What is a “warrior poet”? The neologism that connects New Agers and Madison Cawthorn, explained

Earlier this month, Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina made headlines for making unusual remarks on a podcast — specifically, claiming her GOP colleagues were into orgies and cocaine.

“The sexual perversion that’s going on in Washington, I mean being some kind of young guy in Washington with an average age of probably 60 or 70, and I look at all these people, a lot of them I, you know, I’ve admired throughout my life,” Cawthorn said. “Then all of a sudden you’re prompted to say, ‘Well, hey, we’re going to have some kind of sexual encounter at one of our houses. You should come over there,” like… What, what did you do? Just ask me to come? And then you realize they’re asking you to come to an orgy.

Cawthorn made the remarks on a podcast hosted by John Lovell, who is the founder of a media network called the Warrior Poet Society, which produces content focused on this idea of ​​being a “warrior poet.”

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Anyone who’s dabbled in New Age, yoga-loving wellness groups could easily confuse that term “warrior poet” for a currency more suited to that crowd. This is because it has certainly been used, and is still used, in those circles. Yet Lovell’s right-wing idea of ​​a warrior poet is specifically male and involves carrying guns (Lovell is an NRA instructor).

Yet Lovell argues that being a warrior poet doesn’t explicitly mean being pro-violence, despite his many gun-centric articles and videos. As he explained once on another podcast, a warrior poet is a man who is “more than guns”, but someone who cares about “family, faith and freedom”. He is someone who is stereotypically masculine, but also vulnerable.

A quick search of the hashtag #warriorpoet on Instagram or Twitter will reveal two different, seemingly competing communities in which this phrase is used: one, by right-wing, armed Lovell-style “warrior poets”, but also in communities of New Age Wellness Advocates and Leaders. For example, Aubrey Marcus, founder of the “lifestyle brand” Onnit (whose vitamins are promoted by Joe Rogan) which organizes retreats called Fit For Service (with promotional videos that make it look like Burning Man), also employs frequently the expression “warrior poet.” In a February 2021 tweet, Marcus – who publicly shares his psychedelic experiences and describes himself as a “fitness junkie” and “human enhancer” – shared a poem titled “Code of the Warrior Poet”.

“Be completely vulnerable,” Marcus said. “Acknowledge your invincibility.”

Marcus, who bills himself as something of a health guru of New Age spirituality, has also publicly promoted vaccine hesitancy throughout the pandemic and partners with people who promote adjacent QAnon misinformation.

With this in mind, is it pure coincidence that the term “warrior poet” is used by both groups? And is there more crossover between the two than you might think?

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“It is no coincidence that the term ‘warrior poet’ is used to promote libertarian men’s groups and far-right ideology,” said Dr. Stephanie Alice Baker, senior lecturer in sociology at City , University of London, which studies welfare, disinformation and conspiracies. “The term warrior evokes images of virile masculinity and belonging to a community animated by a common cause; the term ‘poet’ defines this mission as the expression of an inner wisdom and within the framework of a higher vocation. “

Matthew Remski, co-host of the above Conspirituality podcast and a researcher on cult dynamics, agreed that the term connects two seemingly disparate communities and said they have more ties than one might think.

“I think it’s a mark of how different iterations of men’s rights movements dating back to pre-Warren Farrell times, have combined these two streams of leftist, progressive and feminist visions of manhood that men can be in touch with their feelings and express survival and confess trauma,” Remski said. “And then men who are able to use the same kind of truth spells to talk about their strength or durability or their bravery or their quest for freedom; I don’t think there’s a contradiction at all.”

Indeed, the use of the “warrior poet” in both circles reflects the growing overlap between spiritual thought and far-right politics – which also overlaps with QAnon and anti-vax conspiracies, which often cite mystical or semi-mystical concepts. -spiritual – under a desire for these groups to claim masculinity in some way. As Remski pointed out, there have been earlier iterations of this notion dating back to the 70s (not adjacent to QAnon) where the terms “warrior” and “poet” appeared together. The specific currency of a warrior-poet seems to date back to the so-called mythopoetic men movement.

Although Marcus’ lifestyle brand and Fit For Service retreats are not explicitly geared towards men, there is a distinctly masculine vibe to these events; photos and advertisements feature very muscular men who are often shirtless and wearing Viking-esque clothing.

Baker told Salon that there are “strong parallels with religious groups, as these communities tend to present their personal journeys of self-discovery within the framework of a cosmic battle and the New World Order.”

In 2021, Cliff Leek, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Northern Colorado, argued at the Washington Post that this type of masculinity and the movements they shape may be a reaction to pro-feminist men’s groups working on reproductive health and sexual violence.

“As soon as we link masculinity to spirituality, we transform masculinity into something ‘sacred’ as well as distinct and exclusive from women,” Leek said. “I’m not entirely sure that’s something that can be done in a way that doesn’t reinforce or naturalize inequality.”

Baker told Salon that there are “strong parallels with religious groups, as these communities tend to present their personal journeys of self-discovery within the framework of a cosmic battle and the New World Order.”

Notably, what the two groups also have in common is their attempt not to brand themselves around a single ideology. For example, Lovell says that being a warrior poet is not entirely masculine. However, perhaps not so ironically, on the Warrior Poet Society website there is an article titled “What is a woman?“, which seems to reflect the far-right reaction to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s response to a question about the complexities of sex and gender. As for Marcus’ stated politics, he identifies himself as “anti-politics “and do not vote, according to a interview with Refinery29.

Remski called Marcus’ politics “reactionary centrism,” a stance that ensures members of these groups “do not subscribe to the system of labels that separates one person from another.”

“What they will say is that labeling their behavior and positions with any sort of clarity is an attack on personal nuances and their claim of universal unity,” Remski said.

But often the types of posts they share with their followers, Remski explained, are “straight from MAGA-land.” In a way, this form of rhetoric promotes extremism in a more subtle but effective way.

“It gives a very sophisticated language to deny that one is in fact extremely partisan,” Remski said, which brings us to where these movements exist today – a seemingly strange convergence of two worlds, which have there have always been parallels, but which are coming together more and more. distinct ways today.

“There’s a new element to the intersection between New Age culture and right-wing militia culture, and that’s the connective tissue of neuroscience and optimization, and MMA,” Remski said. “Aubrey Marcus and Joe Rogan punch between those two areas.”

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