Where to begin this, where to explain and make an entry point? That\’s always the first trial of a writer, always the first test. How do you break in the page, how do you allow it to move under your hand?

For me, it\’s often a violent thing; often something akin to war. You pick your ground, collect your tools and weapons, check your intelligence and then you go to work. I sat here staring at the blank screen and nothing came, so I stopped looking outward, and looked inward. There is always a moment of vertigo when it comes to this, a kind of sick leaning out over the ledge to see what\’s there.

There\’s always the chance that you will be confronted with nothing, always the chance that you will witness nothing but a vast yawning gulf. However, patience is a virtue in this, because as we continue the metaphor, the troops and weapons and resources available to us are often terribly good at not being seen.

(Camouflage and painted faces, blending with the landscape of the psyche. The empty warehouse-as-crowded-ninja-bar.)

Here\’s the thing though; in warfare as in writing, that\’s exactly what you want; what you\’ve trained for.

Subtle! Subtle! They become formless. Mysterious! Mysterious! They become soundless. Therefore, they are the masters of the enemy\’s fate. Sun Tzu, The Art of War Chapter VI

These resources you have exist in potentia. The minute you catalogue them all, give them form, is the minute they gain properties and can be stolen or lost. So who is the enemy in writing, and hence as far as I am concerned, in magic itself? If the enemy of every writer is the horror of the blank page, then maybe Sun Tzu would say that mastering it would bring victory?

If suddenly, one can take that horror and transmute it, can allow it to become a manifold which actually benefits the writer, then we might be on to something. Thus the landscape, the page, the environment – all these become spaces not to be conquered or captured.

Instead they are ways to victory.

One of the biggest problems of warfare as a metaphor is that these days, war contains implicit annihilation. It wasn\’t always that way – not by a long chalk. Instead, war and battle were often attitudes that had their main thrust well beyond simple aggression and grinding the other fellow to dust.

It\’s for this reason that I would like to muse on it a little.

For starters, let\’s consider one of the primary concepts here – that of the enemy itself. It\’s a lovely thing this, having its roots in not-friend, and what I find intriguing is that for most considerations, there must be an enemy for warfare to occur. Hold it in your minds a second, yes; war with no enemy.

Sounds ridiculous doesn\’t it? How can there be war if there\’s nothing to fight against? Surely then, it\’s not warfare, just violent chaos. This is what we\’ve been quietly programmed to believe, and its taken as a heavy duty fundamental. As usual, I\’m going to offer up a heresy:

Victory itself is war without an enemy, without a resistant force.

Sigðir -Victory giver
Sigföðr – Father of Victory, War Father
Siggautr -Victory Geat
Sigrhofundr – Victory Author
Sigmundr – Victory protection
Sigrúnnr – Victory Tree
Sigtryggr – Sure of victory (Victory-true)
Sigtýr – God of Victory, War God
Sigþrór – Successful in victory, Thriving in victory

Sieg \”victory,\” from O.H.G. sigu, from P.Gmc. *sigiz- \”victory\” (cf. M.Du. seghe, O.N. sigr, O.E. sige), from PIE base *segh- \”to have, to hold\” (cf. Skt. saha- \”victory,\” sahate \”overcomes, masters;\” Gk. ekhein \”to hold\”)

Above you see nine heiti, bynames and titles of the Norse god Óðin – nine of over two hundred recorded in various sources. Two hundred names describing the deeds and things the god is known for. What a busy sod that awful old man is, no? That\’s just the Norse – what of the names of Godan of the Lombards, Woden of the Anglo-Saxons and countless others?

Now, before you dismiss this as simple Heathen frothing (which in a way it is, for it has at its roots furious inspiration) I\’d invite you to consider something:

On the host his spear | did Othin hurl,
Then in the world | did war first come;
The wall that girdled | the gods was broken,
And the field by the warlike | Wanes was trodden.

The notion of a spear being hurled over the enemy is one of dedication and sacrifice – the battle belongs to the god. As a complex deity, its often noted that the Old Man can appear as one treacherous fellow, abandoning heroes and eeling out of oaths as he chooses. In the technical sense, he is ambivalent, this lord and battle and fury. It doesn\’t matter which side wins – the war is his, offered up.

Somehow, Old One Eye can\’t lose. Everything that he does can be turned into a winning proposition. Enemy and friend are equally holy – the fury is what matters, what is divine. No matter where it comes from, he\’s the master at using it. I\’ve often pondered Ragnarok and his fate in the myths – devoured by Fenrir, who is then torn open by Vidar the Silent.

What kind of dodgy geezer doesn\’t have an exit strategy, eh?

That is of course, neither here nor there. What I find interesting is the notion that enemy and friend are rendered meaningless, that victory occurs irrespective of combatants.

If magic exists, then it alters and attacks so-called \’reality\’ – that\’s the enemy and battlefield rolled into one kids. But if victory is war without an enemy then what about reality?  If there\’s no enemy, nothing to push against, nothing to fight, what do you do?

The answer is horribly simple. Become an originator of victory. Whatever happens, whichever side loses, you are always victorious. This goes way beyond the simple working of \’angles\’ and moves into territory that some might find horrific, and that\’s not hyperbole.

Let me show you:

Pain and weariness as you stand with the butt of the spear planted in the mud; its the only thing keeping you upright You can feel the muscles moving under your skin, rippling in strange and spastic ways; a spasm hits like a hammer blow and the sinews clench in a burning iron fist. You choke back the roar as the pain floods your system, as it comes again and again and you\’re shivering in the freezing fire that\’s crawling through your flesh.

Smoke on the wind and the metal stench of blood and mortal terror; your lips draw back in a rictus grin and your eyes close, black then erupting into a phantasmagoria of fractal shapes and screaming beasts pushing their way out of your hide as you see men reaped like crops at harvest time.

All of them are screaming for their mothers, groaning from torn throats, howling with ruptured bellies, thrashing in the bloodsweat with wild eyes, bones glistening through broken flesh, jagged edges grinding like teeth.

Last one standing, that\’s you; amidst the ruined bodies of mortality, the temples of flesh now bust open to spill ruby scarlet rivers of precious life. You burn in the cold as the black birds call, feasting amidst the carnage; here an eye gulped; there a nose ripped, lips torn by cruel beaks.

There are no friends here, no enemies, and the field is full of blood; all is smoke and iron, fierce and darkly bright as another crescendo of pain rises. You do not flinch, and the grin widens, your jaw cracks with the effort of it; your tendons like creaking steel, your bones weary yet hard as diamond as you voyage ever deeper through seas of agony.

And still they cry, and your eye is dry and sockets hollowed out cups brimming with vision that threatens to spill out over all things, a tide of spume and surf and bitter wisdom. You have no shape, all is running as river, as knifing like breeze and the spear slides easily through all things, as it slid so easily through your flesh as the bindings burn and you scream out the silent speech of the void before and between the worlds.

Death is a beautiful blossom, exotic in its form and function. Inhale such a scent and know it as rich perfume – there is glory in this. The victory is everywhere; and from the field, born of shadows, emerging through the passageway of pain and death, passing along the fibres of your bondage, come your brothers and sisters.

An army full of gleaming weapons and dark of face, of scar-shaped wyrd and rune-blood bright, they come to stand with grim purpose, and one has the strength of all. On the wind they march with pounding drum and skirling horn, with shrieking joy.

Until there is only ever laughter – always.