A few days ago, I asked several groups on Facebook and Tumblr what they thought of when thinking of “Warrior’s Path.” I got a lot of responses, which I wasn’t expecting! I thought I was out-of-the-know for not having a definite idea of what a “Warrior’s Path” looked like, but it seems that the confusion is rather because so many people have so many different opinions coming from a variety of reasonings.
I figured that, having asked for all these opinions, I should weigh in myself finally. Though I don’t have one universal opinion. Instead, I see it as being relative.
There seems to be a few schools of thoughts when dealing with the phrase “Warrior’s Path.” First is the narrow scope that this can only include people who are soldiers or police officers, putting their life in danger for the government. Second is the view that this phrase is applied to anyone who puts themselves in harm’s way to help others–be it in a warzone, courtroom, activist work, etc. Finally the third view is that this applies to anyone fighting any sort of fight, the former groupings plus fighting internal diseases, illnesses, and oppression–like a person fighting against depression, or fighting against stigma.
This is where I start to interpret “Warrior’s Path” as being relative. With so many perspectives, there’s no way that when someone mentions “warrior’s path” that everyone is going to agree. Which is irritating in that I like consistency, but much like how the word “druid” has escaped its confines of strict historical definitions–so too has the word “warrior.”
And like the word “druid”, I think who recognizes a person as a “warrior” will differ. Just like how I have separated in my head the neodruid organizations of today as not being historically “druids”, I think people will have to separate “neowarriors” of today as not being “warriors” in the historical sense. And part of this is because both these words are turned into archetypes that appear in D&D games; and another part is answering the question, “How would this group be recognized in today’s society?”
But to the crux of why I’m writing this. My version of the Warrior’s Path is this: someone who intentionally engages in protecting and defending as chosen by their community. Breaking that definition down, it requires someone to intentionally engage. I see the Warrior’s Path as a choice, not a situation one is forced into doing. It requires protecting and defending, not just sensely seeking out conflict or knee-jerk reactions to violence. Lastly, it involves their community choosing these people as warriors. I think that doing this path without a community’s consent means that the person is more a vigilante. (Sorry Batman, you’re not Gotham’s warrior! Jim Gordon is, though.)
I think a lot of other ways of interpreting what people wrote as being a Warrior’s Path is more akin to just the label “fighter”, as in someone who fights. I consider myself a fighter when dealing with my health problems, for instance, because I am literally fighting against an illness and doctors and stigma and so forth. But my fight against my illness isn’t serving the community.
I also think a lot of ways of interpreting what people wrote can be explained by a healer’s path. Someone helping me on an individual basis is what a healer would do. And I too would be a healer if I worked towards healing myself by meditation, self-improvement, etc. A healer can help a community as a whole, for sure, but the majority of what healers do is on an individual basis.
When someone on my interpretation of a Warrior’s Path defends the community, it should affect the whole community. I think about activists who aren’t advocating for a person, but for the whole community of people.
Now here’s the kicker: I can’t think of anyone who really suits my definition of being on a Warrior’s Path. The main reason is that I don’t think it makes sense to give someone a title they didn’t agree to. Part of my definition is that choice to engage, and therefore it makes little sense to call someone something they don’t agree to.
And to most people outside the polytheist communities, the word “warrior” doesn’t invoke anything described by anyone I’ve read. I asked my fiance to make sure this assumption was at least someone on part, and he gave me the definition of someone who was a mercenary and nothing else (think Solid Snake.) And that job isn’t really about protecting community.
Well, what does that leave me? Well, I started this inquiry wondering if a certain goddess wanted me for a Warrior’s Path. After half-a-dozen divination pulls, I found that I was mistaken and she doesn’t want me to change myself for a “Warrior’s Path” — whatever that means to anyone. So I’m basically talking about a phrase that doesn’t relate to me. Which probably makes everything I had to say here mean very little.
At the end of the day, I think I am resigned to realizing this phrase means different things, to different groups, to different people. And depending on the context, no one can be wrong. I mean, at the literal root of the word “warrior” means “waging war” and everyone I’ve talked to — save for my fiance — disagrees with that etymology meaning. Which means the phrase is solely being defined by its context.
Hm. What about you? What do you think of when you hear “Warrior’s Path”?