I recently attended Faerieworlds in Oregon. I’ve gone several years now and this was the first year that I started with the opening circle dance and finished with the last act, camping out the entire weekend. I loved it. I always do, but this time was different. It was at Hornings Hideout, lots of trees to walk under. I slept in a tent and woke up both mornings to the sound of rain. I read, drank coffee, and then ventured around the booths and exhibits. I talked to many wonderuful people, watched a lot of great music, gained a friend, and overall had a magickal time.
One of the best things about it for me was that I was surrounded by other pagans like myself. I’ve left Christianity around 1992 or so, and soon after I discovered paganism, specifically Wicca. Like many before, and after, it felt like a homecoming to me. I’ve written at length the amount of fear, distrust, accusations, and more that I experienced from ill-meaning as well as well-meaning Christians over the years, so I will not do so here. I do not define myself by their rules and so could care less now how they view me. In the beginning, however, it was hard. In those days I needed the community that I felt at Faerieworlds to help bolster my esteem, raw as it was, still clinging to vestiges of the brainwashing of Christianity (hellfire and brimstone teachings of fear took years to root out. I oppose teaching such to children, it is nothing short of child abuse).
No, I don’t suffer such neophyte esteem issues these days after over 20 years on the path. But what I do suffer from at times is an unbalanced logical view. A dear friend of mine, well entrenched in intuition and emotion, would question me often as to why I placed supreme virtue on logic instead of emotion. It is easy for me to see this as a completely absurd question not worthy my time. Yet if I were honest, I don’t answer the question because the locical answer is unsatisfactory, and the emotional one is stunted. Being around so many other pagans for 3 days was medicine for me. It reopened doors long shut. This isn’t to say that I’ve turned logic off, gods no! But that I am seeking balance.
On Monday, the day after the event, I am home and showered. The day is brilliant and I needed to go hiking. So I packed my newly bought pointy cap, which gives me no small amount of joy to wear, my trusty walking stick, and a military map case that I put books in, grabbed some tea, and departed for a stretch of forest
It is often customary for me to draw a rune or a tarot card when I first embark on a hike. This was a common practice for me when I was at my prior best self in Houston (just before moving to Oregon) and to such a state I am returning to spiritually. I did so again, drawing a single card from the Wildwood Tarot deck, a new deck that I’ve acquired. It is a nice deck, there are some things I like about it, some things I do not like about its coherence, but overall it is a very nice deck.
I drew The Green Man. While the history of this myth is questionable (see here) it does indeed strike a powerful symbol, suggesting an archetypal influence. The Wildwood Tarot writes, among other things about this card, that this concerns the masculine aspect of Nature. There is generosity here, gaurdianship, and dynamic energy. It says to be prepared for a thriving drive to begin new projects, relationships, and new ways of living life.
This isn’t where I say ‘ah ha’ and point to some proof. This is where I enter a path with open eyes.
I began my walk of contemplation. I have different walks, some are for a purpose, some for time, some are to just be. On these latter walks I may stop at some seemingly arbitrary spot on a path and just watch what occurs around me. There may be nothing of noticeable importance there to a passerby, but after a few minutes I might notice a great deal around me. I recall such a time when I became entranced with watching an inchworm climb up a single strand. What I know is that there is a universe of wonder and beauty around me. It isn’t a question of going to find it, but instead of being able to see what is there. Whether this is a spot of grass in a parking lot, or a majectic view from a bluff makes no difference. It is easy to see the beauty in a viewpoint, but beauty is all around to eyes open to see. And so on a walk I may stop for minutes at a time until I am able to see the beauty around me. Then I will continue, each step in gratitude.
After walking a bit I came upon a crossroad. Either direction was just as good as another, I knew what lay down each direction. Yet I took a left turn and further down I heard a raven fly over a ravine. That last two times I’ve been on this path I heard a pair of ravens in this area. I surmise that their nest is nearby, though I’ve been unable to spot it with binos. Looking up I noticed that a jet aircraft’s path matched the path that I was on. I took this as a synchronicity event, two unrelated events with a meaningful connection. In other words, I took it as a good sign that I was on the right path, as three separate paths, one of air (masculine/intellect/logic) and earth (feminine/physical/stability) and water (feminine/emotion/purifying) all aligned. In the picture what is not visible, but is there, is a creek running alongside the path. The is 3 of the 4 elements and I took this as a pretty good sign. What didn’t occur to me, until now, is that I was travelling South, which is associated with Fire (masculine/manifestive/passion).
This balance is important for me for a variety of reasons. I was in correspondence with someone recently and she asked me my thoughts about the Green Man. My short answer was as follows:
– – – begin – – –
Of interest to me are the various themes of masculinity, femininity, misogyny, sex, objectivism, Kant and autonomous beings, and so forth. I’ve waded through a shit ton of baggage, being raised in white protestant culture of the South, especially benevolent sexism, and have, like many progressive men, been baffled by the paradox of sexual attraction and objectification. Also, as a combat veteran with my own reintegration, I’ve sought to understand, and help others in doing so, the interplay between masculinity and aggression. The two are not so easily split as some would have us consider. Some of us vets carried not only guilt, but shame, for our gross violence (masculinity) and we’re unsure how to disentangle it.
The Horned God is so close to me as to be distant. It is like a fish that is asked to describe water. I feel the Goddess moving, but cannot discern the God, and having only the single-nature understanding of him in violence (think Ares), we turn away from it.
For me I’ve struggled with this, trying the edges where I may, experimenting in anything and everything that will give me understanding. The Green Man is, for me, a balance of the two holisms. I, being prone to science and philosophy, will easily slide into an analytical way of thinking, a very masculine way of being… patriarchal. I lose sight of the connections, the dirty, messy, ways in between. My guitar playing is very much opposite of my thinking… it is messy, carefree, goes where it goes, filled with wrong notes and dead ends, but also moments of pure joy and inspiration.
That’s not very clear on what the Green Man means to me… but it approaches it at a sideways walk.
— – – end correspondence – – –
This is an unsatisfactor answer for the logical mind which craves categories and correspondences and neatly arranged puzzles. Yet in trusting the messy soil, the ambiguous mud, I hope to realize that aspect within me that has been so unbalanced in the past. I seek the Horned God. As I noted above, it is not so easy to separate the primal masculine energy from naked aggression. Say what you will about egalitarian relationships and sex, as a friend told me once, “sometimes a girl wants to have her hair pulled”. Men, listening to some of the voices out there, will hear the shame of such masculine energy and disown it, in turn, becoming impotent in their energy, unable to create, to guard, to protect, to attack, to pull hair. One unbalanced way of masculinity is domination and oppression, the abuse of the land for profit (welcome to Oregon, land of the clearcut) but the other side is just as imbalanced. What I am seeking is balance, a love and respect for life around me, and the devestating power to create and protect it with dynamic strength. And also to pull hair.
There were many great sites to see on my walk. I saw an old tree stump, huge, near a stream. I sat at the edge of a flat area with water collecting in pools, overgrown with shrubs, grasses, and rushes, and heard deer run through the underbrush and water, invisible to the eye. I watched hawks and ravens fly over head.
Several times on my walk I would stop, suddenly filled with appreciation for all that was around me. I was overcome with emotion, with love. It was a common occurrence on my walks in Houston’s Arboretum before my move to Oregon. It was during that time that I was closest to the gods. I feel them stirring within me once more. Turning a bend in the path I come upon a garter snake basking in the sun. I walk up to it and admire its coloration for a few minutes, and then I walk away, leaving it be.
I do not know what my future path holds. But a few years ago, during the autumn equinox, I went outside and had a small ritual for the gods and spirits of the land around me. At the time I was beginning my path to recovery from war. I was lost but had an intuitive nose for north, plus the help of a great therapist guide. I remember that I willingly asked the gods and spirits for growth. I knew when I asked it that this meant further difficulties and tests. One does not grow in spirit without difficulty. But I welcomed it gladly. This is the same attitude that I later found among the Stoics when they came upon difficulty in life. They viewed the Logos, the university, to be deistic and that ill fortune nobly born was fortunate to have. What I didn’t know then, but do now, is that I was adopting a basic principle of Stoic thought.
And so I continue this quest for balance and growth. I still feel that I’ve yet to tap into my full abilities. I’ve got so much more to give. Mabon is a few days away. It is a time of balance. I plan to locate a fitting setting and take stock of my year and life.