and besides, we didn’t want to brag. Here’s a shot of the spread.

The other day I posted a video about how restriction breeds creativity while freedom breeds laziness.  Don’t believe me?  Read the post and watch the video because this week’s involution is based on that premise.

Restricted: Training Involution #136

  • Warm-up completely for at least 8:00.
  • Tuck your dominant arm in your belt and do some martial fitness.  Set timer for 8:00.  Do as many sets of 4 of each exercise as you can before the timer beeps: Jump Squats, Sit-outs, Shrimps, Push-ups (on knees if you can’t do one-arms).
  • Liberate your arm to go to the Heavy bag. 3 x 3:00/1:00 max power shots only.  When I say max power, I mean Serena-Williams-from-back-court-for-match-point-with-a-grunt-level power. First round, hands only.  Second round, legs only.  Final round, all in.  Count your strikes in the final round.  Write it in your training journal.  Beat it next time. 
  • Do your Constitutional.  Cabal Fang is the only martial art that has a base level fitness requirement.  Twice weekly constitutionals are required.  Details below.  Don’t have a tire?  Get one or sub a #20 sandbag and modify — modify, adapt, overcome!
  • What have you done for Spirit Month?  Last week I suggested that you volunteer, help out a sick or elderly neighbor or relative, help a friend, etc. Did you do that?  If so, you’re off this week on the spiritual portion.  If not, restrict yourself somehow until you decide on something and put it on your calendar.  Sleep without a pillow, give up soft drinks, beer, TV, your favorite food, etc.   Out of ideas?  The restriction should help, but ask your deity, higher power  or better self for insight. Be still and ask how you can be of service. Listen carefully — something will pop into your head that’s decent and true.  Do that.

December 2018 Constitutional

Tire Sit-ups (25)
Tire Lunges (25)
Tire Passes (25 full — 50 Tire Slams if you’re going solo)
Tire Squats (50)
Tire Burpees (25)
Tire V-ups (25)
Tire Jackknife Push-ups (25)