Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mushroom Musings

While out walking the other morning with the Fae, I stumbled across tiny, beautiful mushrooms in the grass by the road. The Fae told me that mushrooms can be an incredible tool of communication.

Go into a slightly altered state of consciousness (or dropped-and-open as us Reclaiming folks might say) and then connect with the mushrooms before you - speak your desire to them, and they'll take the information and spread it along the mushroom information highway.

This makes sense to me as many mushrooms are the visible fruiting bodies of an entire subterranean network of life.

One of my dear friends and I have often talked about how the Fae really push mushrooms as healing magick for the world and, particular, the ecological state of the world.

Here is a poem by the incredible, Pultizer Prize-winning (and lesbian) Mary Oliver about the mushroom folks.

Rain, and then
the cool pursed
lips of the wind
draw them
out of the ground -
red and yellow skulls
pummeling upward
through leaves,
through grasses,
through sand; astonishing
in their suddenness,
their quietude,
their wetness, they appear
on fall mornings, some
balancing in the earth
on one hoof
packed with poison,
others billowing chunkily, and delicious -
those who know
walk out to gather, choosing
the benign from flocks
of glitterers, sorcerers,
panther caps,
shark-white death angels
in their torn veils
looking innocent as sugar
but full of paralysis:
to eat
is to stagger down
fast as mushrooms themselves
when they are done being perfect
and overnight
slide back under the shining
fields of rain.

I love this piece because of its birth-growth-fecundity-death-decay cycle, and there's something shamanistic about it - as there is about mushrooms themselves.

In some ways, I think the bit about the promised innocence of mushrooms and their possibly deadly side-effects can be applied to the Fae themselves. All too often, people get swept up in the supposed freedoms brought by the Fae and the power of ecstasy or "getting lost in Faeryland."

However, those freedoms are ones that are best experienced when tempered with wisdom and responsibility. Faery Freedom can perhaps be best described with a tree metaphor - each of us is like the tiniest branch of a large tree; we sail off into the air on our own, but we're supported by an entire network and community. If we decide to ignore that community, our connections to other people and obligations in our lives, we grow out of balance, becoming too heavy for those other tree limbs - perhaps even snapping off the main tree and carrying a whole bunch of other branches down with us.

That is not freedom. Yet all to often, I hear negative things about faeries from people who decide to forgo all sense in favor of experiencing what they think will be unadulterated bliss. Although I haven't worked with these particular faeries in this way, it's my understanding that there's a whole troop of fae who are more than willing to take people down the road to crazy if that's what individuals really want. Sometimes people come back having had a "learning experience" and sometimes people don't really come back at all.

I know of many who "warn" others about working with faeries, placing the blame on the fae themselves. There are unethical beings in all realms/species, but I think we need to look to ourselves before working with any being. A first question to ask yourself is "Why am I called to work with [fill in the blank - Juno, the Queer Gods, the Fae, etc.]?"

Answering this with brutal honesty will not only help to figure out what your real motives are, but will also more likely endear you to the Fae who know more about honesty than people give them credit for. I believe the Fae know us very well, and they know that, very often, it is only by indulging in our illusions that we can truly overcome them. While I certainly don't advocate this road, I know that for myself I've only been able to move beyond certain bugaboos by finding out just how shitty those paths can be.

I think there are times when the Fae put on their big compassion outfits, holding space for people to do work that breaks down their own illusions about themselves. It's not an easy space to hold, but it's one that can be done with some of the deepest love I've ever known. The Fae will hold that space if we ask them (again, only asking ones that we trust - don't ask strangers for candy, that's obvious). Undertaking this as a conscious choice is an act that is different than just calling a bunch of British-based royalist faeries we've never met before and then getting freaked out when they deliver on their brand of magick.

For those visiting here who don't know me, I don't personally work with the hierarchical, royalist Fae, because I don't believe in their entire set-up. The faeries I work with come from a different tribe, one that values freedom and wildness above all things. They've taught me many, many things in my life and more to come, I'm sure, but this image of true freedom as being like the branches of a tree is one that I love dearly and makes a lot of sense to me.

Well, that was a bit of a ramble from the mushroom post, but to tie it all back together - you wouldn't just pick up any mushroom from the forest floor and pop it into your mouth. And if you do, then do you blame the mushroom for being what it is? I should hope not.

(The photos were ones I took earlier this spring. I had been doing some drumming magick outside and saw a circle of these lovelies. I have no idea what they are, but oh, are they gorgeous! The other is of a tree in my area that is really striking - plus, it loves drumming sounds!)

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