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Path of the Sacred Warrior
Copyright © 2004 Peggy Andreas
(Disclaimer: The author has given permission for use at Spirit
Lodge - Thank you Peggy)
"Hoka Hey!" exclaims the Sioux warrior riding into
battle, "Today is a good day to die." A true
warrior dares to do the impossible. She dares death and she
respects death, both. A story about
Native American warriors puts it this way, "Warriors live
with death at their side, and from the
knowledge that death is with them, they draw the courage to
face anything. The worst that can
happen to us is that we have to die, and since that is already
our unalterable fate, we are free;
those who have lost everything no longer have anything to fear."
The Path of the Sacred Warrior begins with the awareness that
we are mortal beings, that we are
going to die. Knowing this, we can see our lives in better perspective.
Knowing this, we can act
ALWAYS so that we will be able to die centered, beyond fear,
at peace with what we have made
from the stuff of our lives. The goal is to live our lives well
in order to eventually die well, so
that what is eternal about us (our Spirit?) will be set free.
We must each come to terms with our
own personal Deaths. For instance, I like to think that my body
is offspring of an act of love
between my Spirit and the Elemental world. I like to think that
MY death will be a final
consummation and bittersweet orgasmic consumption of that love!
The Sacred Warrior walks her path with her Death at her side.
And her Death makes Herself
available to the Sacred Warrior as an advisor, teacher, and
friend. This relationship with her
Death calls the Sacred Warrior to be who she truly is, to live
her life fully and completely, to use
the power-from-within. As Agnes Whistling Elk says in the story
Medicine Woman, "You can
only be dangerous when you accept your death. Then you become
dangerous in spite of
anything. You must learn to see the awake ones. A dangerous
woman can do anything because
she will do anything. A powerful woman is unthinkable because
the unthinkable belongs to her.
Everything belongs to her, and anything is possible."
In Native American lore, stories of warriors often reveal a
childhood filled with inner turmoil
and outward aggressiveness. Baby warriors are keen to explore
the world and they don't want
anyone or anything to get in their way. They may fight with
their siblings or test the parents
mercilessly. Warriors often seem to have come into life with
an excess of energy. Their
temperaments are fiery; their wills, strong. A young warrior
who is thwarted in her physical
expression will almost certainly compensate with surplus mental
or emotional energy.
The story of the Tewa Cottonwood Warchief, Pohaha, illustrates
this theme. Always angry when
young, she rebelled when coaxed to do domestic work. Finally,
her tribe consented to let her go
to battle, where she distinguished herself mightily. After that,
it was said, her constant anger
disappeared and "she became a good woman." Her
name, Pohaha, means "wet-between-thelegs-ha-ha"
because of her habit of pulling up her dress to taunt her enemies
with the fact that
she was a woman! Eventually, the great Pohaha was elected "Warchief"
by the elders. As War
Chief, she would have to lead her people against enemies, protect
them from sickness and treat
them as her children. She took her charge seriously; and when
she died, she left her mask and
said it would represent her even if she was dead. "I will
be with you all the time," she told her
tribe, "The mask is me." The Cottonwood people
keep her mask, and tell her story, to this day.
A young warrior is hard to control. But once that warrior is
trusted with a challenging task, she is
on her way to SELF-CONTROL. Native Americans begin the warrior-training
lessons, along with basic wilderness-survival skills. They teach
the young huntress a respect for
her "prey." They show the young one that to learn
from one's Death (the Ultimate Huntress), one
needs to develop humility, patience, and an ability to keep
a clear head - or, at least, to clear
one's head, fast! The wilderness-survival training is a good
idea for a Sacred Warrior - it gives
her a true knowledge of her world, and of her relationship to
it. It gives her Nature as her first
Opponent. She learns that one cannot "compete" with
such a powerful Opponent. Yet she also
learns that this Opponent is a mirror to her own heart, and
as such deserves respect and, even,
love. From this realization, she goes on to learn self-defense
Obviously, this is a path of courage. Native Americans call
their warriors "Braves" for a reason.
The more courage one showed, the more honored the warrior! "Braves"
(both female and male)
who rode into battle did not seek to kill the opposition. It
was considered much braver to
humiliate ("count coup on") the opposition by getting
close enough to simply touch, or to capture
the opposition's ceremonial pipe, war bonnet, shield or bow.
To kill another warrior was
considered a dubious accomplishment. To kill "innocents"
was considered cowardly. In ancient
days, it is said that great warriors would not attack a camp,
but would enter and be welcomed.
They would be put up in the "enemy tipi" to rest and
be fed. Then all the young warriors of the
camp would come to challenge the great warrior, hoping to "count
coup" but usually just lucky
to hold their own. No doubt they received a few lessons in the
"Capturing" (what we might call "stealing")
became one of the greatest warrior feats. Since there
was no idea of property, it was more like "reclaiming."
This is where the White insult of "Indiangiver"
originated. Entities (like horses) or places (like a forest
or a plain) could not be "owned"
by anyone; therefore they belonged to those who took care of
In the modern world, our battles are usually fought in somewhat
different arenas. Many writers
and re-claimers of Her story are Sacred Warriors, realizing
that "The pen is mightier than the
sword". "Say you were a writer and you decided to
pick Anaïs Nin as your worthy opponent.
You tried to beat her in creativity and ideas. In a sense, you
would use her to see yourself. You
don't want her to fail - you would lose your model. What does
a medicine person want you to
do? They want to give away to you until you have power so that
you can become a worthy
opponent to another worthy warrior." What IS opposition,
anyway? This question is central to
the Sacred Warrior's Path. It does NOT involve contempt. It
is wasteful to feel contempt for
people or other entities. A Native American warrior speaking
to a group of White Americans put
it this way, "You people have such anger and fear and contempt
for your so-called criminals that
your crime rate goes up and up. Your society has a high crime
rate because it is in a perfect
position to receive crime. You should be working WITH these
people, not in opposition to them.
The idea is to have contempt for crime, not for people. It's
more useful to think of every
individual as another YOU - to think of every individual as
a representative of the universe. Even
the worst criminal in life imprisonment sitting in his cell
- the center of him is the same seed, the
seed of the whole creation."
So what is the feeling that the Sacred Warrior cultivates within
herself? Detachment is important.
"Everyone who wants to follow the warrior's path has to
rid herself of fixation: the compulsion to
possess and hold onto things." It is easy to see that
walking with one's Death at one's side can
help one remember that "you can't take it with you."
Besides, a fluid warrior needs to be free of
burdens, needs to be free to think clearly, and move at a moment's
notice. She also needs to be
able to live in the present. In order to cultivate detachment,
a warrior develops her sense of
humor and a great sense of resourcefulness. These become her
shields. She can feel her strong
and passionate emotions and then let them pass THROUGH her.
She can laugh at herself.
But there is a danger in detachment. A warrior can become so
self-reliant that she becomes
arrogant and uncompromising. She becomes incapable of compassion.
What brings the
"sacredness" to the path of the Sacred Warrior is
LOVE. To the Sacred Warrior, Love is felt
when the heart is open. Great warriors are said to have great
hearts, and even the strongest, most
skilled, most dangerous warrior becomes Sacred when she puts
herself in service (as a Guardian
or a Champion) to a child, a needy group, a holy place, a worthy
task. MOST of all, the Sacred
Warrior is at the service of those who truly require her. She
does this not for them, but for
herself. Her love and service are free, without attachment or
expectation - unconditional. She
knows, perhaps more than anyone else, that to truly love is
the most dangerous and most daring
act a Sacred Warrior can perform. An Apache maiden, Lozen, became
a powerful and respected
warrior. Expert in riding and roping, she was always able to
bring back enemy horses. She was
dedicated to helping her people. It is said that once she found
herself alone in enemy territory
with a young mother and her baby. She spent several grueling
months leading them to safety,
when she could have just as easily rode away by herself. As
she matured in her compassion, she
began to develop the uncanny ability to determine the location
of the enemy, and became a
welcome voice at tribal strategy meetings. Throughout Native
American lore, there are many
such stories of big-hearted Braves. While they are much admired
and honored for their hunting,
fighting, and survival skills, they are even more respected
and loved for their compassion and
In the past, Sacred Warriors battled for the protection and
survival of their tribes, and for
personal satisfaction. This is still true, but in our Age, the
definition of "tribe" can vary. The
Sacred Warrior who travels on "A path with a heart"
must find her own sacred battlefield. The
fight may be for justice, or peace, or respect - whether personally
or publicly. Many Sacred
Warriors fulfil the Native American prophecy of the "Warriors
of the Rainbow" that says, "When
the Earth is sick and dying, all over the world people will
rise up as Warriors of the Rainbow to
save the planet." This prophecy is furthered by the
words of a modern Native
American/Eskimo who says, "Great are the tasks ahead, terrifying
are the mountains of
ignorance and hate and prejudice, but the Warriors of the Rainbow
shall rise as on the wings of
the eagle to surmount all difficulties. They will be happy to
find that there are now millions of
people all over the earth ready and eager to rise and join them
in conquering all barriers that bar
the way to a new and glorious world! We have had enough now
of talk. Let there be deeds."
1. Quote from Don Juan, Yaqui Medicine Man, from The Fire From
Within by Carlos
Castaneda, 1984, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY.
2. Agnes Whistling Elk, from Lynn Andrews' book Medicine Woman,
1981, Harper & Row,
3. From the book Daughters of the Earth by Carolyn Niethammer,
1977, MacMillan Publishing
5. Indians of North America by Geoffrey Turner, 1977, Blandford
6. Agnes Whistling Elk, from Medicine Woman.
7. Mad Bear, from Rolling Thunder by Doug Boyd, 1974, Dell Publishing
8. La Gorda, quoted from Carlos Castaneda's book, The Second
Ring of Power, 1977, Simon &
9. Daughters of the Earth, Niethammer.
10. Greenpeace literature.
11. William Willoya, Warriors of the Rainbow: Strange and Prophetic
Dreams of the Indians,
1962, Naturegraph Publishers, P.O. Box 1075, Happy Camp, CA
An interesting article Mouse. Thank you for sharing it.
I have 7 Sacred Battlefields, not just one. Seven perspectives
to my pathwork, not just one. While
this article focuses on the physical dimension and experience
in life that is the manifestation of
the other 6 battles. First and foremost there must be a battle
to seek enlightenment so we can see
the path before us and understand what we are to accomplish.
What showed you that the Doula
role was for you?
This comes from within us, it's not in any physical context
yet. Then we begin to explore that
through the teachings of the world as well as our spiritual
connection to it, comparing what we
find to our ideals. The visions (spiritual insights) that led
you to explore the teachings in the
physical sense. We establish relationships and explore emotions
through them, gather our
wisdom and apply it by sharing with others. (Moving forward
with what we uncover and learn to master.)
We draw from past experiences and see where we can apply them
in the future and we manifest
in the physical reality. I think this article can be expressed
in more than just the path that
manifests, the Spiritual Warrior must learn how to recognize
that path, find the passion to
explore it, establish relationships that will sustain it, and
then serve the path they walk...walking
their talk whatever it may be.
To do this properly the spirit must be centered and brought
to conscious awareness so that a
unification can take place to create a labor of love. That begins
internally first. The past tells us
what we should or shouldn't do in the future but to get there
we must walk in the Now of the
moment. I think the battle of the Spiritual Warrior takes place
within us first, the greatest battle
is to accept the spirit within us and conquer its shadows and
bring forth its light, without that the
path we walk is an empty one. With it we are able to manifest
the calling to serve in the best
Death is something that walks with all of us and I have never
held a fear of it. Perhaps because
as a small child I began to explore dimensionally and spiritually
and I knew there was more
beyond the physical reality at a very young age. I knew I had
an inner spirit and that it was for
me to tell others who asked for help that they had one too.
That if they gave way to the Spiritual
Warrior (the true warrior within us) that they would find the
strength and courage and faith that
was within them all along.
It's the logical mind that bars that door until it is convinced
that there is more and willing to
explore it. Back to the internal battlefield. But that was there
for me as a child, I've always
known it and that was my message to deliver to the world. It
was not my pathwork, but it was a
"part" of that pathwork. That path has grown and developed
with me over the years and as it
does it simply expands.
I began with teaching and sharing what I knew, touching here
and there. That went on for many
years as I continued to explore and challenge life and my spirituality
along the way. In with the
teaching came the counseling, then the Elders came and taught
me to counsel those Dropping
their Robes...death, which I did not fear had embraced me to
help others learn to set their fears
down...to go within and find their way out to other dimensions
and know that there was more
waiting for them...to bring them peace of spirit and to know
in the process the spirit within
them...back to the initial message I was given to deliver.
From those who were terminally ill I entered with adults and
the path is now expanding to the
children and taking that focus, but the adults helped me learn
to handle the issues the parents
will have and open the way to touch the children...back to the
teaching as a means of doing that.
None of which could be accomplished if I were not well acquainted
with my inner spirit and the
service it is to give, if I had not fought the internal battle
time and again, pushing through selfdoubt,
challenging the self with ego, finding my way to Spirit and
into the light of truth through
experiences not of this world as well as those within it.
If I had not found that all is one I couldn't show others how
to find their way to that
enlightenment, to the peace that will allow them into their
process of death without fear. And
connected to this are those that are tied to the one who is
about to die. So in serving the person
who is leaving loved ones are often connected to the counseling
and I'm back to teaching them in
ways that will help them embrace the loss, to see that there
is no death, only a change of worlds,
and I bring them closer to Spirit too.
Emotions are triggers, they point us to issues we need to deal
with and by allowing them to pass
through us and not own them beyond that we do distance ourselves
and disassociate ... in a
limited way that lets us embrace the emotion enough to fuel
our passion and clear our head and
take action. Those emotions, to be released, must find expression
and in working with death
emotions are rampant, attachments must detach, we must step
in and out of them and no one is
immune totally. I can't help but attach to the individuals I
work with. I can't forget those who
cross my path and touch my life. I can't help but exchange love,
feelings, emotions with them but
I can detach when I need to and I can disassociate to allow
them to move on when they need to. I
must, and in that I can help others do the same. It's not cold,
it's a necessity and just another
battlefield. There are so many battles in life, eh?
While all that is presented here speaks of truths in this article,
I feel it's limiting not to see that it
goes into more than just the physical path we are walking, it
applies to the mental, physical,
emotional, and spiritual, it applies to the past and the future
through what we take action on and
responsibility for in the present...the Seven Sacred Directions
that are within us and externally
present in our daily lives. When we fully embrace our inner
spirit, accept our visions, learn to let
them guide us we learn to Dream our Dreams and make them a reality.
This too is the battle of
the Spiritual Warrior, it's not going to war, though that may
be the path of some, there are many
battles and we all have our own to fight and defend.
It is in this way one's path becomes clear, and in the physical
experiences we come to find our
strengths and weaknesses so we can grow and evolve and come
to serve better. The Spiritual
Warrior must first fight the inner battle before s/he can manifest
those skills in the physical sense
and walk the path of destiny that will unfold over time. IMHO
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