Owen’s mind reached to the roots of the tree, down, down their hugeness…. journeying…. out onto the plain of the Underworld…. The sun is overhead here, a warm breeze blowing. A hummingbird, impossibly iridescent chartreuse and red, buzzes at eye level, then darts off, only to return again. Does it want him to follow? It hovers now over a gigantic datura plant. Owen moves towards it sniffing and feels its spirit kiss him before it sends him on his way. A cluster of tiny psilocybin mushrooms waves him over. Suddenly elfin himself, he sits like Alice in Wonderland at the foot of one, marveling at its subtle beauty, conjuring for a moment the delicate tracery of form and color that particular Medicine provokes. Before long, however, he salutes the fungi and turns again towards the sound of the hummingbird behind him. His wee guide is now looming as large as a goose over a stand of Devils Club whose few enormous spiky leaves are the browning yellow of autumn. His heart speeds in his chest. He’s been asking to make this connection. Is he ready for what these dangerously prickled sticks have to tell him? He fingers the aventurine still somehow in his pocket in this the Spirit World.
“I am the sharp surprise in the woods. I am Pan,” booms the plant. “They cast me as the Devil and are afraid of my power. My cloven hooves and randy ways are confusing to this world that wants to control everything – to dam rivers, mine veins and bludgeon trees into planks. In real life you can’t touch me in this form. But here in the Underworld you can rub against the brazenness of my stickers with impunity.”
“I won’t be filled with their diabolical torture?”
“They will spur you. Acupuncture for your dormant inner eye, the pineal gland asking to be awakened. Another re-membering of your body parts for the tasks ahead. No need for actual touch on the earth plane. An essence made in my presence will serve as a goad, a guide, a guardian. You are a Green Man yourself. Orion hunts with you, the Dog Star Sirius at his side. Chiron – the wounded healer – is calling for you. Listen….”
Turning towards a sound, Owen sees a centaur – half man, half horse – gallop towards him over the hill. Blood is dripping from scores of arrow wounds. “Heal me,” says the creature, “Heal me before they fester that I may heal others that they may heal still more.”
Owen stands baffled and overwhelmed.
“You know how.” Is it the Devil’s Club or is it Pan? It is hard to tell as they shimmer in and out of each other. “Puncture wounds will scab over but sometimes must be lanced to give the pus a vent. Call on me when you Journey and my Medicine will energetically find and open up the crusts whether they are visible scars or ancient and far under the surface. Do this for yourself and for him. You came into manhood in the war in the same era as the discovery of the asteroid Chiron in the sky. Your warrior wounds are the same.”
Reaching his hands towards the Centaur, Owen feels energy fizz back and forth between them, until the man/horse dashes off.
“You are one who shows the way, Owen.” The Devils Club speaks gently now. “With my lance and the Tarot’s Hermit lantern held high, you search out overgrown byways. You know how to lead your blindered compadres down the paths of this green world to find their wounded places, lost parts, their shadow selves. It is time now to grow into your power as a shaman. Be the Scorpion who knows when to sting and when to salve. You have done the background work. You need only open another degree to my energies. Let me in. Let me light the fires of seeing in your brain.” His voice booms again. “The coals of healing blaze in your hands. The sparks of regeneration smolder in your cock. No need to make more babies. But you do need to make magic and your cock is a fine tool for that. Your hands will touch and heal. Your cock will light fires of inspiration and healing as well.”
Owen feels his prick shrivel with the thought. This is not what he was imagining for his future. “I’m hardly a horny kid anymore….”
“Ha!” shouts Pan. “You fear. You would stay hidden. Too late for that. Rise to your potential. Fulfill the promise you made to yourself when you were born in this place!”
Owen bows his head in acquiescence and feels the sting of thousands of teeny barbs…. His hands fall off and lie twitching on the ground. His lungs gasp, his teeth rattle and his heart pounds so hard it jiggles open the door on the locked ribbed cage it lives in. Seizing its moment for freedom his coeur, his corazon jumps out of his chest into the sword ferns where it morphs into a dove who sits preening in the moonlight. “Have so many hours gone by?” and “Not a dove, it must be a band-tailed pigeon.” His rational self asserts itself for a moment. But not for long.
His penis begins to pulse and glow with a strange blue light as if electrified from within. Snakelike, it grows and grows until it passes the moon. It stretches even further until it enters VenusIsisAstarteAphroditeInanna who is sparkling voluptuously, high in the dawn of this magical place where time zigzags about as madly as his body parts. “Welcome home,” the Goddess of Love whispers happily. “It’s been ages.” She writhes and moans as he enters her labyrinth. Who knows how long they dally in delight, hearts open and connecting, until eventually millions of dancing beings spray forth from their orgasms, their energies scattering to fertilize new generations of seers and healers. Venus whoops and Owen roars in ecstasy. He is MarsJupiterScorpio Rising, gloriously alive. His legs goat-like and hoofed. His hairy chest and taut belly heaving with emotion. Mossy tendrils curl from his beard up around his face and hair. Violets cheer and lilies bow to his presence. A grouse rises up in a whirr of surprise then spins its spiral dance at his feet. Is that a wizard’s peaked cap on his head?
As he notices the hat, his energy begins to deepen and quiet. He stands tall and clear-eyed, feeling his roots in the earth while silvery energy lines curve between him and the people of his community. The ones he grew up with, the ones he’s called in. Yes, he has called them in with the help of this Tree and the Mountain. He knows that now…. His strength is in the marriage of moon and sun in this green place…. He must find the Council Fire…. and the Others….
…..He rises and starts down the hill towards town, but before he has taken more than a few steps, sleepiness blurs his sight and his intention slips beyond his conscious knowing.
He curls instead into the lap of the Grandmother Tree. His penis nestles sweetly limp on his leg like a tired child. Cooing, the dove that is also his heart pierces his chest and roosts in his left ventricle. His hands, inscribed with strange markings, inch over like worms and zip into the cuffs of the green leather shirt he now wears. His eyes are heavy with all that he has seen. Someone covers him with fern fronds and moss…. The Moon smiles from directly overhead. The Sitka whispers sweet dreams of deer nuzzling his cheeks. He sighs feeling safe again. While the Mountain….
The Mountain’s hummm becomes louder, vibrating Owen’s newly reconnected organs and body parts. He doesn’t hear it consciously himself, but his being absorbs the love and caring of the gigantic energy of this place. Somewhere deep inside he senses welcome and thanks for his work of the night and for the long years of his tenure here, as well as for his ever-growing consciousness. It isn’t entirely peaceful however. Those energetic prickers from the Devils Club are still working in his system. His body registers the spurs as if it is a horse and rider on an urgent mission. A centaur?
Down at the house June wakes slightly, noting the louder than usual hummmm, and turns over to dream again.
Cindy hears it too and wonders what is stirring. She is often aware of the Mountain’s gentle pulse though she’s never told anyone about it. Tonight it is crescendoing like it does when something big is afoot. There are almost words to it. “Wake to the call…. Sitka, Cedar and I, we need you awake…. River and Bay need you…. Raven and Eagle need you….”
Does that mean she should be doing something or is the message for another? Plural or singular “you?” She suspects with a feeling of dread that it is for all of them and that she needs to share the message. That is way too scary a thought….
Startled awake, Uri hears the hummm for the first time. Is it an engine starting up? A log truck downshifting on the highway? He glances at the clock. 2 am is an odd time for any of those possibilities and it is going on way too long. The Coast Guard rescue helicopter? The refrigerator? He can feel it deeply in his body now and as he settles into it he realizes the sound is coming from below him. From the earth itself. He tunes in another degree, calming his rational brain from its tentative explanations. Words begin to form in his mind. “Welcome Home…. What took you so long? Now get to work….”
“I’d better talk to someone about this. I wonder who.” He knows that Michael, snoring gently beside him, is not a good candidate for hearing about the weirder stuff. It is time to find some allies in this new place in order to bloom that side of himself. Finally connect with Ursula? He’s been putting that off. Or Cali…. Things they’d said at Harvest Fest had made his ears prick up….
Owen opened his eyes with the first bird chirps. Robins even this late in the season, and a flicker. A gentle rain was falling on his sleeping bag. He didn’t remember getting into it. He lay there still warm inside, feeling the glow of his connection with the tree. There had been more but he couldn’t quite recall…. A dream about…. Pan? Seems like he should take on some clients for shamanic journeying work. And maybe he’d collect the last of the rosehips and make some necklaces to sell at Bear Essentials. Was it time to make a Devils Club essence? It would surely strengthen his green self.… He felt strong and clear…. If only he could remember the wisps of the dreams teasing at the edges of his consciousness.
By the time Owen arrived back at Sitka House he was soaking wet and ready for a shower and some breakfast. He hoped that Cali or somebody had dropped off eggs. He needed the protein. As he stepped in the door, he was greeted by June at the kitchen table, sipping her tea from a delicate Limoges cup, her wispy white hair all a-tumble about her shoulders.
“I dreampt about you,” she said without preamble in her straightforward way.
“Did you now?”
“It was a Capital Letter dream. The kind that says, ‘Listen up!’ I saw you in a glade dressed all in different shades of the forest like an elderly Robin Hood, but with a strange blue light coming from your crotch. You morphed into a stag and winked at me before dashing off. It felt all merry-merry-in-the-greenwood. I followed you and found a maypole in another clearing with the ribbons woven and nobody around except for some ravens peering at me from the trees. I wondered if it was the ravens themselves who wove the ribbons or if it was some of us. Or us in raven form…. Oh and there were owls there too.”
“Did you take any meaning from the dream? It feels rather phallic for an old Lesbian like you.”
“Not for you though. What’s stirring there, Mister?”
“I did have a wild Journeying session last night up at the Grandmother Tree where I saw Pan and Devils Club in the underworld but I can’t remember what they told me except that they are linked somehow.”
“Pan. Robin Hood. Peter Pan. The green playful ones want you to join them more often. You need to be going deeper, Owen. The ravens want us to play with magic and owls call us both to see into the shadows – maybe even into death. The gates of Shamanic death anyway. And they want you to open your heart, to let the community have more access to you. No more hiding your gifts of connection and healing. I just remembered there were vines coming out of your hands, and runes. Sure signs of healing energy.”
Owen grunted, increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation. “I’ll do some journaling this morning to see if anything more comes up. If it stops raining by this afternoon I want to go back up and make an essence from the Devil’s Club root near the clearing while the moon is still full.”
June watched him leave the room, thinking there was something different about him. Some change had happened during his night in the woods that he wasn’t entirely aware of yet. He smelled intriguingly of magic and rue. Had he been dancing with the Goat Footed God himself? About time.