As I wasn’t writing much about Gaelic spirituality at the time I started this blog, having started at a time of conflict, flux and burn out in the community and taking things more private for awhile, I have realized it might seem a sudden switch to some of my readers. While the intent of this was always to be about various aspects of the warrior path in my life and how they came together, the focus had been on fitness, self-defense and popular culture. That itself might seem quite a mix to some. But it really is in my interest in the warrior ways of ancient Ireland and Scotland that all those things come together, the physical training and the importance of story.
I’m not good at compartmentalizing. Somethings need to be, however, and therefore when I wanted a space to blog about homesteading and to share with my husband, I made another blog Dùn Sgàthan Notes, I also joined a blog for horse advocacy although between three of us we seem a bit too overwhelmed by it all to post much. Then, in order to share space for writing about things related to The Sarah Connor Charm School, I created a blog for the group. This last is the most likely to have cross-posting. (What am I saying? The only thing I’ve posted there so far has been reposts of things from here. I hope this doesn’t annoy those who might read both.)
But this blog is for all things related to women on the warrior path, however diverse that may be for me. It’s a place where things come together for me in my practice. Now I also have a real space location that brings things together, as well.
For years now I’ve had limited space for exercise equipment. Usually a small room, which usually means that things overflowed into the rest of the house.It lead to some bad habits, like making a stop by the computer in between sets, removing my focus.
When I was planning to build my own house, it was actually pretty much centered around the idea of having a gym. A gym/temple, really. But I never built my house. A decade ago we moved into the “in-law apartment” of my parents’ home. Since their deaths, we now own the house…and we still live in the apartment. I wasn’t ready to use the rest, the apartment is smaller and easier to care for and heat and it just doesn’t “flow” into the rest easily. But we decided to find ways to expand into the rest. And, it of course, started with a gym.
Moving the living room furniture out of the way (come spring most of it will be moved completely out), we put down padded flooring, moved in the weights, benches, heavy bag. We added a pull-up and dip tower, as I have given up, for now, on finding the perfect bed frame to turn on it’s side. When things are moved out more we’ll have more open space, especially to work the bag, and probably get more equipment over time.
And in the far corner is a shrine. I may be the only Polytheist, especially the only HARD Polytheist, out there who has a shrine in her gym with a statue of An Morrígan and a figure of Sarah Connor. I hope these are joined by a figure or picture of Scáthach or other literary Irish warrior woman, or many, but I’m not finding the right one(s). I’m looking for well done and muscular, tattooed would be nice but muscle is more important. I have some great ideas in my head but a lifetime frustration of never being able to get such images out onto paper (my sister got that talent). I do have a list, a sort of prayer, instead:
(ETA April 2012: I have changed this over this time period, please read this post on why and how it reads now)
There are photos all around of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Some, now collected in a frame, are worn, faded, damaged, having gone from apartment to apartment with me for years, the first for 20 years this year, taped to the walls of various “workout rooms.” Likewise, there are similar pictures of Kathy Long. Later these were joined by Demi Moore doing one-armed push-ups as Lt. Jordan O’Neal in G.I. Jane (this also includes the statement “Failure Is Not An Option” at top and D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Self-Pity” at the bottom) and Sigourney Weaver as Ripley 8. But now I have more pristine photos of Linda, with autographs, including one of us together. I’ll be printing more from ComicCon to go up, too.
But while An Morrígan and Sarah Connor grace my shrine, it is not to say that the two images are the same. One is a representation of my Goddess, the other is a representation of a role model. As a hard Polytheist I do not believe that the Goddesses and Gods are archetypes. They are real and They are many. Even a Goddess I worship of the same name as a Goddess you worship might not even be the same Goddess. We are limited, They are not so much, we do not always know who They are, only Who They tell us and They may tell us to meet our always limited understanding.
And while I might be limited, I’m not completely simple either. I have no problem with both worshiping Goddesses I believe are very real and alive and being inspired by stories both ancient and modern. For me Sarah Connor and other modern role models are as potent as the ancient ones of Ness and Scáthach and other literary figures who I also do not believe are degraded* Goddesses but humans in the tales.
So this space, this very sacred space to me, is filled with images that represent the warrior path for me. It allows me to stay far more focused and mindful, more reverent than I have been for some time when working out with weights. I meditate, usually sitting on the balance ball, before the shrine between sets. I focus on what I am doing, what I am offering. Because working out is worship for me, a practice that deteriorated by bad habits, which now I am breaking.
There are no offering plates on this shrine as there are on my others. The offering is my blood, sweat and tears. If something else is demanded there, it will be given, but the focus here is on the work of the body. And where that meets the spirit.
*Yes, I know even some Celtic scholars these days use “euhermerized” but this word actually means the opposite; it actually means that the historical becomes mythological, that humans become Deities, not the other way around.
Text and top photo copyright ©2011 Kym Lambert, wolf picture is currently photoshopped but a similar one will go there Drawing copyright © 2002 Aaron Miller
Photo of Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2 copyright © 1991 Carolco, currently owned by Pacificor LLC
16 thoughts on “A place where things come together”
Yes, I know even some Celtic scholars these days use "euhermerized" but this word actually means the opposite; it actually means that the historical becomes mythological, that humans become Deities, not the other way around.
Well that's a problem…I was taught the wrong, 'Celtic' meaning, I guess, but given the actual meaning conveys something I really don't want to, I'm going to have to rewrite a whole section now. Thanks for pointing it out (every day's a school day).
I do like the prayer; it seems like a good way to give what you do focus.
Yeah, I first learned it backwards, too, which is why despite having learned otherwise a bit back (another thing I have Diana Veronica Dominguez to thank for) I still find myself writing it…hence the note where I had corrected myself.
Sorry you have to do a rewrite, though.
The prayer has helped, the over all having a space like this, really has…getting this focus back has taken me back to a level I had lost. There's a sadness in the space, in how I have it, but there's a sweetness in that sadness too. It's a good space.
This is a great post. Your ideas and implementation are much more sophisticated than mine. But for example, I have my altar space in the same room as my gym (the altar space is in a little alcove) because for me, the two are intertwined so heavily that it just made sense. In my altar I have pictures of Sarah Connor, and other inspirational women, as well as other images of my God and those symbols that are sacred to him. So I definitely appreciate and love what you have done with your gym. I am sure my ideas and representations will expand over time, but I have been on this path for a much shorter time than you as well. But this is definitely an inspirational post. Thank you for sharing it.
I'd rather correct my mistakes than ignore them, so no worries.
I like the formula of following in the footsteps of those before me/us, and use it myself in my own prayers a lot. Perhaps if I'd done something similar to your setup before I began my attempts at getting fitter and healthier, which resulted in my slipped disc (indirectly, at least), things might have turned out a little better. Definitely food for thought, once I'm mended.
I think that your concept of an exercise space is a wonderful concept and an example to all of the Pagan warriors out there. So many in the Pagan community seem to apply the concept of "harm none" to everyone but themselves. They need to remember that includes them and that their bodies are their temples.
In Her Service, Kerr Cuhulain
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Jenn, I don't know how sophisticated my ideas really are, a lot of it has been instinct, following what I realized I needed to do and what I wasn't doing. I was getting too disconnected. It sounds like you are doing something very similar already, same role model, different Deity. I think we all expand and develop these things over time, too, it's a never ending process. Maybe at some point we can get together again and compare notes and show off our gyms. ~;)
Tairis, yes, I feel the same way, correcting as I learn.
I hope your back is mending, I know these things take time and it must be quite painful. Once you're cleared, perhaps a focused, prayerful approach will help. It might certainly help with the pacing, which can be important recovering from an injury and had become an issue for me. I found with the very disconnected way I was working out that I'd often rush through, not stay as aware of what I was doing, how my form was. I'd also find it difficult to stick to doing lighter, more meditative work when I was hurt.
I have always loved the "spiritual ancestor" concept, the idea that in spirit there have been those who have done, likely not the SAME thing, but something along that line. It's a big part of the draw of the Gaelic path, even if we don't know the details, even if we might question how the literature relates to Pagan thought, it still can make me feel that I'm doing something related to what was done before. And hopefully something that will be done, again perhaps not quite the same, after.
Kerr, I agree, the need to maintain the body as a temple (as I often say, healthy and well decorated but, I am also an ink freak) is often missed right now. I think our society's pressures, the way we're taught to eat (everything instantly available, seldom recognizable as food and gulped down) doesn't help.
I see people take that into their workouts too, as I noted to Tairis, I often would rush through my actual sets, too distracted to be focused. I feel making a sacred space like this, putting the attention to my Goddess and my workouts as my offering, makes me slow down.
Kym, I agree I think having the gym as a sacred space allows one to be more focused on the workouts. That is why I hate gyms – TVs and other people – it distracts me from the offering of the sweat. Yes, one day we shall work out together! 🙂
You know, when it comes to public gyms, it really depends on the gym for me. "Health club/meat market" types really just don't do it for me, except for a few that have free weights and hard-core weight machines which are mostly off to one area away from the cardio and more, um, soft-core weight machines. If so that area, like any real hard-core lifting gym, can be very much like a public church for me. Oh, the others there may not worship at all in the same way (although most did honor Sarah Connor, both the men and women in that area back in the early '90s), but they ARE reverent all the same. Every grunt and groan in the hard-core gyms or rooms are prayers. I'd say that until this gym, that's the most temple like I've ever had.
On the other hand, tonight I'm at work, currently having lunch. As I know I'll be exhausted when I get home and I might have along drive ahead, I'm hitting the gym here. I'll be alone, there is some good equipment but it's all messed up. That latter shows the lack of respect and reverence and it adds to how depressing the place is. I'll most likely go to my gym and meditate at the shrine for a bit when I get home to try to balance it out.
"Because working out is worship for me, a practice that deteriorated by bad habits, which now I am breaking.
There are no offering plates on this shrine as there are on my others. The offering is my blood, sweat and tears."
Love it! (Oh, and I don't forget Red Sonja!…just me?…:)
I love Red Sonja, although I never collected much. I'm currently contemplating a blog about my very complicated relationship with Wonder Woman (and the whole uproar over the new movie costume), but it's so complicated I'm overwhelmed by it (especially as I just found out in preparing for it that her new archenemy/ies is/are "The Morrigan."
Chances are I'll do a similar post when/if we start hearing more on the potential Red Sonja movie. These were my early shapings, after all. There may well be a reason I hennaed my hair for most of my adult life.
See how behind I am. I didn't even know they were making a new Red Sonja. Supposedly starting Rose McGowen – don't know how I feel about that.
Yeah, I'm likewise unsure about how I feel too. Maybe she's got major action chops, maybe Palicki does too. It's not like actresses have a ton of opportunities to show them off. But I just keep wanting to see a bit more obvious muscle.