Tag Archives: cross

Tetragram: Martial Arts Training Involution #214

chariot tarot

Last week we saw that the Chariot Tarot card encapsulates our June focuses (counters, triggers and flow drills on the martial side and the spiritual symbol the Cross) because it depicts what’s possible if you are maximally engaged (in the flow) and maximally integral (living out the Cross). In other words, you are unified in thoughts, desires, actions and beliefs.

But the Chariot also symbolizes the quadrigathe four ways of interpreting scripture which are named after the Roman quadrida, a chariot drawn by four horses. Those four ways are literally, allegorically, morally and mystically. Four perspectives are necessary in order to see the big picture (that’s why there are four Gospels).

It’s all about the fours. The Egyptian Hieratic number four is jifdáw, which literally means “rectangle.” The canopy of the chariot is a rectangle with four posts, the charioteer’s chest is adorned with a square, and the entire artistic layout is in squares and rectangles that mirror the four-letter name of God (the Tetragrammaton, YHWH). The charioteer is oriented by a 4-pointed internal compass (the Cross) and he’s in “the zone.”

All of this is embedded in the Hermetic Quaternary — to Know, to Will, to Dare, to Keep Silent — the Hermetic “compass” that is equated with the Christian cross.

The Hermetic Quaternary is encoded in esoteric Christianity and right there in the scripture — in both the Old Testament and in the Gospels as spoken by Christ. Read more about this in the next issue of SHIFT which comes out tomorrow (subscribe here).
Tetragram: Martial Arts Training Involution #214

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • How many hours have you spent “in the flow” this week? When you’re in the flow, walking with Christ, or whatever you prefer to call it, you are relaxed, happy, productive and engaged — without effort, tension, or self-consciousness. If the answer is less than an hour per day on average I suggest journaling daily. Analyze your entries. Figure out what gets you into that space and what pushes you out. Set some benchmarks. The more time you spend there the better.
  • Complete “Staying Alive.” In self-defense you can’t internalize a action/reaction flow chart — you have to prepare to fight tired and from any position and learn to fight in the flow. Set timer for 5 x 4:00/1:00. First round, run away from your training area. Second round, run back. Third round, shadowbox. Fourth round, grapple your floor bag. Round five, wrestle your floor bag. Beginners, take as many 12-count breaks as you need to finish. Advanced players, work through the rest breaks. See video below.
  • Contemplation. After you’ve cooled down for 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume posture of choice and regulate breathing to a slow and steady rhythm. Keep your eyes open and do not fidget, wiggle or scratch. Allow your thoughts to dissipate like ripples on a pond and your mind to approach a state of calm and relaxed awareness. When the timer beeps, record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal. If you don’t take bearings and spot landmarks, you might get lost.



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. If Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912) — is more to your liking, check out Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project. Click either photo to get started today!

No Reins: Martial Arts Training Involution #213

chariot tarot

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, the Chariot Tarot card symbolizes the successes that come to a person who is in a proper relationship with Being.  This is the individual who spends a great deal of time in what modern people call a “flow state” but what I would call “being in Christ.”

The chariot is drawn by two sphinxes, and there are no reins.  So how does the charioteer steer the chariot?  How does he direct himself to his destination?  By being aware and engaged, he gets where he wants to go because he goes were he wants to get.  It is allowed to happen.

bridger

As Hatmaker pointed out on his blog this week, the greatest frontiersmen could hear a mouse pissing on cotton, and they gave the impression they could see the invisible and predict the future.  That’s because they were paying attention — not in a forced and tension-filled way but in a relaxed, fearless and fully engaged manner.  They were in the flow.

Consider this 17th century Masonic poem by Scot Henry Adamson:

For what we presage is not in grosse,
For we brethren of the Rosie Crosse;
We have the Mason Word and second sight,
Things for to come we can foretell aright.

Some say that Adamson is implying that Masons have psychic abilities.  I don’t think so.

I think what he’s saying is that when you have integrity — when thoughts, desires, actions and beliefs are unified such that you live “in the flow” or “in Christ” — then you are oriented to such a degree that your spiritual and physical compasses are superimposed and things happen for you as if by magic.

No Reins: Martial Arts Training Involution #213

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • How many hours have you spent “in the flow” this week?  When you’re in the flow, walking with Christ, or whatever you prefer to call it, you are relaxed, happy, productive and engaged — without effort, tension, or self-consciousness.  If the answer is less than an hour per day on average I suggest journaling daily.  Analyze your entries.  Figure out what gets you into that space and what pushes you out.  Set some benchmarks.  The more time you spend there the better.
  • 20 minutes of forms.  Cabal Fangers, run through the Fool’s Journey, the Star of Ishtar and the Black Dragon three times each, then shadowbox until you get your 20.  Rough ‘n’ Tumblers, get out your tomahawk and run through some basic combinations paying special attention to foot position, following steps, off hand, etc.  If your martial art doesn’t have forms, shadowbox.
  • Have you done two constitutionals this week?  If not, complete this month’s constitutional.  Pikes (25), Push-ups, uneven (25), Jump Squats (100), Reverse Bridges (25), Curb Touches (100), Ploughs (25), Burpees (25).
  • Contemplation.  After you’ve cooled down for about 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Full instructions in the video below.  When the timer beeps, record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal.  If you don’t take bearings and spot landmarks, you might get lost.


TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE.  Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development and is 100% free and operated through my non-profit.  Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project, is Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — an American martial art that encompasses the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912).  Click either photo to get started today!

Antlers: Martial Arts Training Involution #212

stag deer antlers

In Cabal Fang martial arts, the stag is the symbol of athanor, the fourth of our five ranks (roughly equivalent to the red or brown belt in eastern martial arts).  In my Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble program, which incorporates indigenous skills and folkways, the stag is a subject of study and inspiration also.

Cabal Fang’s June symbol is the Cross, and there is a very deep connection between the stag and the cross which I discuss in the next issue of the SHIFT newsletter which came out today — and there will be an even deeper dive available to Patreon supporters.

Anyway, unlike horns which are akin to fingernails, antlers are actually bones.  They are an outgrowth of the skull which are shed and regrown every year.   You don’t have bony antlers.  But you do have a bony skull with a sizable brain inside it, which means you can learn two lessons from the stag’s inspiration — one about fighting and the other about spirit.

Antlers: Martial Arts Training Involution #212

  1. Fighting lesson from the stag: When stags fight, the contest is almost always won by the stag who stays the lowest and locks in his antlers.
  2. Spiritual lesson from the stag: You cannot run down a stag in the forest.  The only way to get him is to lie in wait, and the way to do that is to sit perfectly still — to be relaxed but aware, focused but not tense, without fidgeting, wiggling or scratching.  Sounds a lot like meditation, doesn’t it?

And now for the T.I.

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • 3 rounds of level mirroring drills. Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Round 1: Square off with your partner, both of you in fighting stance, 6′ apart.  At any moment either partner fakes a takedown, ankle pick, or other level change.  Other partner follows suit, trying to keep head lower. Round 2: If social distancing due to COVID-19,  do another round like the last except this time add in sprawls — go all the way down to the floor.  If you have a training partner in your household, get into clinch position and practice level mirroring there.  Round 3: If social distancing, do another round like the last except add in lateral movement.  If you have a safe training partner, practice getting your head in the pocket.  See video below.
  • Have you done two constitutionals this week?  If not, complete this month’s constitutional.  Pikes (25), Push-ups, uneven (25), Jump Squats (100), Reverse Bridges (25), Curb Touches (100), Ploughs (25), Burpees (25).
  • Meditation.  After you’ve cooled down for about 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume your posture of choice and regulate your breathing to insure a slow and consistent rhythm that completely fills and empties your lungs without bearing down on your breath. Eyes open, think about the stag and his antlers, but not in words.  Picture the stag in your mind’s eye.  Allow yourself to think in emotions and pictures only.  This pushes your thinking beyond the intellectual, past words and out into experience.  Do not fidget, wiggle or scratch.
  • When the timer beeps, record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal.  If you don’t measure performance, how do you know if you’re improving or not? Only that which is measured improves.


If you liked this post you’d love my Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble program!  What is Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble or “FRT?”  FRT is an American martial art that encompasses the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (from the founding of Jamestown in 1607 through 1912 — the year the U.S. admitted Arizona as the 48th state).  Click the photo to get started.  Free hat and t-shirt with sign-up!

Victory Flow: Martial Arts Training Involution #211

Victory is attained through flow not by force.

To lead a group you must be in dialogue with its members.  To win a fight you must work with your adversary’s openings.  To physically train your body for fitness, you have work with your body or you will destroy it.

Forcing people destroys teams and groups.  Forcing a given strategy onto set of conditions loses matches, fights and battles.  Forcing your body leads to injury.  And please tell me how it’s at all possible to force a relationship with your higher power?

The monthly focus and symbol are both related flow, which is the conversation and interplay between contrasting elements — you and your higher power, you and your martial opponent, the present state and the goal, etc.  Common symbols for this are pictured on the right.

Clockwise from the upper left: The Chariot Tarot card depicts a chariot drawn by two sphinxes, one light and the other dark.  The rider is being drawn along by the flow.  The stag, a crepuscular animal active only at dawn and dusk, is awash in the conversation between light and dark.  The Luminaries are the two heavenly bodies, one to light the day and the other to light the night.  Boaz and Jachin are the pillars of Solomon’s Temple, Boaz often depicted as black and Jachin as white, evoking ideas similar to the divine twins astride horses — one dark the other light — and  to the taijitu or “yin-yang” symbol — the unity of opposing forces.

The cross, this month’s symbol, is also about flow.  There are four ways of approaching biblical interpretation (allegorical, moral, anagogical and literal) and they are collectively known as the quadriga — a chariot drawn by four horses — a call-back to the symbols pictured above.  The cross, which is after all compass and the “X” that marks the spot, warns you that if you fail to acknowledge the flow you will surely lose your way.

Victory Flow: Martial arts Training Involution #211

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • At least 11 minutes of flow drills. Get our your grappling dummy or floor bag and set a timer for at least 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Put in at least 3 rounds on flow drills.  Start with a chain of two moves.  Add one or two moves per round, slowly building up your flow drill from the bottom.  Don’t force.  Let the drill modify itself as you go.  See what “flows” and what doesn’t.
  • Complete this month’s constitutional.  Pikes (25), Push-ups, uneven (25), Jump Squats (100), Reverse Bridges (25), Curb Touches (100), Ploughs(25), Burpees (25).
  • Contemplation.  Contemplation is about being in, and a part of, flow.  Dump out your intellectual mind for a few minutes, become empty of words, and marinate in the flow.  After you’ve cooled down for about 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume your posture of choice and regulate your breathing to insure a slow and consistent rhythm that completely fills and empties your lungs without bearing down on your breath. Eyes open, gently allow your mind to empty and calm itself. Don’t make war with thoughts, just let them pass by, dissipating like ripples on the surface of a pond.
  • Record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal.  If you don’t measure performance, how do you know if you’re improving or not? Only that which is measured improves.


My new ebook “Martial Grit: Real Fighting Fitness (On a Budget)” releases July 1st.  Pre-order now at Barnes & Noble, iTunes or Smashwords.  Honed by 30 years teaching martial arts in inner city programs and in public parks for a non-profit, this is as real as it gets. 3 keys to proper mindset. Accelerate your training with the “S.A.F.E. M.P.” protocol. Dozens of drills and exercises using heavy bags, floor bags, dummies, slip balls, chains, weights, tires, sledges, pipes, mallets, etc. And DIY instructions for making your own gear for pennies.  

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Martial Video: Reverse, Smear, Hammer, Exit

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means — martial arts video time.  Since this month’s martial focus is counters, triggers and flow drills, I present for your enjoyment and edification a delightful little flow drill to help you habituate a simple escape from Top Saddle position.

Training techniques in isolation will only get you so far.  Flow drills are where it’s at. You have to train the way people move and act in the world.  A fight is a dialogue, a call and response, a question and answer, and there is a flow.  Also included at the end of the video are a few quick words about this month’s symbol — the Cross — which just so happens to embody the concept of flow.


My new ebook “Martial Grit: Real Fighting Fitness (On a Budget)” releases July 1st.  Pre-order now at Barnes & Noble, iTunes or Smashwords.  Honed by 30 years teaching martial arts in inner city programs and in public parks for a non-profit, this is as real as it gets. 3 keys to proper mindset. Accelerate your training with the “S.A.F.E. M.P.” protocol. Dozens of drills and exercises using heavy bags, floor bags, dummies, slip balls, chains, weights, tires, sledges, pipes, mallets, etc. And DIY instructions for making your own gear for pennies.  

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The Hand of Benediction

Which hand do you use when blessing something — like crossing yourself, blessing a person or object, etc. — and how do you hold the fingers of said hand?  Why should anyone (especially me, since I’m not Catholic or Orthodox) even care?

Well, I have three reasons for seeking insight into this.  A) Very soon I expect to start pursuing some kind of certification for interfaith minister, so I feel I need to know this stuff.  B) I’m into Western Esotericism, I have rituals to do that include blessings and crosses, and I need to know how to hold my hand.  C) Western Esotericism involves pointing at stuff with wands and knives and stuff, and I really don’t like the symbolism.  I’d prefer to use a naked hand.

Use of the right hand seems to be pretty universal.  Finger position, must less so.

Wikipedia has an article on crossing yourself that provides some guidance, but I question the accuracy of the article.  They say that,

“In Russia, until the reforms of Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century, it was customary to make the sign of the cross with two fingers…The enforcement of the three-finger sign was one of the reasons for the schism with the Old Believers whose congregations continue to use the two-finger sign of the cross.”

And yet, if you look at Rasputin in the photo above, he looks like he’s doing some kind of modified tora guchi or Okinawan Karate tiger mouth strike.  Clearly not a two or three-fingered sign of benediction.

Most people I have seen crossing themselves use three fingers of their right hand, as if they are trying to pick up six grains of rice.   Why?  I have not a clue.  But, according to this article, the traditional hand of benediction in use by the Catholic Church today was invented because Pope Peter had nerve damage.

In the end, I don’t think it matters all that much, so I’m going with the relaxed-two-finger-point.  If anyone has reliable information on this topic, any salient input at all, even a strong opinion one way or the other, please comment below!

Of the Secret Compass and the Rosy Cross

What started all of this was a post by Freeman about what is and is not occult, about what is healthy and what is not healthy about literalism and symbolism (by the way, Freeman is a very learned fellow, and if you are interested in Western Esotericism, you should follow his blog straight away).

Anyway, Freeman said, “Today, we still need to cultivate our balance, and I see the so-called occult revival as playing an important role in that, at least until we swing too far the other way. We can’t have only Plato or only Aristotle, or only symbolism or only literalism, and remain healthy.”

I agree with that completely, so much so that I’d like to elaborate.

The Rose Cross of the Golden Dawn

Freeman mentioned, quite rightly, that “the original Rosicrucian literature…was a corrective to Christian dogmatism that contained a balance of spiritual and empirical elements.”

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn took up the cross, the Rosy Cross to be specific, and carried it into the 20th Century.  At the heart of Golden Dawn practice are two little rituals called the Qabalistic Cross and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, the first and only rituals taught to members prior to initiation.

The Qabalistic Cross ritual is a re-envisioning of the Catholic or Orthodox crossing gesture that has been expanded into a complete exercise that includes some special words and visualizations.  Embedded within it you will find the Hermetic Quaternary, which is “To Know, to Will, to Dare, to Keep Silent.”  Each part of the Quaternary corresponds to a direction, to one of the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, and to a way of seeing.

  • To Keep Silent is to see mystically, which is to see yourself as an insignificant part of the Universal One (saying ATEH and touching the forehead).
  • To Will is to see magically, which is to see the universe as under your command and control (saying MALKUTH and pointing to the feet or lower tip of the spine)
  • To Know is to see gnostically, that is to know the universal truths in your bones (saying VEH GEBURAH and touching right shoulder)
  • To Dare is to see scientifically,  which is to doubt and test everything you see (saying VEH GEDULAH and touching left shoulder)

The enlightened person sees in all four ways at once without contradiction.  Both dipoles — the North/South/mystic/magic nor the East/West/gnostic/scientific — are viewed non-dualistically, which is perhaps why Hermeticism has been called “Western Zen.”

A compass rose. Note that it has a rose in the middle.

Now, it should come as a surprise to nobody that the thing one uses to stay on course is a compass, and the thing you draw on a map to ensure proper orientation is called a compass rose.

The rosy cross pictured on the left orients you on the map of the material plane.  The colorful one above does so on the spiritual map.