Dancing with Pan (1)

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Goat god and shepherd

From Dion Fortune’s ‘The Goat Foot God’:  “… Then it seemed to her that the Shepherd of Goats rose up gigantic in the darkness, towering above her small boat, his slanting agate eyes gleaming and kindly.  He was the keeper of all wild and hunted souls for which no place could be found in a man-made world, and she and Hugh were running in under the shadow of his crook.  They were coming down onto the fundamental realities of life which cannot be shaken, to which all things must come in the end.  She began to feel safe and secure.  Keeping her eyes fixed on the fundamental reality, let it be what it might, she felt certain that she would steer the right course.  This was the real invocation of Pan – the surrender to bed-rock natural fact, the return to Nature, the sinking back into the cosmic life, after all the struggle to rise above it into an unnatural humanity.  Animal is our beginning, and animal our end, and all our sophistications are carried on the back of the beast and we do ill to forget our humble brother.  Uncared for, collar-galled and filthy, he takes his revenge in the spread of disease.  St Francis spoke contemptuously of Brother Ass, but man is a centaur who is related to Pegasus on one side of the family.  The wise Cheiron who taught Asculapius healing, was carried swiftly on his four strong hooves.  Perhaps there is a lesson in that for us. 

“Mona awoke from her dream of goats and centaurs and breaking seas, to find the sun had gone in and the wind of spring was cold.  All the same, she knew she had received the Blessing of Pan on her enterprise, because she had given her undeviating loyalty to things natural – because she had said ‘What is truth?’ and set to work to pursue it.”

— Published by Society of Inner Light 1989

Pan Capricornus ’87

A couple of years before that book came out, I was dancing with my Pan – the primordial Capricorn archetype, did I but know.  My invocation was to draw;  the awareness along the line came to life.  I believe I drew on very early lifetimes as a cave artist. Light and shadow along the rock tingles, as the hunt’s magical power ripples to life.

This series in my blog called “Dancing with Pan” is sprinkled with my Greek myth drawings at age  seven.  It is the same awakening.   Nuances of emotion, desire, pain and healing play along the primordial pulse;  following it, gave me a hands-on feel of the cosmic principle behind esoteric teachings, which I read about, later.

Nymph, 1956.

A detail within a bigger page.  She draws the veil back…

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Mermaids 1956

Capricorn is a goat with a fish’s tail:  land’s geology and the depth of the sea.  These symbols came intuitively.

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Melusina 1989

… reminding me of this one:  Melusina is the alchemists’ water nymph – and I remember also how ambiguously frightening the Master can appear – like Pan.  These two drawings  slipped into today’s planned sequence, as extras.  I was reading Jung on Zosimus at the time I did them.

Mercurius:  the bottle-imp 1989

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Little girl 1956

She conjures, she plays, she dances with the furies and the joyous spirits.

The piano keys are grapes 1987

There is a fury in the baccanalian rite of Pan, as it begins to circuit and swirl.  Libra is the rising or setting sun.  At the time I was training my whole body to play a very difficult piece on the piano:  a yoga of touch and controlled abandon.  These two drawings are also in my 4 September post Para Olympus – Inspiring a Generation?   The general idea is:  to form a vessel for the pipes of Pan, we need to mean it:  to stretch to our whole capacity and beyond.  The whole of nature stretches, to grow and die and be born anew.  Lust stretches:  the seed stretches, to part the earth.   And so it is with ritual of any kind.  To be effective, the words are meant and filled with life now, to the fingertips and toes.

Faun, struggle and egg 1987

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Ding dong bell 1987

The nursery rhyme – pussy’s in the well, who pushed her in?  Little Tommy Flynne.   Who pulled her out? – little Tommy Stout!

But rather than rely on the menfolk as fabulous creatures, and fall on our noses, why not …

Earth serpent goddess 1987

… feel and find our wise way along the Earth, and as the Earth embrace?  Spine, breast and stellar space are the hills and valleys in the night.

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Horse throws hero 1957

An ancient greek hero – he is getting what he deserves, with those spurs and whip.

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Theseus Slays  1957

Theseus slays one of the villains of the Ishthmus, having earned his father’s sword and sandals from under the Stone.  The Minotaur and Ariadne appear to be on playful terms.

Thus far, a few mythic preambles.  Who and what is my Pan?

I have sequences of Pan drawings around a “Fall Event” in 1987.  In brief:  I fell through into a kind of joy below strata of grief.  It was a love affair of course.  I don’t want to go into the detail, but to share the essence of what I learned:  the energy, the paradox and the song of life which is Pan.

At the same time, I was doing a Buddhist practice and discovering Hermes Trismegistos and the ancient world.  I am by nature an animist and pantheist, and sang and chanted in my drawings before I learned to do so on “the piano keys” (symbolic – the black and white of life.)

Like music, a sacred ritual, to be effective, must be empowered with the full voice and feeling “NOW”;  this comes about, through living with the stops out – embodying inner catastrophe and upset, as well as to be surprised by joy.  I never had much choice.  There was and is no way, but through.

In The Goat Foot God, Dion Fortune explains:

“You’ve got to handle it along its own lines, T.J.  That’s the mistake people make – expecting miracles.  Thinking if they say the word of power, things will happen.  But they won’t unless you’ve worked up the power of the word first of all.  Old Ignatius was right, if it was him who said it – Live the life and you’ll develop the faith.  I want to invoke Pan, so I’ve got to live Panishly – hence these gooseberry shanks that I saw you gazing at so reproachfully from the depths of your Inverness.”

The old bookseller said, “If you call at Billings Street in a dappled faun-skin, you’ll draw a crowd, and probably catch a cold into the bargain!” 

“You choose to misunderstand me, T.J.  I’m not going in for any play acting … it’s the spirit of the thing, not the outward trappings, that counts.”

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Capricornus 1987

My invocation is at first through field and flower.  Later on it becomes more visceral:  the writing is all inside out.

From my  Passengers to Penelope (1987):   “There are places around my father’s house in Devon, where I sit in the grass on a closed umbrella (it’s wet) and hear the wind.  The wind’s slow tune rises and falls through a wet dell of nettles, thistles, bull-rushes and waving white parsey like waves of the sea.  In the singing forest grow clusters of my old friends whose names I no longer know, with wild dandelions, yellow daisies and vetch.  A crimson fox glove stands sentinel to the marshy place.  They do not invite, for I am there.  I am not in them, but nor am I outside them.  In the mysterious world of rabbits and owls I play and disappear, if I know how, into lean-to tunnels of long grass.  To play is to paint.  Were I to paint those colourful worlds, their kings and queens, it is not flowers with names I want to draw, but my mysteries and their delight.  It is enough to know: they have no names.  The wild child, the one who grew up on a hillside, is at home.  The wind whispered into his ears since he was born.  I call him Malo.  When thinking slows down from erstwhile hectic and unwritten cities, it follows the tune, the tune the wild child knows, and so do the shy beasts who go about their business. 

“Whatever happens up top, on lips, forehead and the wrinklings of ideas, my Underbeing begins to know itself as a slow river, picking up things it doesn’t yet know.  The river changed its course.  It flows quiet in a wide channel.  Everything I see is of interest.  I cannot distinguish the wind’s different voices – only the ebbing and swelling musical line, and everything which moves and dances to the song of Pan … at the corners of my I or eye.  For the wind opens spaces within me.  The soft grass is shimmery pale green like velvet and wet with rain. 

“I am beginning to listen to the wind, because I gave the ear to my mind for many weeks.  The wind can pick this up and take it right away with its own Sound, for long moments.  Thought loses its belongings once it has said them, and been heard.   It turns into the currency of being:  the world of grasses and wild flowers.”

The Land under the Leprechaun – With Pan at dawn 1987

From Passengers to Penelope 1987:   “Of more interest than erotic daydreams is the landscape emerging beneath them.  As sleep came I was in a heathery sunny place – a clearing or a valley somewhere:  or a small plateau.  Plato? … is handed to me on a platter.  The grass is tufty and blond at the tips, with rabbit trails.  Baby oak, hazel and hawthorn grow to either side, small scrub on common ground.   Silverbirch shines in mossy enclaves, wild faces peep from the grass; the quiet voices of violet, cowslip and cuckoo-pint.  A stream flows through the sylvan place where “glaucous beings” (what are they?) couple and dance;  where fauns and leprechauns play pagan pipes of Pan behind high stems.

“For this vale is on top of the world somewhere, or the underworld.  It might directly underlie the world I think I know.  There is a fleeting joy – to lie in blond silky grasses among the fairytale buzzings, to wander twilit rabbit paths, to meet perhaps those fabled glaucous beings.  These have upturned heads, their droopy flesh is grey and pink, mottled tortoise-shell.  They have wide fish mouths and bright clever eyes.  They look like Mr Jeremy Fisher’s amphibious friends.  I only saw the tips of these people emerge from the deep grass.  I don’t know if I saw them at all.  I know they are there, and they a-wooing would go;  they dance and make love in triplings, three or four of them.  They are pretty like Pan, and alien to me in their intelligence and in their laws.  For Pan is a terrible and ancient god.  He changes everything with just one breath on his pipes…

Dancing with Pan 1   

“These floating lands are frivolous, because my inner eye unravelling, sees only what it can. What could this land become?  What is it really?  To see is one thing, to know is another.  I was here for a moment – therefore I am.

“It smiles back to me my ignorance.  Perhaps it is the leprechaun’s smile which lights his sad anxious face with youth and dances from ear to ear.  This land’s contour grouped itself under his face, as I floated away from this (in love and desire) into that (love’s scenic plateau of association, hoping we might meet in this land).  I’m not going to dwell on the ins and outs of love, desire and plumbing, because these are always basically the same, whoever “he” is, and whatever the discovery of holding and being held, and to touch the back of his head.  There is no point in writing about things which are not happening.  They are phantom’s blind alley.

“But the land under it … ah, there is something saucy here.  It is seemingly unrelated, and yet allied;  because here I was.

Dancing with Pan 2

“Is it a corner of the map, or is it new?  It seemed new.  The present fragrance is new.  Into those tracts of newness I go, leaving fantasy behind.  The journey reveals rocky contours under the facial plane.  How odd those features are here, under sleep, under a writing table, under chats, coffee, and errands in the rain – here underfoot – my mind’s tentative journey.

“I left something behind, or am leaving it behind forever – or it left me – and its trace elements flit among the newness, making me a nervous, vulnerable cave dweller of my own-ness.  It is difficult to settle in a new place.  We’re not going to the sea today, because it is raining.  It is actually all the same to me, whether I go to the sea or not.

“The land under the leprechaun is really the land I travel as my mind tiring of toying with the man and my desire, lets go, disconnects and floats free.  It makes its decision.  This is where the fish swim when they have nibbled enough from the surface.

Dancing with Pan 3 – 1987

“Are there poppies in the gold grasses, scarlet flecks of summer?  Is it evening or dawn?  What underlies this place?  Who is here at present?  A delicacy widens the blaze of a path:  the presence.”

Dancing with Pan 4:  Resignation

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Early November 1987 – there was a man, an Irishman:  I was let down, and I fell.  I fell right through the feeling into the light.   It was like a quarry blast.  This was Pan.  Here is the general gist of “Fall Event” from my diaries:

“He’s not coming.  O mind, the mind has mountains, cliffs of fall, he should have let me know, I am angry shattered and grieved and can’t just say yes yes … oh you shit, is there never going to be anyone real for me?  Joy is not eggs in one basket, it is to have multiple sources, so I could gnash my teeth but am not internally damaged or betrayed I think, though splitting apart, for joy in life as well as pain, & will take it by the throat because this mandream is an awful thing to have gone on happening all these years, sod you mustn’t be a rainbow, I’ll damn well manage without.  Things are real when they happen, & false when they don’t, the true life-joy is to ride this thing and see it, fierce, that is self assertion, one of the crowd after all, though how I would dearly love to come down off my hilltop and muck in and love someone for real and know what it’s really about.

“Managed not to cry when I went upstairs to see Tara, but to joke more or less.  Tara thinks I do not assert myself sufficiently in these matters, and that perhaps I have to seize a few frogs as well as princes.”

Yet …

“The land under the sweet monster is better than the one which buzzes around him.  Deep down, I am not hurt.  Thank God for that.  I have got somewhere.  Ride it, ride it.  It’s just another wave.  Feel it for real, and keep on top where you can look at what is around, this lovely world undetermined by the position of humans, ‘fight for it love, be in it like a lion, you will learn you will learn, for I showed you the Astral Light and you won’t forget it.’

 “So thank Karma and sweet monster-men for catalyzing this land for me.  My soul is in a better place.  Values! … are the glory – not the all-too-brief happy landings.  Land right HERE.  Not there.  Land is where my soul is, not where “he” is.  I am alive!   Now I could cry, from a sense of wonder.  Wrestle the angel, I love its muscle, I am new.

“This is not an evil, these are values.  I see black and white; my fingers fill with life and move faster on the keys.”   

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Dancing with Pan 5

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“Slept with light on and dreamed about trees, woods and streets of them outside my windows.  They were being trimmed, their branches cut off, many of them cut down, there were still many trees and much foliage, but I could now see fields of landscape I couldn’t see before.  I walked through a wood at the back of my house – like the sealed and opened store-room in my dreams;  trimmed it was, but still bushy and green with glades. At the end of it was a railway line, and a steam train came chuff chuff from the right and disappeared into a tunnel to the left.

“Do not activate the pain button or pull apart any more.  I can lie and travel in its layers without reacting;  change habits – for life-joy too there is.  Cut trees occult symbol, let the new wood grow.  I wish there was someone to catch me when I fall, wide-open I can’t help being, but this state catches me just about (oh, lonely) so … choose not hell but education, keep the antennae out.  Have no choice in that, because no protection – antennae may pick up good currents.  If there’s a shell, it holds but pain, depression and turmoil I suppose.  Anyway I haven’t got one, I am incapable of not rushing to meet hoped love with my arms wide open, and finding it’s gone off in a different direction and will not be there to hold and answer and cherish me too.”

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Dreaming with Pan 1987

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“So pain-hurt in my stomach there is, and broken heart; but don’t need to lean on it or choose that inflamed course, but meet joy head-on, and whatever it brings.  Let the impact of disillusion itself heal and change, not sock in the guts.  For I am not empty, I go on, through where and what, God knows.  I practice the keys with a kind of fanaticism, something is dislodged in my underbeing and coming up, not his or anyone’s, but mine.”

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Centaur, Athene and Child 1987

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“Dreamed later that my daughter and I were looking down into vast chasms or quarries filled with light and creatures and lands, perhaps we were at the zoo, there were monkeys.  Enormous depths and clarity.  She was at home above them.  I was on a bike, and wobbly.  We seemed to be on branches of rock like over the sea;  these were fine but vertiginous spaces to look down into.  My body has these huge sudden spaces within it filled with life and things unknown.

“The lands I travel are not what can be shared, though they do produce on the surface a slightly more sensitive and less harried interaction with people, but oh God I am still to all intents and purposes on Odyssey in the breakdown chamber, as there is no one who can give me any hold or alternative.  So part of me which tried to declare itself, begins to acknowledge a “seperateness”, which yet leads to realistic unity in relationships;  and what can be shared and what can not.

“I practice the Buddhist meditation and the piano with eager speed … they teach my brain to let go of reservations and function more fluently with the inner connection, the “Malo” from under.  The Underbeing after all, will not desert me.” 

No, worst there is none.  Pitched past pitch of grief.
O the mind, mind has mountains, cliffs of fall 
frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed.  Hold them cheap 
may who ne'er hung there.  Nor does long our small 
durance deal with that steep or deep.  Here! creep 
wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind:  all 
Life death does end, and each day dies with sleep."

G.M.Hopkins

“The beheaded trees – final one pollarded today – are a pain-monster which I already made friends with and transformed, as if I rather rejoice now in their nude skyward knuckles, this new sculpture in the street – can it be that leaves were armour?   These tree trunks lift my soul to see.

“Vertigo I am sick:  thus I see the new painting to do for Blue Feather:  I see the whole thing.  This tumble will hold me now, not the other.  Catastrophe shows light, not dark;  so there’ll be a dark band of cliff and autumn fall and light the eye below.  Thou makest thine own bed, thus shalt thou live and fall, O Cause and Effect. 

“The end of day is not death and oblivion, but new life.  So my soul has light.  Naked come I.  So I shall re-write Hopkins for Blue Feather – (my bipolar friend who commissioned the painting, another Buddhist) – despair never….  so, sod you, I’ll just go down further into the light.”

“Got it fixed in the moment of my fall.  Into it went Hermes Trismegistos with his hands out stretched and ready, and the abyss is a vast Eye with its mountainous landscape of the sun.  Was wondering yesterday if I might discover a bit about my past Karma, other lives which led to this.  Drawings are crucibles for the openings below strata.  My Hermes incorporates the Hermetic system, Trismegistos, his followers and imitators, the Alexandrian and the ancient Egyptian and the Greek god, messenger between Hades and Olympus, divine arbitrator and enlightener.  He is the sum of them all, of pagan wisdom and pre-Christendom.

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.

 

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