What we did on our summer vacation
The Story of Foul-Mouthed George the Giant

by Lilith B.

When we last left our Green Man adventurers we’d just returned from the great Free Spirit Festival in Maryland in June of last year. We were now contemplating going to the Starwood Festival. Starwood, as you all know , is the biggest, and arguably the most fun festival on the east coast. It’s also about a million miles away from us New Jersians since it’s waaaay up in Sherman, New York.

To get all our important stuff, camping and otherwise, to Free Spirit we’d rented an old mangy U-Haul open trailer. It was so nasty looking that on the three-lane highway to Maryland we had two lanes to ourselves while all the other drivers squeezed into one lane, as far away from us as possible. It was also surprisingly expensive, as we were contemplating renting the U-Haul trailer for Starwood for a whole week: both for cost consideration and for the fact that none of us thought the ancient thing would actually make it to Sherman and back. When we returned from Free Spirit, Ed’s parents just happened to call us and mention that they’d moved a load of something-or-other using their old trailer and wasn’t it a shame they hardly ever used it anymore. Huh? None of us even remembered that they had a trailer. They gladly offered to loan us the trailer for a week and it turned out to be bigger and in much (much) better shape than the U-Haul.

So now we’re packing to go Starwood and we have all this extra room in the trailer. As we’re gathering Bryan’s Druid-y belongings from his loft he suggests that since we have all this extra room we should take a huge bolt of blackout cloth that he scavenged from a local dumpster, possibly to do some on-site Christo-like draping sculpture. Sure, why not? We also pack way too many clothes and toys and a extra small dome tent. Stopping at Ed’s parents on the way up, we fill in the extra space with the kind of necessities that parents always think you should have: flashlights, toilet paper, duct tape, blankets and, to go with the draping blackout cloth, some old deer netting Ed’s dad had lying around.

After the endless drive to Starwood we unpack and settle down to meet old friends and new ones and do the Starwood party thing. Paul Maurice stops by to tell us that the Druids have the midnight ritual in two days. It will be a Norse ritual representing the nine realms and he wants Green Man to portray Utenheim, the realm of the giants. We agree, and sit down to try to figure out a chant or drumbeat or something to make everyone think of giants.

Well, two days later, amidst partying and workshopping and friend-meeting, we’re still thinking and we haven’t come up with a damn thing. Every chant or drumbeat we think of is far too weenie to represent the bold, huge, rowdy giants. Now, we’re starting to get a little worried about this– all the other realms seem to have their stuff figured out and here sits Green Man still pondering.

It’s about 4 in the afternoon on the day of the ritual and we’re brainstorming with Michael and Denise, the wonderful folks we camped next to. Actually the brainstorm was more like a trickle until somebody said “Look, the problem here is that we’re all visual artists and not musicians. If we could just make something that visually suggested a giant we’d be fine.” We thought of standing Bryan on a trash barrel but decided he’d have to move during the ritual so that wouldn’t work. We were talking about our old green man body puppet, and Michael said “It’s a shame we didn’t know about this before. If we only had some poles and lots of material we could actually build a giant puppet.” Material? You mean like 30 yards of blackout cloth? Poles? You mean like extra tent poles? Yep, we’ve got ’em.

So, as the sun began to set on the evening of the ritual, we all looked at each other, caught fire with instant inspiration, and started running around like lunatics with tent poles, material, scissors and duct tape. The extra dome tent we brought had shock poles which became the giant’s articulated arms. The main body poles were scrounged from the awning poles of the tents we were using. As the frame started fitting together we realized we needed padding to suggest a body underneath the poles. How about some deer netting we just happen to have? It worked out so perfectly it was frightening. In less than an hour the body of the giant was done, standing almost 20 feet tall. The bottom pole of the puppet rested in a knapsack slung on the chest of the operator. It was hard to hold but Michael is a master martial-artist and had just the strength and balance needed to work the puppet. As darkness fell, Michael climbed into the puppet, Denise and Ed worked the arms, and George the Giant was born.

As ritual time neared, Ian Corrigan loaned us a big drum for Norma to play and all that was left was to come up with a chant. We tried and tried but were getting nowhere fast, so we decided that since we’d been so amazingly inspired so far in this venture, we’d wait for inspiration for the chant too, hopefully through the medium of our inspired Senior Druid Bryan. So Bryan went off to meditate, and to ask the Gods, and particularly the Giants themselves, for a chant or invocation.

Paul Maurice’s wonderfully designed ritual started promptly at midnight. He described each of the nine realms to the onlookers and then said “There are no spectators at this ritual. I want each of you to align yourself with one of these realms.” People walked around checking out the groups at the realms until they found the one they were most comfortable with. We giants got a bunch of mostly punk and goth looking beautiful kids: perfect for that crazy outsider kind of giant energy. We worked out hulking “giant” kind of moves for the kids to do. As we stood George up a gasp went through the crowd. He truly looked awesome in the firelight against the midnight sky.

Of course, the ritual had started, and inspiration hadn’t struck yet in the way of a chant, but we still had faith, particularly because Bryan, in times of need, has frequently been a mouthpiece for the other worlds. He didn’t fail us this time either. As our turn came and Utenheim was summoned, with the realm of the dead wailing softly and the elves pounding their forges in the background, Bryan raised his arms to the sky and shouted “Fuck You, We're Giants!”

You could see jaws drop all across the circle (including in Valhalla). What did he say? You can’t say that in a serious ritual. Well, you can if you’re a giant! To prove the point he said it again. And again, and the tribe of punk and goth kids in back of us took up the chant. It was an amazing magical moment to be long remembered.

Paul had each of the realms chant, sing and make noise when they were invoked and continue to make soft sounds in the background as each of the other realms were invoked. Then, as he poured a massive beer offering to the world tree all the realms got loud again. The image of Paul pouring out the beer to the world tree by firelight while light-elves sang, the dead screamed, giants cursed, dwarves did their thing, rain fairies tinkled, the smithy elves hammered,all the nine realms combining to form a deafening din, is something that will remain a vivid memory for those of us who were lucky enough to be there.

As for George, the Foul-mouthed Giant: he made it to the bonfire that very evening to dance and was an honored guest at the children’s parade where he didn’t curse, but looked even more giant among the masses of little ones. Finally, he marched in the processional to the huge bonfire ritual at the end of Starwood and danced and whirled around the edges of the massive fire.

Oh yes, and we haven’t had the heart to take George apart yet. He lies, at this very minute, in the attic of a barn in New Jersey , dreaming, perhaps, of his Starwood adventures and waiting to be taken out, fixed up, and trailered off to new rituals, plays, and parties. Anybody want to rent a foul-mouthed giant?