Indomitable Way

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The Kanabo. A powerful symbol. A powerful artifact. Stirring images of terrifying Oni standing all powerful and invincible in combat. A symbol that enflames stories of mythology and spirituality. An image of Japanese martial arts and culture. Yet what is the kanabo? What is the Art? This will be a writing first of martial art expression, followed by mythological inspiration.

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The kanabo comes in many various shapes and sizes, as do many weapons. The immediate feature is the desire to break bone. The martial art? Kanabojutsu, does not necessarily exist. Yet it’s image permeates Japanese martial arts. Pictured is a kanabo I have recently made. Measuring seven feet in length, carved of Oak. One is to use the edge for striking, the studs add weight. 1 3/4” in girth upon squared section. Although made as a practice weapon, it is equally deadly. For a true battle weapon I would prefer one entirely of steel. Designed a particular way. This is the first piece of a matching set, including an Odachi, Katana, Wakizashi, and Tanto all made of Oak. The first time I will use Japanese practice tools tailored to my length. These ones will have rounded edges suitable for sparring, at least sparring with the smaller. One can imagine full contact Kanabo sparring. Or greatsword, great axe, etc, equally translated from originals in weight and form. This can not entirely be done, someone will die or be maimed regardless of protection, regardless of wood or steel. ‘True War weapons’ against armour are such for a reason, armour becomes a cage you die in… Anyways, my original practice “Kanabo” is one naturally created. An oak tree cut down by a beaver I found floating in the river while running many years ago. Naturally shaped as a six foot baseball bat. I can not express the power this new one expresses as it is weilded. Yet, how does one wield such a thing? There is no such true form of kanabojutsu. Kanobodo. Yet to speak of the two, does not the Jutsu of any form, lead to a Do, if one stays true to path… Regardless, my pursuit Is what it Is. My continued pursuit of mastery lies in the Western martial arts. Because of my constant training with the greatsword, I am able to apply this ability to the kanabo. There are many similarities between Samurai swordsmanship and Knightly swordsmanship. Yet more differences. Immediately due to technology. The core of All martial arts is the same. We are all stuck within the human body. There is much to learn in Kenjutsu, and all it’s styles, yet much to ignore in a combative sense, as with all martial arts, Hema included. Training variations of beauty and creativity aside, as these ways will give greater understanding of control, and we all do such things and should. Many eastern arts suffer from a large amount of choreography, taking this no further. Yes, many of these demonstrations are beautiful, yet there is so much to filter out when it comes to simply cutting a stranger as quickly as possible while staying unharmed, while said stranger is also attempting to do the same to you. The eastern arts suffer from ‘fencing around’ as intensely as the western. Techniques piled atop one another, simply too many additions for the sake of impressing the ignorant. Many Kenjutsu demonstrations are highly involved with Iaijutsu. While attractive, such a thing has its limitations in impressiveness, especially when the swords are short aluminum, as they often are. It has very little to do with the actual duel or battlefield, save switching after losing your pole arm. And perhaps assassinating someone who allows you too close as they trust you. After understanding and much practice, the design of the sword allows the scabbard to literally not exist. Therefore it is what it is. I prefer the Kenjutsu, as what actually happens between fighting men. I see Iaijutsu as simply an additional aspect to learn. Kendo is were to take ones sight in straight forward use. Or any full contact sparring use of Kenjutsu, old and new. There is Kendo and Kendo. The sport and the Way. The Way stands alone. The sport simply an extension. If you wish to see some of the greatest swordsmen in the world move, watch the peak of Kendo, although remember the weight and balance of the ‘swords’. Of course they are not acting as if in a real sword fight, nor targeting in such a way, yet the skill obviously translates more than choreography. As it is not routine practiced choreography. One thing I appreciate of Kendo tournaments is the length of match, as well as the stamping and ‘noises’ made. Mine developed more from low rolling growls changing magnitude during Muay Boran training. I really appreciate the ‘Kamikaze pitched’ yell of the Japanese. Western sport swordsmanship should take the round length into consideration, even extending matches to ten minutes, allowing fighters to tire if weak, truly testing them. It is much easier to score points in the longsword as the entire body is the target, this is not the same of Kendo. Such long matches would have a high point score. Yet only produce a greater expression of average, leaving less to chance, more to overall consistent skill and perseveance. Yet back to the kanabo. The kanabo is not a greatsword, as I constantly use. Nor any type of sword for that matter. For in the greatsword I find the deep desire to cut over striking. With the kanabo one must strike. In pursuit of the kanabo, one must know the sword first and foremost, for the sword is the door to all weapons. Next would be the equal understanding of the Bo. For with no blade, the kanabo can be used in such manner on many occasions. It is the combination, yet neither of these arts that one will find the kanabo. Such is viewed in old Japanese art. It desires to be “Fenced around” with, yet equally desires the “one inch punch”. Against armour it will devastate, especially Japanese armour, which is quite questionable in standard of protection and overall design function. Design beauty is amazing. There is much to compare technologically and write of, another time. Although this is why their armour technology changed when contact was made with Europeans. Give me a stout Oaken staff against a knight in full armour, and I will feel great confidence with no armour on. I will wield the staff as a greatsword… Just like a kanabo. The key truly lies in the training, to become such a being. An Oni so to speak. No, it will not give you huge swollen muscles. Do not inflate with supplements, simply for psychological strength. Train outside barefoot and bare shirt upon dirt as much as possible. Use granite blocks with awkward grips and such things. The actual weight of the kanabo is light in comparison to ‘everyday weight lifters’ and your daily reps should be in the hundreds and thousands. The torque of the wrists and strength of grip is another given strength all together. You will appear harder than any ‘sole body builder’ over time. Wiry and animalistic. Not swollen and soft of combative energy. It is energetically obvious who does what. Of course one should lift heavy weight in pursuit of combat prowess. Simply balance as to not become combatively weaker.

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What is it to become Oni? My first thoughts of imagination pull towards Shugendo. The Way of training and testing. A “hermitic” path of wilderness meditation, martial training (for many) and testing such things. Historically these men would be associated with aspects of spirituality such as the Yokai. Tengu and Oni. Both being wilderness embodiments. Feared and mysterious. Possessing powers Unknown to those of society. Thus these Shugendo practitioners are seen as something otherworldly. And what is the pursuit of martial arts than to unleash ones true Dragon, if dragon is what you wish to express. Oni ‘translates’ to many “things” westernly. Daemon, troll, ogre, giant etc. If taken into western understanding. First off, universalism in mythology carries countless flaws. In my mythological narrative, the closest comparable entity of the Oni would be the European Giant. I have written of the giant previously in depth. Jotunn. Yet there are many cultural options to attach such a being to in a universal expression. Does Daemon even have anything to do with Oni or the European pagan folkloric and mythological beings as ogres, trolls and giants? Are the latter even comparable to one another? Or is Daemon simply a Christian term used to brand everything non Christian, and still falsely used today to express understanding from other cultures. Daemon, what does such a thing truly mean? Does it even translate easternly? The word is Greek, the understanding is a supernatural being, not quite god, not quite human yet part of the human being, neither good nor evil by nature, yet sometimes one or the other, sometimes both. This has little to do with the pigeon hole nature of “later” abrahamic thought, using a word for their own cultural expression of something else. Sounds similar to forms of the Fey, to forms of the Yokai, the Giants, etc. If one wishes to be universalists in approach, yet keep the narrative somewhat similar. Thus the Christian “demon” becomes it’s own unique entity. The Greek Daemon is something all men may become, to understand. For what is the Id, the Dragon, the Giant. What is the base natural self when put into a hostile environment, just as what is such a thing when put into a loving environment? What is it when one enters combat of life and death? What natural aspect of self, yet extremely developed to be found, for how disconnected is the human being? Driven by ego, never coming close to touching what it really is capable of… Thus such warriors as the Shugenja become the Oni, the Tengu. Thus they are feared. This reminds me of the Ulfhednar ,Berserkers and Svinfylking of the sagas, as well as many other existing, living human expressions, simply in a generalized, flawed manner. There is the saying “Like giving a club to an Oni”. As in, now one is unstoppable. Ones power greatly enhanced. Indomitable. These wild haired, power enhanced, club bearing Oni brings one sight towards other similar mythological images. Mighty Thor with with magical hammer Mjolnir, wild and red haired. Samson the Judge, power ridden long locked haired, Nazarite from birth, wielding the jawbone and slaughtering thousands of enemies. Herakles, of the “long-haired Achaeans”, locked and bearded as depicted in original art. Fighting with his great club, able to impregnate fifty woman in one night. Symbols of Masculine power and dominance. The Oni also brings to mind the greatly misunderstood Grendel. Grendel being an embodiment of many berserker ‘dark’ qualities. Grendel and the berserker Beowulf being two sides of the same entity. It is my belief the origins of this story are extremely “Odinic.” Grendel being stealth, night, silent killing, cannibalism, etc. Just as the Oni are also ghostly, shadowy entities, as well as enraged animalistic field standing combatants. The true evil of the Beowulf epic were the warriors of Herot hall. Grendel being a man living in the swamps, who became something vastly powerful, sent to punish such decadence… another time. Always allow all mythological symbols to stand as they are. In the beginning and end, an Oni is an Oni. The ‘hero with a thousand faces’ theory, I am extremely against based upon many reasons. It is naive and ignorant of time, culture, historical figures, human psychology and creativity. Mine is the ‘thousand heroes with the face of humanity’ theory. Perhaps another time.

One must constantly test oneself, for oneself, against oneself. Soon will be the ‘day of ten thousand sorrows’. That is ten thousand kanabo strikes in a timely manner, “fencing around”, completed in a Japanese style… Oni Kanabodo… Previously it was three thousand ‘Thai kicks’ to taped pads upon the pell. What begins as endurance, becomes a test of pain and blood. Training is The Way, testing is The Way. There is no single definition to express The Way. “I am because I am not.”

Lone Warrior

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A true martial artist must often study alone. For alone is as we spend most of our time. It is in this solitude that we develop particular methods and regimes, tailored specifically for the individual. A habit of training style that revolves around life. I pull large amounts of inspiration from mythology in all pursuits of life. Just as mythology is a large bases for any religion, any way, any spirituality, any cultural expression of self outside of modern times. For today’s mythology is bound to the glowing boxes, bound to slavery and desire of the mob. No longer the cultural expression of self. Therefore the desire of the martial artist is to find something outside of this lowness of the human desire. This is the bases of martial arts. To guide us above, perhaps away. While grounding us to truthful action and behaviour. To seek more than the temporary pride and disgust of the mobs desire and the desire for the mob… My method is of the Lone Warrior. This is not simply the aspect of training alone as one must often do to obtain true mastery of self. This lies in mythology. This lies in technical understanding and practice. This is my way.

Mythologically I am most inspired by the aspect of the Lone Warrior. In a way, this is the core of European mythological traditions. Norse mythology, a final recording of European paganism, a recording, not a way. As that has been lost, never to be found. When studying such a thing, a key figure is the Einherjar, that is the Lone Warrior. Not the Single Warrior, in reference to one battle, this is modern armchair weak gibberish. The aspect of Lone is great importance. Just as Thor is ‘He who rides alone’. The greatest of Northern European champions The Hound, the key character of our greatest epic, is a face of this Lone Warrior aspect. As he stands alone against all. A terrifying yet beautiful champion. With strange personality traits of artistic behaviour, bearing and words, extreme introverting and extreme extroverting. Sensitivity that when exposed to such a life as that time, caused extreme changes in behaviour. Locked in complete psychosis in a way due to cultural upbringing and beliefs. Humble and honorable, proud and beautiful. Yet his bravery, his way, the teachings of the story, speak that one must be able to stand alone. This is the key element of many northern European myths. The cultural ways. The Einherjar are chosen champions. Lone Warriors, for they are capable of such a thing. Many men are not. Many men need the group, the tribe, to function and feel importance. This is not a bad thing, however one must be able to be the Lone. For this is were true strength develops. From your shield, not those besides you. This becomes more and more important as time becomes modern. As neighbors are no longer such a thing, and in a way, there are very few allies to be had in a modern capitalist society, and none of the same sex seen through the entire life. Thus we see the Lone warrior again and again. The archetype expressed in a multitude of ways. The ways of solitude and strength are expressed in many cultures, for there is much to find. A teaching that is to be harnessed. A teaching that is again and again bound to such a mythology.

Let us role-play momentarily into such a mindset as the Einherjar. First and foremost, there is no such thing as a religion as the men followed in today’s time. What religion it was, we do not know. We simply have later recorded mythologies, presumably attaching the stories to a remnant of a religion. Perspective: Consume Thyself. If so, we will continue. Such men truly believed in the afterlife of Valhalla. To live a life of worth to enter such a realm. What type of life, may be more open ended ethically that one could ever imagine. And please be real with such understanding, such things are not romantic and many aspects thoroughly disgusting during such a time. This does not apply to every man, only the cultural mob. This is why I truly stand by The Hounds Way, for this was an honourable and upstanding example of humanity and the martial Way. Regardless, the Einherjar must constantly prepare for the events of Ragnarok, there in lies the martial arts. Yet these men were not to face other men. They were to face the Jotnar. The mighty eaters of flesh. Powerful and hungry. Ravagers of the world, the bane of mankind. This was to be understood while living. Destined to face such opponents. Destined to pursue such prowess to stand ready in life, and afterwards death. And therefore it would be the warriors desire to obtain this ability, this prowess. To be found worthy of Valhalla.

Martial Arts. What type of training, we do not know. In such a culture you find particular weapons. The type of weapons you train with dictate what you become. The Dane Axe is a prevalent weapon found within such a culture, as well as far before. Artistically represented and by artifact into the bronze age. The Great Weapon. A weapon of the aristocratic elite. For training with such a thing is a Way unto itself. Training with such a weapon changes the body into its own aspect. Capable of standing against many, or something vastly more powerful than you. A weapon of the Lone Warrior. This brings to light the heroism, regardless of perspective, of the Lone Warrior of Stamford bridge, undoubtably armed with a Dane Axe. This also brings to mind the mythological aspect of the greatsword in later times as hinted at in the Goliath Fightbook. For the greatsword allowed one to stand against something vastly powerful. To both be Goliath and David. To both be the Giant and the Giant slayer. Just as the Einherjar. There is great power both martially and symbolically of such a weapons.

Technically speaking, I am obsessed with such a weapon. The greatsword, the greataxe, etc. It is my training of such weapons that have truly forced my Way. My mindest and fighting spirit. One must train day in and day out to understand what I speak of. Take your reps extremely high, hundreds, sometime thousands. Both fencing around and not. These weapons hold great power. Power of health, body and mind. You will not desire vast bulk, as ignorant understanding wishes to perceive in its calculation of combative strength, Such practice will not make you appear this way, especially when seeking to truly become your best with such weapons. The observant can tell were one puts there time and effort. What energy is combative and what energy is not. Simply do, and you will discover. As it is difficult to express. A few days ago a practiced with a longsword for the first time in three months, it felt as a knife. This makes such a thing very deadly. The constant use of a great weapon changes your psychology. That you could truly stand against something vastly more powerful than you, for you too hold such power in a different way, when weapon and body are one. Every weapon comes alive, every weapon wielded with ease, in a way you will never understand unless you dedicate yourself to the great weapon. This is not only bound to European martial arts. I am passionate of many Japanese arts as well. The Kanabo a powerful symbol and tool… The way of such a ‘Way’ truly creates an archetype, a power source to energize life. In that the great weapon is a Way unto itself. Impossible to express to those who do not know. Repetition upon repetition. The spirit to stand against something vastly powerful. The spirit to stand against many. The spirit to stand alone.

Martial Archetypes

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The path of martial arts brings one’s sight towards warriors of old. Inspirations, so to speak, of past men. Whether Samurai of Japan, Knights of Europe, etc, there is always an archetype lingering over the traditions. Yet when viewing these past men, it is important to see truth, and understand ones inspiration. Understand ones time. The truth is, that as modern men, true modern practitioners of martial arts, we are often above these past men in quality of character. Yet what of ability? This is up to the practitioner. You must sift through the fantasy and truth. Understand the archetype of the art.

When studying history, one must understand the truth and quality of men. That is the disgust of mankind and our behavior, if you choose to learn the details. A perfect example is the modern obsession with vikings. This is so lost and disconnected from reality to be laughable. The vikings were horrible people on average. I speak of the mob. They were not unique, everyone at this time, on average, was a horrible person. The knowledge that we have of their true religious rites, later mythology recordings aside, are quite disgusting and unneccesary. Acts of social dominance and fear that have little place within an enlightened society. Yes, the old laws of Christianity were often horrendous, yet the ways of paganism were often far worse. This goes hand in hand with the false aspect of feminism and viking times. This may be the most ignorant romance of modern minds and history. Sexism within norse society was extreme. The idea of a shield maiden is one of mythology. The pagan truth of mythological woman attendants in the hall is a representation of the actual countless sex slaves held by chieftains, shared with his warriors, serving the mens food. Funeral rites when such chieftains died were disgusting, slaves recorded to be raped and sacrificed, sent alongside their chieftains. This was not a society that valued women as you would wish to believe. Women fighting in old war is a romantic and fantasy driven concept. I speak of the warfield. Women can become great combatants/duelers with blades, thus perhaps the true shield maiden, the extreme rarity. Yet, within the shield wall, or any formation of close combat, this falls apart. This is simply nature at work, there were no sports supplements then. Most modern minds can not even properly imagine close combat in a reality based sense. Therefor are not envisioning what I speak of. Many examples could be given. The viking romance is only a romance. They are not unique, so many cultures through history are this way. This is the end perspective of history, to be completely jaded and disgusted by it all. Samurai of Japan are similarly lost in romance. The qualities of these men, their actions. The laws of Samurai Japan when one understands, there is nothing romantic here. Nor nothing too unique, regardless of religion or not, men will always be monsters. The same can be said of Knights of Europe, on and on.

So, what is it that inspires us? Truthfully it often comes down to artistic style and idealism. Idealism, in the sense that very few strove to high standards as human beings. That some men were worthy of respect. That “these” Knights truly followed chivalry to the grave. That “these” Samurai truly followed Bushido in a righteous way. Vikings who embodied the higher aspects of the later recorded Thor, I want to believe. These men are worth inspiration. One must always remember, the “average”, was nothing but disgust. Artistic style drives much of what humans partake in. What it is we are attracted to. For example, I really enjoy the style of medieval and renaissance Ireland and Scotland. The arms and styles of the Gallowglass. From the early Scottish “aristocratic” warriors, to the later native Irish “recruitment ” fighters. Am I inspired by the average Gallowglass. Of course not. The average was an ignorant brute, destined to live a short life, trained “quickly”(especially of the later), and cared nothing of right from wrong. His life was valued equally to his equipment. He was replaceable. It is up to command, and the veteran/clansmen immediately surrounding him, to be the intelligent ones (hopefully), this is why they filter into command. Are there a few that lived worthy of respect of character and true skill? Yes. Were most simple idiots, meat to fill armour and form a wall of axes? Yes. Therefore the old style appeals, simply as a modern perspective. This is the ideal of vikings for instance. It is the appeal of the artistic style that holds sway over us. Not the appeal of their truths. The romance of their mythologies, which were romantically recorded at the time of writing. Never facts of a religion and ritual. In the sense of artistic appeal, the Vendels are far more inspiring, the “pre-vikings”. The same I would say of the Landsknechts, and their great swords. Inspiring artistically, yet most falling short in truth. The Doppelsoldner being the backbone of skill amongst them. Same words to write of as the Gallowglass.

As modern martial artists, we are above most of these men. Our minds, our intelligence, our creativity, our diets, our fitness, and oftentimes, our martial ability. Does this make us greater combatants, that is up to you. For ones martial arts ability does not always translate into the ability to quickly win. This is the ability of the man. For this day, men are weaker in this sense, far weaker. The success of society has broken us. We have become limp and incapable on a mass scale, not all, simply many. Ever decreasing generation from generation. The strange hormonal exposure found within commercialized diets have affected all humans eating such a way. The combinations of such factors are taking a heavy toll on natural balances or lack of. Partake as you wish. Yet equally, we are still the same monsters. Controlled, hidden, veiled. Kept in line with just law. What would happen if such law was lifted? Well, horrible things would happen. For it is our natural behavior to act with disgust and hate. To dominate those weaker and create pain. This is the nature of the mob. Never to be trusted. The mob is always low and ignorant. It is the responsibility of righteous men, leaders and higher examples who stand above the mob, to control the mob. Therefore the control exerted upon society is a necessary one. Humanity does not deserve anything else.

Thus in this world of martial archetypes, understand the truth. Most importantly, create your own archetype. Take the greatest aspects of everything that inspires you. Everything that stands true and tall. Combine it all into a pillar of higher humanity and conciousness. Will it stand as unique and new? Of course not, there is not such thing. We only continue to build and develop what was. Therefore choose with honour. Truly become. Become your own Archetype.

Art: Gallowglass Concept, 2011

Consume Thyself

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How does one begin to write of spirituality? Perhaps at the end. Perhaps staying at the surface. Writing about anything in a spiritual nature is truly an impossible task. To openly speak or write of it is fallacy. Without consuming myself, or perhaps because I have consumed myself, there are breadcrumbs to write of, yet never gather. This is why true spiritual texts are written in poetic form, difficult to understand, woven within myth, a combination of history and story. Esoteric in an abstract sense, until more easily defined for the masses. Yet when approaching the word esoteric in a modern perspective, you enter into a world of fraud, lost minds, delusional concepts, and overall comedy. When studying the realms of mythology outside of the major world religions, held within a spiritual perspective, you are met with fantasy and chaos of the modern mind. Therefore, I write of modern esotericism.

When someone wishes to teach of such a thing, one only teaches of the self. A path that works for one person, attempting to capture it within whatever symbolism or mythology inspiring one. All religious paths dwelve into the self. Something is esoteric, known by few, as it typically pertains to very few. As each is seeking self understanding. Just as every religious teaching that has any worth to self improvement can be explained entirely within the realm of psychology, or entirely within the realm of the spirit. The goal is to find the balance.

My deep interest lies within spiritual western traditions. Perhaps tradition is not the right word. What tradition? My deep interest lies within western mythology. It is within these mythologies that we have an insight, an inspiration into western spirituality, yet only an insight. Pagan mythology is always recorded by the hands of “early” western Christianity. That is Catholicism. It is not that teachings within Christianity have been changed to be corrupted. As with all religions, teachings are manifested to inspire the culture and lands containing them. Therefore Christianity is westernized, as opposed to other Abrahamic traditions. Cast upon a pagan land, the forms of religion become somewhat pagan in approach. These are the saints and paths of Catholicism, leading towards God. Just as no pagan god recorded actually fits the role of an all encompassing God. Thus this is the western tradition that is cast in stone, these mythologies. All else is lost in mist. To believe otherwise is dillusion. There is an attempt at casting such pagan mythologies as a true form of religion. This is a complicated concept to delve into. For the closest thing one can grab unto is the past, that left very little, and that what it left, be very careful of… The idea of modern Norse or Celtic paganism is vastly one wrapped in romance. Throughout the century, from victorian era onward, you have theatrical fakes, projecting out “magic” and such western unorthodox and “surface universal” systems unto this mythological timeline. When looking at these mens works and acts, it is easy to see that there is nothing to respect or listen to. Simply an act of rebellion within society to cause an effect pleasing to few.

Thus we walk into terms such as shamanism, magic, witchcraft, etc. If one can openly speak of such a thing in spiritual objectiveness, one has missed the point and should not speak. For there is little to say. Rehashing the ideas of new books means little. Putting western mythologies atop eastern spiritual beliefs does not create the term you speak of. There are many eastern beliefs of warrant, that have similarities, as we are all humans. Shinto is a good example, yet stands alone as Shinto. The aestic paths of the Hindu’s another, yet the watered down perspective of such cults in the western modern understanding is worth little mention. Hinduism while a mixture of an Indo-European mythology combined with native Indian mythology, is still an “Eastern” mythology. Shamanism of Siberia, as this is what Shamanism is. We use the term shamanism modernly, to apply to an understanding of many cultures. While similar “practice” can be seen in many lands, the terms would vary vastly throughout culture, as well as the expression of ritual. While all of these offer insights into the world of spirituality, they still stand as what they are, within their own culture. While many cultures may seek the same “thing” as humans, the expression of art belongs to said culture. Inspiring, yes. To be called a different term, no.

Historic Witchcraft is a sub section of European Christianity. A form of Folk Christianity and magical beliefs combined with medieval/renaissance/modern era folklore and evolved from Pagan influences. With variation across lands. Having many similarities, such as fairy belief, yet no set “way”. Many folk of the land would know more about local folklore than the mythology of the Bible. In a sense their “Folk Christianity” could be considered a sub section of Folklore and magic. Typical history is always written from the viewpoint and about the aristocracy. When studying the religion of Europe, one often studies the religion of the upper and “middle” class. This is an extremely small percentage of the spiritual understanding of a land. This is something to deeply understand in all aspects of historical and anthropological study… Some lands are far closer to their pagan timeline than others. There is “folkloric” healing,cursing, charming, protection, visions, shape shifting, projection, familiars, etc. existent in “backwater” regions of Europe during the past centuries from medieval to modern era, yet this is not necessarily witchcraft, as witchcraft is only such when accused or able to be accused. Therefore there is no set “way” of witchcraft. A multitude of folkloric elements and true beliefs that become demonized by Christian authorities, or sometimes demonized by practitioners. Witchcraft as a true term is only relevant to Europe, the “Europeans” of It’s colonies and Christianity, other cultures and lands falling under something different. Just as North American native priests were described by the English as being similar to witches, never witches themselves. Which also brings forth the insight that “witches” were doing something distinct and recognizable for such comparison. Too much to be written of here. Many folkloric elements of “witchcraft lands” are vastly gone, save common “things” that are found even in modern western society, such as ghosts, folk medicine, many abrahamic religious beliefs, etc. Yet at the same time in some “remote” lands in Europe there are still many “witch like” practices, if such authorities existed modernly and wished to accuse. Folkloric beliefs and aspects that involve animal sacrifice, herbal practices, protections, etc. These are all aspects of Folk Christianity, just as historic witchcraft was a form of Folk Christianity, inspired by evolved European Pagan folklore and ways. There is so much overlap, so much grey… To be inspired through a personal path of western pagan mythology modernly is not witchcraft. There is no such thing as systematic ritual magic, as in one plus one equals two. As the projection and empowerment of ones intent varies with each individual, alongside ever changing meanings and inspirations(empowerment) of various “ingredients.” Save technical substances with technically true aspects. The ritual is only for the self or those viewing and/or participating in the result of performance art. There are acts of social and solitude empowerment that each must find for themselves. Is one spiritually able to influence the world around them? Or is one forming a powerful course of action before action, thus influencing the world around them? Perhaps both? Ask oneself? Trance/Altered states open up a complicated web of understanding. Able to be viewed from the realms of psychology to the realms of spirituality and magic. Both seeking to express the same actual act, whether the trance itself or ‘spiritual projection’. This leads into the study of psychics and energy, whether old or new as is typically the case, whether from psychology or magic. This is the “foundation” of any magic use, attempts and results within all cultures, if viewing psychics and energy as cultureless. Such a belief, real magic, matters nothing of the opinions of others.

Modern witchcraft is what it is, yet equally is what it is not. There is large variation within such an expression. From those seeking to pull from historic understanding to those claiming expression from entirely different continents. From a liberal safe place of anything goes, to a conservative approach of secrecy and source seeking. What the neo-creators of many such paths created, has spun into something entirely different over the decades, to become a liberal movement that was never intended. There are inspirations from victorian theatrics in nearly all these paths that have nothing to do with any sort of continuation of real historic expression. Although victorian artistic expression is also an expression of past folklore, folklore an extension of past influences. Thus, whatever neo witchcraft is, it is also not. Just as the old, there is no set “way”. Nor a set expression of self. Neo witchcraft is a free for all of anything goes, recently pulling a modern political approach of liberality. Many practitioners expressing a practice of self empowering theatrics and artistic symbolism of others, that left to their own right carry no power. Another subject is of Hermeticism, what it was historically and everything it was not. Hermeticism (Hermes is not Wotan), Alchemy and Kabbalahish practices have nothing to do with Historic Witchcraft, and for the most part have little to do with the historic versions of themselves. As one will grasp unto the neo/victorian forms of such things, seeking continuation. A side note, the fantasy genre is not an expansion of folklore or mythology, it is the rape and butchery of folklore and mythology. On another end of the spectrum you have the “black mass” types. Who seek the past accusations cast from christianity, whether past accusations sometimes real or often pulled from tortured tongues. Simply seeking short lasting rebellion. For they believe the black metal they listen to, being a satanist, etc, is intimidating or powerful. A reminder of a few theatrical victorian fakes in an abstract way. Regardless, “some” of the neo-witchcraft spectrum. Not an extension of the historic.

There are many aspects of history continued through time, artistic and spiritual expression, cultural expression, etc. that have a place of timelessness. There are many that do not. As humans one must decide for themselves, time will decide the rest.

There is no such thing as modern Norse Paganism continued from were the old left off, especially the word Norse Shamanism people strangely use today. We know very little of real Norse Paganism, and what we do know, well, be careful. You are not viking, not even close. If you truly believe you are dealing with Odin, you may wish to take off the costume before viewing the mirror. This is not victorian fantasy. Celtic Paganism is even more lost. The word Druid that is used is strange. Having an earth centered spirituality is a very common and respectable thing within the world, nothing new, overlapping it atop celtic mythologies does not create Druidism. Yet it does create something new. This can go on and on. There are a multitude of “Eastern” European neo-pagan beliefs. While many of the spiritualities fall closer upon the timeline of paganism, especially the Baltic states, the same aspects of the west apply to the east. What you will find in many Eastern European countries is a closer relationship with folkloric beliefs far into the modern era, especially amongst the peasants as as opposed to many of the lands of western Europe. Although many lands of Western Europe were equally rooted in folkloric belief. This is not a continuation of paganism, it is folkloric belief, developed from paganism, combined with Christianity, the embodiment of development and time. A form of Folk Christianity. There is much to be explored in this understanding of Eastern European folklore and spirituality.

The modern esoteric paths are ripe and many. Many are falsehoods and fantasy, manipulations of history. Do the gods, ancestral spirits, psychological concepts, cultural values, embodiments of nature, whatever you desire to view, exist? Existence is never to be defined by human words. Men and women do seek this existence modernly. And therefore there is a “way” that exist because of this, if only a misguided trend for many.  This is something new, disconnected from the old term, the old way. One must always understand this. There is no gap to be bridged of time, for a bridge requires sight of two sides. Yet in this newness there is existence. In existence it is to stay.

This is not to cast down the European myths, folklore and spirituality. This is to upbuild it with truth and stone. For there is great power within such ways. Great power to understand. To inspire, to move, to create. One must first take off the costume, the ignorance, the fantasy. Understand what is true of the world. Personal growth and enlightenment is something all men must find. Objective teaching and speaking of such a thing will forever be misunderstood, gaining respect from no one. For words do not create such a thing. As in every spiritual tradition, One must first consume ones self.

Art: Norse Shield Concept 2009

Bronze Age Strength

3200 years in the past, amongst the fens of northern Germany, within a valley near the Baltic Sea was perhaps the largest battle to take place in Europe to that day. It is to be called the Battle of Tollense, as the battle was fought at the river Tollense. A key terrain piece being a long bridge/ “mound bridge” over this river. It is an interesting story. One of a “uniquely” great scale of violence for this part of the world. If one sifts through the mud. It is an archaeologically rich find, and may reveal much more. This is an ever going discovery, very slow. Somewhat not new.

What you have is a collection of skeletons and artifacts from what was obviously a battle. Bones left in violence, bronze and stone weapons. From bronze and stone axes, spears, arrow heads, clubs, perhaps other organic weapons. Horses were also used. A large amount of jewellery, the hair rings I find attractive. A large amount of dead. Perhaps 130 and more, with other areas yet to be discovered. We have many examples of the battle wounds to study those given and received. Humans do not fight to the last man, especially in this era or fashion of violence, so one can multiply the combatants numbers. It is theorized from hundreds to thousands. We can also discover the origins of the dead, as in were they grew up. The large majority of the slain were not local. We know not exactly were, yet is seems a distant “neighbor”. Few of the dead were local. This speaks of the narrative. This is what I seek.
Much has been written of this discovery. In research one must brace himself, for strange perspectives of violence and such, yet you will find the facts of archaeology. Sift through scholars opinions and feel obligated to listen to no ones opinion. This is a stomping of the dead horse within history.

Yet what is this era and fashion? In warfare reason and style, we do not exactly know. It seems most past encounters during the bronze age were no more than skirmishes, not large bodies of warriors. Yet a skirmish can lead to extremely high casualty rates very quick, an entire band being wiped out within seconds or minutes. Many believe the bronze age was a more peaceful time overall. I believe this is true. Not because mankind was more peaceful, we could actually be more aggressive, and yet still it would be more peaceful. It was a lack of population crisis. People typically want to kill people because there so many of them to close. In this land and this area, there was theorized to live around 4 in a square kilometer, perhaps a family. Neighbors are distant. Of course there may be small centers of “power”. A small cluster of kin groups. So in essence, one must wish to truly take for the sake of taking, if one acted out in great numbers against another. Famine or some natural catastrophe excluded. Yet this was not the case here. The land and environment were plentiful, and have been for millennia. (Thus the interesting case of Herxheim…) Many also believe warfare may have been a contestation of groups displaying masculinity and prowess without violence. What would be a judgement of who is stronger. Whether true or not this would most likely be the beginning of most Northern European violence at this time. This said posturing could lead to duels. Once again a way of winning that would see few die. This was probably common. Yet to what outcome? For one could still not take what the other had. There for the system of deciding other terms. Not needing resources, yet establishing boundaries, hunting grounds. Perhaps dominance of subjected yet respected vassals. Did only trained warriors compete, or did all men. From the finds we see some were far better equipped than others. Horses were slain with a 1/25 ratio to humans. Did these horses belong to the “warrior caste”? Does this display a separation of caste? Makes sense. Were the warriors responsible for most warfare, yet in a case of true invasion many “others” came forth, makes sense. What were the warriors role? Administrative, religious, attached to bands, or separate and gathering in times of need, really just gangs? From a martial standpoint given technology, were the “warriors” greater then the population of “tribesmen”. The average tribesman was most likely a very capable hunter/ farmer/ gatherer/ builder/ survivor. As these are all skills one would need to live. This is why primitive skills go hand and hand with modern survival techniques. If technology was the separation of “caste”, as is often the way through time, this is a time of closely even technology. Whether one is wielding bronze, stone, or just wood, an even playing field… In an ideal environment the “trained warrior caste” had greater time to train for only war and does so. “And does so” is a large variation through time. This is of ultimately “feudal”/“tribal” perspectives. Modern becomes a different beast and time. Yet the mentality of Tollense continues forward always the same. The future of mankind. On and on. One surety is we are human. We take, we kill, we enslave, we rape, we plunder. It has always been this way. The battle of Tollense seems to speak of a sense of “total war”, kill them all mentality. A prime example of this would be the taking of Troy. A “contemporary battle” for the reasons of greed. The greek city states needed nothing from Troy, nor were they a threat. It was a reason of plunder, due to the threat of ego. Desire of water power. The numbers of combatants, the size of the city, far smaller then you believe. Hundreds, perhaps into thousands on either side. The Tollense battle thus stands as another, perhaps as great, if not fewer combatants. I guess three – four hundred, more if we find more slain, simply because if one loses a third or more of his forces, while the enemy did not, that would be great reason to retreat given these circumstances. And one would probably be unable to stop his men from doing so, if you could even call them his “men”.We have archaeology that speaks the story. That comes to life. That tells an immortal narrative, that no one recorded.

The narrative is simple yet one can see the life of Bronze age warfare. Or perhaps one can view a rare example of something, just as Troy would have been rare… The story is likely thus put simply without character. Somewhere within Germany, there rose a powerful war leader. One who united many kin groups under his power, surrounded by his immediate warriors. He wished to take from others. He most likely did so successfully. He decided to invade neighboring lands. This land south of the Baltic was his choice. His force came in strength, obviously to cause great damage to those living upon the lands. To take materials, enslave woman and children, kill men, make sacrifices, get drunk. There was knowledge of their coming. Word was spread by horse. Men took up arms in strength. Met them at a specific location of their choosing, the simplest way to enter their territory. A bridge that existed for generations, somewhat crude because it was old. Yet strong as much rock and timber has been added through the years. The two sides met. This was not and act of intimidation at this point and masculine pride. It was an act of true war. There would be the typical display of prowess by champions, one could theorize. Perhaps even some duels. Yet it came to battle, a rarity in this time. Probably some skirmishing were terrain permitted. Yet a large defense of the bridge. The fighting was desperate and intense. Hand to hand combat with no mercy. Men wailed in pain dying mortally wounded. Many slain outright, stabbed multiple times. Heads caved in with clubs. War trumpets sounding. Screams of rage, mixed with excitement and fear. Men yelling and shouting curses and blessings. Horses squealing in pain. The smell of blood and human insides. The invaders lost. And retreated home empty handed. Bodies were looted, perhaps thrown together. Some falling underwater to escape looting and not resurface.

What caused this victory to such a great extreme? Or simply did the victor carry off nearly all of his dead? The losing attempting to carry theirs as well, or not, depending on desperation of retreat. Technology was the same. And no side seemed to have terrain advantage, even if the battlefield was a choke point. Or did they? the tactics we do not know. Were defences of some sort built. Did one side have greater warriors, more skilled? Was the defending leader simply greater, inspired greater acts of valour? Or was it simply they were defending, and must act as one must. Not an invader, who truly did not need what he was taking. For there is an old saying, that when a man refuses to retreat from something, he gains the strength of two. Perhaps the enemy was simply outdone in strength.

Battle Axe Culture

VarangianAxesArt2.jpg

Of the “Battle Axe Culture”, both literally and extended. This will be a writing of martial arts perspectives while using an axe. European martial arts. As it can be easily viewed, that the axe obtained prevalence in Europe. That on the land of Europe, humans used the axe far more excessivly ,then is present on other continents. Yet first, when speaking of European martial arts. One should first understand what the word European actually means. This will be an extremely general overview. Academic perspective of writing can be silly at times, causing an over categorization that does not need to exist, in terms of overall understanding. I avoid writing in such a way, as we must expand our thinking. Very little in history, especially pre history is set in stone. It is built upon the imagination of intellegent men, who view artifacts and apply it to “cultural” understandings of contemporary times or times shortly there after, along with enviroment knowledge. It will change and is ever changing. We often categorize things using language, but when speaking of such old times, one cannot. And yet still identify.

Long ago, Europe was settled by Neanderthals. This is a reasonable point to start as we are speaking of European humans. These tribes, or small kin groups existed for tens of thousands of years, in a changing landscape. European Neanderthal was a “fairish” coloured creature. Hair, skin, etc. Over time came what one would call modern human. By the time they actually lived within Europe on a large scale, one in which we can view, they had developed unique characteristics from the land. We are speaking in terms of thousands of slow years of movement and integration. This contact would result in an Extremely slow assimilation of species. Both displacement of neanderthal, and interbreeding. Thus why those of modern European descent have neanderthal genes. This European species, now exists as hunters gatherers. It will remain this way for thousand upon thousand of years. The environment changing over time. Small movements and mixing with other “local” small groups. The landscape ever changing of course, as well as the animals similar and unfamiliar. Slowly from the south, agricultural practices grow greater and greater, and of course hunting continues. Wild land is ripe with meat, and hunting is not difficult. The pure hunter cultures become not pushed, yet simply existed further north due to climate. A way to separate culture academically, the hunters and the growers/ hunters. The landscape is greatly different. Europe was a large connected land mass. The British isles connect to land as well as Scandinavia, with a great mass between. We call this Doggerland. The landscape continues to change. The waters take much of the northern lands. Onward with late stone age cultures. Religion and mythologies continue to develop. Neanderthal man tens of thousands of years prior practiced what can be viewed as spiritual rites. The bronze age comes. The late stone and bronze age stand out both for the change of technology as well as what seems a change of rulership practice. It is genetically viewed that humans from the eastern european steppes came across Europe over these centuries. This is not an invasion, this is not a sweep. It is a slow moving migration of of kin groups. Some displacement, some setting up new aristocratic families, some just picking up new ways of existing. This will basically happen other times through and into the Iron age, under different cultures and names.. One can always count on mingling groups to mate with one another, especially when these groups appear similar in appearance. This changes the genetic data, if only slightly. Yet, this culture seemed more war like. We call this spreading culture the Battle Axe culture, or Corded Ware culture. Due to the beginnings of extensive axe motifs. Yet there is nothing unified of this culture, just art forms across areas and slight variations. Perhaps it was due to an increase of population pressure. Causing a more warlike perspective. A sense of competition as neighbors became too close. This is mankind’s instincts at work. These herders speak what we might begin to call Indo-European. In these times language is not a functional way to classify groups, as we know so little. During the bronze age, an extensive amount of cultures appear archaeologically. We over categorize things. Yet it does make sense. Yet understand what will separate two cultures within books. This culture created butterknives with a triangle drawn upon them. This other culture created the same knife with circles drawn upon it. This is often the depth of differences within neighboring cultures. Look at the large scale… Some of Mediterranean Europe begins what scholars call becoming more “asiatic”, this means middle eastern, as in the land said cultures existing upon them for tens of thousands of years. Then comes the Iron age, at various points across Europe. Once again the increased difference within Mediterranean Europe. Although you see in Greece around 1,000bc, what seems a rapid integration from a close northern culture, this happens in other areas as well. This is due to the warlike descendants of steppes cultures already greatly inter mingled with “Greek areas”, displacing some of the larger aristocracies, and large population comings. The Sparta of the Iliad is not the Sparta of classical Greece. This is a strange thing to point out, yet an obvious corrupted truth, the Mediterranean did display a large fondness to homosexual pedophilia perhaps due to their exposure to other eastern cultures who did as well. As well as many “civilized atrocities”. No matter what positive thing I read of the Greeks I always see them as a mockery of respect and ways. Their obsession is very viewable. And we as humans whitewash history with stupidity. It is an enigma as we view cultures. All are Scarred. Much human sacrifice for example, so many “barbaric atrocities”. Can you even separate the two? Your choice of perspective I say, and always present… Sparta was the most obsessed of all with their ways. Sparta is such a silly lie to the average man inspired by such a thing. But then again, my military interest does not lie in modern military perspectives. I am more interested in the aspect of tribal groups and said protectors and culture/ society that created them and they existed in. Pushing into the understanding of modern establishments, the development through centuries. Consequences, importance, misuse, futile actions, advanced thoughts of progression, are why we study history. We desperately need to understand it in order to move properly forward. Too many mistakes to view… Were some cultures more free than others? The ways were so confined, the paths so little. Yet any different than today? In particular places in the world today, yes. We have great choice and freedom, When acting within a culture. While confining, still more free than what others in the past experienced, and many experience today… Thus, long ago, one can on a general level, view Europe as Northern and Southern. Not West and East as we view today, broadly, for one can classify four. Yes, the south created “modern” civilizations and roads and such. Yet personally, I would rather live in a self made cabin in the middle of the woods of Canada, than a penthouse in Los Angeles. Thus a write from my perspective. Cultures continue to develop, and we keep using axes. Time continues, as it does, we understand history more. Christianity brings a somewhat cultural unification of Europe in place of Rome. Or perhaps in place of Rome. Both equally administrative. Yet also splitting, just like Rome. A somewhat foreign unification. On and on. Viking, Knights, etc. And then modern establishments. Back to axes…

From the European martial arts perspective. One can view the peak of the axe as the pollaxe. The go to weapon of the unmounted knight. Yet first we return to the “Battle Axe culture”. In prehistory we have clubs, then you attach stone. Stone that starts looking like an axe. Then we have bronze. Now we have axes. The bronze age gives us many examples. A culture that stands out is the Nordic Bronze age. A time the nordic land was warmer, than becoming very wet, and shortly after cold as one would think today. We have many axe examples, as well as large axe heads we found buried for ceremonial use. These axeheads are not ceremonially unusable. They could easily be used mounted up a large shaft the height of a man. A proto-dane axe if you will. Whether for combat or simply status. There are contemporary Nordic Bronze age images that show men using such axes. Yet can one take the proportions literally.? Yes and no. Yet it is under this path you will find the earliest version of the pollaxe. The nordic bronze age is a collection of artifacts from around 1700 bc-500bc. It is unique in the richness of material we have. It seems it circulated around a sun cult, as well as an earth goddess cult. As well as representations of many twin forms, most likely said two deities. Images of what could be proto-viking gods, yet this is a stretch and not, and never to be pressed further. As inspiration is what the culture seeks. Inspiration expressed in creativity and thoughts passed on. One of the most remarkable discoveries is the Egtved Girl. One who wore a beautiful and extremely attractive outfit, and with ones imagination makes an inspiring figure. Re-enactment, role-play, at it’s peak… Onward and onward. Two handed axes appear in the iron age. and onward to pollaxes. Styles and variations of many sorts. In an excessive amount.

Axe martial arts? There are few. Yet when one is skilled in longsword and ringen you will understand. First, the axe is horrible in an unarmored duel. A combat axe. Tool axes are a wedge, fighting ones a typical even thickness meat cleaver. As a tool, perhaps the single greatest modernly. For one can build nearly anything of natural materials with only an axe. In combat, with a combative one, forget about the sense of axing someone. Thrust and pull in the duel. Many axes are theorized to be mounted upside down if created traditionally. Just for this purpose, as well as better throwing qualities. Thrust push and strike pull. In a boom boom, saw way. This way you pull down shields, throw other off balance if strong, and attempt to strategically use it as a sword than a hook, or perhaps hook than sword. If two handed use as a “staff”. Upon grappling one handed, one may slip hand toward top in order to protect forearm to protect you. Especially if in armour on the field. It becomes more an aspect of ringen than axe. If allowed to swing, than in armour swing, as to dent the opponents. The ax can be used to slip range. As in hold it high then slip low. Yet anyone should know this and understand the slipped range. The two handed axe is to be used erect placed vertically in front of you. An attack of feet and collar. Always defended. Or as a “staff”. One could view in formation a dropping of a great wall of axes, Gallowglass style. An obstacle to say the least to wade into. Yet after the initial striking, no more “axe swinging”. It simply does not pertain to reality. Thus the vertical vortex. Or use as a spear that can pull. The use of the Hema poleaxe. A weapon existing in similar form for thousands of years. The basic axe, and how to wield it, how to create a better one combatively. If anything, one can always appreciate the imagery of the axe. a powerful, capable symbol. When studying, it is best to know what it is you study and why.

Thus a quick over view of Europe. Pre history is often a confusing thing to try and create a fluid timeline with. Especially one that may have any sense of unity. While all the timelines have unity, it is up to what we find in addition to our intelligent imaginations to seek the truth of it. History, Hema, on and on.

Werewolf

In all of my research through the years of my life. One of ever increasing knowledge, is European folklore from both an anthropological and historical level. Being able to loop a thread quickly through many eras and cause one to understand. One particular interest of mine is that of the werewolf. The European werewolf. This has nothing to do with universalist blanketing concepts of aspects such as south american jaguar men, african shape-shifters, japanese fox women, etc. This has to do with the actual subject of the true werewolf and sound steps of concepts and folklore surrounding them. Just as the term “african witchcraft”, or “native american shamanism” is a falsehood of concept and lore… The lore of the “werewolf”, a somewhat current term, stretches through Europe as long as there is research to find. With a strong germanic influence, and one might speak Balkan and Celtic influence, yet I believe both are from a pre-Germanic source. As people of somewhat shared identity lived upon these lands for tens of thousands of years, alongside wolves. Abrahamic influence and times changing the perception of what one (as in the threaded line) was, and its role within society. A change of form and yet not, as still that of a wolf in the eyes of Europe. One must search as many original werewolf trials as possible. As in the late medieval-early modern era many were tried and executed. Men, and woman were charged on accounts for werewolfery, often hand in hand with witchcraft. And yes, many of these accounts are based upon actual deserving charges, both good and bad. It was not simply a fictitious mass hysteria sweeping through Europe. It was a definition of truth often, yet equally one of falsehood, vindictive twisting of beliefs and judgements. Just as witchcraft. Yet also actions of atrocities, given a term. Remember though, most atrocities are just called religion, and without religion, it would be the same atrocities given a different title… I enjoy to write of folklore, in an academically sound, yet narrative way, while hopefully exposing new concepts. For folklore is to be a living breathing thing. So few can express it as such with sincerity. And yes the roots of the wolf are one to be taken very sincerely. What does stand out to me repeatedly, something that does not necessarily reach out to a specific group, yet perhaps sparks many, is the narrative of folklore, particularly European, as well as artistic representations of it. As these are our roots, and the greatest art is founded upon these concepts. Folklore is: religion, mythology, cultural perspectives, fireside entertainment, perceptions of real events, etc. The wolf cult in a lore sense is very old. Do these rennaissance concepts apply directly of it? Or simply a scapegoat of folklore applied upon something vastly different?… Such a grand narrative of ever changing perspectives and core roots is folklore rooted in reality. Something to be expressed in a grand narrative,of art lore and reality.