I did a radio show back in 1999 on dreams and their meaning. Those callers whose questions could not be answered got a call back. One was a young man in his early twenties, who wanted to know the meaning of the name of the California town in which he lived. “What does Philo mean?” he asked. He had heard the hour-long radio interview and knew that I had a background in language and mythology. “That’s easy. “Philo” is Greek. It means love, literally “I love”, like in philosophy, the love (philo) of wisdom (Sophia).” His interest and attitude seemed characteristic of the cannabis growers of Mendocino County at the time. This guy was going to be interesting. He didn’t disappoint my expectations. His next question was about an LSD trip he took with his best friend in the redwood forest, a place noted for its cool, dark shadows and fresh water streams where ferns and fragrant flowers abound.
“So we were smoking a couple of splifs (huge Rasta type marijuana cigarettes) while the acid was coming on. It was really laid back and comfortable, until my buddy and I went skinny dipping in the cool water. When I got out and was lying on my back, looking up through the canopy at all the beauty, he got out of the water and slid over beside me. He was looking at me in a really strange way. It was curious at first and then became increasingly more sensual, sexual actually. He wanted to make it with me. He was erect and was pushing himself against me. I told him, “hey man, we’re just friends, right? I don’t want you doing that to me, OK?” And he stopped. Ever since then I have been wondering how that could happen. Have you got any ideas?”
So I asked him some questions. “Could you describe your body type? Do you have a lot of body hair? A beard, perhaps?” Yes, he was an athlete with a lot of body hair and a full beard. Not too surprising for a mountain man growing weed in Elk. “What astrological sign are you?” He was a Capricorn, a goat (like me). “Did you know that elk are the indigenous symbols for sexuality?” “No man,” he responded, “but I have seen them around here a lot.” “OK, I said, “here’s what I think happened. When you took the medicine, you opened up the dimension to the spirit world, what we call the archetypal realm of the Collective Unconscious. All of the energy matrices of the planet dwell there, inside of us. You invited them to interact with you and your friend by taking LSD. The wooded glen is the domain of Hermes’ son Pan, who is normally depicted as a horned god with goat-like feet. He is the prototype for the later image of the Christian Devil. He plays his flute, the Pan pipe, which evokes the magic and beauty of the forest. His loneliness is epic and he drowns it in sexual play with everyone who comes into the forest, whether they are magical, like nymphs and satyrs, or humans.
He, like his sexual initiator father Hermes, is a bi-sexual god. He likes boys just as much, if not more than, as he likes girls. Virgins are attracted by beauty and their curiosity. Remember Persephone, who wandered away from her friends and stooped to pick up a narcissus? That’s when Hades, the unseen god of the Underworld, snatched her up and carried her down into his domain, where he raped her and made her his Queen.”
He was silently listening as I continued. “When the archetypes are evoked or “constellated”, they emerge like patterns in the starry sky. The possibility of seeing a shape in the night sky is a metaphor for how the gods and goddesses emerge, or merge with our ordinary consciousness. We don’t need to take medicines to have these experiences, but LSD would surely put you guys on the fast track to being “possessed” by them. Since you say that you resemble a hairy satyr or possibly Pan, it isn’t too surprising that your buddy wanted to merge with your energy. Of course he sounds like he was rather literal and didn’t understand how metaphor works. You guys were being used by the gods to have a little fun. Hermes is a Trickster god, much like Coyote in the Native American tradition. The Trickster was having fun watching the humans interact. You guys were entertaining a divine audience and didn’t even know you were on stage.”
When I finished he said, “Thanks. That makes a lot of sense. I think I understand things better now.”
That’s when I asked him the question which had been gnawing on me like a coyote. “You have shared some very intimate and vulnerable information with me on the phone. I am a relative stranger. How did you know that you could trust me?” “Oh, that’s easy,” he said, “I can tell you have a pure heart. You love unconditionally. I can see your heart when we talk on the phone.” “Really?” I replied. “That’s amazing. I have never met anyone like you before. Could we get together sometime? There’s a sweat lodge around my birthday. Would you like to go? We could have a Capricorn celebration and go Greek dancing in Petaluma after the sweat.” His answer was clear and direct. “Yes, I’m down. Pick me up here in Elk. I’ll email you the directions. Sounds fun.” We went together and later that night it snowed on the drive home. Preston was catching snowflakes the size of half-dollars with his tongue. “I’ve never seen snow before. This is great. Thanks for the birthday adventure.” By the time I got him home, the once a year snow covered the entire mountain from the shore of the Pacific to the top of the ridge. It was indeed a memorable time, especially putting chains on my car before sunrise and following the snow plow up the road from Fort Bragg to Willits. I was exhausted when I arrived home. What an amazing adventure with a new friend, and all because of Philo, which means Love.