CRGI, the Origin Story – Garry Smith

In mythology there are many narratives of how the world began, how creatures and plants came into existence, and why certain things in the cosmos have certain yet distinct qualities. Most origin stories are simply that, stories full of the thing Marc MacYoung calls lies we tell to children.

There are many origin stories and most cultures have them and many have become major religions, some were invented by religions, all have true believers and are deeply entwined with our social and cultural practices, they influence almost every aspect of our life. Some exist as they did thousands of years ago, some were adapted and absorbed into newer forms of religion such as Christianity which appropriated then claimed as their own many of the Roman and Norse traditions for example.

The thing is they are all stories, not facts, they only exist because people choose, not always freely, to believe them, they have no objective reality. To one group the origin story of the other group may be seen as nonsense, heretical even, and we know where this leads.

So whilst I know there are many origin stories, as an Englishman I have mine, it starts with the arrival in post Roman Britain of two Germanic brothers, Hengest (Stallion) and Horsa (Horse), they were mercenaries who for a time served the weak Vortigern, King of the Britons, then they sent for their own and the rest is Anglo Saxon history.

Of course there is an origin story for Hengest and Horsa, who’ actual existence has never been definitively proven but long argued over. There are many legends of horse associated brothers which stem originally in proto Indi-European religions. Its a good story and may be based on some truths but there is little evidence Hengest and Horsa existed but it provides a heroic back story for those who choose to believe it.

So there are many origin stories, this is CRGI’s and it is not a myth.

“How did CRGI come to be? A few years ago, Garry Smith (the man who is now editor of Conflict Manager) asked, “If we were to do a full blown, accredited, bachelor’s degree program in self-defense instruction, what would be in the curriculum?”

I said I didn’t know exactly what would be in it, but I had some definite ideas who I would tap to help design the curriculum. That list, with Garry’s insight and experience, became the board of CRGI.

The members of the board are very different in some ways. Some were bad guys, some very bad. Some were good guys. Some are physical monsters, some were monsters in the day— and a few have physical concerns that affect every decision they make. One has been dead, and many have been close. Most are martial artists, but not all.” Rory Miller, ‘Conflict Manager Magazine’, July 2016.

That is how CRGI got started, a question was asked and that question sparked the creation of the first board. Then, as in most good origin stories we wandered in the wilderness for a few years whilst we debated and discussed what our purpose and mission were, we built our nascent infrastructure in cyberspace and began to communicate what we were trying to do and not very effectively either, we reformed the board and brought in new blood and fresh ideas, we gathered followers, but here is where we differ from other origin stories, we discouraged the true believers.

CRGI is not a quasi religion or a social organization promoting a vision of how the world should be, we have no ambition to create an inward looking entity, CRGI exists to promote discussion, polite disagreement included, a space where people can share and learn, a place where people can do sets sapiens above all other organisms on this planet, co-operate.

Being part of CRGI means people are welcome to be members of their own tribe with their own totems, talisman and beliefs but can come to CRGI to meet, to talk and treat with other tribes without resorting to trolling and name calling and questioning their origin stories and the totems, talisman and beliefs of other tribes.

CRGI is about creating a place where tribes can gather together instead of the alternative world where the ‘my tribe is better than your tribe’ mentality persists. As Marc MacYoung says:

“Now if you have people who don’t know how to behave at tribal gathering, how well do you think they’re going to be doing dealing with people of other tribes?

Here’s a hint. Not well. Especially if you consider them stupid, wrong, inferior — if not evil — for thinking differently than you do.

One of the lost aspects that smearing the lines between tribes to create an uber-tribes is how to treat with different tribes. If we’re one big uber-tribe why would we need that? Well, simple, we’re not. People are trying to revert to super-tribes without understanding tribalism. We self-identify ourselves with a tribe and feel we must hate this other tribe — even though we’re technically all one big happy uber-tribe.” Conflict Manager Magazine, December 2016.

CRGI is not some safe place for precious snowflakes it is a space where interesting, challenging and robust discussions can take place between mature adults and this is reflected in our mission statement.

CRGI is dedicated to creating an unimpeachable source for pertinent, accurate information on all aspects of conflict management.

Our mission statement shows our focus.

  • Unimpeachable’ means we vet our contributors.
  • ‘Pertinent’ because we seek actionable information over trivia or speculation.
  • ‘Accurate’ speaks for itself, but we understand we live in a world full of ambiguity.
  • ‘All aspects’ refers to the fact that we are not just about martial arts, we reach out to the self defence practitioner, the firearms community, the survival community, LEO’s, the armed forces, friends in academia and all those who share our thirst for knowledge and learning throughout life.

That is why we use Yggdrasil as our logo. Yggdrasil was, reputedly, a giant Ash tree with branches that reach out into the heavens and roots that went to the center of the earth. The thing is Yggdrasis is not just a tree it is a whole ecosystem rammed with complex conflicts with many gods, eagles, dragons, snakes, squirrels and deer together with no end of mythical characters, not least the highest of the Norse gods Odin himself

“The most satisfactory translation of the name Yggdrasil is ‘Odin’s Horse’. Ygg is another name for Odin, and drasill means ‘horse’.

When Odin hung, speared, for nine days on the Yggdrasil, he uttered the words that he had ‘sacrificed himself onto himself’. This stanza gives us a description of the unity existing between the Godhead and the Tree in the myths. To emphasise this connection, we find in old English the word treow, which means both tree and truth. Etymologically, then, truth and tree grow out of the same root. Subsequently, in the Norse creation myth, man and woman originated from trees. We are all the sons and daughters of the Ash and Elm tree: the first man was called Ask, born from the Ash, and the first woman Embla, born from the Elm. Their oxygen offers us the primordial conditions for life. Ask and Embla sprouted from Yggdrasil’s acorns, and so it is that every human being springs from the fruit of Yggdrasil, then to be collected by two storks, that bring them to their longing mothers-to-be.”

Yes we too like an origin myth but it is Yggdrasil symbolising the search for knowledge and truth that we relate to in an ecosystem, ours and real not mythological, full of conflict from wars to micro-aggressions.

CRGI seeks truth, we pursue and share knowledge and we seek to understand and to manage conflict, join us and one day you may find yourself at Mimir’s Well, and that is another story for another day my friend.

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