Mythology of the Maidens

The maidens represent making love with Mother Nature. Generosity. They are the ever-flowing well of healing; the refreshing and rejuvenating waters available to all, joyous, sensuous, the powerful expression of the yearly seasons. 

Maidens are also Muses, kindling the desire in humans to honor and live with reverence for the Earth. To protect Her with our lives. We are always in courtship with the Earth, and the Maidens remind us that, if we are in right action and service, we are making love with Mother Nature. The maidens are in service to the Goddess Sovereignty, the Earth herself. If the Maidens are respected, Sovereignty is respected, and if Sovereignty is respected and protected, the Earth heals and thrives. 

To be a Maiden is not to only represent a chronological stage of life. At Vinotok, any women may choose to be a maiden again and again and again. Thus, our view of Maiden is the opposite of ageist, or patriarchal and socially-projected ideals. Any woman can choose to be any age she wishes. And of course, the Maidens of the village are the major voice for the observation of and selection of the yearly Green Man. 

Marcie Telander, Vinotok Founder & Godmother 

The Mythology of the Green Man

The Green Man is the second oldest of all archetypes. He is both the leader and the lover, the celebrated and the sacred gift. He feeds the earth spirits and he is also the father and brother of the forest and the field, the furred and flying, the hooved and horned ones. He is the stag in the heart of the wood. He is the sound and symbol of the rut. He is eternal joy, ecstatic awareness, tender partner to Mother Earth, as well as her ever-rebirthing son. He is the eternal seed of life. 

He has variously been named Pan, Dionysius, Bacchus and Freyj in European tradition. In Northern Tradition he is the Antlered One, the face in the green wood captured among the leaves, the old sculpture of the face with greenery growing from within and around which figures so prominently on doorways, church lintels and portals leading to sacred spaces around the world. He is also Cernunnos the shape-changer and symbol of all forest beings. He is Herne, the Sacred Hunter and Protecter of the Wild.  

If we are to spare the Green Man from being sacrificed so that the natural cycles may continue – we must ask for something or someone else to stand as the sacrifice in the Green Man’s stead. This becomes even more important to our valley homeplace, because if the Green Man should die, then certainly the Red Lady, our Mother Mountain would also perish.

Someone must save the Green Man so that our Red Lady may LIVE!

The Mythology of the Red Lady

Although mountains have been considered feminine and sacred in every world culture – the transformation myth of Mt. Emmons to a female embodiment comes from a very local and very human source. 

There are numerous stories about the “naming” of the Red Lady. The only one which the Old-Timers referred to was Frank Orazem’s experience. When I knew him, like most of the elders, he was very private, humble and would never speak of himself before or over others. After knowing him for almost eight years, and asking him for the story that others had shared, he finally told his personal story.  

Frank was coming out of the Big Mine just at alpenglow, when he looked up to see a rosy silhouette outlined in green in the bowl of Mt. Emmons. He was so stunned to see the image of the powerful Feminine, and being a devout Catholic who had always wanted to be a priest – not a miner – he knelt down and gave thanks for the blessing of this revelation. In his spiritual tradition, as in so many others, Mother Mary, as the Divine Feminine, protects and helps all who reach out to her. He felt that he had experienced an epiphany in which he “saw” the guiding Spirit of our valley in the reddish color of the iron oxide on the face of the mountain, and therefore – the “Red Lady.” He was constantly asking me when “the young people would go up there and clean off the moss” which was slowly beginning to cover the ferric red stones. He wanted to make sure that we would be able to continue seeing and honoring her in coming years when he was gone.

This is a case of a first-person account of an amazing epiphany, and he and I felt was a sacred event and very important reminder: if we take care of the Red Lady, she will continue taking care of us.

The High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) was established in 1977 to keep a massive-scale molybdenum mine off of Mt. Emmons. The organization formulated an embodiment of the Red Lady in the selection of a woman each year to represent the mountain. This selection began as a fun dance contest and very important fund-and consciousness-raiser. Through the decades this archetypal embodiment and wisdom figure has evolved into, what many of the women and men who have held this representation, consider a sacred duty and trust to support Mt. Emmons’ and the valley’s health and environmental rights.

Vinotok added the Red Lady to the Trial of the Grump because it was important to remind ourselves we are a community which has been battling non-sustainable and untenable technological threats from various molybdenum and other hard rock mining companies for decades. The Red Lady in Vinotok is another manifestion of the fierce divine feminine energy that must be listened to, revered and protected.

The Mythology of Sir Hapless, The Knight

When I was writing our various Passion Plays and Mumming scripts, and drawing these spirit beings and archetypes into our mythology and sacred street theatre, I was determined to honor the oldest and most original version of the Battle between the Dragon and the Knight. 

In earliest myths and cosmologies, the Dragon is all that is pure, neutral, chthonic, undomesticated, original, uncivilized – the most organic symbol of untamed, or First Nature. The Old-Timers from various European cultures often saw the Butte as a sleeping dragon or griffin which might be awakened when injustice invades the valley.

S/he/they is the fierce Guard and Protector of the natural world, rising up to wreak vengeance on humanity as it misuses, abuses and plunders the Earth. S/he takes on all patriarchal and greedy, death-dealing characters, acting as champion for, not only the survival, but the thrival of Earth. 

In much later times the appropriation and demonization of this ancient myth created a character called St. George, “a holy knight,” who stalks, enslaves and vanquishes the savage, base, evil, uncontrolled Nature, the great undomesticated danger and all her creatures. In this mythology the dragon must be tortured, punished and brought to heel. She must be used for man’s sole purposes and benefit. 

St. George is most often pictured in iconography as having his foot on the neck of the Dragon, sword plunging into her back. 

I created Sir Hapless, the foolish, ignorant and wrong-minded Knight as the original perpetrator, and lackey of heedless technocracy – progress at any cost. A frightening fool and narcissistic fop of technological society. This has, in our Passion Play – the Trial of the Grump, continued to be a picture of the blind and headlong results of unsustainable practices and technologies. Interestingly this archetype was a prediction of, and now a version of someone currently very familiar, and those who blindly follow him/them in our contemporary political climate.  

However, the archetype in our Passion Play and Trial has the ability to change, and even to humbly kneel and become Lord High Protector. He is confronted by the Harvest Mother, Nature herself, and experiences a transformation as the Harvest Mother stops this age-old battle between technocracy and the ancient untamed Earth, demanding a balance of progress and preservation, commerce and careful stewardship – at least for the coming year.

The Mythology of the Earth Dragon

In earliest myths and cosmologies, the Dragon is all that is pure, neutral, chthonic, undomesticated, original and uncivilized. She is the most organic symbol of the untamed and untamable, the ancient of ancients, First Nature. She is the fire of life in all things, the bearer of the truth, and the “pearl beyond price.” Currently, in Vinotok, the Earth Dragon is a representation of the divine and primordial feminine earth energies. 

The Earth Dragon is the fierce guard and protector of the natural world, rising up to wreak vengeance on humanity as it misuses, abuses and plunders the Earth. She takes on all patriarchal and greedy, death-dealing characters, acting as champion for, not only the survival, but the thrival of Earth.

The Old-Timers from various European cultures often saw the Butte as a sleeping dragon or griffin which might be awakened when injustice invades the valley.

The Mythology of the Harvest Mother

The Harvest Mother is the first and most ancient of all archetypes – the divine feminine – She is Mother Nature and the source for all life, the sacred cycle of the seasons. She births the Green Man at Winter Solstice; marries him at Summer Solstice; brings him back into her Earth body at Autumn Equinox; and gestates the Green Man again; until his renewal and rebirth and return of the sacred masculine and the light at Winter Solstice.