When I tell people that I’m into historical swordfighting and/or traditional archery, there are a number of typical reactions I’ve become very familiar with. It goes something like this:
Me: I do historical swordfighting.
Guy: Chicks with swords are hot.
Or if I’m talking to a woman, especially one of the enlightened/spiritual sort, then I often get something like: “Oh you warrior woman!” or “Reclaiming your strength, bravo!” To which I react with something akin to a mixure of helplessness and guilt. Because what I really think is: “Ummmm, no… I mainly just like to hit things.”
Now before I continue: I am a hippie, often call myself one. I’m looking for ways of living a more sustainable life, and I’m most definitely looking to get out of the society-prescribed “sell a significant chunk of your waking hours to an employer, pay bills and shut up” status quo. I’m a card-carrying tree-hugger (and everyone-hugger, in fact) and a pagan hag who believes in free love and true connection over “ownership” monogamous relationships of the type society sanctions as the only valid version.
But when I’m among friends, I often feel like a hippie fail. I don’t join multi-culti workshops to sing to my womb or group-healing sessions of my divine feminine. And here’s yet another disclaimer before I continue: Some of the most amazing humans I’ve ever met are into this kind of stuff, so let me make absolutely clear that I’m not dissing it as such. I love everything that empowers people, and if this is the kind of thing that empowers you, go for it, ya hear me? I mean this with 100% sincerity and not even an ounce of condescension.
Different things empower different people. You needn’t justify what you do, and I don’t justify what I do either – what I share here is done in the name of just that, sharing. I’m always interested in how other people tick, so if anyone’s interested in how I tick, here it is. It’s not up for debate in the sense of comparison or judgment. It is what it is. We clear on that? Good.
So here’s the deal. I grew up in a developed “Western” country which taught me a lot about rationality, words, and logic (which was great). Where it fell down was in areas of spirituality, pleasure, the feminine principle, and my pussy. This has certainly damaged me and I have a shitload of healing yet to do. It’s just that I choose to do these things in deep ritual, on my own, or if push comes to shove, with a therapist (haven’t resorted to that in many years, but would again if it should become necessary). It’s what works for me.
Areas I didn’t have to heal, that a lot of others carry deep wounds in, include sexuality, strength, and owning my power. Not that I’m perfect in any of these, and indeed I continuously work on developing them. But I’m not nearly as wounded as many people I know. For example, I’ve never had a single negative sexual experience. While I’ve known condescension and sexism, I’ve never been assaulted or abused. I’ve always known my body and my sexuality and discovered sexual pleasure as a small child.
I’ve also been blessed by knowing that I wasn’t into “girl toys” like dolls. And if I do historical martial arts, I don’t do them to reclaim anything. I do them because I’ve always been fascinated with swords, and blades in general, and with history. Going to the gym makes my brain die of boredom, and I found that swinging swords is a lot more fun. So it’s ideal for me.
Traditional archery is about me being the cuddliest creature you’ve ever met. I am sense-ual in the literal meaning, and archery to me is about feeling the living wood under my hands and the whole beautiful fluidity of shooting, the zen of being in the forest and learning a very practical skill that could conceivably come in handy, in an emergency (I’m non-violent but like the thought of knowing these things in case I ever need them).
I’m not very New Age at all. In many respects, I’m astonishingly conservative. And while I love world culture, I focus on my own heritage, which I believe has been neglected and almost lost in many ways, due to a mix of patriarchy and an influx of foreign religions which have taken over. I love learning about all the world, but my impression is that many people turn to far-Eastern/Native American spirituality or culture or martial arts etc etc, not just out of interest in these things – which is great – but also a perceived gap in a similarly valuable tradition here in the West of Europe.
Our own traditions have been bulldozered over (by our own rulers, no less) for so long, there are only scraps left. But they are there. And before I learn more about anything else, I’ll practice European Martial Arts and archery, and Western Spirituality. I’m not into “goddesses” and crystals (which are mined by tearing up the body of our mother) and chakras, I’m into rolling in the mud and relating to the traditional elements, learning the energies of the plants and the stones and the people, directing them, and hearing the old stories and mythologies.
I’m into meeting the gods of the old pantheons, who are for the most part overjoyed to be heard and seen (and not mixed with deities from entirely different countries and cultures). I’m into experiencing, rather than reading about it. I’m into orgasm rather than meditation. Oh of course I do meditation, too, but I have so much feminine principle to catch up with, it’ll take me at least some more years of pleasure research until I’ll have headspace for anything else (and if you’ve no clue what I’m talking about, read Mama Gena’s Pussy book already).
If that makes me less of a hippie, so be it! It’s my own path. I’m happy supporting everyone else on theirs.
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