Activism and the Path of the Warrior

i was just a girl in a room full of women
licking stamps and laughing
i remember the feeling of community brewing
of democracy happening

but i suppose like anybody
i had to teach myself to see
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to church
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to school
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to the house of my family
all that stuff that was not lost on me

ani difranco, paradigm

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, about what it means to be a Warrior (in a Celtic Spirituality sense), and whether it’s restricted to people who do certain things in their lives, such as are part of the military or law enforcement. I’ve also been thinking about what in Goddess’ name my path is within the greater scheme that is my religion, life, the world. Answers have been nebulous and unclear — until tonight.

To me, to be a Warrior is to realize that something needs to be done, and then to go out and do it. Whatever it is. Being a Warrior is not a black or white issue, and neither are the issues one is faced with while on the path. The power of the Warrior is to make a good decision quickly and stick to it, while lost in a multitude of grays and “what-ifs” or “maybes”. That power will not always yield a good decision, and one will make mistakes. Another part of the Warrior is having the courage to admit to those mistakes, and move on in a different way.

I do not believe that a Warrior is ever only a Warrior. We are complex beings, so our roles are going to be equally complex. A person called to the Warrior’s way of life could be equally called to be a Healer, or a Bard/Poet, a Priest, Outsider, etc. We have aspects of each role in each of us; sometimes we put more focus on one over another; sometimes we put energy into all of them equally.

One of the important things about being a Pagan whose beliefs are based on ancient ones is finding a way to marry old and new by bringing ancient beliefs up to speed with modern ideals. Nowadays Warriors can’t bring home heads on spikes, or carry swords or guns around with them (unless they’re in a job that requires it). They may not put their lives on the line everyday, strictly speaking, but they do walk a dangerous path nonetheless. Being a Warrior means being a champion for Justice — whatever your personal brand of justice may be — and that is never an easy task.

I am on a Warrior path. I have no choice about this; Morrigan has made it clear that She chose me since before birth because I am a Warrior spirit.

For a long time I have felt inadequate in that regard — what, exactly, do I do to consider myself a Warrior? I have never been in a war zone (aside from Divorce, and that’s a story for another day). I’ve never learned any martial arts (consistently), and my physique is couch potato, not protector of the people. My obsession with WWII, Battlestar Galactica, and the military notwithstanding, I don’t actually do anything to warrant being a warrior.

Tonight a fire blossomed in my head, and suddenly I knew how I warranted the Warrior path, and that for me, the Warrior’s path is the path of the Poet (or Bard) as well. The fire grew, and traveled down my arms, and I began typing.

I have been an activist since I was 13. I lived in the United States when Bush was President, and that informed my political stances at a young age. Throughout high school I attended peace rallies and marches and spoke out against unjust, illegal war and human rights violations; I advocated for animal rights; I was a one-woman theatre show in my satirical protest of my high school’s draconian administration (one day, I wore an armband with a yellow Star of David to school). When I was 17, I won the ACLU Youth Award; first prize in the state. When I was 18, I was asked to read the “I Have a Dream” speech at MLKJ day celebrations (please note that I am a predominantly European-Canadian woman, so this was quite an honor).

And then I burned out.

Activism is exhausting. As Starhawk says, no one [sane] actually wants to be an activist; I certainly didn’t want to anymore. I was tired of pushing and pushing and never seeming to get anywhere.

After my brief respite, I tried to get back into it — I felt bad, honestly, and felt like I was betraying the people who didn’t have voices. I worked on the book launch of Stop The Next War Now (I still have my shirt) and got to meet Medea Benjamin (amazing woman); I was Hawaii State Chair of the Pagan Unity Campaign (I left because of…idealogical differences); I attended a Political Science special studies course: Women and World Peace, and wrote articles for the school paper. I spray-painted a sign that said “VOTE PEACE” and hung it off a bridge over the busiest street in downtown Maui. I performed in My Name is Rachel Corrie (which is a beautiful reading piece, but doesn’t really work as a play — unfortunately).

It didn’t work. I couldn’t relight the spark in my heart. I was dead tired and ready to quit on everything.

I moved back to Canada, and tried to live a quiet life.

No go. I got called back to activism by my nose. But this time I took it slow — I didn’t take on too much at once, I did what I could, and tried to feel good about it. I vote. I go to the Farmer’s Market and support local artisans, which is in itself a form of activism.  I try and I try and I try and suddenly I stop trying, and just start being.

And that’s when I realize the truth: I already am an activist when I allow myself to be myself. And what myself is is a writer. My gift is with the Word, whether I’m penning or performing. It always has been, and it’s time I accept that and utilize it.

This is why I am chosen by Morrigan and Brighid — They are patrons of (among other things) Warriors and Poets, respectively, and I am both. I cannot be one without the other and honestly, learning that makes me feel so free.

So I am looking towards a future where my words speak clearly and ring true; where I have the courage to stand on a stage and beat out poetry that talks about the problems with education or pollution or the Canadian conservative “government”; where my pen is not mightier than the sword but is that sword, and communication cuts a clear line through to the ground and up to your feet, lighting a fire underneath you until you know you have to do something.

No matter what’s happening, I’ll always be here: the Bard that says what you’d rather not hear, but what needs to be said. The Warrior that cuts through the b.s. in order to let the flowers grow up. The Healer who knits the wounds together and kisses away the pain.

I am Called to do this, and walking my path with integrity is the greatest service I can offer Them.

8 Comments


  1. You forgot that you worked the two most stolen elections in the US, trying to get people to vote? A heart-breaking exercise, as I recall.

    Reply

    1. I worked one; the first one I just ranted a lot in school.

      I didn’t forget, but I had to keep the post to a manageable size.

      Reply

    1. I did, but I always feel like I could have done more.

      But then Morrigan tells me to stop whining about the past and move on with doing more in the future. ;)

      Reply

  2. “To me, to be a Warrior is to realize that something needs to be done, and then to go out and do it.”

    Beautifully put. Based on a conversation with a friend of mine, I tend to describe that part of my Warrior path as “doing what is necessary”.

    -Garnet (from TC)

    Reply

    1. Thank you.

      I agree that it’s about doing what is necessary. For me, sometimes the hard part is figuring out what, exactly, is necessary — and whether I’m getting that message from Them or from the voice in my head that does really good impressions.

      Reply

  3. I’ll admit, I haven’t actually read all the way through this post yet, but just scanning it, I wanted to drop you a line! (I’m Ali from over at TC, btw, and I followed your link about Manannan over to your blog – ah, what splendid synchronicity!)

    Firstly, I’ve just posted the first of a two-part post on the “Peaceful Warrior” over at my own blog (I don’t know if you follow it or not, but wanted to mention it), and I think you’d be interested in checking it out.

    Secondly, I was just discussing with my partner, Jeff, this week about starting a “Voices of Pagan Pacifism” project that will showcase the vast array and diversity of Pagan pacifists and activists working for goals of peace and social justice in the wider Pagan community. I spent all day today, in fact, surfing Reclaiming websites looking for folks who might be interested in participating – and here you are! :) So I wanted to drop you a line, anyway, because I’m psyched at the coincidence. :) Heh, I suppose the gods will provide (even if we forget to ask! ;))

    Reply

    1. Hey there — I do follow your blog, actually, but not as much as I’d like to. You’re a splendid writer, and I need to give your posts a lot of time, which is something that’s in short supply for me lately. I’m going to check out the post[s] you mentioned as soon as possible — hopefully tomorrow; it’s rather late now.

      I’m not sure if I’d classify myself as a strict pacifist, but I am committed to peace and social justice, and I’d be interested in the project nonetheless. :)

      Reclaiming is definitely a good place to look for people to contribute to this; whenever you have a site/et al for the project together, or even a write-up, I can send it out to my friends in Reclaiming. Don’t know how effective it’ll be, as I don’t have *that* many friends in Reclaiming that I’m still in contact with (long-time disconnect from the community, unfortunately), but I’ll do it anyway.

      Reply

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