Category Archives: Writing

Happy Independence Day and Why it Matters

Happy July 4th to all my friends in the USA and around the world!

In our busy lives it’s easy to lose sight of America’s greatness and to forget why we shook the world in the first place.

This July 4th let’s remember that the United States of America was the first time since the rise of feudalism that people could own their own land and govern themselves.

That’s a big deal.

Sure, there had long been parliaments and senates and such, but kings, queens, emperors and empresses had really been in charge.  Right up until 1776, the British Crown could force you to board troops, could levy taxes against you without recording your vote, and even put you in irons without a hearing or seize your stuff.  Escheatment still survives to this day, a vestigial organ reminding us that unclaimed property reverts to the ownership of the state because, in the past, everything really belonged to the Crown anyway.

Yes, the United States of America is a really big deal, a remarkable experiment that continues to this day.  There are still plenty of places in the world that are controlled by absolute rulers, sultans, kings, despots, communist parties, and so on.  And while the USA is no utopia, there are reasons why everyone wants to get in.

You’re a grand old flag.  Forever in peace may you wave.

Memorization: How and Why

There is a memorization requirement in the Cabal Fang Hermit Path Distance Learning Program.  People sometimes ask me what it’s for, kind of the way kids ask their teachers why they have to learn about history when they can just google it.  So I made the video below.

By the way, my Patreon supporters got it 30 days ago.  If you’d like access to my stuff when it’s hot off the presses, consider sponsoring me for as little as $1/month.

Poll: Which Temple Paint Job is Best?

Update 7/2/18:  A Teaching Moment Regarding Sacred Symbolism  

I decided the cathedral front was a horrible idea.  What would it mean symbolically for the temple to have a fake front?  Wow.  Catastrophically bad idea, right?  So let’s talk about symbolism…

Andrew posted what he thinks are the best symbolic colors for the temple in the comments section below which I will summarize now and add some additional correspondences.  He suggests red walls, yellow trim around the windows, blue trim around the doors, and purple eaves or overhangs.

  • Red symbolizes the planet Mars (named after the god of war), strength, Geburah, and the number 5 — as in the Five Vital Graces of Cabal Fang.  Also red is a warning that dangerous things are inside.  It screams to wake up and pay attention.
  • The yellow trim around the windows symbolizes the solar light that emerges from within.  Enlightenment is sought, and realizations are apprehended, inside these walls and its light shines outward.
  • The blue trim around the door suggests that one must enter forthrightly being mindful of justice and mercy — blue is the color of Chesed, associated with the planet Jupiter.
  • And the purple eaves or overhangs suggest that psychic gifts of the higher mind overshadow all of the work that goes on within.  Purple is the color of nobility, of carrying oneself in a manner others can look up to.  Purple is the color of Yesod, and suggests therefore that we should be good communicators between the higher realms of the ideal and physical practical realm.
  • We aren’t redoing the inside at this time, but Andrew mentions that, although black and white checkerboard is the obvious flooring choice, geometric patterns can interfere with natural movement.  The last thing you’d want in a temple of martial arts would be something that encourages movement to a grid instead of movement to the situation.

Symbolism matters.  Even when people don’t intellectually know the planetary and Qabalistic associations they still react to colors viscerally.  There is a subconscious effect.  Don’t believe me?  What would it mean if we painted the temple red, white and blue?  What if we painted it all grey?  All black?  Catch my drift?

Based on the above, I’d like to do an artists rendering.  But right now I have to go out to the Temple and train.  More to come…

Update 6/24/18:  A Cathedral Front?  A friend of mine has some very insightful thoughts about which colors would be perfect for the temple, and he’ll be posting in the comments soon.  In addition, I came up with this completely insane idea: what if, instead of just a coat of paint, we added a false front and a cupola to the temple and made it look like a mini-cathedral?  It would one heck of a project, but the temple would be beautiful.  And beautiful things are inspiring.

So I did this little before and after sketch.  What do you think?

Original post from 6/20/18

The Cabal Fang Temple needs a paint job, and we’d like your input.  Please vote in the poll below!

My 20th Anniversary Journey — O. Henry, the Frontier, and the Land of Oz

Four our 20th Anniversary my wife wanted to go to the Land of Oz.   So I went to Travelocity and the little gnome made us some reservations (I would have preferred a munchkin but I’m not a complainer) and before we could say “Come here Toto!” we were off to see the wizard.

We stopped half way in Greensboro and stayed at the O. Henry Hotel.  Hands down the finest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  Best service, most beautiful lobby, and best breakfast ever.  When I walked through the lobby at 9 PM that evening (I had to run to the car to get something for my wife), the person behind the counter said, “Good evening Mr. Mitchell — is everything okay?  Can I help you with anything?”  “No thank you,” I said, shocked she knew my name.  Outside I found a white-gloved bellhop humming softly and polishing the brass handrails.  at 9 PM.  The O. Henry is about details.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next day we stopped in Boone, NC and visited Hickory Ridge Living History Museum.  It was too early in the season to have any blacksmiths, farmers or craftsmen re-enacting anything, but it was still fun to tour the cabins.  I love frontier stuff.  As many of you know I’m studying Frontier Rough & Tumble Martial Arts under Mark Hatmaker and hope to launch an FRT program perhaps as early as next year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Later that day we arrived at our mountain lodge — 4 Seasons Resort in Beech Mountain.  Nothing fancy, but they got the job done.  Clean and comfortable but the A/C was no good (thank heaven it got down to 60 at night and we didn’t spend much time there anyway).

The next day we got the heck out of Kansas entered the Land of Oz.  The story of this place is too complex and interesting for me to do it justice but here’s the nutshell version: The Land of Oz theme park opened in 1970.  But a serious fire and economic crunch of the Energy Crisis put the park out of business in 1980.  After that, vandalism, weather and partial sale of the property took its toll.  But in the late ’90s interest re-surged.  The park, now a quarter of its original size, is now under renovation.  It’s only open on Fridays in the month of June and one Weekend later in the year for Autumn at Oz.

I didn’t have high hopes going in, but they shocked me.  When Dorothy — who to my astonishment sang every bit as well as Judy Garland! — went over the wagon and started singing Over the Rainbow I was misty-eyed and profoundly moved.  And when she went skipping down the yellow brick road and I watched 35 children and adults, including yours truly, go skipping after her, I got chills.   Was the one hour tour worth $25/person?  For a fan of the movie, you darned tootin’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My wife and I have had some fun trips in our 20 years of marriage.  But this one was a tie with New Orleans as our most fun trip ever!

The IIFYM Experiment Week 3

After roughly 3 weeks and four weigh-ins, here are my digits and a little graph.  As I said before, it defies logic and science that a human being could add this much muscle and shed this much fat in so short a time.  I can only assume that body fat calipers are really inaccurate and/or that my carb-starved muscles are pumping up, tightening skin, and skewing the fat calipers.

If you want to try the IIFYM thing, check out their website and my first post here.

Date Body Fat % Muscle Weight Fat Weight Total Body Weight
5/10/18 Thu 26% 119.9 42.1 162.0
5/17/18 Thu 23% 123.1 36.4 159.5
5/28/18 Mon 17% 130.7 26.8 157.5
6/3/18 Sun 17% 126.6 25.9 152.5

Run for Your Life: Training Involution #101

Here at Cabal Fang HQ our monthly focuses are Basic Self-Defense and The Book (chapters 16 and 20 in the Cabal Fang Study Guide). From now on the Training Involution of the Week is going to be based around the monthly theme at HQ. I think that will go a long way toward creating a feeling of community within the Cabal Fang family, don’t you?

Run for Your Life: Training Involution #101

  • Are you paying attention to detail? (1) What was your spouse or significant wearing last time you saw him or her? (2) What is the color, make, model, year and license plate number of his or her vehicle? (3) Get up right now and check: are all your doors and windows locked? Imagine how guilty you’d feel if your spouse or significant other turned up missing and you couldn’t help the police with the most basic information. Imagine how you’d feel if someone invaded your home and you didn’t have it buttoned up. If you didn’t get at least two out of three right, complete 100 Squats and then review your preparedness and prevention drills on pages 224 – 226 of the Cabal Fang Study Guide.
  • Do you know your numbers? If you are going to use Tarot as a psychological and spiritual tool you need to know your number symbolism. What are astrological associations for the numbers 1 through 10? If you can’t name at least of 5 of them, do 50 Push-ups and then go study the chart on page 168 of the Cabal Fang Study Guide.
  • Conditioning Run. CR15P Tabata-styled. Run AFAYC for 20 seconds, walk 10 seconds, repeat for 30 rounds. That’s 15 mins total.

As Above, So Below is Cinematic Gold

My pal Travis said this movie As Above, So Below would be right up my alley so, when my wife decided to go to bed early the other night, I fired up the cable box and gave it go.

Travis knows me a lot better than I thought he did.

This movie is really smart.  Writer/director team the Dowdle brothers know their stuff.  They understand what alchemy is at its heart, they’ve read their classics (including especially Dante’s Inferno), and they grasp the idea that salvation is not achieved but realized, not earned but consummated.

This is a horror movie firmly on the creepy-eerie end of the spectrum, low on gore with a smattering of good startles, filmed in jiggly-camera-docu-horror-found-footage style.  Scarlett is the heroine, set a little too firmly the Laura Croft-Indiana Jones mold, picking up her father’s research where he left off.   She assembles a team of explorers to venture into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris to find the Philosopher’s Stone.  And here’s a plus — this is the first and only feature film ever actually shot in the famed Paris catacombs.  And boy is it creepy down there.  And the ending is pure genius.

So if this movie is so good, why does it only have 6.2 stars on IMDB and a score of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes?  Probably because horror fans want gore not chills, everybody is sick and tired of found-footage flicks (honestly I simply refuse to watch them, and I only gave this one a chance because I got a recommendation from a friend), the set-up is rather cliche, and most folks probably aren’t smart enough to appreciate the depth of what they are looking at.

If you’re into the Western Mysteries, alchemy, inner or esoteric Christianity or Dante’s Inferno, and if you like creepy-eerie horror movies, you’ll love this film.


Rating: R (for bloody violence/terror, and language throughout)
Genre: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense, Special Interest
Directed By: John Erick Dowdle
Written By: Drew Dowdle, John Erick Dowdle
In Theaters: Aug 29, 2014 Wide
On Disc/Streaming: Dec 2, 2014
Runtime: 93 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures