There was an ancient French trade guild (or collective of various guilds) called the Commpagnonage (Companions). According to their myths, a master or maitre Jacques was murdered, either by the disciples of a former employee, Pere Sorbouse, or by Jacques’ own workers — convinced to commit the act by the workers of Sorbouse.
The murderers wanted more than they were getting from the master. They wanted the secrets and the rewards of mastery, though they had not risen to the level of master.
If ever there was a myth to explain the modern age, surely this is it. Today, as we look around us, we notice that society has killed the best of our culture:
Fast food has replaced real food with real nutritional value and taste. We are ignorant — and seem to delight in our ignorance — of the traditions of art, philosophy, and religion, that for thousands of years explored what it was to be human, and what it was to be a man or a woman.
From the strong, extended family, to the nuclear family, to the one-parent family, and so on, the family has effectively collapsed (85% of men in prison come from fatherless homes), becoming ever more atomized and ever more adhering to whatever bizarre ideas are en vogue.
Instead of participants in life, men and women are increasingly spectators, living through the net, or through the latest ideology.
Manhood itself falls under suspicion.
Brotherhood is regarded as “outmoded.”
Let’s face the fact. The workmen have killed the master, and now they run society.
Those of us who stand against the plebian nature of culture today, and who know something of higher culture, and something of what makes us not only human but great, we find ourselves among the emotional and intellectual ruins, and, yet, we nevertheless find ourselves like maitre Jacques, under seige. This is both a blessing and a curse.
It means that, like all masters, we must continue to learn. To put aside the ego when something is in front of us that will help us grow, as men, as creators — artists, martial artists, Brothers in brotherhoods, and so on.
But, it means that must also share what culture and understanding we have, with others who want to learn. That we must, at every level, take charge of our own self, and become as a master.
There is a tendency to think of the alpha male as a constant state of being. But, in one circumstance one acts as an alpha, a master, and, in another, as someone lower down the food chain. This is simply because, in a complicated would, we cannot know everything or always be in charge of others.
Brotherhoods still exist. Some are just emerging. Some have been around for centuries. Some are loose networks of friends who have set themselves the aim of self-overcoming. Others are structured and ritualized.
But, in each, what we need in this day and age, are rebels — rebels who are not only against the system outside, of dumbing down, of cultural ignorance, of ever-shifting ideas of what we can and cannot do or believe; but rebels who are for the Brotherhood in its essence.
No matter what we level of knowledge or experience we have, we know something that others — even our Brothers — do not. Now is the time to stand up.
I encourage you to rebel, not only against what is wrong, but for what is right. If there is a hierarchy in your group, respect it, and act to make it stronger. If there is a tendency to push people through the ranks, ask yourself if you are suited to that or if your group would be better off with you sharing your talents. Rebel against the sloth and stasis that hierarchies tend to fall into.
If you can speak well, or know something of culture, give a rousing speech or a talk of relevance to your group — on history, spirituality, metaphysics, myth, self-improvement, and so on. (Remind the group of its purpose and meaning.) If you can help your brothers with their fitness and health, do that.
If you’re an artist or musician, create something that will express the group spirit — something that will live on, and something that can be passed down, from one generation to the next like a banner or torch that will continue to light the way in dark times.