Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
Axis Mundi: The God-Pole Rite
After decades of juiceless talkie-talkie Men's Rituals at pagan festivals here in the Midwestern US, Sparky T. Rabbit (of Lunacy fame), Frebur Moore and I decided that we'd had enough. So we put together the kind of Men's Ritual we ourselves had always wanted to attend. The Rite of the God-Pole premiered at Pagan Spirit Gathering 2009 at Camp Zoe, Missouri.
One hot, steamy night in late June, some 60 men ceremonially bore an eight-foot phallic wooden menhir through the camp and together raised it on a sandy little spit jutting out into the creek that flowed through the valley. We anointed and garlanded the God-Pole, sang songs of praise, danced, and poured libations. I knew the Rite had been a success when immediately afterward many of the men tore off their clothing and dashed naked into the cooling waters of the creek. I'll tell you, they should all end that way.
Our theological point was that, like the Women's Mysteries, the Men's Mysteries are at heart biological: the Red Mysteries and the White, the Blood mysteries and those of Semen. Like women's bodies, men's bodies have their own cycle that every man knows in every cell of his body: the cycle of quiescence, erection, love-play, and ejaculation. The Mysteries, by their nature, express Primal Truths.
The Rite was good, but it got better. As I walked from the site after the ritual, I kept turning back to admire the view, and here's what I saw: the God-Pole had become a Pivot, an Axis Mundi. Our simple standing baulk of timber had now become a Center around which the entire valley revolved. Standing alone on its sandy spit, the God-Pole was in visual conversation with every tree trunk—in fact with every vertical line—in the landscape around it, and equally with every horizontal line as well, a conversation that flowed (as good conversation should) both ways. By our work, we had made a Center, a place of Contact. This is the power of the spiritual technology that we've inherited from the ancestors.
The God-Pole stood for the duration of the festival. Of course it became a shrine, with its own attendant priest. It also, naturally, became a place of offering.
If you build the candy cottage, they will come.
Note of clarification: The God-Pole Rite is a Men's Rite, not a celebration of the Men's Mysteries. None of the Secret Things were revealed.
Photo: Ray Bayley
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