Updated: Jul 10, 2019
From protective Mars to wise Minerva, from brave Tyr to clever Freya, and from the foresight of Svyatovit and the auguries of Andraste to Macha’s unbreakable attitude, the Warrior wears many faces. Even beyond the gods and goddesses, the Warrior Archetype is evident in folk-heroes and heroines from many cultures: Vasilisa, Ivan-Durak, Bran, Cuchulain. The list goes on and on. The Warrior proves himself worthy by going where no one else has dared to go, doing what no one else has been able to do. Bringing that kind of energy into your own life can absolutely have benefits—even if you’re not a Soldier, or you’ve never considered yourself as a Warrior. So that brings me to the next phase of today’s talk: how to be a Warrior, in the old sense of the word, in the modern age.
There are five characteristics that I believe can be used to define the modern Warrior: courage, discipline, commitment, strength, and balance. Courage seems easy enough to understand, yet bravery takes many forms—not all of them physical. Having the courage to stand up for what you believe in, for what’s right and true and decent, having the courage to become your authentic self…those personal battles are every bit as challenging and important, if not more so, than the more traditional battles that serve as the common backdrop for the historical Warrior. That kind of courage requires you to not only to face others, but to truly face yourself, to look into your own soul and discover who you are, what you’re really made of. It isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t comfortable, but then…growth never is.
Discipline. Being a Warrior not only takes the courage to look into yourself, but also the discipline to do something about what you find. The dedication to constantly improve yourself so that you can better serve your family, your community—for after all, that’s the highest calling of the Warrior: to serve the greater good. It takes a lot of discipline to get up in the morning and go for a run when you’re tired (and possibly hungover) and you really just want to hit the snooze button, but you know that running is good for you and you haven’t done it in a while. It takes a lot of discipline to stay late at work to finish writing an order, even when you’d rather be at home with your family, so that your Soldiers have the maximum amount of time to react. It takes a lot of discipline to go out in the world every day and pretend to function as an adult when you barely know what you’re doing, because your family is counting on you, and you don’t want to let them down. Warriors are constantly seeking self-improvement and growth, and it requires discipline to stay that course.
Commitment. The modern Warrior also needs to have the commitment to the path of service to the greater good, to protect and improve the community in which they are a vital part. Like discipline and courage, this kind of commitment can take many forms: the parent who keeps their children safe and healthy, the first responder who literally runs toward danger in order to save others, and yes—the Soldier who volunteers to serve and protect their nation.
Strength. Walking the Warrior Path also requires a great deal of strength, and I do not necessarily mean physical strength (although physicality certainly factors into my personal approach to identifying as a Warrior), but the mental and emotional strength required to juggle the many demands that society places upon its Warriors. The Warrior tends to be an achiever—and the more the Warrior achieves, the more the world will ask of him or her. It requires an incredible amount of strength to be able to keep going when the obstacle seems insurmountable, when it’s been a long day in a long week in a long year, and you just want to grab a margarita and watch the sunset…but there’s a dragon that needs slaying, or a princess (or maybe a prince, you never know) that needs rescuing, and the Warrior has to Soldier on and save the day.
And finally, balance. Being a Warrior in the modern age requires balance—you can’t take care of others if you haven’t taken care of yourself. A sense of balance is something I see lacking all too frequently among those in leadership positions; they give absolutely all of themselves away to serve others, but in doing so, they have nothing left; their own essence is completely drained, and so they crumble, and eventually become ineffective as leaders since they have nothing left to give. Maintaining balance is key to being able to continue serving—whatever form that service takes.
There are many ways to cultivate some of these traits and bring that Warrior energy into your life, from conducting a simple warrior meditation or establishing a home altar dedicated to the Warrior Archetype in general or even a specific Warrior god or goddess. As I mentioned briefly when discussing the characteristic of strength, I do consider physical health and strength an important part of my own identity as a Warrior, although I do not believe that one *has* to possess a certain body type or minimum set of physical abilities to identify as a Warrior. But within my own approach, I use workouts—for me, usually a long distance run—as a form of Warrior devotional. I invite one of my patron gods or matron goddesses to join me for my morning runs, and when I’m feeling that I’ve been a bit lax lately, I’ll ask one of them to help me get back on the path; after all, most Warrior deities tend to be quite the athletes, and as I warned you at the beginning of my talk: Warrior gods will expect as much out of their Dedicants as they are willing to give them in return; they help those who help themselves.