Monday, February 19, 2018

Along for the Ride


I found Nina Lyon's book, Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man, utterly delightful. It blends the author's scholarship on the Green Man, a fairly common medieval architectural, folk/cultural, and literary motif with a mysterious meaning (and a particular interest of mine), with the story of how she went about her research. That makes it not only the kind of book I love to read, but also the kind of book I'd like to write someday: adventuresome, personal, and scholarly, all rolled into one.

The result of this successful blend is a memoir, more or less, of time spent traveling around England and parts of Europe attending festivals, dabbling in modern pagan practices, exploring architecturally significant buildings, interviewing learned folks, and walking in various wild locales. We hear not only the informational results of Lyon's interview with so-and-so, but also what sort of cafe they met in and what they each had to eat or drink during their talk. It works very well.   

The author's viewpoint is alternatively erudite, personally revealing, and droll, with a playfully dry wit prominently on display. I would have loved to travel along with Lyon as she tracked down the Green Man, and thanks to this book, I feel that I have. We would probably have gotten on splendidly, having our interest in the Green Man to bind us together on the journey.

The Green Man himself retains a good deal of his mystery, despite sincere attempts to suss him out. Whether he's a pagan nature figure, a semi-demonic representation of earthy influences that the Church tried to squelch, or the guardian spirit of ecology, he retains his ability to shape-shift and reach any audience. He and Lyon make a very engaging pair and thanks to this chronicle, I've been on his trail as well. 

Excerpt:         

I needed to notice trees in a way that was not dependent on taking photos of them as a visual notepad. I needed to notice them in a being way. It occurred to me that a lesson from a professional tree-communicator might be just the thing.

I found myself shopping for shamans online, which seemed a little perverse, and was therefore enjoyable for it.There was a man called Michael Harner, the Colonel Saunders of the shamanic training scene, who seemed to have a number of affiliated organisations who trademarked their courses. I don't know how trademarking shamanic guides went down with their spirit guides. Maybe the Upper Realm is more like our own than we think.

Note: This book counts toward Ethereal 2018 and also toward the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ethereal 2018 - My Sign-Up


It seems appropriate that I'm going to recycle two books from my 2017 reading list for this challenge, as I've chosen for my "theme within a theme" my favorite archetype, the nature spirit called the Green Man.

The Green Man hearkens back to the god Pan in Greek mythology, although instead of being half goat he's half (or more) vegetation. Numerous medieval churches and cathedrals include his image and I've always been fascinated by their presence, which remains the subject of much theorizing among cultural historians. Sometimes exuberant, sometimes comic, sometimes gruesome, the Green Man echoes the contrasts of the natural world.

This fun challenge, hosted with enthusiasm by Carolyn of Riedel Fascination, is the perfect nudge for me to read more about him. Learn more about it here, and please note that it runs February 1, 2018, through January 31, 2019, providing a nice offset with other challenges that stick to the calendar year. 

My list:

Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man - Nine Lyon (2/16/18) (review coming soon)
The Land of the Green Man: A Journey Through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles - Carolyne Larrington
new: The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama - Lord Raglan (husband of Lady Raglan, who first researched the Green Man, and the Joseph Campbell of his day)

If I can find and read more books on this topic, I will. For now, I'm happy to keep the bar pretty low.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ethereal 2017 - My Wrap-Up


I made a rather poor attempt at this challenge, despite my best intentions and the very generous January 31 ending date, but here I am, nonetheless, wrapping up.

Of four books chosen, I finished one and read most of another one, with mixed results.

Seeking the Green turned out to be rather disappointing because it wasn't what I expected. (Read more about that here, if you care to.)

In a happy accident, however, Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man turned out to be exactly what I was hoping it would be. Even though I haven't yet finished it, I already know it will become a permanent part of my library. It's a delightful blend of personal story and forays into history, architecture, religion, contemporary practices, and whatever else seems relevant at the moment, and exactly what I feel like reading right now! For that I am grateful to my host, Carolyn, for the nudge to bring it to the top of the reading list.

Goodbye, 2017. Hello, 2018! Onward to another set of challenges!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Overheard While Watching Football

This is from last year, but it's still relevant:

She: You know, Tom Brady is married to one of the most beautiful supermodels in the world. [checks phone] Look, see, here's Gisele's picture. Isn't she incredible?

He: A man would get tired of that.

She: [skeptical look]

He: Eventually.

Image result for gisele b√ľndchen
Photo credit: SI.com

Friday, January 26, 2018

Green, But Not This Shade


I liked the premise of this book -- the idea of "becoming aware of the green landscape that underlies and surrounds towns, cities and factories." I believe that Nature underlies everything we do and that recognizing and cherishing that essential reliance is required of us humans if we are to survive as a species. Moving away from an exploitative relationship with Nature to a mutually beneficial reciprocity is our current imperative, whether we realize it or not.

However, this book is something different. It not only encourages a deeper relationship with the Green Man or Woman as god and goddess, but contains various trainings in strengthening your inner self, psychic self-defense, taking magical journeys, and spellcasting. That was not what I was seeking so I cherry-picked my way through it, enjoying the parts that applied to my life and reading but not studying the rest. This seemed to be fine with the author, who encouraged all her readers to find their own way on the green path. And that is fine by me.

Excerpt:

Another method of wasting time is by dwelling too much on things in the past, or worrying about the future. Remember that things that are past are over; all you can do is learn from them, which in itself is a positive achievement. Things in the future may be worrying, yet the more you worry, the less you can do to help yourself or others. . . . In effect, once you begin to worry excessively, all you can do is worry!

So much of our life is the product of our own imagining. Once we learn to understand this and gain some control over our minds, we can co-operate with the world and the forces around us instead of being carried along like a piece of driftwood. It's sad, but most people are completely unaware of how they function beyond the basic needs of warmth, food, shelter and human companionship. They experience only a fraction of what is really possible and spend their entire lives without ever exploring their inner worlds, let alone journeying into magical ones. 

Note: I read this book for the Ethereal 2017 Challenge.