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April Challenge

As we enter into April, those who are walking this path are already entering into the second quarter of their year, adding discipline to discipline and creating a foundation of solidity from which their own work and myth will spring in time.

This time of year is also symbolic of new endeavors, new vistas to explore, and the time of year that many pagan peoples celebrated the concept of victory and conquest. As such, we will be embracing this idea, and putting some of what we have been focusing on to the test.

Firstly, we will begin by moving forward with our meditation into the practice of “Walking the Pathways of Fire,” Laid out in “Vakandibok.” It is dealt with in depth there, so we will not spend much time re-hashing that information here, except to say that this work will lay the base for what we will be working on with our mediation practices for the remainder of the year following. Practice with as much care and dedication as you would any of your training- benefits are only reaped from proper practice, not poorly executed repetition.

Second, in the spirit of sacrifice made to the gods of our ancestors, to give victory to those who kept faith/friendship, we will choose one of our pleasure habits (that is, activities engaged in specifically for enjoyment’s sake alone), and we will abstain from it for one month. The concept of sacrifice is one that for the modern man is less tied up with plant and livestock, and resonates for many on a deeper level when associated with time, pleasure, or habitual behavior abstained from as a holy act. In a practical sense as it pertains to conquest and victory, it is often the man who is willing to give up more to attain his prize that will win it. If we are unfamiliar with the concept of deliberately suffering for a higher cause, we will never unlock the inner strength that this practice contains. Choose something difficult, and bleed it out on the altar of discipline.

Third, we will choose one thing to compete in, and during the course of April, we will sign on for that competition. This can be anything from writing challenge, powerlifting meet, jiu jitsu tournament, boxing match, or foot-race with a friend. The format does not matter. The reason and intention for this is that too often we practice our skills in a vacuum where they go untested. By choosing to put ourselves on the line in competition, we will find truth and honesty with ourselves, and be better able to understand what we need to focus on.

The competition itself does not have to be done in April, merely signed up for, a concrete date with destiny laid down to inform the training with purpose. If you have become conformable competing in one arena, use this as a challenge to broaden your horizon and put another skill to the test. It is only through resistance that man becomes king, and lord over himself.

We look forward to a prosperous Spring season, and wish one for you all, filled with trial, ordeal, and the enflaming passion that only hard-won victory can produce.

Iron and Blood!


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Front Toward Enemy

Front Toward Enemy

This week I had the pleasure of hosting Brian Jones, a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under Carlson Gracie, Jr., and owner and head instructor of Valhalla Academy in Kentucky.
It is always pleasure getting to pick the brains of guys who have been at their craft for as long as Brian has, and I am always blown away by how applicable the concepts of art are across the spectrum of human experience; whether it is jiu jitsu, painting, music, or otherwise, there are certain principles that find consonance with each other, like notes in a scale.

Over the past several weeks, I have been preparing for a move out onto 5 acres of wooded property I recently purchased. The space I will be sharing with my wife and dog is approximately 8×32 feet in total, and must serve as bedroom, library, office, kitchen, and fortress- anyone who has lived in a tiny house or other very limited space knows that the motto “a place for everything and everything in its place” is the holy writ. Every possession must be weighed and found fit in order for it to deserve its place in this little structure. If it hasn’t seen use even for a week, it is probably not essential, and is given away or discarded.

This process is, for me, one of extreme catharsis, as my material possessions are whittled down to only those things that I feel are completely necessary, and this act lends itself to a certain simplicity and focus that can be felt in living by the tenets of minimalism. My slogan for the year is “less stuff, more life,” and the decision to move into this space was motivated in large part by the desire to eliminate many of the distractions and illusions that for me come along with “comfortable living.”

During our many conversations over the last few days, one of the things that Brian touched on is the concept that as a younger man, it is good to explore and undertake many different things; try out new skills, jump from one activity to the next after a brief exploration of a year or so, and continue to chase a broad spectrum of experience within our lives. This is like the novice and intermediate level of jiu jitsu, in which one is essentially trying to take in as much information as he possibly can, like a sponge, indiscriminately, and trying it all out within the structure of his game.

Later on, like in the in the higher belt levels, the process is about refinement. Just like the alchemical process (which is, of course, what jiu jitsu and any other valuable pursuit is all about), the many different elements are distilled and purified through a series of operations that seeks to bring about a simplicity and unification of all these elements into a single consonant resonation- the human becomes a living shrine to those things that he has deemed holy during his brief time on earth.

At one point in the conversation Brian said:

“You’re not going to get really good at your jiu jitsu unless you start to cut out some of these other elements. You have to be like a claymore mine- all the explosive power has to be directed toward something, or it just burns up in a flash like a mound of gunpowder.”

In my life, I have been and done a lot of different things, even in the thirty two odd years I’ve been here. I have put on a lot of miles and had the throttle wide open for most of them- from runaway to professional musician, bouncer, writer, artist, aimless drunk, focused leader; my skill set is very broad, but in some of those places, the river doesn’t run as deep as I’d like.

I have always pursued a “jack of all trades” approach to life, and am realizing more and more in my thirties that I want to excel at a few things that have become increasingly important to me with time.

The physical act of removing unnecessary possessions and people from my life, focusing on a few important ones, and moving forward into a time of simplicity and non-distraction is a note that resonates in my chest these days louder than any other. I want to pursue jiu jitsu as an art form, not just a way to “fuck people up.” I want to deepen my understanding of the writing process and take a few projects that have been wandering the darkened halls at the back of my mind for awhile, and see them to completion. I want to be a more dedicated friend to those who deserve it, and have my full attention on life, feeling the rhythm of the seasons, the changes in the wind, and the little things- like how happy my dog is when I walk in the woods with her.

All these things can only be had at the sacrifice of all the other things. The needless comforts, the lazy approaches, the half assed efforts.

I am on the Path With No End, and I know that it is a path “with heart,” to be traversed, breathlessly, Front Toward Enemy.


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March Challenge

March Challenge

  1. We will begin this month by expanding on our mediation practice. Continuing our discipline of setting aside time, we will increase from 5-10 minutes per day to 10-15 minutes.
    During this time, we will take a few minutes to simply relax and monitor our breathing and so on, but this month, after we do so, we will be performing some exercises to sharpen the mind for our next phase.Begin using the Wondrous Items discipline found in Vakandibok. If you do not own a copy, or cannot afford one, begin using what I call the Turning the Gears. I cannot remember where I first heard about this practice, but it is simple and effective. One starts out with a blackened mental image, just void, and places one gear, or cog into the void, and begins turning it. Next, they add another cog, which is turned by the first one. One proceeds in this fashion until they “lose the image,” either due to complexity or lack of focus, and starts over.These beginning practices and exercises are important, because we cannot begin the process of uncluttering/self surgery on our minds and inner universe until our tools are sharpened and oiled. Even if we are generally mentally active, but we are still relatively new to meditation and to “going within,” or just returning to it, we have to perform some exercise and get the blood flowing, so to speak. In a similar fashion, if I have been out of the gym for a while, I jumpstart my training by doing some full body workouts and hard cardio to get myself worked back up.

    If you are someone who has practiced meditation for a long period of time, simply use this time to return to the basics, and keep a “beginner’s mindset”- allow yourself to revisit the firststeps of the process from a different approach. You might learn something, or you might not, but certainly, any time spent sharpening the mental faculties is not wasted.

  2. Second, we will perform a financial assessment. Whether we like it or not, the blood that flows in the veins of Empire is green. In order to attain leverage in that world and be able to be effective there, as much as anywhere else, we have to learn to think of money as a tool, just like a wrench or hammer.It helps us get a job done, and do what we need to, in order to live the lives we want. I have met many intelligent and passionate people whose disdain for money or lack of ability to make it crippled their enjoyment, mobility, time, and freedom. Everyone has bills to pay, and goals to achieve that will require capital, unless they are an ascetic who lives in a cave or hut and survives only on what they can produce themselves- those individuals have my utmost respect, but they are probably not reading this article. For the rest of us, we must destroy our limiting views of money, and simply view it dispassionately as a means to an end, an energy supply that can be used in much the same way as electricity, to power the circuitry of our temporal (and sometimes spiritual) plans.For now, we will simply write down our total income for the month of March, and track each expenditure of money for the month (spending as we normally would), and WRITE EVERY SINGLE ONE DOWN. This is essential groundwork for what will come next, and just like everything we are doing this year, we will begin basically and work toward more complexity once we have shown we are capable of those basics.
  3. This month, we will again return to our Heroic Blueprint and work on both a positive and a negative. This is the last month we will mention this, as our blueprint should be in the forefront of our mind at all times- we will begin keeping a journal of our progress towards this archetype if we haven’t already done so, and we will write deeper and more experiential pieces regarding our perceptions of those positive and negative traits. We are looking this month to begin building an archetype in our minds that embodies our blueprint, a mythic character, like a god, that is us in potential- representative of ourselves as we Will ourselves to be, but not as we are now. As we improve, the concept of our archetype will deepen, and go beyond us, and create a constant struggle toward further emulation, which we call worship. This is the ritual aspect of the Werewolf method, a creation of a new god, one known only to ourselves, driving us onward as we give it depth, attribute it with deeper meaning, and realize our own mythology through the pursuit of this higher ideal.