The Asphodel Militia is a volunteer group that meets at our major festivals. They engage in competitive martial games (including archery), and have a fourteenth-century-style pike drill. Militia ranks and medals are awarded liberally by the Queen. It's often referred to as the Beer-And-Spear. It is said that in the old days, some peasant militia were hired with a flitch of bacon and a keg of beer, and their term lasted until the bacon and beer ran out. The Queen General has reclaimed this practice by personally paying the militia in beer or cider, generally her own acclaimed homebrew. (Militiamen who do not drink beer or who are under 21 may be issued soda pop, or they may appoint a Designated Drinker.)
Q:Is this some sort of historical reenactment group?
Not even remotely.
Q: Can anyone join the militia?
You have to be present at one of our major festivals (Beltane or Asphodel Weekend); you have to be over 18 or have a parent present to give permission; you have to be able-bodied and sober enough to safely carry a spear (or agricultural implement), march in a roughly straight line, and shamble to some species of attention. Aside from that, anyone is welcome.
Q: Do you have uniforms?
No, but as of Beltane 2006 we do have snazzy hats. Hats will be provided to all militiamen, but if you want to keep your hat, you'll have to pay for it. They aren't expensive, and it gives you somewhere to keep all your medals.
Uniforms or other costumes are encouraged, but by no means mandatory. In fact, the militia is clothing optional, weather permitting.
Q: Should I bring weapons?
Militiamen may bring their own polearm, if they choose, but it must be approved by the Queen. Nearly any variety of pole-weapon is acceptable: spear, pike, halberd, staff, voulge, trident, naganata, pitchfork, anything like that. It should be sturdy enough to jab at a dummy and block a blow from another militiamen's polearm, and should not be more than a foot taller than you or a few inches shorter than you. It should not project more than a few inches out to the sides, so scythes or rakes would not be appropriate. Exceptionally snazzy polearms are bound to get you a medal. Weapons made of foam, plastic, cardboard, rubber, etc. are not permitted. For children, a blunt wooden staff (broomstick) is generally the most appropriate polearm.
Archery is nearly always a part of militia drill, and you are welcome to bring your own gear if you have it. Swords may be involved as well, but the polearm is the primary weapon of the milita.
Firearms or large projectile weapons (trebuchet, catapult, cannon, etc.) should be discussed with the Queen prior to the event. If you have an interest in black powder weapons, definitely talk to her.
Q: Who are we invading, and when?
Sorry. We have no plans to invade anyone right now, or tomorrow either.
The official motto of the Asphodel Pagan Militia is:
Our uniforms are motley! Our weapons are obsolete! Our discipline is nil! But we shall never be defeated, for we shall never go to war!
Q: Are you trying to overthrow the government?
No. That would be stupid. We only have three cannons.
Q: If you aren't ever fighting anyone, why are you doing these drills?
For parades, of course!
Q: What does all this warrior stuff have to do with Pagan spirituality? Aren't Pagans peaceful? Isn't war wrong?
That's a complex question, and the answer has to have many layers as well. First of all, honoring your warrior spirit doesn't have to mean that you are going to take up arms and kill someone in service to a government. Being a warrior means that you are willing to fight for what you believe is right, whatever that is. It might be for a cause you believe in. It might be about defending those you love. It might be about having courage in the face of the obstacles that Life sends us. It might even be a battle with your inner demons, which is probably the hardest war of all.
In astrological terms, the force of Mars - action, aggression, the need to make a forceful impact on our world - is naturally a part of us all. Some people have more Mars energy than others. Telling them that this is a wrong way to be is not only incorrect but useless. To date, much of the neo-pagan movement has neglected the Mars force. This may be because they associate the warrior with the oppressor, but it has alienated a lot of Martial types who will never be quiet peaceful people with nary a violent streak. In Asphodel, we seek to reclaim the best of every archetype, while weeding out the parts that can be too destructive. The Spiritual Warrior is important, and we have made a place that.
The militia, admittedly, is more sport than a serious study. However, it gives people who would not normally have the chance to experience a few minutes of the camaraderie of a military group....and one that is egalitarian, and nonpatriarchal, and doesn't work with shaming or beating people down. It gives people who would never come within twenty feet of any modern military (for ethical, physical or psychological reasons) a chance to indulge their warrior spirit twice a year.