Columns by Craig Smith

Ki, Chi, Blood Lust and Warp Spasm

By Craig Smith

Some call it ki.  Some call it chi.  Some call it the life force.  And some call it the product of wishful thinking and an overactive imagination.  Whatever it is, and whether it even exists, it is sure to be the center of a continuing debate as people try to explain the amazing powers that can manifest themselves in people at certain times.

We all know that attitude is important.  "Psyching up" or "psyching out" are age old strategies, and a great deal of study has been done, and continues to be done, on
the powers of the mind to effect the physical world.  Universities are studying it, and athletics are adding training courses on imaging and psycho-physiological training (lagging behind the, military by several decades).  But looking back in history, we can see that the attempt at super-human ability through psychological self-stimulus is nothing new.  The Vikings had entire units of what they called "Berserkers"  fighting men who became so crazed by battle that the very rumor of their presence caused many villages to surrender without a fight.

One of the best descriptions of such blood lust, however, is the description of the Irish hero Cuchulainn, found in
the Irish epic
Tain Bo Cuailnge:

The first warp spasm seized Cuchulainn, and made him into a monstrous thing, hideous and shapeless, unheard of.  His shanks and his joints, every knuckle and angle and organ from head to foot, shook like a tree in the flood or a reed in the stream.  His body made a furious twist inside his skin, so that his feet and shins and knees twitched to the rear and his heels and calves switched to the front.

The balled sinews of his calves switched to the front of his shins, each big knot the size of a warriors bunched fist.  On his head, the temple-sinews stretched to the nape of his neck each mighty, immense, measureless knob as big as the head of a month old child.  His face and features became a red bowl:  He sucked one eye so deep into his head that a  wild crane couldn't probe it into his cheek out of the depths of his skull: the other eye fell out along his cheek.

His mouth weirdly distorted: his cheek peeled back from his jaws until the gullet appeared, his lungs and liver flapped in his mouth and throat, his lower jaw struck the upper a lion killing blow and fiery flakes large as a rams fleece reached his mouth from his throat.  His heart boomed loud in his breast like the baying of a watchdog at its feed or the sound of a lion among bears.

Malignant mists and spurts of fire  the torches of Badb  flickered in red in the vaporous clouds that rose boiling above his head, so fierce was his fury.  The hair of his head twisted like the tangle of a red thornbush stuck in a gap; if a royal apple tree with all its kingly fruit were shaken above him, scarce an apple would reach the ground but each would be spiked on a bristle of his hair as it stood up on his scalp with rage.

The hero-halo rose out of his brow, long and broad as a warrior's whetstone, long as a snout and he went mad rattling his shields, urging on his charioteer and harassing the hosts.  Then, tall and thick, steady and strong, high as the mast of a noble ship, rose from the dead center of his skull a straight spout of black blood darkly and magically smoking like the smoke from a royal hostel when a king is coming to be cared for at the close of a winter day.

Is warp-spasm real?  Is ki?  This will undoubtedly be the center of debate for a long time to come.  Anyone who has experienced it recognizes the trascendency from the realm of physical limitations into a dimension without such limitations.  Strength increases, senses sharpen, judgement simplifies, and fear and pain fade away.

But can this be controlled at a lower level, and directed as one wishes?  To be honest, I'm not yet sure.  I think it can.  I hope it can.