As usual, I was in my house cleaning when I heard the most grisly sound I’ve heard in a long while. Poking my head out my kitchen window, I saw two large Komatsu cranes grabbing handfuls of precious trees as if they were toothpicks. My neighbor’s acreage which forms an L-shape and essentially “hugs” my land must have been sold. My heart sunk as I listened to the snapping gasps of ash and the whining gasps of dying oak trees. The gentle woods in which my children played and I often hunt for herbs and bones was being slowly devoured by twin monstrosities.
The individual inside of me who was raised in modern America was ready to shrug it off as a part of progress. After all, the land its self is privately owned and it is legally the owner’s right to do whatever they wish with their property. I knew I couldn’t stop it, because after all, I’m also watching five little children while this is happening. I felt myself begin to cry and I wasn’t sure if I could control it. The Witch inside me crept up and whispered a different truth into my mind. I reminded myself sternly that the reason I felt numb in the pit of my stomach was due to the fact that these woods were sacred to me.
I think back to a sunny day a few years ago, when the Wisconsin mosquitoes were at the apex of their reproduction, and I decided to take a walk in the back of my house. My lovely abode is an old trailer nestled in the mouth of the North Woods. Thankfully, the neighborhood is loosely dotted with houses and the occasional hunting cabin so I have almost complete solace. As I descended deeper into those lush woods, lost in my thoughts, I began to feel a very strong presence. I felt not fear as the feeling grew more intense and built up in my throat. I looked at the beauty of the glen around me and took in the whistle and song of the animals and I was in love.
Nature was at once a sensual and intimate experience and my mind raced to the image of a God. Half man, half goat, the cunning Lord Pan emerged from the wood and enshrouded me with the intoxicating scent of mud and headiness of the wind. The reason I came into the woods, to escape whatever sadness was waiting for me back at my old house, slowly faded away. I didn’t have my anger or my pettiness interrupting my thoughts. At once I became not calm but on fire.
We Pagans cherish reading about our Gods, however, I cherish more to experience my Gods. I don’t just want to visualize Them in my mind, I want to know Them well enough to see Them in front of me expressed in every aspect of the raw nature I worship. This God took the opportunity to give me such an experience. He is the Greek God Pan; the charming faun who parties with Nymphs and seductively plays the panpipes. For a moment in that time and space, my God was in every living part of that timber that hugged my property. As I mentioned before, the Lord of this wood erupted into my presence, in my belief, because I was in such pain.
Instead of focusing on the darkness that felt like it was consuming me. The Lord Pan spotlighted a different Path for myself. I focused on what was real and in front of me for just a moment. The trees, the grass, the incessant buzz of mosquitoes, and the soft ferns brushing against my ankle. He helped me drink in enlightenment by drinking in the sunlight that cast a golden shield around me. I was cold and warm all at once and felt like I was the season of Ostara. Ice cast in the cold mud of the farmer’s field. I began to realize that everything else I was experiencing through the anxiety was of my own imagination. No longer a slave to my own distractions and psychic prison, I could feel the stress melting off of me.
All that was around me was not just a tool to heal me, it was a living consciousness that reached out to make a bridge towards friendship. I felt intimidated by it at first, because I was trapped in the darkness of my mind. The longer I spent in this hidden paradise, the more I connected to the world around me. Painful memories and thoughts of betrayal no longer haunted me like stray phantasms. For the first time in my life, I was focused on where my foot was landing as I trod mud reinforced with roots. My breathing mattered more as I kept my walking paced to an unheard song.
Now, as I tearfully watch the destruction from the window of my kitchen, I witness the home of Lord Pan being leveled. I think of the spirits of that forest, the Fae Folk, and all of the animals that call that little patch of Elysium home. Although there is nothing I can do for the woods behind my home, I can write this tribute to the feral Lord of the Wood. I can also say that I’m extremely thankful for places like Deeply Rooted. DR has long been “Habitat for Divinity” and a haven for human imagination and will.
As I walk through those woods again and feel the chips of bark crunch under my feet like bones, I will remember Lord Pan and what lessons He taught me on that lonely summer day. Thank you for reading along to this UPG of mine. I feel it’s the very least I can do for my friend. It’s my honor to help people visualize the Gods outside of our ancient history. We have very little to go on outside of scarce ancient texts. I think more people should go out and experience their Gods for themselves and share their experiences.It is also my intent to get more people to write about their exposure to spirituality. So today readers, remember Pan and remember the breathtaking woods behind my house that were vacated yesterday and please light a little candle for both. We’re running out of habitat for our Gods and for ourselves.
PS: As I write this now, the workers have started again. My young daughter Miranda is standing at the window saying, “Please don’t cut down my trees.” I am heartbroken. – Shining Quill the Unicorn.
HAIL TO LORD PAN!