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An Encounter with the Green Man: Three Lessons to Inspire Your Beltane Magic

Twenty years ago on a Beltane Eve, I did my first ritual after moving to a rural home. In a secluded spot, surrounded by seven acres of undomesticated forest with only the stars and a single candle for illumination, I cast a circle and then called to the Green Man to come be with me in my Beltane magic. There was just me and my overpowering yearning to connect with the wild God energy of Nature. Sitting cross-legged with the moss-covered earth beneath me, I rocked back and forth, putting every ounce of my longings and love into my prayer and invocation, speaking out loud to the listening wilderness.   

When you do magic in ritual space, the extraordinary and inexplicable can happen. This was one of those experiences. To my utter shock, a man-sized being of light appeared between the trees and walked toward me. His inner core was a warm, golden white, with diffused beams extending outward, like moving, radiant candlelight. I don’t have words to describe His beauty and power. Even as I write this many years later, I feel the intensity of His stunning, delicious presence pushing against my flesh, both from the inside and the outside at once.

Yet, I am sorry to say, this spontaneous, magical appearance in physical reality terrified me. Although I had been working with spiritual beings through my dreams, ritual and channeling for a number of years, my contact had always been through inner images and voices, not direct, physical communion.  

I closed my eyes and asked the Green Man to forgive me my limitations and fears, and to come to me in the way I was used to, through visualization and words. And there He was inside of me, speaking to me, and gifting me with the information and insights that I needed at the time on my long journey of healing my relationship with God and men, and blossoming into my true, deep Self.

This Beltane experience has left an indelible imprint on me, with lessons that helped me truly understand and embrace the Green Man’s presence and gifts. Here are three of these lessons to inspire your Beltane magic with the Green Man.

1. The Green Man isn’t just a mythic being, a psychological construct or something we humans have made up. He is real, substantive and most accessible to us at Beltane when the veil between the worlds is thin.

This lesson brings up an important point of divergence in the pagan world. Some see the Gods and Goddesses as purely human creations that are the products of myths and reflections of our human psyche. Others understand these Divine beings as immense spiritual entities that we can encounter and come to know through our spiritual practices, dreams and human creative and mythic works.

When I did my Beltane ritual, I wasn’t drawing on any preconceived notions of the Green Man. I split my heart open and gave free voice to my untamed longings, and He came to me, unrestricted by my human projections, as a being of pure, radiant light. The raw, naked truth of this encounter had a profound impact on me: it primed me for real-time, unmediated communion with the Green Man, and other Gods and Goddesses, beyond my mythic and intellectual understandings of these things.

Consider how you conceive the Green Man. What do you already know about Him through myth and story? How do you understand and engage the Gods and Goddesses in your personal and ritual work?  How open are you to direct communion with the Green Man? Your answers to these questions will impact how you can experience and work with the Green Man in your Beltane magic.

2. The Green Man is the lover God who gives us whatever we need, in whatever form to help us grow and blossom as our true, deep Self.

Beltane magic has a sexual edge. The Green Man walks the land, firing up everything He touches with His wild, fertile life force. In Nature, plants, birds, bees and creatures, great and small, mingle, mate and give birth to a brilliant display of new life. Even the seemingly innocent, secular practice of the maypole has its roots in Beltane’s celebration of sexuality and fertility: the maypole is a giant phallic symbol arising from the fertile earth, and the dance interweaving the long ribbons represents sexual union and the creation of new life.

Yet communion with the Green Man isn’t so much about sex; instead His sacred purpose is to be the lover that awakens our desire and capacity to share our true beauty with the outer world. He does this by gifting us with what we deeply, truly need in our encounter with Him.

In my Beltane ritual, the Green Man was my gentle, patient lover. In the face of my fear and limitations, He enfolded me in His loving presence, took me to the shadow places in my inner landscape that held my wounding with God and men, and shared visions that helped me make peace with my personal story and the men who had hurt me. This was exactly what I needed to take my next step on my journey of soul.

The Green Man is your lover, and mine, and of every living thing on the Mother Earth. He makes love and life with each of us in accordance with our needs and capabilities. When you open your heart and your longings to the Green Man, He will come to you. This communion can be and feel sexual, but that’s only one expression of His lover presence. Whatever you need, in whatever form, He will give to you.
 
3. The Green Man gifts us with a positive, life-centered vision of God and masculinity, outside of the limitations and dictates of our collective human reality and personal wounding.

The Green Man is the guardian of the wild world, and the master of the mysteries of life and co-creation. He is a masculine presence unlike anything in our shared, mundane world: a being of light, love and life-making, feral, sensuous, and unencumbered by the restrictive dictates of our human society.
 
Our Beltane magic with the Green Man can take us up against the shadow places in our collective and individual psyche that hold our wounding in relation to God and men. He invites us into His wild-world dream, outside of the domesticating ways of our everyday reality that seek to suppress our primal, life-centered instincts, and entrap us in self-judgments and outer voices that tell us who we are and how to live our life. He shows us another face of God and masculinity that can heal the wounded places inside of us, and kindle a new freedom and relationship with the Green Man’s powers of light, love and life-making.

When the Green Man came to me that Beltane eve, He helped me mend a debilitating inner tear that separated me from God and men. I called out to Him from a pain, primal and ancient, that arose from my personal wounding and from the generations upon generations of women before me that had suffered at the hands of men. I wanted this separation to end, and to love God and men once more. But I didn’t know how to make right what was broken within me.

So the Green Man revealed to me His true nature: a being of light, beauty, love, compassion and patience. With His gentle guidance, He helped me see beyond my inner tear and limitations, and showed me the spiritual wasteland of the men who harm others, a desolate place severed from the love and life-centered ways of God and the sacred masculine. This Beltane night, the Green Man set me free, not only returning me to a positive relationship with God and my own instinctive, life-seeking nature, but also widening my love and compassion to include the wounded masculine.

However you choose to embrace the magic of Beltane — be it a walk amongst Nature’s feral, stunning fecundity, or to sit in ritual circle with the Green Man, or in whatever ways you honor this potent time of year — know that the Green Man’s wild-world dream of light, love and life-making is reaching out to you. Here He can help you step beyond the wounding and limitations of your personal story and our collective human reality to explore and embrace a new, positive relationship with God, the sacred masculine, and your own wild, life-centered nature.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    This was absolutely and utterly beautiful.
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    Thanks so much Thesseli! What a wonderful comment!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Blood Sabbat

I have seen him stretch out his naked limbs on the altar.

I have seen.

I have seen the flash of blades descending.

I have cried out.

I have anointed my brow with his blood.

I have mourned with the others.

I have eaten the red bread and drunk the red drink.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
An Imbolc Message from the Ancestors

We are living in what the Goddess calls the Great Turning: an evolutionary/revolutionary transition where the future of humanity and our Earth home will be decided. The Great Turning is here, now. We’re in the midst of the muck and mess of world-shattering change.

My dreams and ritual work have been preparing me for the Great Turning for many years. As the pressures build, and the outer world gets noisier and more chaotic, I find myself digging through these magical experiences, seeking the deep vision and guidance of the Mysteries.

Imbolc has arrived — a between time when light and shadow dance together, and the darkness and death of Winter give way to the light and life of Spring  —  and a memory of a previous Imbolc ritual comes to me.  

In this ritual, the priestesses guided the participants to return to their moment of conception to reclaim the passion and purpose that drew each of them from the realm of spirit into this world of matter. My priestess task was tending the Sacred Witness, a veiled, silent observer, to keep her grounded and protected while she opened herself to the deepest roots of our magic.

The Sacred Witness found herself in a place where the spirits of the dead and the souls yet to be born gather between the worlds. In sharing this ritual experience with the Sacred Witness, the ancestors came to me and spoke through me, and this is what they said:

“We have cut the cord. It is time for you to travel on your own. You are fully grown now, and we set you free in this world. Be big, be beautiful, be yourself. The world needs you. We believe in you. Shine bright. Make us proud.”

After the ritual was complete, a friend took me in her arms as waves of grief flooded through me, my whole body shaking as the ancestors cried through me and with me: for the pain of their stories; for the pain that they’ve passed on generation after generation; for the desperate need of this ending; for the sweet beauty of this world that they’re leaving behind; and for their forever love for us, their children, and this world’s greatest hope.

The ancestors are personal and archetypal; they’re the ones that have gone before us, both as part of our personal family and ethnic/cultural heritage, and our collective humanity. Their lived experiences and stories are woven into the fabric of our shared human reality, and the particulars of our family mythology and everyday lives. This world we live in, right now in 2017, is constructed of their stories where fear and the worst of our human instincts overrule love and our best qualities.

These stories of our ancestors are done. They’ve served their purpose of bringing us to this evolutionary/ revolutionary moment. Our ancestors have cut the cord, and seek an end to their pain and grief. And it’s each of us, their children, the waking ones, that must do the hard, messy, transformative work of putting our ancestors to rest.

This is happening right now, all around us, in the noise and chaos unfolding on the world stage. Our ancestors’ stories are unraveling before our eyes, and we’re being called to join in this work of disassembling the stories that trap us in a reality of fear and the worst of our humanity: stories on how to live and dream; stories that tell us who and what matter in our human society; stories that have passed on patterns of wounding and coping; stories that dim our light and hide our beauty; stories that hold the secrets and lessons that will ripen us into our true selves; stories that are the ancestors’ final gifts to us.

Imagine yourself as Sacred Witness in these Great Turning times. Let yourself sink deep between the worlds, and see the tumult on the world stage as the death process of our ancestors’ stories. Some of these stories will call to you; they’ll speak to your ancestral lineage, personal life experiences, and the very passion and purpose that drew your soul to this world of matter.  

Claim these stories as your own. Let them guide your healing and action taking, and transform you into your full maturity and power. Always, choose love over fear, and your best instincts over your worst. Make this your soul work and contribution to the great task of mending our human society. Do these momentous, world-shattering things and our ancestors’ stories will have served their sacred purpose. Endings will come, rest will come, and we, their grownup children, will dream and story the world afresh.

Though this work may seem overwhelming, perhaps even impossible, remember the ancestors love you, believe in you, and know you’re the world’s greatest hope. Be big, be beautiful, be yourself. The ancestors have passed this precious world onto you, onto each of us. Let’s make them proud. 

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Flight to the Sabbat

My Kemetic Reconstructionist friend was newly back from his long-awaited trip to Egypt.

He was furious.

“Damn those security guards!” he growled. “Any time I tried to do anything, they'd stop me! Rrr!”

While not uniquely a pagan problem, it is a distinctly pagan problem nonetheless. With our holy places in the hands of the jealous, what to do?

We discussed the situation. My suggestion was that next time, he make the offering in his head. On the astral, so to speak.

The security guard sees an American tourist standing there impassively.

Meanwhile, the old gods receive their due service.

Ideally, the inner offering should always accompany the outer. But better one than neither.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A few spokes shy of a wheel?

The Wiccan Wheel of the Year is a wonderful thing. The eight evenly-spaced sabbats provide a balanced, coherent view of the seasonal cycles over the course of a year. The Quarters and Cross-Quarters are a great way for modern pagans to connect with nature and to become more in tune with the shifts and changes of the natural world, particularly in temperate climates. But the Wheel of the Year is a recent invention, compiled from a wide variety of sources. Ancient cultures didn’t follow the Wheel, or at least, not all of it.

For instance, my Celtic reconstructionist friends tell me that their historical sources mention only the Cross-Quarters sabbats: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh, often called Fire Festivals in their tradition. Hilda Ellis Davidson’s work on the ancient traditions of northern Europe suggests that some cultures celebrated the solstices but not necessarily the equinoxes, and harvest festivals fell whenever the crops were ready and not on a particular calendar date. The ancient Roman sacred calendar contained more festival dates than you can shake a stick at. So what about the ancient Minoans?

...
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Man in Black

 

Know him

by the crow's feather

in his cap.

 

"I am the man in black,"

he will say.

“Do you know who I am?”

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Gluten-Free Gods

 Let us recall the kings who died for corn:

 red bread and red drink at Lúnasa of the harvest. 

We were discussing the previous night's old-style witches' sabbat. (“Old Style” as in “just like the woodcuts.”)

Of the housel*—the feasting on the god's flesh and blood—someone suggested provision of a gluten-free option next time around.

Sometimes, I think, we need to be wise enough to listen to the wisdom of other traditions.

In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas poses the question: If the body of Christ is present in the consecrated host, just what part of Christ's body is present there? The head? The heart? The phallus?

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