We want to be very measured in our words here, and take a serious moment to speak of something heavy and of the utmost importance to us.
We are painfully aware of current events in the world, and the ugly ways people will turn symbols into hate. The Warriors of Ash are an apolitical non-profit organization, but do not tolerate hate on the basis of race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, and is our duty to ensure our stand against hate is known to the world. We proudly and wholeheartedly embrace this duty.
Our message has always been simple, clear, and unwavering: If you are human, you are welcome to train with us. We do Not support hate, and never will. Xenophobia, fat-shaming, homophobia, TERFs, racism, Anti-LGBTQ+, etc... none of this is in alignment with our 9 virtues and we do not allow any of it in our school. Whether your banner flag sports transgender colors, rainbows, or any shade in between, we welcome you into our ranks with open arms. If you are disabled in some way or injured, we will work with you, and we welcome you. Our instructors are almost all disabled veterans and we have always found a way to offer training to everyone. Our students come from all walks of life, and we welcome them all.
HEMA is a unique sport in that we have open pools at tournaments. This means no matter your weight, height, age, gender, etc. you are able to participate. You can go worldwide in this art and fight against anyone; it is one of the most inclusive competitive arts out there. We are proud of this fact, and we support it in our own school's teachings and classes. All of our weekly classes are never segregated in any way, we allow all to train. When we offer All Women's workshops to create safe spaces for students from time to time, we also clearly communicate that anyone who identifies as a woman, or perhaps isn't sure at this time, is welcome. Your eligibility is not based on your appearance.
Our Code of Conduct makes clear that discrimination is not tolerated, and we encourage everyone to speak up if they feel our members, students, instructors, or partner organizations are not fulfilling this obligation. Publicly or privately, please let our leadership know if anyone in our ranks, wearing our patches, or working with us is not abiding by our code of conduct. Everyone is entitled to basic human decency. This applies to action and speech as much as it does digitally.. We take accusations of discrimination or hate very seriously. One of the ways we signify this is by requiring all WoA patch holders to also wear an equality patch on their vest as a reminder to self and others of this accepted responsibility.
Let us shift for a moment, and talk about runes: examples as well as where our school stands.
We know that those who support white supremacy have tried to take over and re-purpose ancient symbols. As Warriors of Ash and decent human beings, we have a duty to be aware of this while taking a serious stand to protect ancient history and lineage.
Let's speak about a particular symbol we do not use: The Valknut.
According to Norse Mythology, the Valknut is a truly mysterious symbol that is associated with burial rituals and the dead. It is iconic in it's bold lines and 3 interlaced triangles. Following the provided link will show a modern drawing as well as historical finds. We think this is an amazing piece of history; its meaning is intriguing and the bold lines are aesthetically appealing.
Unfortunately, in America and across Europe, it is a common symbol taken up by white supremacists to the point it is nearly synonymous with them in many peoples' minds. While this symbol is ancient and rooted in mystery and its purpose was never intended for this, we cannot deny that it has a reputation now. We also understand many people are also using this symbol to take it away from hate groups and keep history preserved. However, our duty is first and foremost to our fellow people. For this reason, to communicate to everyone that we will never support this kind of hate and to uphold our virtues and professionalism, you will never see this symbol being used in our school to represent the Warriors of Ash as an official logo.
Not all symbols are this tumultuous though. The runes themselves are definitely symbols which have been used in similar ways, and we are quite mindful of this. However, there are heathens, historians, and people of many cultures who are ensuring these symbols will not fall to those who don't understand them. The Vikings were a well-cultured people, who saw more of the world than most modern Americans, and were exposed to many new ideas, peoples, and concepts. When you read the Sagas, the Havamal, and look at the history of the Viking era, you see a people who built their lives by trading with other cultures, by spreading far and wide across the world, and created wisdom that never mentions excluding people based on any bigoted standards.
" Growl not at guests, nor drive them from the gate
but show thyself gentle to the poor. " -- Havamal, stanza 134.
Our gate is open to all who abide by our virtues. Our school is one that is loyal to our fellow humans first, but also to history, to truth, and to learning. We are a Historical martial arts school. We are also unique in our teaching of Viking era combat, and we are proud to bring ancient techniques to light. We use these runes to communicate the power that history plays in our current lives, and to bring culture into our arts. Most importantly now, we use them to communicate and educate the world that these are not symbols of hate and never will be taken by hate. We use these runes openly and at the same time, proudly take a stand against hate, bigotry, and those who would try to twist these symbols into something they are not. We understand our responsibility to be loud in our communication, and we can think of no louder way to be than to make open statements, live our virtues, and make our statement clear in everything we do.
Our message will always be that Our Shieldwall is for All.