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The terminology used most often when describing ourselves is usually of war; warriors, participating in the great battle, using all the weapons at our disposal. All well and good as long as you know what your battle is, and what the weapons are. However, here I would like to approach our role from another direction; and put to you an alternative, far less glamorous model for a Darksider; that of the farmer. And what should we farm? Why, sheep of course.

In the same way that a skilled farmer can use the sheep of the farm in order to provide financial security for themselves and their family, so too should the Dark Adept be able to use the sheep of our society in order to do one’s bidding. Explore your society; know its intricacies, the way it is made up, its rites and ceremonies. Make sure you know would how to participate in at as though you were a sheep yourself, without ever losing sight of the fact that you are not a sheep. This is simple as long as you never lose sight of the fact that the only person you must owe the truth to is yourself. By all means, play on the sheep’s perspective, lead them with false beliefs, manipulate them through this; what they don’t know will not be a weight on their minds; they need not know that you are not one of them. But ALWAYS make sure you do not lie to yourself. Admit it if you are slipping or failing, or have buried yourself in the mask of the sheep for so long that you are becoming a sheep yourself. Admit everything to yourself, and never be too much of a coward to accept failure, and in the light of that failure retreat and approach from a fresh angle. Remember; failure is only a disaster if you let it be. If you learn from it, and improve your tactics, failure can and will be a useful experience. If you refuse to accept your failure, you will plough on regardless and do your self great damage. If you believe that failure is a handicap, you will sit around moping and be of no use. I cannot emphasise this enough: Failure is an important process which leads to trial and improvement; to retreat is not cowardice; the coward pretends he has not failed; the mindfulperson retreats and learns.

So once we have studied the ways of the sheep and know them as though they were our own, we can begin to farm them. When one thinks of sheep farming, the most obvious and straightforward idea is of sheep herding; controlling the sheep with sheep dogs. This is the most aggressive and obvious approach; to intimidate the sheep, to inspire their fear, so that you can force them into a position. It cannot be desired that this approach works. For example, in Thailand vandalism is punished by severe beating. Hence there is no vandalism, and no beatings are required. It is not the punishment that prevents the sheep’s dissent, but fear of the punishment. Remember the sheepdogs only threaten to bite the sheep. and so the sheep make the right choice, just as the sheep fear the sheepdogs and move. One should use fear as a tool; sheep fear pain of all varieties, be it emotional of physical. Play on this fear and use it to get them to do your bidding.

But there are disadvantages to this approach. The first is that if you chase sheep around too much with sheepdogs they collapse through a combination of fear and fatigue, and they are of no use. So use such tactics sparingly, when they are most necessary; do not take this easy approach all the time. In all tactics variety is the key. The second problem with the aggressive approach is this; you need sheepdogs. Give the sheep some credit. What is more likely to intimidate them; a farmer running at them with his arms flapping, or a barking snarling dog threatening to tear them apart? Hence you need the means to chase the sheep. The Farmer must have the means to intimidate; he must have leverage; something to threaten the sheep with. Governments, can threaten with imprisonment. Parents can threaten with punishment. Gangs can threaten with violence. Employers can threaten by waving redundancy notices. Where are your sheepdogs? What can you do which will force people to do what you wish? If you have no such means, you will only make a fool of yourself running about the field flapping your arms. You must work to achieve the means to threaten before employing this tactic.

So what is your alternative? I am sick and tired of hearing people saying “I am above you. You do not deserve my respect”. That may well be true, but that does not mean one should say it. The ego which spurs people forward is also their Achilles’ heel. Massage their ego, make them believe you are their friend and ally, and manipulate them from there. Build bridges, don a mask of worship for everything you see. The sheep will think thus; “He respects me! What a sensible chap! He obviously knows what he is talking about. I will listen to him”. A friend is more likely to follow your bidding than an enemy.

So where else can I carry this ridiculous sheep metaphor. Well, I have a three more points.
Firstly, on your travels about the farm, you are bound to find sheep rejected by the rest of the flock. Whenever the sheep tries to eat with their group, they will move away. They will mock him in their foolish way, not caring about what they are doing. You will probably feel a sense of déjà vu when you see him. Help him. Show him that he is not one of the sheep. Show him the way away from the flock, explain to him that he does not have to be ashamed that he is not one of them, and teach him what you will know. Not only have you helped your brother find the way, but you will also have gained a loyal ally.

Secondly, a word about rustlers and wolves. When we see people who agree with our point of view, who also want to eat the sheep, we have a tendency to embrace them as a brother. By all means do this, everybody need friends. But remember that they are not allies. Treat others who are not sheep as rivals. They are the wolves who want to steal sheep away from your flock, they are the rustlers who want to take from your flock to their own. That includes me.

Thirdly, when sheep are turned on their backs they cannot get back onto their feet. The same can be said for the sheep of society. Everybody builds their foundations on some illusion; they have naïve ideas of love and trust, they lean on people for support. Take away this support and they will topple. And the other sheep won’t care. They’ll go on eating around their fallen ‘brother’. The Dark adept should examine everyone to find this foundation, to find the root of their illusion, and be prepared to demolish it. Set the wheels in motion for his rude awakening; watch him despair as the illusion he created around himself falls apart, piece by piece, friend by friend, belief by belief. The sheep will have trouble finding his feet again, and is at your mercy. Do what you wish with him; punish him if you will, but always remember if you put him on his feet again, you will have a loyal servant.

The work of a farmer is hard. There are no days off. You cannot rest fully, you never know when you need to tend to one of your flock. There are times when you will wish you could be a sheep yourself, standing around eating in the field. But when you see the sheep which never understood you, which tried to smother you, which held you back, which rejected you, which thought nothing of seeing you destroyed, when you see them walking in perfect two by two formation at your bidding to the slaughterhouse, you will know what the all the work was for.