The Mystery of the Wild Man
The wild man is an interesting topic with many different facets. In Europe we find the wild man in form of the so-called green man and even the idea of Robin Hood has roots in rituals and traditions belonging to the green man. Then we have the wild man in the tradition where men are dressed up with goat skin, horns and masks, for special celebrations and events during the year.
In other parts of the world, we find something like the wild man in form of spirits and creatures of nature as well as gods of nature and also labeled as demons. Very well-known is the god Pan from Greece with his attributes of a goat. This idea, we find earlier in old Egypt. You can see such a being on papyrus scrolls in the British Museum in London. And maybe even older is the legend of Gilgamesh fighting with the wild man called Enkidu which becomes later his friend. Enkidu has characteristics similar to Pan but not of a goat but of a bull.
Now let´s go deeper into this mystery. The wild man is a part of nature. We can say that the wild man is the animalistic human, the natural human being, – with a focus on his natural-animalistic needs and desires. The wild man follows his instincts. All aspects of the lower human nature are represented by the wild man. When you think about the Greek orgies then you get a good impression about the focus of the wild man. It was the excessive event of eating, drinking alcohol and having sex without any limitations, – indeed a form of ecstasy, of celebrating life on a natural level to a maximum. During these orgies, the animal was unleashed.
When the animal is active, then there is no intellect in control. There are no morals, no ethics, no rules of society. There is only the animalistic instinct, the desire, the passion, the direct satisfaction, the celebration of life and nature, ecstasy. It is the uncontrolled, unlimited energy of nature.
So the events around the wild man were always about fertility, sexual initiation, ecstasy and “wild parties” respectively wild celebrations of main aspects of nature.
Today most people are not really aware of this animalistic side of their human nature as it is contrary to our civilized life. In fact, it was always contrary to the civilized society with its rules, morals, etc. So wild man events were limited to specific times in the year or to special cults or they were completely forbidden and demonized. Here we see why and how the Church created the devil. They simply took the picture of the wild man, said that it is the devil, erased with this old pagan traditions and the immorality with it.
In conclusion, we can see that there is a conflict between the lower, animalistic nature and the civilized, intellectually controlled “normal” nature of the human being. Humans are not animals but humans have aspects of the animal nature. The animal nature is quite close to the material world while the human personality belongs originally to the spiritual world. And only when the human soul unfolds its spirituality, then he becomes complete. So we can say that the human nature is threefold – on the “basis” animalistic, in the “middle part” human with intellect and on the “top” divine and spiritual.
If we follow only the animalistic nature – like the wild man – then we would ignore our higher aspects and this would cause imbalances and big problems (in society).
When we think now about the so-called witches and the god of nature called Pan, then we see a further aspect. This being of nature can be understood as an initiate of nature, of all kinds of aspects of nature, of healing, of herbs, of all kinds of applications for positive and also negative purposes. And certainly there were always men and women who cooperated with beings like Pan to learn the magic of nature, the sciences and also to celebrate life and nature on this level.
Now let´s think about the symbolism of goat and bull attributes of such wild men and beings of nature. Let´s start with the bull and Enkidu of Babylon. The bull is the symbol for the earth element and the earth, the material world per se. It is also the symbol for great power on the animal level. Nothing can stop a bull. Even today we have Red Bull and other brand marks which use this symbol. When you think about the bullfights of Spain and much earlier in Crete, then you see the spiritual dimension of it. Defeating the bull means to win over the material world and to progress on the spiritual path. When we think now about the legend of Gilgamesh fighting with Enkidu, the wild man, then we can see this spiritual fight of the seeker with his lower nature. In fact, it is not a real fight but more a wrestling where you evaluate your powers, – the animalistic powers against your human and spiritual powers. In the end, Gilgamesh and Enkidu became best friends and this is the right understanding from the spiritual point of view. We simply cannot “kill” our lower nature. We have to understand this side of the human nature. We have to accept it. We have to integrate it. But we also have to control it in a positive way as we are originally from a higher nature. The spirit is the king and the spirit has to rule, not the animal. And this is the challenge which the student has to face on the path. He has to enthrone the spirit again in his microcosm against all resistance from his lower nature. On the other hand, the wise student utilizes the immense power of the animal, his earthy, lower nature to have the power for a successful life and success in his spiritual development. Bardon points at this, when he says that it brings advantages when the student had so far many passions and desires which drove him and which he can transform now, utilize now for higher purposes. It is the personal power on the basic level. It is the power of mother earth, the great Shakti, the spirit in matter which we have to awaken and utilize. We know these energies from martial arts, from dancing and from Rock music, strong beats, Metal, etc. It is the densest power.
The goat is similar to the bull. Maybe we can see it as a smaller version. Here we find as well the horns and the will to break through, to fight. I think that the goat as a symbol was used especially in regions where in main goats lived while bulls weren´t available there. This is just a matter of the available habitat and its conditions. In Greece goats can live perfectly but for cows it is probably not good terrain. However, it is all symbolic.
Now we come to the last aspect of this topic. It is the secret of angels and demons. Angels represent the higher nature, the spirit, perfection while demons represent the lower nature, the animal, the imperfection. The animal is missing the spirit. It is just following its instincts, needs and desires. It cannot differentiate between good and bad, and it cannot follow the higher laws of nature. The animal in the human nature is often characterized by the term ego. The ego does not know limitations. It is only asking for the satisfaction of its needs, desires and passions. The ego lacks of the greater spirit, of wisdom and understanding. It is not in control but often the slave of its desires. This state of imperfection with focus on the limited animalistic-selfish nature comes along with suffering, lots of problems and much destruction.
In conclusion, we can see now why demons are always shown with attributes of animals as they simply represent the lower nature, the state of imperfection which longs for development. Imperfection is not bad in itself. It is just a state which is in change towards perfection, higher balance and realization. So it cannot be condemned but has to be understood as what it is.
Today like in the past, we have many schools and traditions which have their focus on the liberation of the animal nature of the human being. Here the positive aspect is that blockades are dissolved and people are deconditioned from unhealthy patterns of behavior or morals. The negative effect can be that those people simply miss the higher nature, the spirit and that they get stuck in the ego, in duality and lower drives. These schools have also a great tendency for the dark side.
However, we all have the choice. The wise man understands, integrates, refines and controls his lower nature with love and wisdom.
He rides the bull to reach his destination.