The warrior and the tiger

I don’t really care much for Tim Lambesis as a musical personality; in fact I dislike him as a general person for hiring a hit man to murder his wife, for pretending he was Christian after converting to atheism so that his band As I Lay Dying could sell records as a (falsely) Christian band, for apparently being the kind of the person who uses his atheism and rejection of religion to justify cheating on his wife (and thus playing right into the hands of falsely righteous Christians looking to say “see atheism justifies bad behaviour!”), and for getting himself fucked up on steroids. But all that aside, one of his tattoos gave me an idea. On his back, there’s a tattoo depicting a samurai fighting a tiger, and apparently it’s supposed to represent a conflict between reason and instinct. Depending on your perspective, you could say that in Tim’s case the tiger overpowered the warrior.

The tattoo in question

I didn’t think warriors were necessarily associated with reason, or at least reason as we tend to think of it in regards to solving problems with reason rather than force. I tend to think of the warrior as more associated with strength, virtue, discipline of the mind, honor, and devotion to principles. Thinking about it, the warrior as a symbolic force relates to why I like Asian culture and Asian religious images from India to Japan. The strength angle also seems to relate to my love of heavy metal, as I find it in most forms of heavy metal. However, the warrior as a symbol of the strong mind could also fit will with the faculties of reason or at least self-control. I remember being told once by a guy who was into astrology that the sword as symbol is the reshaping or extension of our purely aggressive urges (which would be symbolized by a knife) into something honorable. Perhaps this may be another angle to the symbolism of the warrior, but it might end up relying on the concept of instinct as a the core. With the tiger, I can definitely see the symbolic relation to animalistic instinct and nature, the same way I see in other predatory mammals and reptiles, and in images of the prehistoric world, and in the jungle (where tigers usually live, fittingly enough). Some traditional forms of metal also carry this over, namely old-style black metal. Perhaps you could argue the infernal forces are all about that which is base in us, but I’m not here to try and define Satan, demons, and Hell for today.

With that in mind, I’m actually thinking about some Tantric deities (from both Hindu and Buddhist Tantra); the kind that wear animal skins, bear weapons, are immersed in fire, and wearing crowns and jewelry. Thinking about it, they make me think of a harmonizing of the warrior and the tiger, discipline and instinct, the mind and the beast. It’s probably why I’ve fought of dressing like one of them.

Like what this guy’s doing. The costume is based on Vajrapani.

I see a similar angle in the symbolism of the Baphomet, since it presents harmony between the forces of the spiritual and the material, the logical and emotional, civilized and wild. Baphomet harmonizes the principles of the warrior and the principles of the tiger by bringing virtue and instinct together.

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