One reason I’m a Buddhist is that although I was spiritually inclined from an early age I could never believe in God, at least not in the form of a decision-making being, a man-with-a-plan as is usually portrayed – something which has never made any sense to me.
I am, however, drawn to the concept of ‘spirit of place’, the pagan idea that trees and sacred groves, pools and streams and suchlike are either inhabited or watched over by some sort of ‘spirit’ for want of a better term. That’s why this week I’ve really enjoyed researching and writing a Green Man article for Aquila children’s magazine (June issue – make a note in your diaries!). I like that kind of idea because it’s not necessary to believe that there is literally some sort of little being hovering around, but just to adopt a willingness to suspend disbelief as a way of bypassing our over-developed intellectual and rational side. I sometimes think that humans need symbols like the Green Man as means of accessing something primal and profound within us (and around us) that can’t be discovered by the intellect.
I have come to believe that healthy societies need their myths and stories and songs, and we’ve lost ours in the modern world – especially England, where we seem to think that everyone else’s stories – the Celts for example – are wonderful but ours are rubbish, nonsense or forgotten. Even though I’m not a Christian I’d rather we’d remained a nominally Christian country than be a place with no stories of its own. But still, I like to think the Old Ways take us that bit closer to our roots.
Wassail the Green Man!