Fauns originate in Greek mythology as forest spirits, sensual, playful, and infused with the energies of the natural world. They are followers of Pan, the god of the forest. They are hedonistic, seeking sexual gratification from nymphs and human girls, loving wine and feasting. They are not the same things as satyrs, though Roman mythology would come along and squeeze them both into the same mold.
So, why am I, a boy from Iowa of distinctly German ancestry, so fascinated and obsessed by fauns in art and literature?
The answer is both goofy and creepy. I have a faun of my own. He lives with me as an invisible friend. His name is Radasha. He is Harvey to my Elwood. (That’s a Jimmy Stewart movie reference if the twists and turns of my mind confuse you.) Just like the fauns of mythology when confronted with travelers and wanderers, he sometimes helps with guidance and advice, and he sometimes does me mischief with ridicule and wicked tricks.
My theory for why my convoluted psyche has need of invisible companions goes back to the fact that I was sexually assaulted when I was ten. That is why Ra is basically a ten-year-old boy with the legs, tail, and horns of a goat. He is the sexual/sensual part of me that got split off from my inner self by that traumatizing event.
Being a child-victim can do terrible things to a boy. It seriously interfered with my blossoming interest in girls. It turned me from an inventive, out-going leader of the gang into a quiet and somewhat timid introvert. I repressed the memory of the actual event, more of a torture-situation than seduction, so that the real psychological damage of it occurred at the subconscious level. I began to worry that I might be gay. I began to seriously loathe myself and my own body. I went so far as to burn myself on my lower back by lying against the furnace grate in order to repress desires I felt were evil.’
Radasha showed up at my bedroom window late one snowy night when I was about seventeen years old. He began talking at me, making fun of me for being terrified of girls, and encouraging me to risk being naked more. He wanted me to enjoy the idea of sex more and shy away from it less. In some ways, he kept that part of me alive.
Of course, I made myself familiar with the mythological creature Radasha obviously was. I read everything I could about it. I even acquired a copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun and read it with great fascination even though the prose was dense and archaic. I realized that I wasn’t alone in using fauns as an artistic expression of the repressed sensuality that constantly consumed me. Ra was there to needle me and encourage me, to lead me to learn how to better like myself.
I know by now most readers will have given up on this post already, put off by bizarre self-analysis of my rather atypical case of abnormal psychology. But being naked more is apparently part of faun-therapy. At Ra’s insistence, I am making myself more psychologically and metaphorically naked by revealing these things here in a blog that mostly nobody reads anyway. And naked fauns in my artwork are a definite thing that merits exploration. So if you have actually read this far through this mythological mold spore of an essay, you now know about as much about me as I know about myself. And you will probably do just as I do. You will shake your head and continue to wonder how any one old guy can be quite so weird.