Touching the life you take: Initiation rites for a Warrior-Hunter
The first rule of being a Hunter is `Be within reach of your prey but out of reach of the prey!’ – which means that a Hunter must be able to get to his or her prey quickly, but the prey must never know that the hunter is anywhere nearby! This is something I learnt while reading Carlos Castenado’a books on Shamanism. He was of course referring to this same principle applying to anyone seeking other objectives in life. It is a Warrior principle that applies to almost anything that people want.
One other principle that I have come to appreciate, admire and even practise is this one – `Touching the Life you take…’
What does it mean? Well, in older days (even as recent as…say 300 years ago), a hunter would have to go after his or her prey directly, and i person. Even if it involved traps to catch an animal, it will still come down to the fact that the Hunter will have to gain direct sight, handle the animal caught, and strike the killing blow – with a knife, spear or a mace – to kill the animal, before taking it body for either food purposes, creating survival products (fur for clothing) and o on. Even a hunter using a spear or bow & arrow to hunt will still need to have a line of sight.. on the target / prey, when the killing blow is delivered.
Not so in modern societies! This is now a remote-control society, where
- the Hunter or the Warrior is seated in a safe enclosed environment that is so far removed from the prey’s habitat or the hunting grounds.
- The Hunter or Warrior is using modern remote control tools or devises to sight, hunt and kill his or her prey.
Modern warfare is a fine example of this. Soldiers, experts, commanders and experts all sit inside big ships, aeroplanes, tanks, and in control rooms miles away from the war zone. They use radar and satellite imagery to pinpoint he target – which is now a town or a nation, with hundreds or thousands of people (on te target site). And these modern warriors press a button ..and a missile or rocket launches… flies hundreds of miles ..and hits the target.
Even when the kill comes, there is no immediacy. Yes, people can `empathise’, `imagine’, and even fake al sorts of feelings, either as part of self-delusions, or as part of some political marketing tactics to sway mass public opinions.
None of this gives the real feelings, the struggles, affinity, respect.. and the trauma that a Warrior- Hunter would feel.. if he or she were to approach the prey and strike the killing blow with his or her own hands into the heart of the animal, and take its life!
In a computer-generated reality such as remote viewing, or playing games, the difference between playing and really hurting someone else blurs beyond belief.
Years ago, when I was small (back in Sri Lanka), I had to get rid of a large number of Chameleons from our vegetable patch. My father & I had to stand still with sticks, and hunt down the lizards, and after delivering the killer-blows, we had to lift the dead Lizard bodies one by one and dispose of them. This still haunts me.. It was a mass-killing of about 20 lizards I also remember many decades ago, back in Sri Lankan, where I had to dig for earth worms…and then cut them up as tiny pieces..to feed my gold-fish. That still stays fresh in my mind.
Few months ago, when a mouse pest problem re-surfaced, I set the traps, and caught one that was still alive. And it presented me with a dilemma. I could not just release it as it would return (upto 2-3 miles!). So only way was to kill it. And I had not killed anything for a long time. Even the mercy-killing of a pet Angel fish that was so ill and beyond curing (years back) was a problem.
As a magician, I was also interested in a magical solution to the pest problem. (yes, I had tried praying to Ganesh, and talking to the mouse spirits etc, tried all sorts of `tuning in/ communicating’). In the end, I took the mouse to the garden, looked at it, and hit it with a small garden-tool , and in one strike killed it. I then gave it a respectful burial near my outdoor altar.
This may seem a big deal or practically nothing. But it illustrates the serious point- that in modern societies, many of us are so far removed from the results of our own actions, that it ceases to have any kind of reality for us. It’s as if ordinary people are becoming those Soldiers who sit in rooms pushing buttons that kill hundreds elsewhere, and it all just seems like a Computer-game. How people respond online to matters that can give warped impressions (if one is already clouded by other personal feelings) can escalate matters ..and hurt others, and you won’t even know.
As a final thought, I will mention some magical / shamanic work I undertook over 2 years ago, as a Hern-worshipper and follower of the hunter/warrior principles. It became obvious to me that as a pagan I was beginning to slide into the `remote control’ life style or worship . As part of Hern’s Tribe, I have been doing outdoor rituals at least 8 times a year for the past 8 years. ..in the rain and storm and sun-shines. But the warrior-hunter aspect gets lost.
So about 2 years ago, I did some magical work in Winsor great Park (Hern’s realm) – a new initiative for male mysteries.. to hone our tracking and hunting skills, making real tools, and setting about doing a ritual hunt – very much what tribal people would have done! No sooner had our ritual been done, and we were walking to the car, we found 3 dead animals…and we had to take them home to clean and use. I could not even touch a bird (Pheasant) that had been a road-kill.
But some months later, I was faced with something much much larger.. a stag! And what I did with it became my personal rite of passage, in preparation for my own handfasting (pagan wedding). In tribal societies, young men must undergo all sorts of coming of age rites of passage, aided by rest of the clan, before he can get married. What do we do in modern society, apart from stag-nights out that are nothing but foolish pranks (a pale reflection of those serious rites of passage!). Well, that’s a big subject. I’ll write more on that in the future…and on `male mysteries’ in modern times!
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Ps. These and other such magical empowerment concepts appear in my forthcoming book `Book of Hern: Magical pathways for personal Empowerment’ – to be published in December 2012.