Every single soul worth their salt on this earth today has got at least some sort of skill, or passion in a field that they understand to be their home territory. An environment they understand, and have spent much time within. A knowledge that is unknown to many, at least in the depth that they have delved into it.
Picture a vast and endless plain of nothing.
There are no trees, there is no water, shade or any other form of comfort. But there are grand structures far off in the distance; miles apart from one another. You know them to be temples of agelong dedication and worship to their respected cosm. Each of them is guarded, and built with the utmost attention to its imposing nature. A frame and spell that alerts any unskilled wanderer that this is no place to enter without true dedication to the spells and knowledge required to traverse its interior.
Everything worth doing is regarded with such approbation by reckoning of its difficulty and mysticism by virgin eyes. To realize that you have -at least in some way- learned how to navigate the madness of that specific temple, demonstrates to you and all others that you have found boons within the desert of nothing. For the desert will only yield nothing if you believe it so. What we speak of now is the riddle of water-to-wine, and the tricks of the magician. What is magic to all others is a simple and second nature action to that of the sorcerer.
This has always been, and will never cease. We look to the dark and sheltered hovel of the early iron age blacksmith. It was said that he possessed magic powers. For he could turn the elements of the bog into shining blades of steel. None were permitted to enter his spellroom, and he has remained the essential :magician-engineer: to this very day. But this did not come to any who picked up a hammer, it required many scars, and a lifetime of darkness, and failed projects.
To all other wanderers of the desert, the temple that was traversed appeared absolutely impenetrable, or at the very least daunting enough to successfully ward off all who entertained the thought of passage. This is the threshold, and the internal prison man keeps himself within, where his only boons are nothing, and where he helps strengthen the threshold through fear and bitterness for those that have yet to pass over its ancient and furious nihilism.
The desert of nothing is a temple in-itself, and claims countless souls. But there are those who find their way out of even its ancient magic, and realize that they might populate it with something.
The temples house boons, plunder, ancient tools and powers. These schools of collective human success and failure are the fire and ice for the now that you live within. They are the wombs of history and myth, and the great providers of something more.
The temple is the gauntlet; the rocks that crush and the reeds that cut. They are equally the great libraries of thought, and experience, and they require more than one lifetime to fully understand. They are more than human, and they are more real than anything else; perhaps even the desert itself.
Is it no wonder why contemporary humans are drawn to adventure games? Adventures which require your avatar to enter temples of particular themes, and that require a culmination of skills and understanding of the geographical areas which surround them. We have seen this before.
Most puzzles and enemies within are impossible to defeat without certain fragments of knowledge and ancient tools suggested to have been used long before you discovered their existence.
This is all subconscious human metaphor, and the contemporary extension of human collective-myth. We constantly strive for avatars, and seek answers through worlds which are believed to be less real than our own. Yet in reality they have always been more real than anything we have been told by those who sing the collective hymn of emptiness as they travel the endless nothing and preach the gospel of their god, whose name is also nothing.
This magic is careful. This magic is calculated, and it is amassed by centuries of failure, and mystery generated by those who failed and returned with mouths full of bitter tails of loss. And thus the temples I speak of are propelled by the vast internal feeling of inferiority when the humble wanderer finds himself at their ancient gates.
But enter, and scars you will find. At the cost of blood and time, you will understand more than any who did not dare to enter the secrets of that particular temple of human experience.
The temples are wombs. They transform wanderers into Halithazi, and heroes alone sing the song of rebirth to worlds of nothing.
A hashtag you see when browsing through Instagram posts of people swinging maces is #waryoga – but what does it actually mean? Tom Billinge of WarYoga North tells the story.
The term WarYoga was coined by William Calvani several years ago, originally referring to Jiu Jitsu, as an in joke. Very quickly, William, who had been practicing some of the traditional elements of Indian wrestling conditioning, began to use the phrase to refer to these exercises. While William has since withdrawn from the world of social media, I and a small group of devotees have been keeping the flame burning. From 2018, William and I worked on the WarYoga project together, originally intending for there to be several affiliated akharas (strength temples) around the USA and beyond. I took the designation WarYoga North. In the absence of William, the first Guru of the WarYoga Akhara, I have continued the work and have maintained our networks and media platforms.
WarYoga as Vyayam
Vyayam is the name given to the various strength and conditioning exercises performed in the akharas of India by Kushti wrestlers. There are several elements: Bethak (Hindu Squat), Dand (Hindu Push Up), Sapate (Hindu Burpee), Gada (Mace), Gar Nal (Stone Neck Ring), Sumtola (Log Bell), Jori (Heavy Clubs), Rope Climb and Mallakhamb (Wrestler’s Pole). Not all of the exercises are performed by everybody, as some have become specialised disciplines in themselves. William and I went on a pilgrimage to India in 2019 to train at the akharas of Varanasi, where we were able to hone our techniques further with gurus from an unbroken lineage stretching back hundreds of years. For a deep dive into the akhara system in India, Joseph Alter’s “The Wrestler’s Body” is one of the finest works written on the subject.
WarYoga also incorporates concepts from traditional Indian alchemy. The body is a furnace, which is heated through tapas (austerity). Tapas literally means heat and fire. The exercises generate heat, making the body move as a yantra (magical machine). This heat begins the inner transformation of the tapasvin (person undertaking the austerities), bringing the disparate of parts of the self to the centre. Like an alchemical furnace, the essence of the self is distilled and collected in the cranium, the condensation chamber of the body. William would often use the phrase “churning butter, making ghee.” The ultimate end is to create an adamantine vessel of moksha (liberation).
Agni, or fire, is central to the WarYoga Akhara system. The main ritual element is the Agnihotra ceremony. This ancient rite has been performed twice a day, every day, since the Vedic era, some 3500 years ago. It is an ancient Indo-European ritual, where cow dung is burned in a special bronze vessel at sunrise and again at sunset. Ghee and whole rice grains are cast into the fire while chanting the appropriate mantra. Like the recitation of the Vedas themselves, this ritual sustains the universe. When the Vedas and the rituals cease, so does existence.
Churning the Earth
The mitti (sacred earth) of the wrestling pit is also a key part of the WarYoga Akhara. While we were in India, William and I brought back some of the earth from several ancient akharas. This mitti has been turned daily for centuries. It has been purified countless times with ghee, turmeric, sandalwood, rose petals and neem leaves. It has had the sweat and blood of wrestlers poured into it, as they fought in it, since the akharas were founded hundreds of years ago. We added our sweat and blood to the wrestling pits while we were in Varanasi, but we also brought back mitti that is charged with “phoorti” – the electric energy that courses through the wrestler’s body. The Indian mitti has been added to our own earth, creating wrestling pits that are connected to each other and to those that are in India.
The Future of WarYoga
We continue the daily work. We refine our techniques and philosophy. We cultivate ourselves and connect with those who are on the same journey. WarYoga is not just a catchy hashtag, it is a system of purification that involves specific exercises, internal alchemy, ancient Indo-European ritual and the practice of true magic. One of the last things I worked on while William was still a public presence, was the WarYoga North Manual. William proofread the first version for me. In 2021, I will publish the manual, which will include the exercises, how to make the equipment, a detailed look at the philosophy behind the system and a deep dive into the ritual aspects. The WarYoga North Manual aims to continue the work begun by William, as well as ensuring WarYoga is not corrupted into a soundbite that sounds cool on social media.
Follow @waryoga on Instagram to learn more about the system
Follow @tombillinge for more WarYoga information and his other projects, including his upcoming book: Undying Glory, The Solar Path of Greek Heroes
Arrows thrashing down as if from the wrath of God. There is little room for cover, and they pierce through your shield, hairs away from your face. They thud with an ear-splitting clap endlessly. Men that sang only the night before, drinking and sharpening their swords over idle chatter by a dim fire, now slump as corpses that pave the bloody mud like cobbled flesh, scattered about the cold stone walls. Sons, brothers, fathers: converted into hunks of meat, symbols of fear and defeat for the soldier that still clings to the walls of the keep that will not yield. Picked off one by one. None remain beyond those who flee. With tail between legs do they march off like the great beast sewn onto every banner carried with them on this failed campaign. Rarely more than a minor inconvenience to the highborn, a scar on the ego of he who drove them there like shepherd and flock. Yet not so for the common soldier. Not so.
For if they return home, are they better off? No plunder, no new land belonging to their lord, more of the same, which was nothing to begin with. And if they do not have the luxury of returning to their misery, how then does the wife go on? Their family? It is all dire for those who let it be dire. For this is the world of men.
Yet whistles could be heard from the woods over yonder, to any careful ear willing to hear more than just the screams of comrade and command. A gleeful song spittled out of tune by more than just one man. Bloodied knuckles, broken toes, teeth, and a tankard in hand. Fled from the battle? Nay, no longer of interest; and if ever it was one to these few -these merry few- they simply did not believe the outcome to be worthy of any true influence over their lives. I look to Trower, Cutler, Jacob, and Whitehead. Those who midway through a battle in some English field decided they would simply leave. Though on opposite sides of the war, they banded together to depart the entanglement, and simply intoxicate themselves in a near-by village ale-house. 1
Entirely good? Nay.
Entirely bad? Nayer.
Masters of a different realm. Their own realm.
If it has not become clear to you yet, you are the main character of this world, and those men of the woods of which I speak understood this on a vital level of cosmic realization. Jesters who entertain their own court. Fighters who fight for their own Lord. A real time and place? More real than anything else in this bloody world. The situation, setting, and time, matter very little to this rare breed that have always been. And do you know why? Why these men are able to grin through the madness, and skip through the corpses? Because they understand that this world is nothing but a canvas of mutual projection. It is the battlefield of magicians who are able to expel and conjust thought into matter. They are those that grin when others fear. They are those that do before others have even thought. They are those that understand the only difference between themselves and the turnip farmer is this simple inner dialogue:
Question: “Does anything truly matter?”
Answer: “No. So make something.”
Here is what I need you to do: forget about changing anything in this world. Look now to the deep chambers of your mind, where you lay shackled in a forgotten prison. This is your power, this is your reality. Now understand you have always held the key, and that there is a bright world within that needs you. If you want anything in this waking world, you must first hone your power within.
It is not enough to be ‘woke’. You have failed this riddle of life if you let yourself answer this question with a simple ‘No’. When Nietzche said ‘God is dead’ he meant something entirely different to the common understanding of this leaden statement. You are obliged by your own buried conscience to find something more now. If you are to count yourself among the ranks of shining icons that have always been, then you must focus now. What should this focus be? To some it might be the creation of a new God or goal, yet is this not the same thing? Or perhaps even the revival of the old; and I say again, is this not the same thing? Depending on who you are, this concept of something higher might reveal more or less to you. But in reality, it simply doesn’t matter, and I honestly don’t care what you make of any of it. I just need you to ask yourself the question, and figure out where you stand from there.
How accurate, or how ‘blurry’ modern scholars are upon this-or-that subject of history matters very little, when we begin to see the grander tapestry of primordial, collective-myth. We should understand by now that not all history has been documented. Furthermore, we must begin to understand that all history presented to us is biased in some form or another regardless of how pious or professional the scholar may be. The absolute truth of the matter is that if there are individuals like us now, they will have certainly existed in other periods of time. For when a man is aware of his situation, he may choose misery, or laughter; and very few pick the latter. But then, it is easy to tell those few men apart from the rest.
From the woods of Sherwood, to the trenches of the Somme; from Agincourt to Rorke’s Drift does this ring true. Situations, odds, places, and people are often dire. But the unchangeable absolute is the spirit of the fighting man, and his immortal reign over all odds and storms. Perhaps ‘tea instead of tears’ is a good mantra for one facing dire situations. This is a quality that found us exchanging gifts with the Hun at Christmas, and it is the fighting spirit of the merry few.
The world is rotting, all sides and angles of opinion know this. In a world where the youth have been groomed into an understanding of immediate gratification, is it not obvious why so many choose the most extreme solutions (left and right), is it not so very obvious that these are the cries from a baby’s crib who knows nothing but the immediate remedial call for his mother.
Yet if we are to change the outward, we must look deeply within. For is this not the true meaning of myth? To navigate the inner world (we are reminded of Agartha, Middle Earth, etc). For within the brain of all exists a world entirely different to all other living humans who stand at razors edge of the tip to their ancestral spear; honed over centuries. Yet as different as these worlds are, the common themes and archetypes remain true. I urge you to discover the works of Jung and Campbell for more on this.2,3
Within this world stands a kingdom.
And within that kingdom stands a castle.
Within that castle there is a courtroom.
Is Denethor upon your throne? Perhaps a sickly Théoden with the whispers of a weaker man at his side; have you cast out your Éomer? I tell you now, no matter who sits there in that hallowed hall, there is a Strider in the wilderness of your mind, and you must use every godly power within yourself to find him, lest the kingdom fall to ruin. (More on this in SCMM II). For now we must remember that we do not inhabit this throneroom, but face off the terrors of the dark that aim to keep us within our own shackles.
There are many who profit from our self-bondage. To see us move against this is a threat to everything they have imposed through careful spells and the blackest of magic, ancient in its essence but cast through modern media.
They will move against you with force, and impose many fears. What might one do to counter these moves? Whistle and sing? That is to bury your head in the sand and meditate under an unimpressive tree. This is an Eastern tradition which has its merit. Yet ultimately did it not allow Mao to thrive? How noble be the man that lets his culture and body be devoured by the serpent.
Does one unsheath sword? Noble surely, alas their sword is bigger and backed by the masses and arrows. You are the madman of darkest prison after all. Nothing more than a brigand not only to the highborn, but to their populace of serfs also. Do not forget this. Nor should one blame the peasantry, it is simply their way.
My suggestion to you lies in becoming both at the same time. As the guards of your cell move towards you, and jealous fellow prisoners, and peasants alike call for your capture you must become S.C.M.M.
The Equation of such:
BRUTAL SOLDIER – MERRY MAN
The Mantra of highself:
This tactic translates to any situation you might find yourself amidst in the waking world.
Let the fighter be present; let the thinker be free; let the ancestors sing; and your future be.
I tell you now, anywhere that this Halithazian spirit is embedded into a culture, there is a roaring fire at the heart of the Kingdom’s myth, and it does not dwindle under rain of serpentine venom.
‘Greatest roots are not touched by frost’ 4
Do you truly believe that the Teutonic knight was not imbued with a paganism he was said to have hated? Is it not possible that we as men of this new paganism have not also upheld the Christian values in our causes and morals?
You are not a man, but a living world of interacting archetypes, struggles, gods, and beasts.
But for now, be that free man who feels sunlight after years of darkness. Take to the woods, and be happy. You will one day find that a young lad might hear your whistle from within your chosen Grove. I promise you this. And as he hears the sound of your sword knocking against the bark of a tree, he will say
‘For what do you swing this sword, away from all, and with no crowd?’
and you will say,
‘I am happily preparing for a time that will need my strength and laughter’
The youth will remember this until a day comes when he might join you there. And you will whistle together louder than just one alone.
Sword-dancing Chivalric Merry Men: our time is now, for this is the Age of Plunder.
1A Field in England, 2013, Film 4 Productions, Ben Wheatley
2 Jung, Carl Gustav. The archetypes and the collective unconscious. Routledge, 2014.
3 Campbell, Joseph. The hero’s journey: Joseph Campbell on his life and work. Vol. 7. New World Library, 2003.
4 Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The Lord of the Rings: The return of the king. Vol. 3. Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001.