Groundswell: a quickening tide; a rising flood; a gathering storm – chaos theory describes how
tiny incremental changes may amount to a real shift, a very real difference in the order of things.

Daniel, Groundswell 2000

A world of green…One of his lasting memories, and life-changing experiences, had happened with his getting to know the inner Green Man…

He remembered The Green Man as a mythical figure, both vegetative and human, who teaches the cycle of birth, death and renewal. A powerful, male image reminding us of the interdependence of all life and of the marriage of spirit and matter. Intimately of the earth, a lover of the Goddess, often a model of masculine obedience to the wisdom of nature.

Daniel’s first encounter was on a Men’s weekend. A weekend just for men. He arrived at a farm in Wiltshire late on a Friday afternoon. He felt a fantastic sense of community build up so quickly that evening, with team exercises which were new to him at the time. Trust. For instance, they would take it in turns to let themselves fall backwards with their eyes shut. Trusting that their partner, a stranger, would catch them. Later, sitting in a circle, sharing the talking stick. Taking it in turns to speak, everyone sharing how they felt, what they valued, how they thought they might grow. Then holding a grapefruit and a banana. At first, hilarious speaking to each in turn, then more serious, revealing deeper emotions, identity – anima.

The next morning, Saturday, brilliant sunshine. The first exercise was for the whole group to spend the entire morning in silence, not a word to be uttered between them. They were led in a caterpillar of cars to the White Horse at Uffington. All senses heightened, taking time to be present, to focus and yet also to let go. Avenues of luminous, moon-chalk, shapeless from the ground, gathered into the figure of a horse, if viewed from a distance, from above. They ran down the hillside to Dragon’s Hill, dancing to the beat of a drum. Music and movement inspired. Everything about the hill, its folded form, cradled beneath the burnished sky, was a revelation.

Another, simple experience, involved walking out into the surrounding countryside for an hour or so, alone, reflecting, picking up whatever he might find to be curious, interesting. Perhaps a fragment of twisted wood, smooth, coloured stone, bone, a flower. It could be anything. Then he would bring it back to the group, to share why it was important to him, what it represented. Speaking with the object in his hands. This awoke many deep associations, many dreams, revealed profound new meanings.

Sunday morning. A ritual. Simulating burial. They cover a volunteer lightly with earth, with twigs and leaves. Leave him to sleep. As if he had died to the world. Winter. They leave him, as if in hibernation, in silence. After some time they return to encourage him with song to rise, to break through the earth, to reawaken. The Green Man, for the individual to be reborn into the spring, newly energised.

And he remembered the song they sang together…

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s call
Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s call

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you
I will never forget you, I will never forsake you

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s call
Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s call

Years later, he travelled to another weekend on the theme of the Green Man, this time in Dorset. Sunday morning, the group had been up late around a camp fire the night before, concerned for one member who’d wandered off and the leaders didn’t know where he was, and whether something had happened to him. However, thankfully, he returned, and on the bright morning the group gathered in a forest glade in sunshine, surrounded by oak trees, which edged their way into the blue.

The leaders had fashioned a crown out of twigs and holly to pass around the group so that everyone in turn had an opportunity to speak, if they wanted to, when wearing the crown. First the group were silent and centred themselves through reflective meditation. When the crown was passed to Daniel, he too was silent at first, but then he connected with something deep within, something guttural. He screamed, the loudest he had ever screamed, holding nothing back, Primeval, a scream he felt was rooted in the base of his being. The glade and the woods were lit with a new intensity. And he cried, huge sobs of tears. Such a powerful release. So good. Vital. As if he’d discovered a suppressed inner voice and been reborn into nature through the wood.

‘To come to the Teachings in the right spirit you must know and feel many things. You must understand not merely in your mind but in your heart and spirit the impermanence and transience of all phenomena.’

The Buddha was walking with his disciples through a park covered in autumn leaves. He stopped and picked up a leaf and held it out to his disciples and said ‘this one leaf represents what I have told you. Look at all the other leaves. They are what I have left unsaid.’

Journey into Ladakh by Andrew Harvey.

A few years later, in England in summer, Daniel remembered, he was staying at a management training centre in Rutland. He rose early one morning and went for a walk through local country lanes. He stood still for a while, simply to watch and listen to a skylark rising, letting the notes of its song wash over him. In that moment, in the quiet of the morning, the bird seemed to be inspired with the voice and power of an angel.

He found a wooded grove within a dried up river-bed. He lay down, offered himself to the gods, among the sweet chestnut trees, ash and birch. He surrendered completely, as if he’d died, giving himself over to another force. After what had seemed like almost an hour, on rising slowly, he realised that he was close to the carcass of a badger caught between dried logs, in what would have been upstream. It felt as though in some way, he’d accepted its spirit. It had entered him. As if he’d been sleeping, and time had run over his backbone, skipping, jumping on each vertebra, to breathe new bone, a spine that was more resilient, that could carry the strength, the claws of the beast, and he could utter its gruff grunt, nuzzle himself into the dry bed of the river. He made his way back through the lanes, feeling lighter, as if released, as if the world had been lifted from him. He felt incredibly alert, alive, with a clarity he’d never known before.

However, reaching the training centre, he was disorientated, as if he’d regressed to a former, almost Neolithic, manifestation of a man – he couldn’t even operate a simple coffee machine…

Even in his passage through an infinite spectrum of dreams, he felt utterly ignorant when faced with that machine…

Horizon 2040 – The Beginning – 7 – The Green Man