Category Archives: Writing

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



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.


~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

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.

This Threat Kills More than Murder, AIDS, Suicide, Drugs, Car Crashes and Alcohol Combined

In just a second I’m going to give you an important, free self-defense tip that could protect you from one of the deadliest threats in the world today — and I’m going to give you a specific, bulletproof instructions. 

If you’re in the roughly 85% of readers have already avoided this threat,  congratulations.  Feel free to go read something relevant to you when you get to the big reveal.

But if you’re in the 15% who are still in danger, there’s a good chance you’re going to run like hell as soon as I start discussing this incredible threat.  Do you have enough courage to keep reading until the end?  OK, good. 

The threat that kills more people each year than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol combined is cigarette smoking.¹  And my tip is to quit.  Now.

Quitting is hard, trust me I know.  I tried and failed a half dozen times before I finally succeeded.   Here are my insights.

  • Don’t fall prey to “I’ll quit on Monday.”  Thoughts like that are not helpful.  Always quit night here and right now.  Quit smoking for ten minutes.  Then do it again.  Do that ten thousand times and you will have quit for two months.  Every moment in this journey is its own moment.
  • Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes.  Just start over and don’t look back.
  • So, if you slip up and buy a pack, don’t think “Oh well, I might as well finish the pack.”  Throw the rest of the pack in the trash and start over right where you’re standing.  You’re not getting your money back, and it’s not “a waste” to prevent the other 19 smokes in that pack from going into your lungs!
  • Do not push yourself — pull yourself.  Treat a person like a slave, abuse them, scream at them and deny them the pleasures of life they will hate you and rebel against you.  Do yourself that way and you’ll rebel against yourself.  Don’t do it.  Reward yourself by spending your cigarette money on a treat that’s good for you — books, concert tickets, gifts for loved ones, travel savings, etc.
  • No matter what happens, don’t give up.  If one method doesn’t seem to be working, try another one.  It’s true that most people who quit successfully quit cold turkey.  But lots of of people who quit use other methods.  I quit by switching to Swedish Snus for two years first.  You might succeed with Chantix, Nicorette, hypnosis. ayahuasca or my father’s method: books and hot baths.  He took a week off from work and did nothing but lay in bed and read Louis L’Amour books.  Every time he got a craving he’d take a hot bath.  It worked!
  • If all else fails, consider reducing harm by switching to a less dangerous nicotine delivery system.  All tobacco is not created equal (see graph below).  According some studies, the only risk of snus is receding gums.  And as for vaping, the Royal College of Physicians London says, “E-cigarettes are not currently made to medicines standards…However, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.”


¹ I hope I don’t have to prove this claim.  But if I do, read this, this or this.


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.

Alibris over Amazon

Amazon is the big dog on the block for sure, and plenty of people love them — including my wife.  She loves her Amazon Prime membership.

As an indie author though, I have a problem with their rock bottom royalties.  I make more money when somebody downloads a $4.99 copy of my calisthenics ebook at than I do when somebody buys a $12.99 paperback copy of my martial arts book on Amazon.  And I also just don’t like giant faceless conglomerates.  I like to spread my money around.

So I buy my books either from Book People over on Granite Ave. or I order from  I especially like the Multiple ISBN Search where you can plug in multiple ISBN numbers and it will give you the cheapest bundle.

I like Alibris so much that I decided to become an affiliate. As a blogger and educator I link to a ton of books on this site and I figured hey, why not support a company I like and maybe earn a couple of bucks commission?  I get 5% if you click over there and buy something.

Check them out!

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies