Cyprianism uses a calendar system that encourages focus on certain things during certain periods. The 52 days from September 8 to October 29 is called Le Baissier (The Bear) and, among other things, it features a focus on the vice of anger. The symbol for it, and it’s accompanying virtue, cheek, is the poniard – a small dagger.
Symbolizing anger with a dagger makes obvious and immediate sense, so I’ve never really taken a lot of time to dissect it. But it’s really been on my mind lately, so I figured I should probably give it some attention.
In our culture, anger is something that must be mitigated. We live in a civilized society, right? No room for real anger, just anger management. The most we can get away with without true disruption to our lives is maybe getting mad on Facebook. But that usually doesn’t do anything but, at best, get something off of our chest and, at worst, get others mad at us instead of mad with us. Certainly, we usually end up finding out who of our friends has the unique ability to make us angry.
What we want when we are angry is a call to action. What we are asking for is justice. A revolution, large or small. Right or wrong, actually. What we get on Facebook is a handful of “likes” that makes us feel only marginally better.
At first, it seems that maybe the reason anger’s symbol is a dagger is because we are only meant to wield a very small weapon in our wrath. Something that can’t do as much damage as a sword, a gun, a bomb.
The truth is that the dagger is a weapon of mastery. And it is very personal.
One of my favorite movies is Léon (The Professional). You may have seen it. It’s Natalie Portman’s first full length film, released in 1994. In it, Léon, played by Jean Reno, teaches Portman’s Mathilda, 13 years old at the time, how to be a contract killer. Among many bits of life and killing advice, he tells her that the last weapon she’ll use is a knife. She’ll start with a long range rifle and work her way to the knife.
He says, “The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use, because it lets you keep your distance from the client. The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn.”
The knife, though small, is just as lethal as the rifle. But it requires mastery on many levels. Not just the skills to use a knife, but the skills to assess all of your surroundings. The skills to get close to a “client”. It takes complete mastery. Breathing techniques. Close combat techniques. Strategy. Strength. And it’s personal. Very personal.
Anger, you see, is a vice. One of the so-called “seven deadly sins”. And like the other six, it can damage and even kill. But used correctly it can be an incredibly useful tool.
Think of it like a fire. Fire can warm you. It can temper steel. It can light our way in darkness. Yet, unchecked or misused, it can burn everything to the ground. The embers of injustice can be stoked into a roaring fire. And that same fire can destroy us.
Consider, then, the dagger. Modest in size. Easily concealed. Lethal. And just as easily turned back against us if we do not possess, practice and master the skill necessary to use it properly.
When paired with the apple, the Dagger takes on a whole new set of characteristics. Together, the apple and poniard is a symbol of the Third Key of Cyprianism – the Hidden, or Madame’s, Key. The apple which is pierced through is the fruit given as prize to Aphrodite when Paris judged Her to be the most Beautiful.