Finding the Sacred on the Battlefield
A battlefield is not your typical place that a sacred seeker finds the divine. I mean, who ever heard of a sacred battlefield? If all life is sacred, then God is here too.
On our last trip to Scotland, we stopped at the Culloden Battlefield where between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites and 300 government soldiers were wounded or killed. The butchery here is legendary, and modern Scots still show the pain of it when talking about it. It looks calm and picturesque today until you get to the monument. A dark, mourning energy penetrates the air here. It feels like the pain and dashed hopes of all Scotland lies here.
Contrast that to American Civil War battle at Appomattox. This is where General Lee surrendered to General Grant which cascaded into a series of other surrenders that ended the war. Both generals conducted themselves with respect and gentility, setting the tone for reconstruction.
Conditions of surrender included that Southern soldiers be given rations (they were starving) and were allowed to keep their horses so that they could use them for spring planting. A band started to play to celebrate the Northern victory. General Grant shut it down. The sentiment was that it wasn’t a victory over their foes, but a reunion with their brothers. Despite the loss of life at this battlefield, I found no spots of weeping energy here.
What I came away with is a reminder of the hole in the soul of the culture that allows war. When a society has a warrior culture, they honor life. They understand the role of the warrior and the wound the warrior takes on for the benefit of his (or her) people. The warrior takes his duty seriously and honors his foe. He doesn’t take a life without the full knowledge of what he’s doing. When the warrior returns from battle, his burden is shared with the people so that he doesn’t carry the wound alone.
To have an enemy, you must separate yourself from that person because you can’t fight yourself. You can’t hate someone who is divine. Visiting a battlefield is a reminder to not forget that all life is sacred. This is what happens when people forget. We tear each other apart. Murder blackens our soldier’s souls. This is a wound that effects all of us, even when only one carries it.
It’s important for personal growth and just being a whole person to visit the dark of life sometimes. Everything is sacred. Everything is inside of us and a part of us. When we remind ourselves of the extremes, we can stay centered and connected to all that is without indulging in the extremes.
This is also a great reminder to return to the warrior culture. Most of us live in a warlike culture where everything is a fight to win. We don’t consider the emotional or spiritual cost. The dead and our warriors go unsung. We expect the warrior to be unaffected by his duty and return to “normal.” That’s insanity! It’s unnatural.
You don’t have to be a fighter to honor the warrior energy inside of you. We all have this archetypal energy. It’s simply about honoring life. Think about the life force inside food and give thanks before you eat it. Thank our soldiers for the work they do. Listen to their stories. Be aware of the life inside all things. Don’t smash someone’s spirit, nurture it.
We all have the power to destroy. Why not use that energy to create instead? And if destruction is required, and the cycle of life sometimes moves that way, do what you have to do in an honorable way and keep going.
Battlefields aren’t just for armies. They are around us all the time. At our workplace, home, school, and in the streets. What type of warrior do you want to be?