I am no stranger to the Green Man. Indeed, I wear his jacket, or would if I could remember to get the zipper fixed. That’s why I was pretty excited to write about Poseidon Phytalmius, since I had no idea he had any meaningful link to green, growing things.
Tumblr readers, you’re going to want to click through now, because my pics over here on WordPress are sweet today.
The story until now: I excited by mythology as a child, but bored as a Roman Catholic. I but decided to try harder in my teens, and became a lector (reader) in my church. That routine didn’t survive the tumultuous transition into college life, but when I met real Pagans, my curiosity (“You mean they worship the Greek gods?”) also led me to explore all the established religions in town.
After a time I identified as Pagan, the sort of Pagan that was drawn more to the beings of the forest than I was to the Wicca-styled rituals which were my only experience. I did rather enjoy drawing down Herne, though, and in time my path led me to a deeper relationship with the Green Man before I allowed my religion to lie fallow for a time. The theoi, having noticed that I hadn’t entirely forgotten them, eventually came calling, Poseidon tapped me, and here we are.
Along the way, I’ve carried forth the lessons of my earlier forays into relationship with divine forces, and I have also picked up a few objects which remind me of the more profound experiences that I have had. One of these is a iron Green Man face, which has sometimes hung on the front door, but is really too heavy for that spot. We’ve talked about mounting it above the mantle, but the bricks are covered with plaster, and that’s a lot of expertise which no one here possesses.
My Hellenic practice has caused me to cultivate an interest in shrines, both inside and out, and I’ve created a surprising number given the amount of usable land around our home. In fact, one of them has never gotten a whole lot of use, because although I’ve been sure it’s a sacred spot, I haven’t really known who it was for. I’ve tried pouring libations to Pan there, but even with the massive patch of moss surrounding the small stone I erected, it didn’t ring quite true. I tend the moss, and encourage it to spread, but that’s about it, so when I suggested to my wife that I might take the iron face outside to put it in the moss to dedicate the shrine to Poseidon Phytalmius, she was quite agreeable. What I didn’t expect is how incredibly right it would look — and feel — when I did so today. The face just settled into the opening created when I removed a pile of stones which I’d placed there previously. I moved one small tuft atop his cheek, and there it was.
I stood up from my ministrations to look at my work, and a deep sense of satisfaction — of rightness — all but bowled me over. Seeing him surrounded by leaves, I understood that I should construct festivals to honor his sleeping under the leaves, and for the time of uncovering in the spring. The spot is also adjacent to the front door of the house which, as is so often the case in my country, is not the primary egress, but it is used, and never had a divine presence nearby until now. (My Hermes shrine stands at the crossroads near the most-used door.) It feels like I’m just realizing that he was trying to reach out long, long before I started paying attention to this (okay, any) part of my ancestry.
What this means in full, will likely take some time to understand, but my appreciation for the subtlety and patience of Poseidon are redoubled by this simple experience. No doubt there were times in my life that I would point to this as proof of the rightness of my theological stance, which might have been pantheist, or monist, or panentheist, or some other complicated word to express a sort of connectedness that once felt true to me. Of course, that perspective is almost certainly as entirely true as what I feel now, which is that this is proof that the individual god Poseidon simply was trying to find the right face and right message for me. And the fact that my Green Man jacket continues to be a hit doesn’t hurt.