Avocados and the Nude World

It’s the time of year for Super Bowl ads, and there’s a fun one that has a great nude-friendly message. Avocados From Mexico produced an Adam and Eve spoof, “Make It Better,” that reimagines the famous scene in the Garden of Eden and leads to… well, a whole nude world.

Eve has bitten into a fruit (we don’t see which), the sky darkens, and Adam cries out in panic, “I’m naked!” Not to fear, says a squirrel (or maybe a prairie dog?), who hands Eve an avocado, which she opens into an aura of golden light. Then we fast-forward to present-day New York City, now known as The Big Avocado, where everyone is going about their lives in the nude. We see people of many shapes, sizes and colors. Of course the shots are framed such that no genitals or breasts are visible. Peace reigns. All is love and light. Somehow Adam and Eve and the squirrel are still around, and they have the last words. Looking at a nude Statue of Liberty, the squirrel says “Sweet liberty” and Eve quips, “Now that’s a tourist attraction.”

Screenshot from “Make It Better,” Avocados from Mexico Super Bowl ad 2023

On the surface, it’s a silly commercial that relies on humor and nudity to grab the viewer’s attention and, hopefully, sell more avocados, precisely at the time of the year when avocado sales peak for the Super Bowl. Holy guacamole!

Ah, but there’s more to it than that, says I. Let’s unpack this a bit. The commercial’s message is essentially “change the narrative.” It seems to be as easy as changing which fruit you pick – had Eve simply picked an avocado, the world would be a very different, naked, place. “Sweet liberty,” indeed. That the narrative that should be changed is none other than Genesis is very interesting – Genesis, and by extension, the entire Bible: the cornerstone of the Western worldview.

Here’s the thing: the Middle Easterners who produced the books of the Old and New Testaments had no idea what an avocado is. It’s a plant native to what sixteenth-century Europeans would call the New World, or the Western Hemisphere. Just like corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cacao, chilies, squashes, peanuts, most beans, pineapples, blueberries, etc., avocados were unknown to anyone outside the Americas until the colonial period.

Those who did know about avocados – namely, the Indigenous peoples of the tropical Americas – had their own customs and practices concerning clothing, but were on the whole much more nude-friendly than those Old World invaders. Is there a correlation? Yes -the tropical climate is propitious for certain plant and animal species, and also for not wearing so many damn clothes.

And this is why the ad is actually very clever – the “New World” could have been the “Nude World” if the Europeans hadn’t been so dogmatic about their way of seeing things. Indigenous artists who were trained in European-style painting during the colonial period painted Garden of Eden scenes on the walls and ceilings of chapels throughout Latin America. In them, nude Eve and Adam appear among local species like toucans, macaws, cacao trees and, yes, avocado trees. Those artists adopted stories from afar to local landscapes. They painted the world as they knew it. Don’t we all?

Unpacking a bit more, it’s worth pointing out that the English word “avocado” comes from “ahuacatl” in Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica (Aztecs) and many other peoples, still spoken today. The word in Nahuatl means not only avocado, but also testicle, due to the resemblance between the fruit and the organ. Some Indigenous traditions regard avocados, and chilies, as aphrodisiacs (more here). Even without the avocado in the mix, there are many who interpret the “fruit” in Genesis to refer to the genitals and sexual knowledge. Yet, to its credit, the Avocados From Mexico ad does not get any closer to a sexual tone than a general “oh look they’re naked” titillation.

Anything that helps people associate social nudism with happiness is a good thing, in my view. The “change the narrative” message works very well in this memorable, green, natural little piece of propaganda. After all, it isn’t so much that Eve needed an avocado. It’s that our Western worldview needs to lighten up and drop the clothes!

Screenshot from “Make It Better,” Avocados from Mexico Super Bowl ad 2023

Embodiment and Imagery

As 2022 comes to an end, I reflect back on the Green Man, the ancient European archetypal figure who began to appear in my thoughts and writings last year, and to whom I dedicated a series of posts this past summer. The Green Man can be seen as an embodiment of the male archetypes. He is also a representation of the harmony of man in nature – something of a naturist icon.

A year ago, I started letting my beard grow out, and I was joking that I would be Merlin, Gandalf or Dumbledore for Halloween. So with that in mind, on a day in late October when I was at the nearby naturist park, I decided to capture some images of myself in the woods, wearing only a robe that looks something like a wizard’s cloak. I found a long stick to use as a staff, set up the timer function on my phone’s camera, and struck some poses. I was very pleased with the outcome. The images show me embodying the Wizard archetype, if not exactly that of the Green Man himself. The way I’m holding the staff in some of the images also recalls the Warrior archetype. The robe covers me, but only partially – many would consider these images to be “nudes.” But to whatever degree there is nudity in these photos, it represents strength and power, even as it also represents vulnerability. I posted a couple of the photos on Twitter and received a fair amount of positive feedback. For me, the overall experience was empowering.

The following month, on a family visit to Mexico, my wife snapped a photo of me while I was admiring the bougainvillea over the top of the curtains in the window of a colonial-era inn where we were staying. I had just gotten out of bed, so I was naked, but because of the play of light and because the photo is taken from behind, there is not much of me to see. I liked the image and so I posted it to my Twitter account, where it proceeded to rocket past any image I had ever posted for a record number of likes. I wondered, and still wonder, quite why the image garnered so much attention, even though I’m mostly convinced by a friend’s explanation that it’s precisely the mystery of the darker parts of the image that makes it interesting.

There are quite a few prominent naturist influencers on social media who post many more images of themselves than I do. I’m thankful for their representation. Representation matters. I’m proud to do what I can to help embody naturism, along the lines of the #IAmTheFaceOfNaturism hashtag started by AANR-West representative Linda Weber. Showing the world that you don’t need to wear clothes in the kitchen or out on a boat may seem humdrum for naturists, but for all those not-yet-naturists, it can be a groundbreaking epiphany. What I’m thinking about here are the ways in which, through this kind of imagery, it is not only naturism or nudism that is being embodied, but also, at least sometimes, the archetypal relationship of humanity with nature. Some of the most important rituals or rites of passage in the world’s oldest cultures were, and still are, performed nude to maximize our unity with the force of nature that we all represent. In the end, maybe what makes nudity so powerful, and even what makes it paradoxically so mysterious even though everything is exposed, is that through nudity, through naturism, we embody nature even as we dissolve into it. We are archetypal, we are natural, and never more so than when nude.

The Archetypes in the Green Man

This is the eighth and final mystery reading in the Green Man series – brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes.

A central truth about the archetypes is that they all reside within each one of us. You may feel more drawn toward one than the others, but it’s important to be aware of them all in their particular relevance and resonance to you. You may cycle through them during different periods of your life or under different circumstances.

We can see this in the Green Man, the organizing principle for these posts. In him we can divine the five archetypes as outlined. He is the King of the Forest as well as its Father figure. He can protect and defend the forest as a Warrior. His secrets of growth, decay and renewal embody both the alchemy of the Wizard and the earthy sensuality and creativity of the Lover.

An image of the Green Man / Horned God / Cernunnos with an overlay of the chakras. Image source on right side.

The image above, of chakras overlaid onto the Green Man or Horned God, invites an assignment of archetypes to chakras. It’s a little off because of the numbering, but perhaps the following interpretation holds: The Warrior fits the root (red) chakra covering basic needs such as safety and stability, while the Lover fits the orange sacral chakra of creativity and reproduction. The Father encompasses both yellow (solar plexus) and green (heart) as a central, uniting archetype that builds on both responsibility and love from both Warrior and Lover. The Wizard resides in the blue throat chakra of speaking, singing and spellcasting. The King is centered in the purple or third-eye chakra of perception and wisdom, while the Green Man himself, at least in this image, grows organically right through the crown chakra into fruiting branches that are also antlers – an outreach beyond the self into the environment, into the universe.

In conclusion, and bringing this series back to the naturist Green Man Group that provided the original inspiration, these archetypes are nude. We may associate certain accoutrements with them, such as a staff for the Wizard, a sword for the Warrior, and a scepter for the King, but in their pure essence they are nude, just like the Green Man in the image above. They unite the body and soul with the universe, and as such they are unencumbered, unfettered, exposed and direct. We have but to meditate on their primal mysteries to call them into consciousness, to embody them into being, within us and among us.

The Dream of Love and Freedom

This is the seventh mystery reading in the Green Man series – brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes. It’s a different kind of mystery reading, because it’s the narration of a dream:

In the dream, the old man spoke to me of love, and of freedom. He was a wizard of full white beard, and at the same time he was a golden, strapping youth, cloaked in the sun. He said:

“My mind is free, because each day I can choose to learn and to grow in love.

My heart is free, for I love across genders and numbers.

My body is free, because I seek the ways to keep it uncovered.

My spirit is free to roam among cultures and scriptures without confinement to one.”

After he told me this, he handed me his staff even as he disappeared inside of it.

The old man, the young man, the staff, the dream, and I, are all one.

Wizard of the Woods. Source unknown.
“Summoning the Sun”

A Mystery Reading for The King Archetype

This is the sixth mystery reading in the Green Man series – brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes.

Sun and Lion

A poetic name for the sun in Spanish is “El Astro Rey”: The King of the Stars. The sun is indeed our ultimate king, whose eternal dance with the feminine earth sets into motion our concepts of time, weather, and season. As ancient stargazers came to understand sooner or later, the sun is the literal center of our solar system. In many cultures, the maximum ruler, as well as the principal god, are linked to the sun, and by extension, to light and to fire. For example, the Incan sun god and royal ancestor, Inti, projects flames radiating from his head. The King as leader can ignite a fire, or he can inflame a conflagration, but to be a good ruler he must, more often than not, take the middle road: he must emulate the steady burn of the hearth, the fire that heats the broth and warms the home. He is often compared to the male lion, who mates with many lionesses, and who can hunt on his own if needed but more often receives the offerings of his pride. The lion’s regal nature is accentuated by his signature mane. Like a ring of flames, the mane encircles the lion’s visage and calls to mind the sun, or a crown atop the head of a hirsute, bearded sovereign.

King Collage. Clockwise from top right: a fire in a hearth; a male lion; a golden figure representing Inti; the sun; a crown.

At his best, The King endeavors to rule his people, his territory, with justice and harmony–roaring or roasting only if necessary. The King learns that he can only truly succeed if he blends his own ardent objectives with those of his community for the betterment of all. He must surround himself with wise counsel in acknowledgment that the lion is weak without his pride, and the bright sunshine of the daytime would be intolerable were it not for its alternating rhythm with the night.

A Mystery Reading for The Wizard Archetype

This is the fifth mystery reading in the Green Man series – brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes. 

Stag and Serpent

The stag and the serpent don’t grow without shedding. Whether they shed antlers or skin, these animals are masters of transformation, striding and slithering through forest and stream. Both are associated with the ancient Celtic Horned God, Cernunnos. This bearded deity, an avatar of the Green Man himself, oversaw the cycle of life, death and rebirth – the decay of the old and the flourish of the new. In most deer species, only the males produce antlers, which grow back larger after every time they are discarded. The antlers, like a crown, come to symbolize mastery, potency, and endurance. Snakes are one of the most common phallic symbols because of their unique shape, and when they shed their skins, usually starting at the head, the process at first resembles the retraction of the foreskin when the (uncut) penis becomes erect. This kind of mutable phallus is the origin of a wizard’s staff or magic wand, a stiff length of wood that is imagined to ejaculate a spell, or a force, to cause a transformation.

Wizard Collage. Clockwise from top right: an alchemist of ancient Arabia; a snake shedding its skin; illustration of a wizard; illustration of Cernunnos; a stag.

In his hooded cloak, the Wizard seeks occult knowledge—plants or fungi that poison or heal, poems or songs that curse or bless—for its potential to transform. For the early alchemists, the metamorphosis of base metals into gold, though desired literally, was also a metaphor for transforming anything, whether tangible or not, into something of greater value or purpose. The Wizard should not hoard the knowledge he accrues, but rather shed it like these token animals, for it is in the distribution of knowledge that wider dialogue and transformation can occur.

A Mystery Reading for The Father Archetype

This is the fourth mystery reading in the Green Man series – brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes. 

Oak and Eagle

The oak, one of the most common trees in the temperate climes of the world, is also one of the sturdiest and tallest. Because of its strength and height, it’s often the model for the “family tree,” an image for showing the ancestry and descendants of a family line. A father, so inclined, would wish for his descendants to be as numerous as the branches of an old oak, for his seed to be as abundant as its outpouring of glans-shaped acorns, for his roots to hold as steadfast. The oak embodies the Green Man himself. Many forms of life—fungi, flora, fauna, humans—come to depend on the shade, the strength, the nuts or leaves or wood of the oak to aid in their own survival. One such life form is the eagle, which will often choose a high oak for its nest. Eagles mate for life and attempt to return to the same nest year after year, building it up continually. Male eagles help incubate the eggs, provide most of the food to the hatchlings during the first month, and are always on the lookout to protect the nest.

Father Collage. Clockwise from top right: a father and child; a Green Man sculpture; a variety of acorns; the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest; booted eagle.

Most new fathers would recognize the need for them to be like the eagle or the oak: steadfast providers and constant companions for their wives and children. Yet the eternal mystery of paternity—is this truly my child?—spreads doubt. The archetype of The Father calls us to magnanimous benevolence, calls us to reconcile our desire for bloodline descendants with the knowledge that it is not only through our blood and semen that we are fathers, but also through our words and actions. The Father must seek balance between what he offers in protection and what he allows in freedom; the oak supports the nest so that the eagle can ultimately fly away.

A Mystery Reading for The Lover Archetype

This is the third mystery reading in the Green Man series – brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes. 

Chili Pepper and Avocado

“Keep shaking the chili like that and you’ll send the seeds flying everywhere.” The Native peoples of the Americas made jokes in their languages comparing the chili peppers they cultivated to the male organ. Because of its general shape, and its variety of sizes and colors, the chili pepper visually resembles the penis. But just as importantly, it’s the chili’s spicy sting that led it to become an icon of masculinity. The tears, redness, and panting that can result from eating chilies are compared to aspects of sexual activity, and the swelling to pregnancy. “Damn this chili burns, but I don’t know how to live without it.” The avocado, with its dark wrinkled skin and its single large stone, resembles a testicle, and in fact the word ‘avocado’ derives from the Aztecs’ language, Nahuatl, in which the word ahuacatl means both ‘avocado’ and ‘testicle.’ By association, Indigenous American peoples attributed aphrodisiac powers to these plants. Related to Xochipilli, the Aztec god of pleasure and art, the avocado and the chili add flavor, texture and color to the mix.

Lover Collage. Clockwise from top right: avocados; a lovers’ heart silhouette; a painter’s palette; statue of Xochipilli; variety of chili peppers.

Flavor, texture and color are key elements for the archetype of The Lover. The Lover focuses on sensuality, on the pleasures of the moment for himself, for his partner, and even, in the role of chef or artist or performer, on the pleasures of a larger audience. The Lover performs, opening himself and revealing his emotions, his laughter and his tears, to the ones he cares for. Should The Lover lose himself in fantasies and dreams, the sharp snap of the chili and the cool flesh of the avocado can bring him back to the immediacy of the present moment.

A Mystery Reading for The Warrior Archetype

This is the second mystery reading in the Green Man series – brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes. 

Lightning and Wind

Humankind’s first experience with glass was probably the discovery of the filament-like unique shapes that result when lightning strikes the beach. These shapes, half buried into the sand, resemble the random patterns of ejaculate, appearing as they do after the sky-shattering orgasm of a lightning strike with simultaneous thunder. In most cultures, the gods of sky and lightning and thunder are masculine. So too is the wind, because of the extreme force and trajectory it can attain. It’s the wind that playfully blows off the hat or raises the dress or teasingly wafts sensation over our entire body when nude. But it’s also the wind that menacingly spreads fire, roils the waves, snaps the trees and arcs the rain sideways.

The Warrior Collage. Clockwise from top right: Xangó (illustration by a Bahian artist); personification of the wind; lighting-blasted sand structure; storm; lightning.

Both wind and lightning evoke Xangó, a West African deity and one of the avatars of The Warrior archetype. Xangó’s double-headed axe symbolizes both The Warrior’s prowess and his peril. The Warrior can lash out, can channel violence, to defend, to protect, to attack, to avenge, but he must control his force and use it only when, and as much, as needed. The Warrior can enter the fray of battle externally, but he is also called on to do so internally, summoning the winds of change and the lightning of epiphany to clear the fog of his own internal battles. He must master his own temperament, controlling the explosive energy of his storms and aggressions in order to channel his lightning into activism. In dedication to a cause, whether individual or collective, The Warrior wields the discipline that he has made routine in the illuminating, gale-force defense of his family, his love, his spirit, his goal, his cause.

Mysteries of the Green Man

The Green Man Group recently began at my local naturist park. As it is currently run, it is a once-a-month hour-long session of Kundalini yoga for men, with themes such as creativity or acceptance, loosely based on movement through the chakras. The same instructor runs a parallel group for women called Goddess Gathering. I have enjoyed the meetings so far. I had a hand in coming up with the Green Man name for the group, because I had already been thinking and writing, last year, about the Green Man as a phenomenon that can be related to naturism. I posted at naturistfiction.org about how this figure from Northern European folklore embodies a union of masculinity with nature, through counterparts or avatars in many other cultural traditions and literary treatments as well.

I decided to compose a series of mystery readings, in the ancient spiritual tradition of the term “mystery.” These mysteries are brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes. I’ve designed them to be read aloud and/or to serve as prompts for meditation, not only for people who identify as male. Though the idea for these mysteries sprang from the Green Man of Celtic tradition, I’ve intentionally opened them to include phenomena from other cultures. My work here is inspired by Jung, Campbell and other canonical writers about archetypes, and also more specifically informed by the recent work of Isaac Cotec, whose Masculine Archetype Deck sits here near my desk. These readings also have a special connection to the writing of fellow naturist author Robert Longpré, who explores archetypes and their relation to naturism in novels such as A Small Company of Pilgrims. A final note: These mystery readings are not erotic; however, they do treat aspects of male sexuality in holistic anatomical detail.

The first mystery, below, is a reading on the Green Man himself. Each Wednesday for the next six weeks I will post a new mystery on one of five main archetypes, followed by a dream reading and a conclusion.

Green Man Collage: Images from Wikipedia, Etsy, and my own camera.

A Mystery Reading on the Green Man

The Green Man is a hybrid of man and oak from the original traditions of Northern Europe. He roots masculinity firmly and deeply in the earth, and sends it soaring gracefully and powerfully to the sky in his branches. Sometimes he is depicted as an older man, while at other times he is more middle-aged or even young, but he always has a beard – a symbol of masculine potency and organic growth. As a representation of man in nature, or nature in man, he is nude, and his tree-like appearance embodies male sexuality as reflected in the many slang expressions that relate erections to wood. If he wears anything at all, he is cloaked only in the leaves that sprout, change color, fall and sprout again. In this cycle of leaves, shoots, vines and other vegetal manifestations, the Green Man personifies the core mystery of growth, death, and rebirth. He is the masculine counterpart to Mother Nature or the Earth Goddess.

Though the Green Man represents masculine strength, he also represents vulnerability. After all, he’s not a mountain or an ocean, but an animate tree that can be burned or chopped or infected. The Green Man must exist within nature as his support system, and for this reason he is often understood as an avatar of the masculine protector role – a male force that knows the need for protecting others because he knows his own need for protection as well. He is the Forest Father or Old Man of the Forest, whose many acorns scatter the potential for new generations to grow into the future and perpetuate the cycle. The Green Man shall be seen to unite the five main masculine archetypes: Warrior, Lover, Father, Wizard and King.