“The Green Man” has been around in metaphysical lore and history for thousands of years. There are some who believe it refers to our early spiritual history from when we were spiritual beings first manifesting in physical matter- with more direct awareness of our connections to earth and nature. According to “Soul Logos”, during our spiritual development as we were first manifesting in matter, we were much more aware of our sensitivity or reaction to the effects of sunlight and the movement of planetary bodies, including the stages of the moon from our position on earth. That is why the “Green Man” is honored at the time of the Spring Equinox in times of pre-history and we honor it now in modern day with the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
According to our friend and occasional Guest Blogger, Steve Nelson (Mythological Astrologer): ‘St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th – “Wearing of the green” is a tradition of the Green Man who dances in the Spring. People become “crazy as a March hare” as Spring grows near and the sap rises. It’s time to chase out the old Mars (old year energy) and bring in the New. Patrick drove snakes from Ireland with a drum. Drumming breaks psychic congestion (drives out the snakes) and frees our vital energy.’
Some of the earliest “Green Men” have been traced to ancient Rome. In pre-Christian (pagan or Druidic) religions, trees were held sacred, forest groves were perceived as the dwelling place of gods, goddesses, and a wide variety of nature spirits. Some scholars believe Bacchus or Dionysus to be the Green Man of this early Greek and Roman period. Known widely as a god of ecstasy and divine rapture, Dionysus was also the god of vegetation.
The Green Man is often depicted as an ancient Celtic symbol. In Celtic mythology, he represents the god of spring and summer when vegetative or plant growth is at its height. He disappears and returns year after year, century after century, enacting the spiritual themes of death and resurrection, the ebb and flow of life and creativity… and ultimately the wheel of reincarnation. The Arthurian legend of Sir Gawain, The Green Knight, is considered to be the image of the Green Man from the Middle Ages. Gawain had a green helmet, green armor, green shield… even a green horse; and, of note, when he was decapitated, he continued to live.
Given the church’s eventual condemnation of the old pagan gods, the last place you might expect to find the Green Man is within the Christian places of worship. However, his face appears again and again in notable churches such as Rosslyn Chapel. This may be the church’s attempt to “make safe” those elements of paganism it failed to stamp out- or an attempt by initiates of the Ancient Mysteries to keep the metaphysical ‘truths’ alive into modern day. The motif of rebirth clearly has Christian applications that resonate with the Easter story and provided the Green Man protective status within the cathedrals. Perhaps, also, the Green Man was a talisman to encourage new fertility and growth (just like vegetation) of the church as well as its constituents throughout generations.
The Green Man has been alternately suppressed and reinvented throughout history. The story of the Green Man was banned during the Reformation, but appeared on 17th century memorials and is found on 18th century Scottish gravestones. In the Victorian era, The Green Man was used as a widespread architectural motif (from Ireland in the west to Russia in the east) when he played a major role in church restorations and as a decorative motif on street architecture. The 20th Century Green Man stands as a both a modern ecological symbol as well as a model of godhood and nurturance within the male.
Long Live the Green Man!! 🙂
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D., Mh.D & Marion Ross, Ph.D., Mh.D.)
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