The International Fellowship of Chivalry-Now

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An Overview

Variations of the warrior ethic have existed throughout history and can be found in all cultures. The warrior was valued as the community’s protector from outside attack. He was expected to be brave, strong, clever and honest – a good foundation for any ethic. As time went on, these qualities expanded both in depth and application, contributing to the cultural values around them.
    In the West we see heroic examples of these values in myth, song, epic poems, historical legends, and social hierarchy, where warriors formed an elite class with special obligations and privileges. Europe became a virtual melting pot of Greek, Roman, Celtic and Germanic warrior traditions.
    During the High Middle Ages, these traditions became more formalized and refined, reflecting Christian influences. Contact with the Middle East introduced further dimension, along with a reclaiming of Greek heritage that was previously lost.
    The result was a warrior code known as chivalry which defined the beliefs and behavior of knights. This code was considered so admirable, that much of it was utilized to form the Western concept of a gentleman.
    While the code was popularly understood through the transmission of literature and song, it was never formalized into a single code. As it became more and more identified with the manners of a gentleman, it lost some of its fundamental meaning. This was exacerbated by the coming of the Industrial Age, which changed the relationships between fathers and sons, breaking the traditional means of cultural transmission. Although chivalry maintained a certain appeal, it became disconnected from its philosophical depth. Eventually, it was reduced to being equated with a quaint veneer of courtesy and manners, especially toward women, rather than a complete personal ethic. Instead of evolving with the times, it fell into stagnation.
    The purpose of Chivalry-Now is to reclaim this philosophical depth in order to heal our ailing culture. Even a cursory examination reveals how today’s male ethics are in sharp decline. Chivalry-Now offers a way to change this by articulating a new chivalry appropriate for the times. It does not consider itself an end-all, but rather a foundation upon which to build. By incorporating valuable lessons learned since the fall of chivalry, it presents something uniquely valid for our current needs.
    Chivalry-Now is chivalry evolved. The following presents a short outline of what that evolution included.
    From the Age of Enlightenment, which gave birth to the modern mind, it incorporates the imperative of free thought and personal discovery as vital ingredients of the knightly quest. Nature’s Law is not just a legal reference, but a fusion of thought and conscience that frees the individual into a more authentic life. Reason replaces superstition, giving new vitality and applicability to virtue. Value is given to tradition, but does not limit us. Virtue is recognized for its own intrinsic value as part of human nature, not just a response to reward and punishment. From here we glean respect for citizen government, democracy, free speech, civil rights and aspirations toward equality. Nature becomes something we learn from, rather than fear.
    The Romantic Age gave us a look into the Mystery of life and nature. Whereas the Enlightenment approached nature clinically, Romantics focused on reverence and awe, which Chivalry-Now affirms as a vital part of the individual’s quest. Enlightenment and Romance are not opposites, as many claim, but dimensions of human complexity that complement our confrontation of the world.
    Existentialism gained popularity in Europe after the unprecedented devastation of World War II. Survivors had to grapple with the absurdity of life that arose from the inhumanity of blitzkrieg, Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Human depravity challenged the nobility of human nature with new and efficient machinations for killing. Totalitarian and fascist regimes sharply contended with the ideals of freedom and liberal democracy that were still being tested. Traditions were exploited. Nationalism displaced common decency. Whatever positive image we had of human nature became lost in the carnage.
    Existentialism offered a means to reclaim human dignity by focusing on the individual and human choice. It told us not to passively accept the unconscious choices that shape our lives. We need to resist the homogenizing influences that society poses, not only of totalitarian and fascist regimes, but of political ideologies and commercialism as well. We are then able to create who we are, which is the essence of freedom. This gives us the means to survive the distractions and coercions of modern society with dignity. The insanity of racism, sexism, nationalism, communism, and all the other “isms” need not define us. When they do, we become mere products, and are not free.
    Jungian psychology shows how the quest, long recognized in myth and legend, remains central to who we are as human beings. It opens doors into our subconscious in order to learn from and appreciate mythical archetypes that we all share. The characters from medieval literature, from which chivalry sprang, describe aspects of our personalities that fortify us when we understand them. In short, the idea of the quest becomes a psychological journey that brings with it abundant life.
    Feminism raised awareness of the sexist attitudes that were endemic in Western culture despite the prevailing belief in freedom, justice, equal rights and fairness. Feminism freed us from our own philosophical hypocrisy and made partnership between the genders more equitable.
    Chivalry-Now derives its power through all these elements, and more. It can be considered conservative in that it preserves what is best from the past and from tradition, and approaches change with reasonable caution. It is liberal in that it promotes free thought, refuses to preserve what is wrong, and embraces change that is necessary and beneficial. It relies on common sense, and sense that is not so common – in other words, the complete psyche of a complete person.
    What we call the quest is a process or attitude toward life through which personal completeness is achieved. It confronts every moment with a willingness to learn and respond to life directly. From this we gain the kind of authenticity that puts us in control of our lives.
    In order to help us on our individual quests we have compiled a code of ethics drawn from the heart of chivalry called the 12 Trusts. Here we find an updated, nonsectarian expression of chivalry that is appropriate for today’s needs:

Upon my honor,

    1. I will develop my life for the greater good.
    2. I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth.
    3. I will never boast, but cherish humility instead.
    4. I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word.
    5. I will defend those who cannot defend themselves.
    6. I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises.
    7. I will uphold justice by being fair to all.
    8. I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship.
    9. I will abhor scandals and gossip-neither partake nor delight in them.
    10. I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help.
    11. I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven.
    12. I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward.

      By adhering to these 12 Trusts, I swear to partake in the living Quest in everything I do.

While the web site and book provide ample introduction to Chivalry-Now, those who wish a fuller understanding of its cultural depth can find much more to learn. Companions are given access to Esoterica, teachings that include such concepts as Nature’s Law, reason, kairos (an event that transforms human consciousness), aletheia (truth), areté (the greatest good), grail consciousness, ordo mundi (our relationship with nature), and telos (our inherent purpose and meaning).
    That Chivalry-Now will continue to develop over time is reasonably assumed. Stagnation is the demise of any philosophy. Life is change. As the world changes, we must respond appropriately, preserving what is best, not through shortsighted resistance, but as participants who are cognizant of the flux of time.
    It does well to think that our individual quests are part of a greater Quest for human development.


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