On Being a Horse Warrior

I have written elsewhere that my thing is not about living in the past, whether it’s the homesteading thing, the Gaelic Heathen thing or the warrior thing. There are elements of the past which I do wish to bring into what I would hope would be a more sustainable future, however.

Olga Kurylenko on white horse in Centurian
 Centurion‘s idea of a Pictish horse warrior –my review

When it comes to the horse thing, especially when connected to the warrior thing, I do have to admit to loving certain romantic notions. But I’m also clear that I”m not likely to be charging off fighting others with sword and spear from the back of my might mare. I’m certainly not going to be fighting with a bow anymore than it was likely the Picts or Celts did, for all it’s a popular Hollywood image; forested land makes the bow/horse combination problematic for all that both might exist there. It’s far more useful to combine the two on open Steppes or plains, which tends to be where it is evident.

So I was recently inspired by a call for submissions to write an article on what the reality of the term is today. Now, I’m not one who usually considers activism to be a major part of the warrior path, if you’ve read this you know I do believe it’s about being ready for physical fights first. However, “horse warrior” is a term that has been used in the anti-horse-slaughter world for at least two decades and I’m going to stick to it. It fits that animals whose ancestors who fought with us and for us for so long,and still some do in various ways, gets to have people fighting for their lives.

 As someone dedicated to a War Goddess who is also associated with horses, it’s become an important part of what I do, both activism and taking care of them for Her. It’s a major part of my spiritual practice, in fact, and at least in spirit is tied to the warrior part.  Sure, I have fantasies of what it might be like to ride a true war horse. Someday I might even do some sort of reenactment games with my mare just for the fun of it….although I might be more inclined to Mounted Cowboy Shooting than to the SCA sort of thing (although the SCA stuff is closer to home, I haven’t found a sign of mounted shooting around here). But that’s just play.

As I note in the article, if Saorsa, my mare, ever becomes a bit more sociable in dealing with strangers, we might see about getting into a more realistic role of Search and Rescue. Right now she’s likely to want to eat anyone she fines, although she does love looking for us and I think that her curiosity would probably make her a potential for a scent horse rather than just a horse I ride while I search.

The publication didn’t happen (this is a different anthology than the one I’ve mentioned before which I have submitted a much larger article to) and I was left with this article that combines my story with Macha calling me back to take care of horses so I decided to throw it up on the website so please go to the link below:

Warriors for the Horse Goddess

White Pictish Pony by Aaron Miller

 

 copyright © Saigh Kym Lambert

Fat and the Pagan Community

The first real blog post I wrote here was The Abuse of Thin=Fat. Some readers may know I am again a Personal Fitness Trainer and I work from a Health At Every Size paradigm. My concern in fitness is about helping people find their strength, not reduce their size. This is in part because I don’t like to lie to people and the idea of permanent weight loss is a total lie for 95% of all who lose weight. And this is when they are maintaining the actions that worked for them to lose weight, although everyone from fitness instructors to doctors love to make accusations of “cheating” or “being unable to comprehend how much they are eating.” There is also, in fact, no actual evidence that being “obese” is itself a health hazard (there are just too many studies listed here for me to pick one). But another reason, coupled with these, is that I simply believe that being strong and powerful is more important than being tiny, and you really can not get smaller and not lose strength (without abusing dangerous drugs and totally screwing your health for life, so let’s leave it at you can’t do it).

This morning it came to my attention that much loved Pagan media personality (who I admit that I never heard of but there is a lot going on in Paganism I don’t pay attention to and the whole podcast thing somehow I just don’t get) David Grega died apparently from cardiac arrest at the young age of 27. Grega was also fat,* this prompted a blogger to write a post A Pagan Taboo, Obesity which gives a great deal of common misinformation regarding the correlation of fat and health. For every single one of his unsubstantiated claims at the end there are links disproving them at Truth Behind Fat: References.

This got a lot of other Pagans going, some of which is brought up in A Tragedy Creates Potential for a National Pagan Discussion on Health. This involves a lot more misinformation, a lot of “we should discuss other health matters but, of course, obesity is a major health issue” type of stuff. Well, no, not in the way they mean.

As is brought up at the beginning of Jane Raeburn’s post Pagans Discover Fat Hate, she points out that we really do not know what caused Grega’s heart failure. As far as I can tell we don’t know. It is just assumed that it was because he was fat. However, the post on Patheos points out that Grega had started a group known as Pagans promoting Healthy Active Tendencies (PHAT) and there it appears that he had actually lost 100 lbs. It would be just as easy for me, as a HAES advocate, to say that his death was caused by that weight loss, by his dieting, by over exercising, by emotional distress from self-shaming. But I’m not actually saying that, because I don’t know what caused his death and it would be just as wrong to assume that the weight loss had anything to do with it as it is for those claiming it was because he was fat. Either way, it’s 1) victim blaming and 2) based on absolute ignorance of the facts.

Keep in mind that several years ago a guy only about 10 years older than Grega, which is still young for heart disease, who was a very physically active outdoorsman also died of cardiac arrest. This probably surprised everyone, due to the fact he wasn’t fat. It turned out he had an undiagnosed heart defect. People of all sizes and all over the apparent health spectrum do, in fact, just drop dead from their heart stopping. A lot of things can stop the heart. It’s consider shocking news when a marathon runner does so, although some will blame overexercising for that (the same overexercising the same might demand fat people do, btw), most are just shocked.

This is, like all victim blaming, in part because people want a magic formula to keep it from happening to them. “Well, she was just asking to be raped, look at that dress!” really means “I’ll be safe, because I don’t dress like that.” “He died because he was fat” means “I won’t die because I’m thin” or “I won’t die because I”m going to lose the weight, I am.”  It’s not really an excuse for doing it, it’s not the whole reason everyone does it, but it is a big part of why people think this way.

But it doesn’t work. Remember one very important thing. We all die. And thin people get all the diseases that are considered “obesity related.” I know this, I’m thin and I was pre-diabetic…and getting diagnosed was almost impossible. Lifestyle can affect health, but lifestyle does not always affect size. There are skinny people who eat crap and don’t exercise, there are fat people who eat healthy food and exercise regularly. And even “lifestyle” related illnesses are not always linked to unhealthy lifestyles. Again, I ate what standard diet guidelines would claim was a healthy diet, but for my own needs it was too high in carbs and too low so it was spiking and dropping my blood sugar, I was not as active at the time this came up because of another illness which prevented me from exercising at the level I had been use to.

The truth is, we just never know. There are ways most of us can be healthy. However, this has to be separate from thoughts of weight.

Let me say that I do not believe anyone owes anyone to be healthy. If you do not want to eat a certain way or exercise or what ever, that’s your right. You do not owe me, the Pagan community or society at large any commitment to change your health or fitness levels. And, as Jane said, the path to health is a personal choice. If you feel that involves dieting, then I’m probably not going to change your mind anyway, but it’s also just your choice. Now, however, I’m going to talk as a HAES personal trainer. If you listen to me, it’s your choice, but I am going to be opinionated here.

Fitness is not about size, it’s about what you can do. We all differ in both size and capability, but except in extreme cases, most people can build their fitness levels up. They can become stronger, more flexible and gain more endurance than they had before exercising. They can improve their chances of getting certain diseases, through exercise and diet, although there are many illnesses that are not remotely affected. But all this comes regardless of weight loss.

In fact, striving to lose weight can be greatly detrimental to health for several reasons. Dieting can have adverse affects on health. Then there is simply the fact that self-hatred is just not healthy. And the weight-loss paradigm does not and cannot build self-esteem.

I believe in promoting health for those who want it. I want to see the Pagan community do more to promote real health. I do not want to see fat shaming and hatred and common lies to be a part of it. We should be healthy because, IMNSHO, it’s funner to have our bodies at their best. Fitness should be fun , not punishment and not torture. And what is fun for one Pagan isn’t going to be fun for another. The way I  train on the warrior path is likely going to seem horrible to someone who might be a priest/ess or a filidh. If health is the path we choose it should be a celebration without shame, without blame.

Here are some links for those interested in the HAES approach:
Health At Every Size Community
Dances with Fat so many great posts, you might want to start with 11 Reasons to Stop Focusing on Weight
The HAES Files
Big Liberty home of Truth Behind Fat: References

*note as a HAES trainer and Size Diversity advocate I use the preferred reclaiemd term “fat” rather than the misguided medical term “obese” or the common term “overweight” which falsely indicates that there is a particular weight one should be and to “over” that means something.

 copyright © Saigh Kym Lambert

Support rape survivors, not rapists…what an idea

I’ve been posting on my LiveJournal about the Polanski fiasco, in anger, shock and horror that so many celebrities seem to feel he shouldn’t be brought to justice because he’s supposedly a great artist. I’m horrified by some of his supporters and I can NOT support their work, I just can’t.

It’s rape survivors who need to be supported, not rapists, no matter what you think of the talent of said rapist. This…man, although it’s hardly suiting to give him that much dignity, forcibly raped a 13 year old child then ran from the country to avoid prosecution.

I’m so angry about this I can barely write, so I’m going to post the link to Kate Harding’s Salon.com post because she does a better job than I can.

I posted the names of those who have signed the petition supporting Polanski, supporting rape, standing up for rape, saying that it’s okay that this girl was brutilized in this LJ post and do not wish to repeat it again. I will add that Whoopi Goldberg, Harrison Ford, Debra Winger and Tilda Swinton have all publicly stated support as well.

On the plus side there is a growing list of big names who are speaking out against Polanski, for his return to the US for justice and in support of his victim (and other victims) at this link.

There is the “Art Does Not Excuse Rape: Polanski Must Face Justice” petition out there as well and PROMOTING AWARENESS, VICTIM EMPOWERMENT not only has Online petition – Rape IS Rape – Shatter the Silence of Sexual Violence going but are calling for rallies at movie theaters across the nation on October 10.

I, for one, do not want my money and support going to any filmmaker, writer, etc. who thinks that rape can be excused because of celebrity.