Manifesting a Labyrinth

Ursula lay in the crook of Charley’s arm, her body in a quiet simmer as he slipped into sleep. Last night had taken her into sleep, but after this morning’s session she was feeling pretty lively.

Visions of labia-rynths kept running through her head. That doorway into the sacred feminine so worshipped by the ancient goddess cultures. The pubic triangle, the spiral. The inward journey the sperm takes to find the egg can be imitated by humans to find their source. It was exhilarating to have felt it so strongly in the last several hours. Not the egg part, of course, Ursula’s post-menopausal eggs long since having been absorbed back into her body.

The ceremonial quality of their joining had made the obvious another degree apparent to her. Fiery feminine Shakti energy. Not solely female. The male had always had a part but perhaps men had been undervalued in the matriarchal structure. Was that why the energy had shifted millennia ago to male dominance? Had the generally larger half of the human race with those funny looking appendages dangling in front felt left out? Thus began the take over process that left that women trampled and defiled, the hard work of their crucial part in creation belittled – despised even.

It was clear to her – and to the women of her circle – that the challenge of this new age was not for women to be in ascendance again. “Power Over” was a male game. In recent decades women had proven well capable of taking on and succeeding at the fierce competitiveness of their male counterparts, hence the female executive’s “power suits” with shoulder pads. They’d often discussed how buying into that game and playing it out would only send things seesawing back again to a different sort of domination.

No, the challenge this time was to even things up and integrate. To value the feminine and the masculine in each person – such that the softness and sensitivity of nurturance in men and women balanced the physical strength and direct thinking in both as well. That much seemed obvious but how did that relate to sexual passion at home and how did that in turn reach out into the community?

It would be fun to play with symbols anyway. The obelisk to honor men – or some other snaky, pointy object? Lingams were worshipped by both men and women in India. A labyrinth to depict the feminine? There were ruins of temples in the Mediterranean shaped like a woman’s body that one walked into…. And Oshun’s sacred grove in Oshogbo, Nigeria where initiates could actually walk into a sacred vagina….

From here her thoughts began drifting – not into sleepiness but rather into ideas. For a long time she’d harbored a dream of having a permanent labyrinth in town which people could meander any time. Tourists would be drawn to it like the giant chessboards occasionally seen in town squares. Only in this you wouldn’t have to round up any pieces to play with. The locals could use it when a need for reflection and calming seized them. A rather public reflection spot, but still…. And on special occasions she could trot out her boxes of votive candles. There was nothing quite like threading a labyrinth flickering with flame. She’d set that up once in the main street during an Art Walk and a couple of times on the bay beach for Equinox.

But where could it go in town? She’d talked in the past to shop owners who had a bit of extra land but so far no takers. Her next thought was a logical one, born out of her emotions, a perfect blending of the male and female (if she did say so herself). And it was too good an image to keep to herself.

Poke, poke. Charley opened one eye questioningly, not wanting to respond though he knew from the urgency of her finger that something was up.

“I think my second chakra is running on all cylinders now. You – I guess we – have gotten the creative aspect humming as well as the sexual,” she giggled.

“You mean like ‘The Goddess is alive and magic is afoot’ as you witches say?”

“Kinda – only I know full well that we’ve got the Green Man operating here as well.”

“Do tell.”

Labyrinth. Lingam. Shakti. Shiva. Ursula laid out her vision, ending with, “What if we could do it in the lot next door to the Community Center that we’re always saying one of the Trusts should be buying?”

Admittedly he’d heard parts of it before, but her conclusion was a new one that got his own honed creative wheels turning. “Hmmm. I have been hearing some renewed interest in acquiring that lot,” Charley admitted. “In fact I can think of someone I might approach to kick off a matching funds challenge.”

“Could we do a labyrinth there and still have enough parking for the center and the stores nearby?”

“I don’t see why not. I’ll ask Crystal to do a layout for us. Careful planning might create even more parking than what happens all higgledy-piggledy now.”

“Ooh, it would be so cool. Almost like the final cap on our ideas for town. Like all else would flow from the magic of that. There could be a little instruction that said something about going in with an intention. I think I’ll plant a few goddess seeds there.”

“Goddess seeds?”

“You know, those flat little terra cotta figures.”

“Oh, those coin-sized clay ones of Venus of Willendorf and the Cretan goddess that we planted at ReBound and at the Center to help things get going. Maybe we could make some male ones too.”

“That’s a good idea. The union. Maybe a river tooth or a tree trunk would work in the park area for the male aspect.”

“So mote it be,” said the listening Spirits.

A New Fire is Lit

Charley was “suited” up and ready to head out the door. He wasn’t really wearing a suit, of course, but rather a slightly tattered pair of jeans and jean jacket over a long sleeve t-shirt with an eagle emblazoned on its front. His favorite soft knitted hat was on his head to ward off the chill of a wet looking day and his backpack was in hand, full of current to-do items.

“Where is that note with the Terranova’s phone number?” he asked.

Ursula who was sipping tea looked at him thoughtfully.

“What?” he said, trying to keep irritation out of his voice. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I’m glad you’re off happily and I’m glad you’re following up with the Terranovas. It’s important work and, as they say, somebody has to do it…..”

“But…?“ he said.

“I feel like we’ve been passing ships, you and I. Hello, goodbye. Off on very separate trajectories.”

“But I thought you wanted it like that. I thought you wanted alone and uncommitted wandery time between here and store.”

“I do. I have. But where is our union? The convergence of our work and play? We sleep next to each other, of course. But…. It’s like we’re together only in a crowd when we’re fomenting this and that.”

“I haven’t been bothering you with most of the details unless it is something only you know or something you bring up….”

“I know. And I thank you for that. It’s not about the details. I don’t feel left out at all. It’s about where our togetherness is… or isn’t….”

“Ahh…. That…. We have been a little out of touch with each other…. But I really can’t stop right now to process, Ursula. Can we set a time? I could probably even do it this evening.”

“A date? Can we have a date? It’s been so long. I’ll fix something special to eat….”

“It’s a date,” he smiled. “Sounds lovely.”

“The Terranova’s number is on that pink sticky note below the spice rack.”

 

It wasn’t more sex per se she wanted, Ursula mused. They actually had that groove down pretty well, given the normal ebbs and flows of four children within a thirty-five year relationship (or was it closer to forty?). There had been a lovely renewal after the twins left a few years ago, when they had reveled in a new sense of privacy and freedom from parental distractions of the everyday sort. But even that intimacy had settled into a pattern – too much of a groove?

Sex had definitely felt rather rote for a while. They turned to each other in the night to give and receive comfort from the day’s tribulations and often one thing led to another even without the raging hormones of their youthful years. Ursula gave thanks that their sexual dance, in the sense of body parts rubbing nicely with each other, was fine.

It was a different sort of connection she was missing. A particular deeper sort of intimacy she wasn’t sure she could even define. They’d been cruising along having made a pretty serene transition to different job categories. Their sense of abundance was serving them well on the material front. But their constant “doing-ness” and an attendant seeming shortage of Time had become an issue for her. Probably for Charley too though he’d been pretty wrapped up in making the shift into the admin work he was proving so good at. Inevitably that rushed-ness and busy-ness had affected their personal focus. Always ready to process on behalf of any of their groups, it was easy to let slide the time for the important subtleties of their marriage partnership.

 

Ursula took a while explaining all this to Charley when evening came. “…. so I keep feeling there is a way that we can connect into each other that we’ve not been letting ourselves experience. I don’t know what it looks or feels like but I know there is magic to be made sexually. I also know that our common purpose has been so focused outward into the children and into our community that we really haven’t explored what it means to be partnered in any significantly new way that is in line with the other explorations we’ve been doing with the groups. Psychically, for instance. Energetically. Not for a long time anyway.”

Charley was silent after his wife’s soliloquy. They were sitting cross- legged facing each other on cushions in front of the woodstove, its doors open to share the flickering warmth and glow of an alder and apple wood fire. Oyster stew and garlic bread simmered in their bellies. The champagne bottle was half empty.

He wasn’t as adept at processing with words as Ursula, but with her earnest brown eyes on him, he knew he couldn’t be silent long and he needed to remember his deep listening skills. “I think you’re saying that we could be going deeper together but that we’re letting our outer work distract us. I gather you still want us to be doing that outside work….”

“Right – the community involvement is part of our whole. I actually think we need to be moving more tribally rather than less, i.e. more intimately as a group somehow….”  Her voice trailed off.

“But you’re saying it needs to start with ourselves. We need to be grounded within the twosome unit we’re most connected with….”

“You and I. You do get it.” She sighed with relief. It always helped so to have someone – especially a beloved someone – confirm that they were hearing what you were struggling to put into words.

“I love you, Ursula. And I love it that you’re prodding us about this…”

“But what do we do now?”

“Yeah. I certainly don’t know where to start. Just going to bed feels kind of awkward….”

“Even with champagne to smooth the way,” she giggled. “How ‘bout I give you a massage? I didn’t even give you one on your birthday recently.”

“I won’t turn you down. But I could give you one…”

“I offered first. The room is cozy. Do you want to smoke a little first? That would let me get into it more deeply.”

“It does seem like this is a time to let the Green Herb help us get out of our conscious minds. We might even get a little ceremonial about it.”

“Good idea.”

Ursula fetched the antler and bone pipe they’d used for years and Charley added more wood to the fire. She looked on the candle shelf for a rose shaped one she had been given for her birthday last summer. “Time to light this sucker up. It will bring Aphrodite in.” He found a silky blue green cloth to cover the pillows. “This will bring our watery friends in.”

“Can you reach the coconut oil? I’ll get the rose quartz heart.”

They sat cross-legged in front of each other sharing a few puffs of locally grown from the pipe. As he began taking off his clothes, Ursula leapt up again to get glasses of spring water for each of them. “May the Mountain source us too. I didn’t tell you that I had an orgasm the other day standing out at the Stone Table and looking up at the Mountain.”

“What?!”

When she told him the story, he laughed and laughed. “I feel rather one-upped by that one.”

She warmed some coconut oil in her hands. “Lie down on your belly now. I’ll start with your feet….“

Ursula took Charley’s feet in her hands, lifting them a little as she did so. Feeling their weight and heft. Noticing how the toes bent this way and that. Tracing the delicacy of his ankles. After a few minutes she put the left one down and began to smooth the right one, feeling the skin soft in some places, rough in others. Then increasing the pressure she moved her fingers along the bones and sinews feeling for knots and tangles, not necessarily physical ones but the energetic blocks that so often land in the feet.

“Ouch!” said Charley “That hurt. I know you’re getting to some deep stuff that probably needs to be cleared. But I thought we were doing erotic tonight.”

“Oh right,” said Ursula. Taking a deep breath, she allowed her energy to center differently. No longer reaching for “broken” places where Bear often led her, but rather sensing the lover in her husband, even in his prosaic feet. He who wanted to be touched and honored. Her mate who wanted to connect with her Soul…. “It’s not Mother Bear we want tonight, we want….” She hesitated unsure….

“We called in Aphrodite, didn’t we?” offered her husband.”Who is also, of course, Venus.”

“Ahh.” The classic image came into her mind of the tall maiden standing in the scallop shell, a few auburn tresses blowing loose and a long coil of hair self-consciously hiding her pubis. Angelic attendants hovered to cover her more fully. Rather demure and virginal for this seasoned granny. Ursula wanted naked knowing nymphs or sirens. She wanted her hair blazoning  around her, showing off her full glory, with pearls and abalone to adorn her and rich spicy scents.… Maybe a mysterious, glittering mask… Or, thinking of a painting she’d seen recently, perhaps even snakey tresses and a gleeful, lusty expression as she loomed over her lover, her covering a shell shaped g-strap with a pink curved opening….

As she allowed these images of the Greek love goddess to flow and become embodied in her, she could feel the energy in her hands shift. Siren energy beckoning. Alluring. Igniting. Soon very different hands caressed and pulled gently on each of Charley’s toes in turn and then slid along the bottom of the foot. A shiver went from there in two directions – up his leg and up her arms. A different sort of connection was being established. She reached for the opposite foot to give balance. Soon with her fingernails pricking like a playful kitten, she followed the energy up the back of both legs – swirling as if she were drawing. Tickling a little behind his knees, inching up his inner thighs….. Just about to the top….. She could feel him catch his breath in anticipation, but teasing, she started back down again. Charley moaned a little and peered over his shoulder. “Keep going up?”

“Be patient, my Adonis. I want to gentle and relax these beautiful thighs first.” She reached around them, feeling their golden hairiness, honoring their strength. Many a time she had watched from the house down to the waves as these legs crouched with impressive composure and fortitude on his surfboard. Tonight, she admired the muscles and sinews she found, stroking the length, reaching around to cover the breadth. Hinting at going higher. Teasing still. Promising. Her energy now sinuous, now catlike, now….

Charley moaned again as her hands slid up over his butt. Again muscular, yet with a lovely padding of fat that felt just right. Gluteus maximus. Her hands kneaded gently for a bit and then slid sideways up his butt crack causing a gasp from both of them before slipping under to his hip bones. Nice and boney. And…..

“Time for a little oil?” she asked in a sultry voice, Aphrodite making herself known again like a tropical breeze through her body.

“Yessss,“ he breathed, enjoying the changes in Ursula’s energy from Bear to…. Siren….. to Jaguar. Wonderful…. In her power.

“Not quite yet,” she teased as she straddled his hips, moving her hands up and down his back. First along the spine and then outward to trace the ribs and eventually up over his shoulders. Just a bit of kneading there. And then a brushing with fluttering hands. A lot of stuff cluttered there that could be released. She swept away phantom sheets of paper that she had no desire to identify. Instead with her mental “eyes” closed, she moved the energy down his arms to his hands, where she also gathered up and swept off all kinds of computer and telephone keys, then door keys and….. “Be Gone!” she whispered. “Out! Into the woodbox. Not here tonight. He can pick you up in the morning.” She giggled at the image. “Hey are you awake?” she asked the still form beneath her hands and under her legs.

“Emmmm.” He answered lazily.

“None of that,” she scolded, “Here!” She slapped him playfully but a little stingily down along his back. Let’s get that blood going.”

“Oil now?” he requested plaintively.

“Oh, ok,” she agreed with pretended reluctance, moving to pour from the plastic bottle by her knee and inhaling the lovely scent of vanilla and cinnamon that wafted towards her from her now slippery hands. She warmed the oil and then rubbing it on her breasts, let herself move again on his body.

“OOOOh,” he moaned, “That’s lovely.” Now she was slipping and sliding her whole torso over his back and down onto his thighs. When she sat up again for more oil she let her hands roam from the small of his back down around and underneath. Charley moaned as she touched his penis, feeling it both straightening and hardening where it had been nestled under his left hip. He moved in rhythm as her hands went gently along the creases between his legs and groin. Then back to his penis with her left hand.

“Time to roll over, Mister.” It was a command to which he happily complied. His penis, delighted to be freed from underneath him, rose tall and perky. “Looking good,” chuckled Ursula appreciatively. “Quite good!” she added as she bent to kiss the tip. The penis bobbed gratefully and its circumcised maleness grinned up at her as his hips made a circular motion.

Yet still drawn by the whole of him, her hands left the tempting organ and moved up the front of his body, along the sides. Ribs, pecs, nipples, heart chakra. She bent again and licked the place between his nipples, imagining the chakra wheel glowing green and sparkly, whirling with love.

Charley’s eyes were closed but he opened one with a squint, his lips pooching into an airy kiss. Taking the hint, she bent and met his mouth. Their lips and tongues did a delicate dance that took all their attention for the next little while….

Around the house that sheltered them, the trees swayed in the rising wind. The Mountain heaved luxuriously and moaned, male and female energies intertwined. A pair of raccoons chittered and two neighboring cats found each other in the bushes.

Neither of these humans felt any of this consciously. Yet, for a few breaths they paused, filling with memories of lovemaking that was also baby making, shifting to thoughts that touched for a minute on grandchild, friends. Tribe. Their years of accomplishments on so many levels. Luckily none of this was spoken and soon with a mutual sigh of sweetness, they each pushed such distractions aside. This was their time. Their space. No need for other energies. They again had eyes and senses only for each other.

 

“Not even me?” asked Pan grinning wickedly from the dark meadow just beyond the window. “Next time you might call me…”

They didn’t even hear him.

 “Not me either, I guess,” said the Green Man.

“They’ll find us soon,” said fiery Shiva and Shakti, full into their respective male and female energies. “We’re moving in. A new earth is forming…. Newly honed bodies are needed.”

 

As they looked deep into each others’ eyes, Ursula felt spirit shivers that she passed through to Charley, their bodies now interlocked length wise, their legs and arms intertwining in ever changing and impossible looking forms. Their breath came fast now. Their mouths instinctively open. Tongues flicking, their hips soon rocked gently as they paused and breathed appreciatively. Soon the rhythm changed and became more urgent. His penis sought its nook. Her clit throbbed for his touch. His fingers answered her whispered plea as she crouched over him. Both moaning now, she moved to find a position where the fitting together could happen. “Aaahhh!” She let him nudge at her cleft and then deliciously enter. “mmmMMM.” She eased down again with him inside her. Rocking. Rocking.

“You ROCK! Charley-Mon,” she said aloud, her words turning to laughter that he soon matched. But then even that was toooooo much. Sparks flew, energy spun through their bodies, igniting torso and fingertips, toes and crown. Hair follicles and fingernails. All abuzz. All ablaze. Rocking. Rocking. Shouting. Crackling.

“Jesus!” She gasped wondering as she did so at the apparent blasphemy of it. But then, “I’m Magdalene! Rising. Rising. Isissssssss.” All the love priestesses through time.

Charley matched her, riding the bursting of his own orgasm, yet tuned into her strong, passionate feminine version that reached somehow deep into ages past. The tsunamis of their two energies rose between them and crested. They had called in this connection and it came full on now. Their spirit selves entwined for a few glorious moments, as intermingled and potent as their bodies already were.

Owen Chooses a Painting

Owen Chooses A Painting

To: Owen@ nekelew.net

From: Thea@ nekelew.net

Subject: Your paintings

At the risk of sounding like the classic “would you like to see my etchings,” would you like to come up on Tuesday about 5 pm for a drink and to choose a painting for our trade?

 

From: Owen@ nekelew.net

To: Thea@ nekelew.net

Subject: Re: Your paintings

Good timing. Tuesday would be great and I’ve cleared a space on my wall for a painting.

 

“Welcome, Owen. What can I get you? I have wine, beer, gin…and tequila.”

“Actually, I don’t drink anymore. Friend of Bill Wilson’s, you know. I’d love some juice if you have any.”

“Oh. I have apple juice if you’d like. Either plain or sparkling.”

“Sparkling would be lovely.”

If Thea was disconcerted by Owen’s choice she didn’t show it, pouring herself a glass of Merlot after she handed Owen his Martinelli’s. Standing in the kitchen alcove, they made small talk about the craftsmanship of the trim little house. Its previous owner was connected with Owen’s parents and it had been built by Charley with wood from Owen’s family’s sustainable timber operation.

But soon Owen’s eye was drawn to look around at the paintings. “Have you done all this work since you came down here?”

“Nope. That one there is an older one. It’s the Green Seed painting that Ursula and I were talking about when she suggested I come to you for a Soul Retrieval.”

“And this one?”

“That’s a new one about the Mountain – or rather a Wild Woman in the Mountain. I think her name needs capital letters. Have you ever heard of a legend about such a one?”

“I think there are stories of her in the collection called Nekelew Tales, but nothing substantive is coming to mind about her. I wonder if she has any connection to Durga that Ursula was just telling us about the other night or Kali. They are serious wild ones from India.”

“She came to me strongly and I just assumed she was Native American. In fact, the Mountain almost seems to be talking to me. Does that sound really weird?”

“It is weird – in the sense of ‘witchy’ – but I know what you mean. For me it comes through the plants. Which reminds me.” Owen dug through his knapsack and pulled out a small brown bottle. “Comfrey flower essence as ‘prescribed’ by Dr. Ursula and made by yours truly. It’s also known as bone knit so symbolically it’s about putting the pieces – the members – back together. Either literally if you have a broken bone or figuratively such as your lost parts we retrieved.”

“Is that why she said ‘remembering?’ I’ve been wondering about that.”

“Yes, as in re-membering,” Owen separated the two parts of the word as he spoke it.

“But what is an essence as opposed to a tincture?”

“A tincture contains the biological components of the plant. I make those too but these are the subtle energies. I can also make essences from crystals or even the energies of events. They’re more like homeopathic remedies that are diluted so much there’s nothing left of the original substance but the signature energy. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but the more they’re diluted the stronger they are. I make these from Mountain spring water in a crystal vase with the flower or root – usually in both sunlight and moonlight and often created during a special celestial or earth event such as an eclipse, solstice, or full moon. Or a new moon. They contain alcohol as a preservative so I don’t use them myself except when they are fresh – or from the freezer.

“Because they are Spirit Medicine they operate on a subtle level of one’s being. Always they come from a being – a plant, a place, a stone – that wanted to give its gift to us humans. I listen to the meaning & character of each gift as told to me by the being itself.”

“So this won’t cure a cold, say, but might help me find the meaning of my green seed or integrate my soul retrieval beings?”

“Exactly. It could very well help with those processes you are in the midst of. If you did have a cold, it would tackle the deeper basis for why you ‘caught’ it. Often unexpressed grief is involved and it could be very ancient. Or say if you had a sprained ankle or broken limb, it might help heal whatever it was that caused the so-called ‘accident’ in the first place. Why did you lose your footing or what is ungrounded in you? But you started to tell me about the Mountain talking to you.”

“Do your plant spirits come to you in their creature spirit form or in people-like form with distinct personalities like Eliot Cowan describes?”

“They are very amorphous for me. I just get a sort of feeling about them. It’s very subtle and easy to miss if I’m not listening carefully. And I often did miss it in the early days before I learned what was happening…”

“When I was painting the other day…. I’m not sure I’m ready to have you spread this around.”

“I won’t breathe a word until you’re ready.”

“As I finished this Wild Woman painting I heard a voice – no, it would be more accurate to say that I saw a voice in my head. I’m such a visual person that’s the only way I can describe it. A voice that said…well, see this fire in the painting here? I don’t know why that came in but it really wanted to be there…. The voice told me it’s a beacon calling me – us? – here…. And that the dragon is protection…. and something about Wild Woman…. I’m not sure what. That’s why I was asking about her.”

“Cool! We’ve often talked in the Medicine Circles about people feeling called here and occasionally the word “beacon” even gets used. Plus it’s not unusual for folks here to see flickers of dragons out of the corners of their eyes as well as in dreams. Or even just turning up a lot in books and cards at propitious moments. It’s a potent symbol. I’d say you are tuning into the deeper levels of what’s here. Good going. It’ll be fun to see what else you come up with.”

“I don’t know whether to be relieved or more worried that you seem to think I’m tuning into something others are also getting.”

“Well, I, for one, would welcome accurate, beautiful depictions of what many of us suspect about this place and its purpose. And it wouldn’t surprise me for you to channel images that give us new information too.”

“ Should I say ‘thank you?’”

Owen laughed. “Did you ever have experiences like this when you were a kid?” he queried.

“Nooo. At least I don’t think so.”

“I’m wondering if it is your psychic self that has been closed off, shut down the way it was in so many of us. Often we had experiences as a child – some can recall them and some can’t – where a grown-up made us feel ashamed or crazy or fearful which, in effect, muzzled us. I know one person who knew her little brother had died before they told her and another for whom it was a grandparent. In one case the story was accepted and the person retained that ability. The other got yelled at for it and clammed up. She’s still working to regain her belief in the credulity of her other worldly experiences.”

“So you think I might have had such experiences and just not remembered?”

“It’s certainly possible. I hear a lot of fear in you about it.”

“Years ago a friend talked me into going with her to a psychic. It was amazing. He saw me as an artist and said I should be showing my work more. He had a lot of specifics about how I should go about doing that. Because of him I went on what now feels like a tangent visiting galleries back east – trying to hit the Big Time, you know.”

“Pretty alluring.”

“He also gave some directives to my friend that got her pretty bollixed up – about leaving her husband and some other stuff.”

“Sounds like by getting so specific, he wasn’t being too ethical. June says one always needs to leave room for free will in the person one is ‘seeing’ for. i.e. making it clear that there are many possible roads and turnings. Choices one gets to make rather than one inevitable path laid out in concrete.”

“Still, in a way it was a good thing. I was so turned off by the push energy of the tangent that something in me began to rebel against what I call ‘Capital A’ Art. It was about that time that I also began to discover Tarot and the Goddess and that led me down here…. So it wasn’t all bad by any means. But the thought of channeling something ‘wrong’ or ‘too much’ for somebody freaks me out.”

“Is it that, more than the fact of it happening to you or people knowing that it’s happening to you?”

“Certainly I don’t want to be considered crazy and all that. I think my mom planted some of that in my head. Hey – I wonder if she’d had some experiences she wasn’t telling me about. Or my aunt…. the one who left me the money that made it possible for me to move down here to the beach.”

“Any of them might have, of course. It certainly hasn’t been accepted in our culture for a long time. As we talked about with Ursula the other day, they burned witches….”

“Well, come on upstairs to my studio and some more of the paintings.” Ready to change the subject, Thea led Owen up the narrow, beautifully built staircase to her studio area. He had to duck under the low hanging eaves where the stairs turned and then opened out into a wide clear space full of canvases stacked every which way, as well as paintings and clippings hung on every possible surface, even the tall file cabinet next to the cluttered work table.

“Oh ho! What’s this one over here?” Owen pointed to a painting that was hanging on the east wall. “It’s really calling to me.” A large green male figure was holding an armload of plants and flowers. Foxglove and daisies stuck out from his arms while nasturtiums and ivy dangled down. A crown of what looked like Oregon Grape circled his head, though it could have been holly. Sitka spruce stood tall all around him, pointing up to the stars of the constellation Orion sparkling in the sky. A tiny figure of a centaur was wheeling near the stars. Thea had used her signature phthalo green and white to give the painting an eerie, other-worldly feeling.

“That’s the Green Man – I painted him this summer when I first got here and before I had any idea of the European archetype.”

“That’s funny because that image has become really important to me recently. It gives me chills to see it here. It’s like there’s some memory I can’t quite get hold of that has to do with it….” His voice trailed off.

“When you say that it gives me chills too….”

“To get chills is a sign of psychic connection,” Owen said absently. “The plants…?”

“You had just introduced me to Oregon Grape so it felt appropriate to put it in.”

“So it is Oregon Grape… Clearly this is the painting I want in trade for our session. It will be good to live with it and ponder why I’m responding so strongly to it.”

“I have no idea who the centaur is or why he’s in the painting.”

“I don’t know either, but that’s part of the mystery of it for me.”

“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I find him really sexy,” said Thea.  She wasn’t about to admit any more about it out loud. She’d exposed herself enough already to Owen, but she was feeling the energy of Osiris on him. Osiris, Egyptian God of the Underworld, was often considered a Green Man as well. Could it be Owen who had been turning up disguised as such in her fantasies lately?

There was a bit of an awkward silence. “Umm,” said Owen. “The plants are indeed the expression of the lifeblood of the earth and they can certainly stir us up. What is more primal than the Pan image of the Green Man? Yours isn’t leering here or goat footed though that’s often how he’s depicted. The Christians made him into the Devil. The Seducer. The Satyr, half man half goat, definitely has a mixed reputation in our culture.” Owen knew he was babbling but he didn’t know where to go with this.

Thea laughed. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. But doing this painting made me feel sexy and now you’re taking it home so that has to become part of the mystery of it. Hopefully it will be disturbing in a good way.” She moved to take the canvas down from the wall and handed it to Owen with a flourish, bowing as he reached to take it. Owen bowed low in return.

“Owen, I’m pretty sure that at least some of this New Age LOVE energy is about sex. And the playful cougar seems to be coming out in me, thanks to you.“

“No worries,” countered Owen. “But I think I’d better make my escape now.”