Once Upon A Time….

Once upon a time, I believed that the past was filled with women warriors and there was a great deal of evidence for it especially among the Celtic cultures. Oh, a minority for sure, but there was so much evidence. Such as Boudicca, whose story is told in this video (from the BBC shorts Horrible Histories), Scáthach, Aoife, Medb….the list goes on especially from Ireland, as well as the Cáin Adamnáin. After all, warriors wouldn’t follow a woman if they didn’t have faith in women as warriors, there wouldn’t be all these stories if there were no women warriors, there would be no need to outlaw women warriors if there were no women warriors…..

Now I no longer believe that. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I believe there were Celtic women warriors. What I stopped believing was that there is any good evidence.

It took me a long time to get here and even when I was I was at first a bit reticent about it. After all, I AM writing a book on the Gaelic warrior path for women. The slowness was in part due to the fact that many renown Celticists have supported the that this is evidence, usually just in passing and often citing such evidence as noted above. For example Nora Chadwick stated following noting the Cáin as well that, “Taking what we’re told of Gaulish women warriors by classical writers, together with Boudicca, Cartimandua and Maeve, and with these stories, we cannot but wonder whether there was not some such institution among the most ancient of Celtic people.” (The Celts pg. 136, see below) She is hardly alone in such statements.

As I started up Teh Project again, however, I couldn’t let things go “just in passing.” I actually had to face the evidence issue, because it is something that we must confront and be truthful about. That there is no good evidence, yet I whole heartedly do still believe there were some women warriors in the early Gaelic cultures.

My belief is based simply on the simple fact that no matter how misogynist and repressive a culture is, there are always some women who are of a warrior nature. They may not be accepted as part of mainstream armies or able to openly show themselves to be both women and warriors. They may have been forced adopt the guise of men. They may have been pirates, highwaywomen, outlaws of some kind. And Outlaw in the Gaelic form is something we’ll discuss in a moment.

This puts me in lonely place in the on going debate within both Celtic studies and the Pagan Community about women warriors. Because one side continues to use this evidence, while the other refutes it as evidence or even claims that because because these women warriors typically have supernatural powers it means that there never could have been any women warriors (one would think they never heard of Fionn Mac Cumhail and Cú Chulainn or seem to think that their skills are common among men?). Those who take this view, and there are too many to cite here (go on nearly any “Celtic” email list and dare to write the words “women warriors” and you’ll find them), often also include a deep seated belief that women are inherently unable to be warriors, for example Michael Enright’s unsubstantiated (in a book otherwise filled with obsessive citations) long ranty footnote about how women are constructed in such a way as to not have any ability to fight at all. (Lady With a Mead Cup, pg. 211) It should be noted his evidence for women as Seers, and only Seers, in the warbands mostly consists of exploring stories with some mix of history, when it comes to the Irish tales he only considers to Feidelm, not, for example, Scáthach who was both warrior and Seer).

So here’s the problem with the “evidence” in a nutshell (yeah, I’m going to make you wait to see if I finish Teh Project for more details nah nah nah nah nah):

A lot of women have led armies who have no experience with warfare in history, for instance Joan D’Arc; others have been rulers who sent armies into war, pretty much any ruling queen. (Fraser, The Warrior Queens) Boudicca may have been a trained warrior or she may have been a symbol of hope through horror who male warriors fought for but had never fought herself, we actually do not know. Those who tell us of her, Tacitus and Cassius Dio had only others’ tales to repeat. There is good propaganda, which we’ll also consider in a moment, for a patriarchal culture to have an enemy who supposedly said “”We Britons are used to women commanders in war; I am the daughter of mighty men.” (see also The Agricola and The Germania)

Nor do they tell us anything about whether other women fought under Boudicca or not. The idea is pervasive, but we don’t have evidence. All we have is a bit of logic and the knowledge that during times of crisis, during uprisings and civil wars, women often did take up arms even if it was not the norm. Often they were the push aside and their stories seldom told. (Goldstein, War and Gender)

Other Roman’s such as Ammianus Marcellinus and Diodorus Siculus tell us of Celtic women as big as the Celtic men and as or more courageous and formidable in a fight. The problem with these accounts, however, is that it’s a common tactic for for patriarchal cultures to paint the enemy males as effeminate by claiming their women are masculine and not in proper control, therefore, fighting. (see Goldstein, War and Gender). Again, it may or may not be true, but you can’t use the source as actual proof.

But I’m not writing about Gauls or Britons, I’m writing about Gaelic women warriors, there are tons of them, right? Indeed. In the Irish literature. In fact, along with the well known Medb, Scáthach and Aoife, as well as the Warrior Goddesses, Badb, Macha and Morrígan, who is Anann, there are others. The problem is, they are all stories, some not very flattering to the women warriors. It’s as simple as that.

And people do write, and even fear, things that aren’t real, (think Aliens, for example) so while the fact they’re fiction does not prove women warriors didn’t exist, although I’ve seen such claims actually made on “Celtic” mailing lists, on the basis that the women tend to have supernatural capabilities yet no one claims that stories of the amazing abilities of Cú Chulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhail prove there were no male warriors, it also doesn’t really prove they did. It’s inspirational, it’s hopeful, it’s not proof. And while some may call them myths and proclaim they are a “window” to the Pre-Christian ways, that has been refuted by current scholars. (see, Mallory, ed. Aspects of…, McCone, Pagan Past.., Nagy, Conversing with…)

But certainly no one would make a law forbidding something that wasn’t taking place and the Cáin Adamnáin outlaws women warriors. Well, the citation thing here is getting dense for a blog post, so I’ll let you go looking for silly laws, some are just silly things to have laws about but others just aren’t going to be an issue. But the problem here is that that’s not what the original law Adamnán, or someone, issued. The Lex Innocentium or “Law of the Innocents,” was a much shorter proclamation that clerics, women and children were not to be harmed during warfare, as non-combatants and the punishments if one did. The prologue where the Saint and his mother see butchered women and she forces her son to protect them, actually claims that in Pagan times all Irish women were slaves, the best of them forced by their husbands to fight against each other, not glorious, autonomous warriors. It becomes a problem to claim this shows there were women warriors unless you want to claim those women warriors were slaves. (Kelly, …Early Irish Law and Bitel, Land of Women, pg. 85, 103-110, 211, 223)

What about archaeological evidence? As far as I’ve been able to find, after much looking, and I’m still trying to get more resources on this, there hasn’t been any. And it’s always a problematic evidence where it is found. Burial practices vary a lot, sometimes cremation was used, sometimes there are artifacts and sometimes not and we don’t really know when there are if they were used in life or indicated something else.

Female burials with weapons are often credited with being warrior women (Davis-Kimball and Behan, Warrior Women), but in some cases this may not be correct. As Deborah J. Shepherd points out in “The Elusive Warrior Maiden Tradition: Bearing Weapons in Anglo-Saxon Society” (in Carman and Harding, eds. Ancient Warfare pg. 222-224) in Anglo-Saxon culture it was known that sonless men would name their daughter as a surrogate son and she’d carry weapons as a symbol of that position, but seemingly never would be trained with them. It’s been pointed out that we need osteoarchaeological study of remains to determine if someone buried with them used them in life; perhaps we need to do so in order to see if those not buried with weapons might have trained as well. (see Hanks, “Reconsidering Warfare, Status, and Gender,” iLinduff and Rubinson, eds. Are All Warriors Male? pg. 15-34, see the rest of this book for various views on various cultures)


Meave painting by J.C. Leyendecker 1907
So what the hells am I doing here, championing the concept of a modern Gaelic warrior path for women, I believe there is no evidence, if I in fact refute the evidence so many believe in? Well, sometimes I wonder. ~;p But really, it’s simple, as I already noted, I still believe there were women warriors, based only on circumstantial evidence as it were. Including the very personal knowledge that no matter what, some women just are called to this path, no matter what their culture might dictate. It may be a small number, but we exist and it’s unlikely there weren’t a few in any culture. “Few” never means “none.” It might make them hard to find, however.

Goldstein estimates the number of women warriors as 1%…that is both 1% of warriors are women and 1% of women are warriors…on average through the world and time. At the moment he estimates it’s about 3% although he’s noting only within the military, not LEO or others who may be described as warriors. (Goldstein, War and Gender, pg 10-11) And he notes not all of these women are in combat positions (although, of course, many non-combat personnel see combat these days…something that’s been true a lot throughout history). Given this, it’s not always hard to hide that 1-3% and can be very difficult to find.

So, I don’t believe there were a LOT of women warriors, but there were some. I also believe that they may not have been part of the culture, that is, I in the regular tribal groups there may only have been male warriors. I think the place female warriors might have existed is Outside, in the Outlaw warrior bands. While we can’t take it, obviously, as actual proof, it’s interesting that the words for “woman warrior” are, from what I’ve found, either a form of ban-fhénnid or bangaisgedh, which tend to indicate an Outlaw Warrior.

While clerics were happily writing tales of tribal matters, the stories of the Fianna, which when mentioned in saints tales were interchangeable with díberga, weren’t recorded until later (McCone, “Werewolves, …”). While we know that young males, prior to attaining their adult rights, would be in these bands, which is also shown in the tales of Fionn, Red and black Pictish Wolf by Aaron MillerMcCone finds it likely that there were men who were never given inheritance who remained. In the tales Fionn is an example. He doesn’t speculate about women in the bands, but Nagy notes those associated with Fionn himself, especially his fosterers. (The Wisdom of the Outlaw) In most of the tales we have of women involved, with the exception of Fionn’s fosterers and Aoife, who is so named (Scáthach isn’t, but is clearly a woman warrior who is Outside the culture in question), the women likewise are only ban-fhénnid for the time they must be for revenge. (Nessa and Creidne, for example) If women remained in the wilderness throughout their lives, how would we even know about it?

Another hint might be that although the early Christian Irish laws tended to see women as incapable of harming any but children and other women, there was concern over female werewolves. (confail conrecta, “a woman who likes to stray in wolf-shape, from Bitel, pg. 219-220, Carey, “Werewolves” pg. 64-68) McCone has made the connection between werewolves and the Outlaw Warriors, of course. (“Werewolves, Cyclopes,….”). It is a connection which intrigues me greatly.

Unfortunately, this is purely speculative and based on the stories. I hope we do get the archaeological evidence someday, but until then, my theory is that we should look to the stories for their inspiration. Many are uninspiring, with the women not shown in good light. I think it’s reasonable to retell these to ourselves in more positive ways, with the constant caveat that it’s not the way the stories went. We find inspiration in modern stories.

Stories, ancient or modern, inspire us, stories let us build our own stories, stories become true for us if we make them so. That’s why I am doing this.


Lisa Bitel, Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996

John Carey, “Werewolves in Medieval Ireland,” Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 44 (Winter 2002)

John Carman and Anthony Harding, eds. Ancient Warfare: Archaeological Perspectives, Gloustershire: Sutton Publishing, 2004

Cassius Deo, Roman History

Nora Chadwick, The Celts: A Lucid and Fascinating History, New York: Penguin Books, 1971

Jeannine Davis-Kimball and Mona Behan. Warrior Women: An Archaeologist’s Search for History’s Hidden Heroines, New York: Warner Books, 2002

Michael Enright, Lady With a Mead Cup: Ritual Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from La Tene to the Viking Age Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007

Antonia Fraser. The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women who have led Their Nations in War New York: Vintage Books, 1990

Joshua S. Goldstein, War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001

Fergus Kelly, A Guide to Early Irish Law, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (School of Celtic Studies), 2001

Katheryn M. Linduff and Karen S. Rubinson, eds. Are All Warriors Male? Gender Roles on the Ancient Eurasian Steppe, Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2008

Kim McCone, “Werewolves, Cyclopes, Díberga and Fíanna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland” Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, issue 12, 1986

Kim McCone, Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature, Maynooth: An Sagart, 1990

J. P. Mallory, ed. Aspects of The Táin, Belfast: December Publications, 1992

Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History, Book 15. London: Bohn, 1862

Kuno Meyer, Cáin Adamnáin: an old-Irish treatise on the law of Adamnan, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905

Kuno Meyer, Fianaigecht :being a collection of hitherto inedited Irish poems and tales relating to Finn and his Fiana, Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., 1910

Joseph Falaky Nagy. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985

Joseph Falaky Nagy, Conversing with Angels and Ancient: Literary Myths of Medieval Ireland, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997

Diodorus Siculus The Library of History

Whitley Stokes, trans, “Scéla Conchobair maic Nessa/The Tidings of Conchobar son of Ness,Ériu vol. II. London: David Nutt, 1908

Tacitus, The Annals of Tacitus

Tacitus, (M. Mattingly and S. A. Handford, trans.) The Agricola and The Germania, New York: Penguin Books, 1970

copyright ©2011 Kym Lambert
Meave painting
by J.C. Leyendecker 1907 for Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Ancient Irish Sagas”
Pictish Wolf reproduction © 2002 Aaron Miller

Not writing except to write about writing

Okay, one big issue with posting here is how to I follow up the last post? I mean *swoons*

The other is, I’m supposed to be writing something for hard copy, so I’ve backed off some of my online writing. But I’m sort of stuck on Teh Project and maybe some venting and “thinking out loud” or “in sight” or whatever, will help? Maybe, maybe not.

But likely I’ll be doing some speculating, because some of this needs some feedback. I mean, if I’m writing something no one is going to read other than a few friends, then I might back off and focus on other things, sharing with those friends in a more informal manner.

So the major question coming up: are you interested in a book about how women can aspire on the Gaelic warrior path that doesn’t give any of the fantasy that the ancient Gaelic world was filled with wall to wall women warriors? One that uses story as inspiration, but remembers that they are stories? That looks for what clues to real women warriors there might have been but admits the evidence is sparse to non-existent no matter what even some Celtic scholars have wanted to believe?

Or, how about this: Do you want such a book that also says you have to be able to fight and that “warrior” doesn’t just refer to being emotionally empowered? A book that includes discussion of fitness, martial arts, self-defense and weapons…including firearms? Okay, if you’ve been here awhile I’m thinking that maybe you do want that, but that brings us back to “a few friends.” ~;p

In relation to the last questions, I’m also getting my AFAA Personal Trainer certification reinstated. This will likely affect some of my blogging activity, as well as some of the content of Teh Project, whether it affects my income or not is another matter, given my location and the general economic atmosphere. I guess another question is: If Teh Project gets published, are you interested in a companion fitness workbook? ~;p I mean, I gotta do SOMETHING with this thing. Or maybe I’ll dump this and do that instead.

It’s about the pain, or what we want to do with it.

In an interview at the MCM London Expo last May (which tells you how long I have been thinking about this), Linda Hamilton remarked regarding fans wanting to be like her Terminator and Terminator 2 character Sarah Connor, “I was playing a character in a hell of the world’s making. She’s in so much pain. Why would anyone want to be like that?”

My immediate reaction, which I did briefly express in comments on that page, was, “Well, because we’re ALL in pain and we’re looking for a role model to help us figure out how to deal with it.” I don’t know that in all these years of wondering “What Would Sarah Do?” and before and after looking for role models to match her, I really thought of it that way. But, really, isn’t that exactly what it all comes down to?

We all have pain. We may not lose our mother, friends, lover and many surrounding us to a machine from the future, but we do lose those we love to other terminators throughout our lives. We may not face the fact that our child is going to be entering a known dangerous future, where he’ll be burdened with saving humanity, but those who have children (their own or those of others close to them) are faced with, at best, their unknown futures, and sometimes very real and immediate fears for their lives and safety. Our pains might not be quite interesting enough to be a subject of a movie, and when they are they are usually such direly depressing movies that we don’t watch them, but they are real.

“Escapism” really often is about watching someone else have pain that is more interesting than ours. At times perhaps it is escape we are looking for, to see someone go through something that just makes us, for an hour or two not think about our own. But I think many of us “fangirls” and “fanboys” of particular, especially action, characters, often do so because we like the way those characters deal with their pain. And while we would not want their pain as well, certainly do not wish those horrors upon ourselves and our loved ones, we want to be able to deal with what we do face in a similar manner.

This means that the fiction we tend to prefer may well say something about how we wish to cope with or solve the problems and sorrows in our lives. Those who mostly watch comedies might prefer search for laughter to soften the blows of life. We who favor action, horror or science fiction movies probably want to cowgirl up, face things down and carry on. Of course, most of us probably want different coping methods at different times which is why some of us have varied tastes in our fiction.

I think that Sarah Connor is revolutionary in this way, as much as she is for her physique and prowess with arms, in that she gives women that role model to carry on and do what needs doing. And, indeed, that strength and fighting skills were part of her answers is revolutionary as well. The training, the preparation, the choosing to become a warrior, rather than just remain the reactive Final Girl, these things are hard to find in female characters, especially in film.

It’s not hard to realize that the fictional “solution” to pain focused on female audiences has often been, in one way or another, to be saved. Whether it’s the lighter offerings of romantic comedies where the heroine is in a bad relationship or none at all until she meets the right guy who helps her out of her current situation or the darker action where the heroine’s very life is in peril and the hero must risk his to save her, this has been a standard message. It’s been there for a long time, whether the saving of the damsel is the main story or just a side-bar of the hero’s journey. There have, however, long been plucky heroines who have saved themselves in many cultures, sometimes even by taking up arms. Some even trained hard to do so, but this has been rare and still is.

Even when we’re not being taught that we must wait for our Knight in Shining Armor to come sweep us to safety, we may be taught to just wait. Many of our more physically active heroines, after all, are endowed with the power to solve their dilemmas from some outside source. Whether it’s the Bionic Woman’s science fiction enhancement or Buffy’s supernatural vampire slaying powers being awakened or so many comic book heroines who go may run the gambit between “science” and mystical, we may well wish for suddenly being gifted with the power to take on our own problems. Even those heroines born with powers can instill the same desire, their typical “alien” identity often calling out to our own feelings of being alienated, that we might wake up to the realization that we are special and do have powers we never expected (that many do believe this these days, in the Otherkin phenomenon, is a can of worms I probably shouldn’t open). (I’m not going to say there are not similar male characters, just that there does seem to be more of a balance between them and those men who take action for themselves.)

But the truth is, Otherkindred aside, we’re not going to get those powers. So, certainly, we have heroines who have no powers but persevere. Ripley and a parade of Final Girls in horror films never prepare to any real extent. Ripley in Aliens goes through some weapons training after the threat has been established, but that’s about the most we ever see in any of these movies. This gives us hope that any woman could survive, given enough attitude. And so, we can survive our own trials, we’ll face them as they come.

As women we are supposed to constantly fear sexual violence, and so we have “good” examples of women saving themselves with attitude and ingenuity. In fact, we have an entire B-movie genre, the Rape Vengeance movies. I Spit on Your Grave is, of course, the representative of this genre. Like other Final Girls, the heroine doesn’t prepare and her sense of power is continually tainted with terror while her success is often dependent on just plain luck. It gives us a gratifying sense of vengeance, but no real role model.

Similarly, the cinematically superior, but inaccurately (or was it meant to be ironic?) titled, The Brave One, followed a similar formula replacing rape with the death of a loved one (which in a world where women are trained to see men as protectors this alone gives a similar sense of vulnerability) and the hillbilly hell setting with the dangerous urban world that the character had always lived in but seemed to be previously oblivious of. Many women related to Jodie Foster’s character’s fear and her striving to protect herself and avenge her lover, but instead of offering a role model of developed strength we get one of continued fear and powerlessness. She substitutes a gun she never learns how to use for real power, for real preparation, she never really gains control, she remains reactive and in terror to the very end. She is perhaps a good example of how many of us do deal with our day to day trials, scared, unthinking, out of control, nearly hysterical, sometimes getting lucky in our blind actions but never acting with strength. Again, a message society often tells women we are and can never get beyond, irrational, vulnerable, even when we do manage to enact our revenge.

In The Terminator Sarah starts out like Final Girls and those who are gifted with powers as just one of us, someone most of us can relate to. She works a very typically female shit-job, she is in college but there is some sense that she’s not really found her path yet, she’s stood up by a date with someone she apparently barely knows; she’s nowhere and we’ve all been there. Fate intervenes and she does find out she’s special, but instead of getting gifted with a power which will make her tasks easier, she’s given the burden of knowing she’s to bear a son who will be a great leader but in a world of utter hell. She’s a Final Girl, reacting, whining and scrambling in a situation she’s unprepared for, with tragedy after tragedy striking in just one night as her best friend, her mother and her lover, along with many others are killed. But in the end she makes a choice, to stop whining, to stop being reactionary, to prepare her son for what he must face by preparing herself. It might not be a totally independent decision, for she is told that she was the one who trained her son of the future, but for that young woman who “can’t even balance my checkbook” it was a big one.

We don’t see that preparation, but we see the results from the moment Sarah appears in Terminator 2. We see her chinning in a situation where maintaining any fitness level would take such a stronger degree of commitment than any of our own issues with motivation at getting to a gym can compare. She soon is picking locks and taking out orderlies with the skills she learned. These things tell us she prepared. And to those of us whose desire is to face our problems by being prepared, she’s awesome. Hard, inside and out, yes, but there are times this is needed. Hair triggered, but even “out of control” she’s got power because of her training.

It might seem strange that a character who onscreen never faces the threat of serious rape, face licking sexual abuse is as much as we’re shown (even the non-sexual beat down from the same orderly was not shown in the original theatrical release), has become an icon for many to prepare against sexual violence. It’s actually that she never is shown to be so imperiled that is at the very core of why she’s so inspiring. In a world where women are considered constantly at risk of sexual assault, she actually represents a woman who isn’t at the same degree of risk. Even in taking the gross face lick, there’s a strategy, she’s biding her time for what needs to be done, and that insult isn’t that important in the long run. Even taking the orderly out, though there might have been some feelings of rightful revenge, is more about getting him out of the way to deal with real problems. The threat of sexual violence is something to be dealt with efficiently and quickly, not pondered upon, just get the problem man out of the way and move on.

It has been pointed out that her muscle and Krav Maga skills would be pointless against the machines, but that doesn’t mean they were pointless in her training. We can well imagine that in the “man’s world,” a literal jungle, where she sought out paramilitary training, there were men who would have gladly taken out their violence upon a lone woman. She may well have been a rape survivor during the early days, that may indeed be an added pain, one many of us share, that is never revealed. But considering the future she and her son face, there are greater threats. So, the skills needed to deal with those men are acquired with the skills needed to deal with the future threats, again, when the threat is presented, get the problem man out of the way and move on.

Likewise, muscles, guns and hand-to-hand combat skills, which many of have been inspired to pursue (and some of us where before but just found our role model) might not help any of us with most of the problems we face. But the fact is, sexual violence is a threat that women live with everyday, the statistics remain high that we will be assaulted in some way by someone, stranger or “loved one,” at some point in our lives. Many consider it just a fact we have to contend with. It’s not our only problem, it’s not a problem most of us actually face on a daily basis (although some might fear it almost constantly), but the truth is, it’s a major burden lifted from your life when you feel just that much less vulnerable than you did before.

Knowing that should it come up, you have a good chance, that you are prepared, that perhaps that asshole who thinks you are a victim is the one that should be worried more than you, it does change how you handle other things. Living in fear, feeling that at least half of the world could take you out in a moment, does not empower you on any level. Sarah showed us that such threats can be just something to get out of the way should they come up. Until then, you can do what needs to be done to deal with the other shit in your life. So she becomes a symbol of the ultimate preparations against any sort of assault we might face.

This is, as I’ve noted before, the greatest travesty of Terminator Salvation, that the franchise that gave us this ultimate role model of strength, turned around and made the one female character who could have carried on that legacy into just a victim. A victim who needs a big strong Knight to save her. That demonstrates the very thing that Sarah Connor represented our journey away from.

And when it comes to other problems in our lives, Sarah can still offer us hope. We can face the loss of loved ones and still strive towards our goals because she did. If our tasks seem hard and overwhelming, we can stoically strive on, with out whining (or at least not for long), without faltering, because, well, she got through her burdens and, even when there seemed no hope, fought to find a better solution. Certainly she mourned her dead, she went from just conceiving to very pregnant in the last scene of Terminator, but she shows eventually you pack up your dog, gun and Spanish dictionary and head head out to prepare for what’s to come.

Of course, there is another factor in dealing with the sadness issue at hand in what Sarah inspires for us. Moments of sheer joy. It’s the endorphins, baby. Working out, martial arts/self-defense training and defensive shooting training all give us strong endorphin dumps. It might not solve the problems, it might not cure the source of the sad, but it certainly is nice to have those periods of elation.

So, Linda (although I’m sure you’ll never read this) and others who ask this question, this is why we want to be like Sarah. No, we don’t want her burdens added to our own. We just want her strength, which you demonstrated so well, to handle them. Strong and hard, sometimes too alone and shut-off but we can find our way back to love too, sometimes ranting and raving at a world that can’t grasp the hard truths, always prepared, with a plan, getting the small problems out of the way so we can deal with saving the world as best we can.

And it’s kind of nice if we can groove on some endorphins and look our buffist while we do it, too.

Copyright © 2010 Saigh Kym Lambert


As I noted previously, when I started this blog it was to write about the warrior path from all the angles I approach it, the spiritual, the ancient literary and historical as well as the actual training and the pop cultural. But by the time I really started working on it, I had backed off of writing about spirituality and my historical studies for various reasons I won’t get into right now. I felt more comfortable writing about my training, about self-defense and about how Sarah Connor is a mega inspiration. I threw myself into The Sarah Connor Charm School at the same time I privately got back to work on a lot of very spiritual matters that I didn’t write about.

Of course, it all connects for me, when I go out shooting I feel An Morrígan, the Goddess I am oathed to, with me, as I do when I lift, when I run, when I work…all the time. But I don’t really mention it much. The pop cultural ties into the ancient literature for me as well and both tie into my training and my spirituality. Story has power, no matter the source. Sometimes, as I’ve written about, the power is very negative…and sometimes even negative stories end up having power. I need to get into that more here, I think. In fact, I have some ideas.

I think that a part of my problem in writing a lot of this is that I find very few others making the connections that I make. Oh, there are some…some of you reading this, in fact. But I learned several years ago that my outlook is different than a lot of other Pagans. I realized this when I was working on an article for a women’s spirituality magazine and I was told it wasn’t “Goddess focused” enough. It was to me! But the editor couldn’t see it. She saw that I included factual information about violence against women and she couldn’t see the spirituality behind it, even with all the woo I thought I was putting in. I suck at writing woo, apparently.

And now, as I take up a writing project about the warrior path for Pagan women, I realize that I’m not in the same space as most who claim similar interests. Part of it is that I do not believe that there were all these huge numbers of women warriors in the past, especially not in Celtic cultures which I am focused on. Oh, I believe they existed, but the evidence isn’t there to support it so I can’t SAY they existed…which is what so many want to hear. Or others want to say that lack of evidence proves they didn’t. This, of course, is where story comes to play for me. What do all these stories mean?

And then there are those who, always mind boggling to me, want to be some sort of pacifist warriors. “Warriors don’t really fight, you know. It doesn’t mean that.” Um, it doesn’t? These same people, mostly women but hardly all women, also usually try to transform An Morrígan into some sort of loving Soccer Mom, who protects the weak rather than demands effort from the strong. Sorry, it doesn’t wash with either the lore about Her or my own experiences. I can’t say whether other people’s experiences are valid, but based on all that is know about Her, I can question it. Especially with the bizarre “retellings” of Her stories which are so far from what is in the lore as to, well, break ones brain to read.

When An Morrígan claimed me I had to question a lot about what I believed about myself and my God/desses…and the world. It’s still often a long, hard haul. But it’s there. Everything I do in life is either part of it or, still, fighting against it. Everything.

Where my training and my studies have taken me in the past few years, since splitting from working with people who I now realize were toxic to me and through the death of my parents, is sometimes mind shattering. While I’ve been transforming for years, there have been leaps forced by the events in my life and healing I needed to do. And I do believe it has led me to the right place to get back to work on the writing project which will sum this all up.

So things might crop up here of a more spiritual nature or of more ancient “pop culture” of story telling over the coming months. We’ll see how the mix goes here, perhaps. And perhaps someday some of you will be interested in this thing that has started to eat my life. Maybe.

Out of the freezer

When I began this blog I actually intended to have it focused on the combination of my own training, which you will find here, and thoughts about early Gaelic warrior culture especially relating to women and how that influences my physical and spiritual path working, which you probably find lacking. A lot of stuff went on, however, making be back away from writing about my spiritual path. Some was the hells I was going through with all the death, other issues were around a collaboration that went all to hell which has caused me to disassociate from not only everyone I was working with at the time but also the name, I coined, for the religious path. And then there was all the death going on around me. I also had looked back at the writing I did on this when I was in college and that sort of killed any real interest; while I feel I learned a lot while in college, I’ve learned much more in the years since, making my hope to rework what I wrote back then mostly futile.

So I turned my attention more to “women warriors” in pop culture here, a subject which is, in many ways connects to the other for me. How? Through story.

Whether it’s the ancient Irish literature (and yes, it’s more correctly “literature” rather than “myth” even if some myth might influence it none was the mythology of those who wrote it down and much was influenced by classical literature that the monks would have been trained in) or a modern movie, story matters. How it matters to a woman today walking a warrior path is a large part of my exploration, no matter the origin of the story. So the focus here changed to exploring how movies and TV can affect us and our path.

However, when I lost internet access, I ended up pulling this project out of the freezer…having long since removed it from even the back burner. Some of it was spoiled, useless, had to be discarded. But there were a few bits still useful, along with other things I’ve written since then. And others have done research since then that helps.

Land of Women by Lisa Bitel is a wonderful, if often sobering look at the realities of life for women in early Christian Ireland (the first era we have any such information on). A Woman’s Words: Emer and Female Speech in the Ulster Cycle by Joanne Findon takes an interesting look at how this woman is presented…not a woman who is going to be much featured in my own work, but it’s a tactic that interests me. And was well used by Diana Veronica Dominguez in her dissertation “Is dethbir disi” [It is appropriate (that she behave in this way)]: applying the lens of gender parody to Medb in the Old Irish Ulster Cycle (now a book reviewed by me here) about a woman who does. Are All Warriors Male? Gender Roles on the Ancient Eurasian Steppe edited by Katheryn M. Linduff and Karen S. Rubinson is another exciting find. There are more, really, too many to list, but I thought I’d share these.

So, I may or may not share more about getting back to this study. You might have to wait for the book, provided I can sell it. It’s not going to be what many seem to look for, from what I can tell by what is out there, in a “woman warrior book.” I’m not giving grand fantasies that women warriors roamed the ancient world in huge numbers, nor am I giving some new age platitudes about “peaceful warriors” or “inner warriors” or any such thing. Of course, this latter, at least, I suppose those who read this should expect. I will be preaching that “warrior” does mean one is at least prepared, if not actually experienced, to fight. That this isn’t fantasy, but life.

And yes, while there is a focus in this project on exploring the ancient tales and what history there is, there will be a discussion on how pop culture relates as well as a lot on physical training both in fitness and fighting. So much of what has been here already will be reflected.

I just thought I’d share where I’m at with this, while I do have a moment with access to the blog. Meanwhile, stay strong!