“No Peaceful Warrior” by Ambrose Hollingsworth Redmoon

Many of you may be familiar with the quote: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.” This is a quote which was taken from an article in Gnosis magazine, “Holy War” Issue. The author, Ambrose Redmoon, was my occult mentor and instructor and very dear friend, for seven years before he died. I fondly remember reading the rough draft in my early 20’s prior to it’s submission to Gnosis, (about 30 years ago), while taking a nice hot bubble bath. He had asked me to give him my opinion of it before he sent it off to the magazine. The quote above has become so famous, that it has even made it into the script of the movie, The Sisterhood Of the Travelling Pants.

Many of you may be familiar with the quote: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.” This is a quote which was originally made by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and I actually was not aware of that until very recently. Ambrose included the quote (borrowed it) in an article called “No Peaceful Warrior” which he wrote in Gnosis magazine, ( “Holy War” Issue). The author, Ambrose Redmoon, was my occult mentor and instructor and very dear friend, for seven years before he died. He was an avid historian, with a particular interest in military and political history so it makes sense that he would have borrowed this quote in hind sight.

The Late James Neil Hollingsworth / AKA Ambrose Hollingsworth Redmoon

I fondly remember reading the rough draft of the article in my early 20’s prior to it’s submission to Gnosis about 30 years ago. He had asked me to give him my opinion of it before he sent it off to the magazine. So one night with his rough draft in my hand I sat in a nice hot bubble bath and read it. Needless to say its a rather brilliant article, though slightly controversial for the New Age consciousness. But that was his way, he was a slightly controversial man. The quote above has gone viral over on the internet , and usually with Ambrose’s name attached to it instead of Roosevelt’s. It has even made it into the script of the movie, The Sisterhood Of the Travelling Pants as I recall.

It is unfortunate that Ambrose died before he was able to appreciate the impact that this article has made even in pop culture. I feel it is time to reproduce his original article in full , since it is now thirty years since it was published in Gnosis Magazine. Gnosis Magazine is now out of print, and I’m not aware of any other copyrights on the article. With permission from his family, and for your enjoyment, here is Ambrose’s original piece of writing below featuring this now very popular quotation.

Light In Extension!~ Canis Stella

Issue 21: Holy War / A Journal Of The Western Inner Traditions

As a real, live initiated, trained, experienced, traditional, hereditary warrior with thirty-seven scars and a trophy or two on my belt, I find such expressions as “peaceful warrior” offensive, trivializing, and insulting.

“Peaceful warrior’ is far more than a contradiction in terms. The function of a warrior is to eliminate an exterior enemy presence. A warrior is an antitoxin, a protector. The warrior does combat where and when necessary and not otherwise. This is not a philosophical or in any way abstract subject; the warrior cannot be discussed or even comprehended in an ivory tower.

This is not relative reality, dear gentle reader; this is empirical reality- that which is, with or without the existence of human consciousness. It will sustain or trample you, depending on how realistic you are. It can be known only by personal experience, not by principle or logic. Experience is the only teacher.

The warrior protects the innocent, weak, and vulnerable; the home; the sovereignty of the individual; the Mother. These are the four sacred directions of the Way of the Warrior. To protect in spite of danger, fear, difficulty, pain, and personal cost is the condition.

Destroy the enemy. My oh my! Violence! Hostility! Unpleasantness! Yes, dear gentle reader. Most people on this planet have not the luxury of abstract philosophy or of living out fantasies. Possibly you have never interfered with the activities of a bully or with physical abuse of any kind. Possibly you have never interfered with conscious, determined evil at all. Possibly you have never felt fear so intense you think it will pull the skin off your face – but gone on anyhow to protect the weak, the home, the individual, the Mother.

It is possible that interference with abuse is not everyone’s style. And it is possible that you live mainly in the mental world and just don’t relate much to physical reality. It is even possible that you give fear your first priority. I suppose that’s OK as long as you are honest about it. If you pretend you are not afraid but instead are being righteous and conscientious and wise, or that some deity has told you to scamper off and seek inner transformation, when you see someone being raped or molested or killed, that is not OK.

Maybe you’ve never been in the presence of conscious, willful evil. Maybe you do not know such people. If not, you may think you are not missing anything. And so you are not, unless of course you care to know life in its fullness. Unless you care to know what you are talking about you bandy the term “warrior” about in pink-cheeked philosophizing as you play peekaboo with the real world.

“Peaceful warrior” indeed. An unnecessary abuse of language and a foul insult to all those who have placed themselves between innocence and evil and attacked the evil. It is especially insulting to those who do so physically, where the money meets the mouth. I don’t know how many “spiritual warriors” I’ve rescued from the bad guys, and how glad they are to see me when warrior hood gets to basics. Nothing piled higher and deeper can save them then. So do not pickpocket a fundamental term of a reality of which you know little or nothing to dangle on the charm bracelet of New Age thought.

As for reward, besides knowing you have saved good at the expense of evil, there is something inexpressible that can be known only by experience. To call it “divine recognition” is only poetry. Nor is reward the incentive anyway. “You have never lived until you have been almost killed; and for those who fight for it, life has a savor the protected can never know.” This was found scratched on a mess kit in Vietnam in the early Sixties.

Nor is even that savor the incentive. Have you ever heard the roar of the crowd or the silence in ranks- all for you? If so, you know that all glory is fleeting. That is not the incentive of the warrior either. Glory will do for the soldier but not for the warrior. (On the other hand, don’t sell glory short if you have never been there. There is something to it which , if not gulped but lightly tasted, is surely part of life’s elixer.)

Warrior? Soldier? Is there a distinction? Yes, and a most important one, which most civilized intellects seem unable to understand. A few soldiers are warriors; many do not need to be. All warriors can soldier; most do not. The warrior is a protector, a preserver, and a destroyer, not a conqueror. He destroys the invader, the rapist, the killer – the enemy. When there is no enemy, a soldier might contrive one; never the warrior. The warrior may be a rogue or a rowdy; he may have many vices, but he is ever discriminating and never insincere. Only an enemy has anything to fear from a warrior.

This last is an important point. It is misplaced fear of the warrior that is largely responsible for this timid dilution of the term, this attempt to soften and sweeten it. Yet it seems to me at best a bit addle-brained, at worst a short circuit in the instincts, to fear a protector.

The warrior’s quest is for the throat of the enemy. If it were not the warrior’s quest it would have to be someone else’s For there are those, dear gentle reader, who with a clear consciousness and immense power enjoy the full exercise of their will at the expense of others. Sadistic greed is combined with a clear intelligent mind and a tough, powerful, fast physique, all in a person who is quite beyond the reach of “consciousness lifting”. Such people are not confused, they are not victims, they are not seeking. They are not cowards, most of them. They are going to abuse, terrify, and possess because they find it efficient and enjoyable. There is also another type, an unpredictable idiot fringe, where most of the weirdos, exhibitionists, sneaks, and thrill seekers are to be found. These latter squabble over the leavings after the previous types eat a few “peaceful warriors” for breakfast. I have seen New Age philosophers turn to shivering tofu in the mere presence of such hairy and muscular evil.

It is one thing, while smoothing skirts and stroking chins, to assemble new sounding legitimizations for intellectual laziness and physical cowardice. It is quite another to stand eye to eye with a large enemy when the talk is done and the action is about to commence.

To recognize a hostile intent, to plan a defensive strategy, within that strategy a tactic, within that tactic a combat-a blood and iron, muscle and bone contact with high risk to one’s physical vehicle-that is what a warrior does. The situation does not always get all the way to physical contact. It is often resolved at some point along the way. Sometimes merely recognizing the hostile intent is enough to discourage its development. The warrior does not desire pretexts. Diplomacy is the first move of a response to conflict: even the imperial Roman legions always offered the olive branch first. After that a still persistent enemy can often be dislocated and defeated by maneuver alone.

But, dear gentle reader, the true warrior is ready to decide the issue by direct physical violence if the enemy refuses to desist otherwise. This means being skilled in physical violence. Whether one ever needs to use it or not, without being so skilled and twice tested, nobody is a warrior.

Like all paths of initiation, that of the warrior begins on that level claimed by some ignorant ones to be only an illusion, and by others, equally ignorant, to be the only reality: the plane of dense matter, the world of form, where the vibrations are slowest and strongest and where life is most complicated. This is not to suggest there are no spiritual warriors, only that one must first be a physical warrior, twice-tested in the present incarnation. Why twice tested? Because of the great difference between the known and the unknown- the danger of physical encounter with an enemy. There is no mystic or spiritual warrior who is not a physical warrior first.

Assuming one has the necessary physical courage, there is also the matter of skill. Those who think physical combat is all strength and recklessness have a brief career. Even more often overlooked is the need to be in shape, to have the reflexes and endurance as well as that explosive energy to execute the skills one does have. More disastrous than the bluff is the commitment to an act one cannot complete.

The physical is stressed because it is the most obvious and the most difficult to fake. It requires more commitment and preparation than the other planes of existence. It is the best test of awareness and sincerity. It is not like a seminar or a book signing party. You cannot be posturing or naïve. You cannot pretend it is happening, as can be done with the spiritual mental or psychic (and often is). The risks, both physical and emotional, are immediate. Something outside yourself has to be destroyed or you-or what you are protecting-will be. You cannot make a wrong move and transform it into a right move by saying so. You cannot agree to disagree; you cannot “create” reality. You are within the context, not vice versa.

Only an enemy can initiate a warrior.

Hmmmm… perhaps there is more to this warrior hood than one first thought.

In the Western (meaning European and some North American) secret traditions, the capabilities of any given phase or degree of initiation generally cannot be wielded until one passes the next phase. Full experience is required before the powers can be applied. This means that anyone with capabilities beyond the physical is also adept on the physical plane of existence. To be in a physical vehicle and to be physically incompetent, while claiming to be “beyond the physical,” might sound like an adolescent excuse for being a screw up. Yet it is popular with the adult “transformation” set.

The warrior is the protector. The warrior can handle himself on all planes of existence. The warrior does not collapse in fear and ineptitude when an enemy shows up in physical form. Nor does a warrior spin out into insanity when the physical form happens to be alien to some previously held doctrine or presumption about reality.

The first test is physical. By “test” I do not mean something arranged, but rather the real thing. Part of the test is the warrior’s ability to recognize the real thing. As Colonel Frank Rood, a combat infantry commander in Korea, once said. “The first rule of war is to know it when you’re in one.” Then comes the courage to act. And then the judgment to act appropriately. Whatever you do must be effective and not excessive. Finally the action must be thorough and decisive so it does not have to be repeated, locally or elsewhere.

Judgment, restraint, courage, and skill. You’d better be good at it, whatever it is you do; knowing what to do and being able to do it are not the same. And you have to do it well, and while under mortal pressure. The warrior has to satisfy all these conditions at once.

There are people who do have all of these skills and can apply them in a physical emergency or disaster-but not in front of an enemy. They can cope with any danger, including animals, but not with another person. Heroic and necessary though they are, such people are not warriors.

The enemy is what separates the warrior from everyone else. The physical courage of search and rescue people, for example is unsurpassable. Yet anyone with experience will agree that the addition of the enemy factor screens out half to three fourths of even these people.

The sheer existence of a conscious intelligent intent by another person to injure or kill you brings a shock to the psyche that few can survive intact. Which returns us to that essential fact of life: the empirical reality of conscious , willful evil.

Respect, as primitive people usually understand it, it is the recognition of the validity of the existence of a being, thing, idea, or activity. Evil is the absence of respect. Respect is not admiration or even agreement. It is not fear. One does not respect evil, one respects all that is not evil. Respect is not an act; one can show a respect that one does not feel, thereby fooling people who go by externals. Whereas evil can abide love, evil cannot abide respect. Permitters of evil are evil.

The warrior is not someone dealing with the buffets and knocks of life, doing battle within; everyone does that, dear gentle reader. The term is being usurped by certain whispery types who couldn’t qualify as a pimple on a real warrior’s ass. The image of a “peaceful warrior’ thrown into the warrior situation may arouse guffaws, but this abuse of language is a serious insult to the real warriors who have gone before.

Now about anger. The same semantic acrobats who are trying to soften and sweeten warrior hood are all aflutter over anger. “Oh, what can I do with my anger?” What a morally limp question! Anger is energetic disapproval. That is it. Anger is not a tantrum, nor is it sublimated fear, cruelty, envy, frustration, competition, or discipline. Anger is innocence invaded, beauty ravished, truth scorned, reality denied, weakness bullied. Possibly you have never been angry. Maybe you have only lost your temper, or felt affronted, or have been denied a desire. Do not confuse that with the wrath of a protector. Anger is not triggered, it is inspired.

Watch out for glib slogans such as “two wrongs don’t make a right.” OK…I’m not trying to “make a right”; I’m trying to stop abuse. Another lie is “violence only begets violence and never settles anything.” I have witnessed violence halting violence too many times since my childhood to even begin to accept that flippancy.

Fortunate enough to have been country raised, I attended a little grammar school with two grades to a room and a ten acre playground of natural turf, on which we played tackle football with no gear but the ball. On that field we learned certain fundamentals of life. I learned the best way to attract a fight is to act as if you don’t want one and are unready for one. I learned about bullies who will stop only if forced or scared. Since then, life has not come up with any significant exceptions.

I for one have never struck as an expression of anger. While angry, yes, but not because of anger. None of this wild eyed crap. No grabbing at a weapon out of frustration. All my life I’ve had weapons, including loaded firearms, around me in my home. No matter now incensed I was, I have never reached for a weapon. It would be abnormal of me to go from verbal to physical violence except in defense. Restraint is the key to effective violence of any kind, including the use of weapons. And except with an enemy, what I cannot accomplish without a weapon I do not accomplish. This is not a moral decision on my part, it’s merely my nature.

On the other hand, part of the profile of a wife beater is a fondness for weapons (which should caution us in our use of profiles). I have no tolerance for wife beating; this is a crime second only to rape, which is a capital offense in my book. Men who beat women do so because they can. There is no good reason, there is no excuse. It is the responsibility of the protectors, both female and male, to prevent this and to help women become physically too dangerous for men to even try. Although batterers (along with shrinks who study them claim they “cannot help it,” they cannot stop”, nevertheless, when confronted by a court order with an arrest clause, or with physical force, these guys are suddenly able to stop after all. Court orders are extremely difficult for women to obtain in most areas. Physical force is considerably more available. And it works.

Yes, dear gentle reader, more of that gritty empirical reality. Most males are not going to stop dominating and abusing females any other way. And stopping them is the thing of first importance. Then study them and treat them if you want to. As with rape, the crisis is prior to and during the action. If you prefer not to stop them, stay out of the way of those who do.

Metaphysically speaking, diddling with the notion of the “peaceful warrior” is just as dishonorable and inept. One of the functions of astrology, for example, is to show what is natural and valid in life. Mars is a warrior, not a soul searcher or a Peace Corps worker or a pissed off poet. Mars rules Aries, the sign of initiative, without which no battle was ever won. In all the pantheons and occult sciences, the warrior is fundamental. The warrior is not the soldier; the god of war is not the god of the warrior. Soldiers marching in anonymous masses into the obscene maw; individual warriors seated at vast round celebration tables, each attired and adorned (or not) as they choose, all seated on chairs inscribed with their names. Which of these scenes have you attend- if any?

Even among the flashes and shadows of occult tradition, the nagging suggestion arises that the warrior hood of the “peaceful warrior” is all coffee table chatter and papers for Ph.D’s and their dupes. Such people are for the most part not even occultists in the first place. Study of the occult is like the study of woodcraft; mere knowledge is of no worth-only application has meaning. You have to go out and apply the craft, not in the park or campground, but in the wilderness, which is indifferent to humanity and where woodcraft means survival.

Aries is red, and everywhere but in a few plastic towers red is warrior. The red ray is the ray of will, as all know who have actually stood in it. The Furies, the three red ones of the Mother’s bodyguard, follow the miasma, the spiritual stink given off by violators of the Mother, and tear them to pieces. Sweet justice.

Another term bandied about by New Age glibness is “coward.” It’s quite the thing to breezily admit to being a coward as though that’s merely a quirk, more than atoned for by its admission and even regarded as mildly charming. Notice also the current popularity of the Hansel and Gretel word “scary,” which in current usage refers to “cute fear.” This is not only a childish word, it is trivializing. Cowardice is a serious vice. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear. The timid presume it is lack of fear that allows the brave to act when the timid do not. But to take action when one is not afraid is easy. To refrain when afraid is also easy. To take action regardless of fear is brave. Courage, of course, is not restricted to the warrior; anyone can be brave. Courage is in the presence of an enemy is a warrior’s courage.

It may have been noticed that I have applied no gender to the warrior. You may have assumed that I presume a warrior is masculine. Not so. There is no gender. I have fought shoulder to shoulder and back to back with women, and I am here to tell you that women and men are equally effective in combat. Men excel at packing ammo and bearing wounded. Women have a higher pain threshold. And most of the women warriors I have known are heterosexual and are not promiscuous. They are in fact too female for most modern men.

As a protector, the warrior’s purpose is outside the self, thus ensuring that warrior hood will not be popular. So with all due respect for the spiritual and mystical seeker, and for those who serve, counsel, study and treat- however important these are, they do not constitute warrior hood. My suggestion is that they respect whatever they are enough to call themselves what they are. They should not usurp the name of that which they neither care nor dare to be.

The worst offenders, in my experience, are in the field of psychology. They presume that human consciousness is the creator and container of all super-physical events. At the very least, t his is inept. The peril for such people is that of the sorcerer’s apprentice; the difficulty is that it often does not come until late in their career. Something then comes to them from the outside. In the case of the pretend warrior this can be especially unpleasant. And consider the fate of the one being protected by a pretend warrior. Do you want a bodyguard who communicates and relates, and counsels while you are being destroyed? Of course not. You’re no nitwit.

The supreme protection is of course to provide someone with self defense. This requires respect, which is no problem for the true warrior. But how many men would, if they could, coach or provide their wives or daughters with self defense? It would diminish their false machismo, which is the only kind they have. This aside from the fact that most males are not really qualified to coach anyone in realistic self defense. Even among professional male instructors, how many adjust their technique’s to the female physique?

Physical courage and combat, restraint, the reality of willful evil, the priority of a purpose outside of the self-these are the facts of warrior hood that keep it esoteric, that keep it for the few.

One obvious question remains. You may have noticed that I have used the term “warrior” as referring not to an image but to a practical function. What is the function of a civilian warrior in modern civilized society?

The police are not the citizen’s bodyguard; they cannot be and do not pretend to be. The reason for warriors today is to infuse society with protectors. I happen to be an enemy of bullies, especially abusers of women; he who abuses any woman abuses my mother. I am not a politician, a sympathetic male, or a counselor. I am a warrior. I use whatever works. Only a male might be surprised to hear I’ve had plenty of opportunity to function.

The way of the wandering champion, the free lance, is not an easy one in modern society. A romantic throwback maybe? In civilized society it’s much more difficult to live by principle than by expediency. The last time the itinerant champion was a recognized component of mainstream society was the so called Old West. A complete example today is the Guardian Angels: pure and simple, dear gentle reader, warriors true and real.

Respect is the cardinal virtue,Courage comes next, as it should

For you need not be good to be brave,

But you have to be brave to be good.

Ambrose Hollingsworth Redmoon

Copyright 1991

External Links Of Interest:

The Peaceful Warrior Dilemma by SusanWithPearls

“The Mysterious Ambrose Redmoon’s Healing Words: Chicago Tribune Article

Gnosis Magazine Back Issue #21 Holy War

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