Chivalry in the Modern Age

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Chivalry in the Modern Age

#1 Postby Phillip » Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:32 pm

Chivalry is a concept whose roots lie in a time and place. Like many concepts that transcend their time, however, it still conveys truths to us from afar. Notions like integrity, discipline, a daring spirit, courage all pervade this notion of Chivalry, and these ideas have existed in various forms throughout time in various ways. But Chivalry also contains a component that makes it especially appealing to us, and even entrancing, and this is its notion of romance, and honorable conduct in romantic pursuits. One could say that Western culture has been and still is entranced by this concept, which is a part of Chivalry, for good and ill.

It was very clear that the romance served in the Medieval stories surrounding the concept of Chivalry, such as the Grail Legends, the stories of King Arthur and of his Knights of the Round Table, and the story of Tristan and Iseult was not of strictly an erotic character. Sometimes these stories were specifically NOT of an erotic character, and the relationship was strictly fraternal. Yet even in these cases, these were stories of an all-consuming love, a love that engulfed the soul as well as the body. It was a love of rapture and of redemption. This seems to be the paramount aspect of romance that makes it so appealing, especially considering that we live in a time and place who still cannot come fully to terms with this concept. We are not ready to abandon the practice of romance, yet our culture and relationships are being torn apart by it.

The devotion and loyalty to an ideal embodied seems to be the essence of this romance for the “man” and the “woman”. According to many perspectives, the woman who acted as the Knight’s inspiration and devotions of love acted primarily in a symbolic capacity. She was not just a lover, but she was playing the role of the Chevalier’s soul. The situation from twentieth century ears is that the woman is existing to serve a spiritual role for the man, and a feminist might balk at such a scenario, except that in the time and place, this may have been an equally reciprocal relationship for the female. The male may have been playing the same role for the woman in this relationship at the time. Certainly, the situation is undeniably different than a twentieth-century mentality, and women and men would find this practice strictly applied in modern times inapplicable or even sexist. Yet we are also undeniably drawn to it, as our current relationships and expectations in the pursuit of relationships testify.

But, seen through twenty first century eyes, we don't realize that Chivalry was a feminist way of thinking for the time. In a time and place where women were considered to be the legal and Church - sanctioned property of her father until married, then the property of her husband, having no rights to own property or divorce her husband, we are talking about a way of behaving towards a woman that is in total rebellion to the appropriate conduct and attitudes of the time, that it was considered to be utterly rebellious. Honoring the feminine was strange, for women were the embodiment of sin, due to the fall of Adam “caused” by Eve. Even now, the Orthodox church echoes this past in it’s doctrine today. A Chevalier, in his “romantic” expression may be sexist to a twentieth century eye, but it was a feminist attitude for the time. Honoring the woman as a physical embodiment of one’s soul, as the voice of God, to be obeyed and honored?! This was considered to be no less than heresy at the time, and people were literally killed for holding such beliefs in contradiction to the Church’s doctrine. So this was a VERY feminist attitude for the time!

So, if the original Chevaliers were feminists of their time, we must then surmise that a modern day Chevalier would be a feminist of OUR time, rather than a Chauvinist. So the more difficult question becomes, how do we enact Chivalry in modern times, and specifically, how do we enact the ROMANTIC concepts of Chivalry in modern times, while honoring and enabling the movement of the feminine towards equality? We cannot deny that the romantic concept still captivates our attention, and as such, may be an evolutionary work in progress.

I believe this romantic obsession we developed from this period and practice denotes an intuitive drive to evolve our sexual and physical drives. So, I believe there is more within and behind this cultural compulsion than the surface romantic illusions which have pervaded all of Western culture.

I think the key is in looking at the essence of this romantic pursuit. In essence it is a pursuit in love of the Divine Feminine, Goddess, and a devotion to her, even a romantic engagement, implying an intimacy that includes the of the whole of our being, from the most subtle and sublime to the physical. In this sense, I think it is possible to hold true to this intention and enact it in a very real and tangible way in modern times, while honoring the feminine. How does a man continue to enact his power as a romantic “Knight” while honoring the woman’s right and capacity to do so also, honoring her as an embodiment of the Divine Feminine simultaneously to honoring as a potential Knight in arms? Also, how does a woman who seeks to enact this warrior spirit of the Chevalier enact this “romantic” aspect?

I think that the shift we are facing challenges both men and women to be able to conceive themselves and the world in multiple ways simultaneously. I think we are being challenged to think in multiplicities simultaneously, regarding self, the world, politics, and so on. Rather than clinging to ideas of black and white, clear notions of right and wrong, one idea at a time in our consciousness, one belief, one view, one philosophy, one self-concept global society, modern technology and sexual liberation is challenging us to conceive several, even contradictory concepts of truth, ourselves and the world and not feel threatened by their co-existence in consciousness.

Consider the huge movement of fundamentalist the world over. Fundamentalists Christians are clawing for more and more power in America, the Arab nations are filled with Fundamentalist Islamists, in schools, governments and terrorist organizations. What are they struggling so hard to maintain? What are they resisting? I believe it is a movement in consciousness which is translated into modern society in technology, politics and so on that changes how we perceive the world. I belive we are learning to think in multiplicities, to be able to maintain several and even contradictory self-concepts and world-concepts simultaneously in order to take it all in and peacefully coexist, and many are resisting the process.

As consumerism pushes harder and harder each year for greater and greater profits, I believe the same resistance is driving this impulse as well. Rather than clinging to narrow-minded views, people trapped in consumerism cling to distractions. As time goes, it becomes more expensive to distract oneself. It always takes MORE. More television, more commercials, more things to buy and do, more drugs to take, and more and more and more distraction to avoid thinking in multiplicities, to avoid seeing the complexity and variety and contradiction and similarity that pervades everything. It appears to me to be an attempt to avoid an inevitable shift in consciousness and continue to maintain ONE world view, ONE religion, ONE perspective on life, one another, and ourselves. We want to maintain our narrow-mindedness.

So in this vein, I think Chivarly is also a devotion to this process of every on-going evolution in all beings, for this is the coming of the Divine Feminine in each of us. She is the opening and revealing of our own nature and consciousness, she is the revelation of Sophia Zoe in each of us, revealing herself as our own Wisdom-nature of our own minds through a development of becoming as though a dance of veils.

The Chevalier, the Knight, then could be a man or a woman, for a woman could enact the masculine in her to this process, enact this devotion, this romantic pursuit of the Divine Feminine in herself, to bring it forth and inwardly love it as she longs to be loved. Certainly, she would have a different relationship with this role than a man, but ultimately, who is the woman the man is directing his romantic pursuits and devotions towards? While a woman may stand talismanic in this role, ultimately, he is cultivating the same internal relationship with the Divine Feminine as well, if he is pursuing to the heart of the romantic intent of Chivalry.

This returns us to re-conceive the masculine role of the Chevalier as well. This not only asks the question: How does he find the woman within himself to direct his devotions to the Knight of God? But it asks an ever more profound question: How can the Chevalier inwardly give himself to the Divine as the stereotypical woman gives herself to her beloved? How does the man surrender into the strong arms of God and melt before his beauty and power as a woman might her lover?!

This new movement of the Feminine in this world can be seen as an opportunity for all to think and be outside our current paradigms, and the Chevalier, rather than resisting such a shift by clinging to a Medieval role, can approach this new shift in consciousness with daring, with courage, with devotion and dedication, in the same way that he is taught to deal with all change and life-circumstance. In Medieval times, the Chevalier was a progressive warrior, eliciting a change in the way the feminine was conceived, thus it would be a horrible irony if it’s modern enactment would be to do the opposite! We must merely ask, what is the response that helps to facilitate and shift into a regenerated humanity and what is a downward and backward shift, and the answer becomes quite clear.

This movement of the empowerment of woman is challenging both men and women to think of themselves as BOTH a “man” and a “woman” in task, function and attitude. Yet these are not necessarily so connected to sex, these translate into the roles we play in society. But if we are to shift into a state of consciousness that understands “role” as mask, role as “function” rather than role as identity, we must devote ourselves to this shift and find a way to integrate our traditions. So maintaining the traditional veneer of Chivalry doesn’t serve the function that it originally served. But by shifting our understanding of the time and place in which we live, we can still apply the principles that Chivalry embodies, yet also tap into the well of mythic identity that the roles of Chivalry provide. By modifying these roles to fit the time and place, the underlying intention of the generation of a new state of being in humanity can be drawn forth and revealed to the Knight, who gives his/her life, ultimately in the pursuit of this cause, willing to fight or die for this cause, the Revelation of Truth.
Last edited by Phillip on Sat Aug 05, 2006 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

Leslie Kaneel

Modern Woman Knight

#2 Postby Leslie Kaneel » Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:52 pm

Shalom Phillip!

The modern woman knight has innate feminine manifestation but also must Activate masculine manifestation to be effective. You may say that for centuries the Logos has been the dominant Divine principle in the West and we need more of Sophia. This is true, but, as a female person myself, I found it was the Recognition of the Divine Feminine already manifested that was the initial hurdle to tackle, then, dynamically balancing the already present Femininity with Logos - is KEY.
Passivity Activated in, yes, perhaps, a chivalric manner.
Once the Christos(Sophia-Logos) is in harmonious equilibrium in the soul, Transcendence is catalyzed!

A fine example of a modern woman knight is in the character of Eowyn in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Return of the King" novel (& film). This novel was written in the early 1950's in England when on the threshold of tumultuous uprisings in Western culture, including the Women's Movement. Even though the novel is set in a kind of medieval atmosphere, the fairly brilliant author was well aware of the changes in 20th century society going on at the time. Hence, the development of the modern woman knight character of Eowyn. This is my theory anyway.

Taking a closer look at this character:

She is very outwardly feminine and with a soft feminine heart, but, is certainly not passive! She is ordered to stay put, by fundamentalist-type characters, while the men ride to fight evil. She couldn't bear to be idle, so, with honour, courage, and clarity of purpose, secretly rode with the men and even carried a companion who also was told to stay behind.
Once at the battlefield between good and evil, she (with help from her companion) ended up being the one to destroy the evil Witch-King of Angmar. Hence, very much favourably affecting the outcome of the fight even when everything seemed lost!

Metaphorically speaking, this is an excellent depiction of feminine-manifested Transcendence. The overcoming of evil and ignorance blocking the Path to Enlightenment and Liberation.
Sophia embracing Logos in the soul.

May we find the Spiritual Knight within. Amen.

Prayers and Blessings,
Last edited by Leslie Kaneel on Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Leslie Kaneel

Battle or no Battle?

#3 Postby Leslie Kaneel » Fri Aug 04, 2006 6:45 pm


In light of discussions in the neighbouring topic about fear, I thought I should deepen the above post to reflect a clearer meaning.
In reality there is no war between good and evil but only a gentler removing of the "husks" of ignorance in the soul. The imagery of battle and fighting is only metaphorically used to emphasis the difficulty involved in removing some of these "husks." The imagery of battlefield indicates the main battleground of the Heart:

"The Heart in the Soul is like a King at War - In the spiritual dimension,...., the two end points are good and evil, and these are diametrical opposites.
Since the heart is the midpoint between these opposites, it is seen as the site of battle between good and evil........between the Good Urge(Yetzer Tov) and the Evil Urge(Yetzer HaRa)." (Sefer Yetzirah 6:3)

May we Master the Fear preventing us from finding Deep Faith and Courage; and shed the ignorance that binds us. Amen.


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#4 Postby Phillip » Sat Aug 05, 2006 3:16 am


Something more can be said about Chivalry, for as we contemplate it further, it appears that Chivalry is a Western version of what in the East is called Karma Yoga. It is the way of right action, spiritual action or activity that uplifts one’s own karma and the karma of others.

In all of the stories about Heroic Knights, especially those written by the troubadours, the Knights must resolve a series of conflicts. In many cases, the conflicts are not of the Knights making, but of the making of other’s errors, or deceit or unrighteous behavior on the part of others. Still, for the sake of the honor of their lord, for their own integrity and for the sake of the enactment of Chivalry at it’s best, the Knight must conduct himself with propriety as he acts to resolve the conduct. This does not mean he cannot be cunning, but his cunning is always in perfect reflection of those who are acting with deceit. With the honorable Knights, the knight conducts himself with the reciprocal honor. He acts as a perfect mirror of the activity of those around him, and throughout, acts to resolve the central conflict of the drama.

In one case, King Arthur himself speaks inappropriately, yet as King, he cannot take back his word, but must maintain the integrity of his position by standing by his word. The situation evokes great conflict in his court, and he privately admits his error with his wife, as well as this dilemma of not being able to take his word back. One of his Knights provides a solution to the conflict, through a series of adventures that are enacted to save the Queen’s honor, who is dishonored by a brash and arrogant knight. Along the way, he meets his own bride, which coincidentally gives him the opportunity to engage in combat to save the Queen’s honor, which also allows the King an opportunity to resolve the conflict generated by his “misspoken” word.

There is a quality in the tales of these adventures of Chivalrous activity resolving the “sin” of others, of resolving conflicts that seem to have no source, "coincidentally" bringing numerous such resolutions together in one fowl swoop. The Knight is not acting with the thought that he will accomplish all of this, but simply conducts himself according to the codes of honor and integrity of the Knight and this naturally enacts such a drama that challenges the Knight, yet through perseverance, daring, intelligence, cunning and integrity, the knight is able to act to magically resolve numerous dilemmas at once, quite naturally and spontaneously. Is this not the magical activity of Karma Yoga? Such a one learns to act in such a way that brings negative karma into cessation, and to resolve conflict, acting as a peacemaker in the world.

So I think these tales of Chivalry provide very clear instruction about the esoteric nature of Chivalry, that it is a spiritual practice akin Karma Yoga, a way of being and thinking and acting in the world that allows a person to liberate negative karma in others and in the world.

May we be empowered to liberate the Sin of others and the world, to mitigate negative karma and bring the causes of suffering to cessation!

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Modern Chivalry

#5 Postby Phillip » Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:34 am

As I further contemplate Chivalry in relationship to the feminine for modern times, I have come across so many women who have personalities that strike me as warriors, even had women adversaries who were worthy and powerful in every way, so that in today’s modern world I have difficulty thinking of the Knight’s relationship with the feminine in the same way as it occurred in the past at all. Some people simply have a “warrior” sense of themselves that is quite natural and spontaneous and some don’t. Some of these “warriors” are women, and some are men.

Certainly, the masculine/feminine relationship in old stories of Chivalry is a metaphor that holds a truth of how we should treat one another, but I think this is true for men and women. In this sense, for modern times, I see the Chivalric view of women much more in a symbolic sense. Since I see so many women so successful in taking up the stereotypical "male" role in modern society, I see it as an instruction to be kind to that in one another that is sensitive and fragile. When confronted with another’s vulnerability, as a general principle, Chivalry teaches us to honor the feminine in our sisters AND brothers, and all those around us. It is a way of being not only with this side revealed in women, but with this side revealed in anyone we meet.

But this Knight’s relationship with Chivalry is not only a relationship with others, it is a relationship with Shekinah. In this relationship, it is a dialogue of integrity and how integrity can lead to a positive energetic field.

This world drives us to make many compromises. We are asked to compromise our integrity by gossiping about people we may not even know. We are tacitly asked to pass along information we don’t know is true, but only through the mouths of others because it subtly maintains a certain circle of political connections or friends. In fact, many social groups stand on this very foundation of gossip. We are asked to compromise our integrity by reporting on the possible “misdeeds” of a friend and ally in the work-world, for issues we believe are not important. We are asked or at least encouraged to lie, to forge paperwork, to sign forms we shouldn’t sign, to participate in programs that we philosophically oppose. We are encouraged to these and many other misdeeds, both subtle and gross.

No one in this world can stay clean. Such demands against our integrity are a constant, and we cannot judge ourselves for when we fall into things and compromise our integrity in various way, nor can we waste time with guilt or shame, especially if our integrity is a vague notion of what we should and shouldn’t do. We must instead think strategically about such things, since such compromises are inevitable. In this sense it is a dance between forces of light and forces of darkness within us, and we seek to cleave to the light within us while in a world of darkness and create a space for others to be in the light who wish to be.

In this sense, I think the first step any Templar must make a code of integrity. It is easy for the world to call us into negativity and to then justify it if we don’t have a clearly defined code of ethics. It should be malleable enough to change as our perspective evolves, but there should also be practical lines that we decide we will not cross, if only for the practice of guarding that line. In practicing this, we must be willing to guard this line even if there is a consequence for doing so. For instance, a Knight may decide, “I will not gossip.” That is a simple and clear code, for she/he may decide that there is nothing good that comes from this after contemplating it. In practicing this, she/he may find that this is not as easy as it seems, and get caught up in gossip anyway. But, having this code, there is no need for justification, nor judgment. The Knight simply sees that she/he has crossed the line, and thinks strategically about how to remove him/herself from this dynamic. In this sense, it becomes a cosmic game of chess. We get involved in sin, and rather than get caught up in the internal drama of this, one simply considers the practical means by which one removes oneself from sin, and enacts the strategy without judgment, guilt or shame.

The first step when dealing strategically with such challenges, as presented by Tau Malachi is to look within oneself and find that insecurity, fear or negativity that motivates our link with this activity, and then proceed into a practice that shifts or transforms the energy. Moving from here, we can remove ourselves from such energies outside of ourselves quite naturally, or our links with them will often end without much thought or effort.

In generating such a code and practicing sticking to it, and strategically removing oneself from these situations as they arise, we have the opportunity to open to the energetic dimension of our daily interactions, and work life. Through practicing in this way, the Knight is able to view negative circumstances not from the eye of judgment, guilt, shame and so forth, as we often normally do, but from an eye that is more focused on the energy dimension of what occurs. Rather than judging oneself for getting caught up in gossip, for instance, one can watch the energy of the gossip, watch what is occurring in one’s own consciousness, and really HEAR the words that are being spoken and the energy with which they are being spoken. One can go within and find the insecurity that motivates it, and feel that, and in all of this, on begins to explore the energy dimension of this activity, and in transforming it and removing oneself from this energy, one comes to know another energy, one that is deeper, one that motivates us to make this shift, subtly, gently but insistently in our heart of hearts.

We can honor this as our “lady” for this is a display of the energy dimension of righteousness in us, and as such our “Shekinah.” Certainly, this power within us can lead us to something greater for it is linked to this power, but this which is our silent, non-judgmental conscience, who guides us to righteousness not because we are supposed to but because we love, love ourselves and one another, even our enemy is our lady. As Paul says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Note how by removing those activities that invoke negativity into our consciousness, we reveal that within our consciousness that seeks righteousness. In this sense, we allow this righteousness in ourselves unrestricted expression, even when we sin, by going inward to find our way out of sin, just as the Knight goes to his lady to receive moral direction, consolation and blessing when faced with a great challenge in the world.

Our integrity honors our Lady within and as we honor our integrity, we honor our Lady within, and as we practice our individual codes of integrity, may we honor our Lady always, and hear her call as the greatest call of integrity.

I recommend reading the story of Boaz in “Ruth” from scripture and Nehmiah in further contemplation of this principle. May the Lord guard us and protect us in righteousness! Amen.

Leslie Kaneel

In & Out of the Shadows

#6 Postby Leslie Kaneel » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:23 am

Shalom Bro. Phillip!

Very interesting that you brought up this topic at this time!

Thank You.

Sitting in the South, the Wind of Council & Might, Fire, gathering our Power, ......archangel St. Michael.
This reminds one not to put down the Sword; the Sword of Wisdom, the Sword of Truth - the Sword of the Holy Spirit. In that the Sword clears the Way for the Holy Staff in the Sacred Circle when turning to the right, toward the West, where we meet Yohanan, the navi in the Wind of Wisdom & Understanding. Here it is Known that Yohanan is not a sorcerer but a shaman with Love & Compassion for all beings. The Sacred Heart.

When one takes up the Sword of the Spirit, they are truly themselves standing in their full Power, Divine Power. The Wind of the Messiah; riding the Holy Shin - where no shades and shadows interfere. This is like unto the Spiritual Warrior in the Here & Now who Knows the possibility of defeat when going to battle and the accompanying fear to be walked through! And, when knocked down in one battle stands up again to face the next one head on! Our "Refinement". Gleaning all the jewels of Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding in the process. Meeting and moving through the four main enemies, first being the Fear, then Clarity, Power, and Old-age.

This IS the battle of the Heart, for what and whom we Love most we will cleave to most closely. But, we must discern between cleaving and clinging. The latter leads to the evil inclination and the former leads to the good inclination. The good cleaving being Devekut which goes hand-in-hand with Hishtavut - stoicism, or detachment. In this detachment there is no stirring one with praise or blame, it is all the same; all arising in emptiness. Mother Impermanence.

May we never forget, whether in the shadows or out of the shadows! So help us God! amen.


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#7 Postby alex » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:32 pm

Shalom phillip,

Thank you for this great post! As you said many people in this generation dont excercise chivalry, and many have found it obsolete. I must admit I never use to understand what chivalry actually is. But this post has really opened my eyes, and theres a few lines Iv'e found very intriguing. particularly in speaking of our individual code of conduct you wrote, [/quote]"We can honor this as our "lady" for this is a display of the energy dimension of righteousness in us, and as such our shekinah". And also, "Our integrity honors our Lady within and as we honor our integrity, we honor our Lady within, and as we practice our individual codes of integrity, may we honor our Lady always, and hear her call as the greatest call of integrity." So could we say that in this context, we are honoring the holy bride in keeping our code of conduct through our actions in life? And could we say, that this is one meaning of a line in the holy vow that says, "guard the holy grail"?

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#8 Postby Phillip » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:35 pm

Shalom Alex!

Integrity shares the same root as the word “integral” which is defined as “processing everything essential: entire.” This to me implies a wholeness, a processing within ourselves of the entirety of our being, leaving nothing out. The action from this wholeness, then, to me implies acting from this integrity, or activity that is the “processing” of everything within ourselves.

I guess codes of conduct are useful, as these codes of conduct are revealed as essential in this process of integration. Codes taken on from the outside or “good ideas” can be useful in that they may help reveal that within us that is left out and needs integration. But true “codes of integrity,” it feels and appears to me, are actions and activity that acts to bring into wholeness all of these diverse and seemingly contradictory parts of ourselves. It is a work of Tikkune, essentially. This forms the grail you speak of , I think, and forms the energy within the grail, but moving in the world and within myself in this way, I am engaging the work of Tikkune, creating a fit vessel in and of myself, and generating within myself a similar energy.

May we integrate all parts of ourselves as a fit vessel for the reception of the Light of Messiah in us! Amen.

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