|A Profile of a Native American as a Symbol of the Green Man Naturally Formed at the Base of a Redwood Tree|
photo taken by David Lawrence Brown, Jedediah Smith State Park, Boy Scout Trail, 2013
In the recent years we have experienced technology becoming more dominant with cell phones and other devices as an extension of our bodies, minds, and emotions. More communications are becoming digital. The pace of life seems to have accelerated, in part due to technology and speeds of information processing. Has the Internet taken over our lives?
What Does Nature Say if We Can or Cannot Hear the Message ?
Yet Nature also has her say in all of this. Since the total eclipse of the sun on August 21st 2017 , we have seen numerous disasters in Nature, including fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, record sized solar flares, and changing weather. Some or all may be attributed to global warming, and some may be the result of the eclipse, or other natural and unpredictable happenings of the Earth and Nature. Whatever the causes, Nature speaks with weather, storms, hurricanes, Full Moons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, and fires. Some call them acts of God. The Earth is what it is.
The Hidden Spirituality of Men and the Green Man
A book came into my life recently as a gift from a friend. The Hidden Spirituality of Men - Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. The author is Matthew Fox, who was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years and the founder of the creation spirituality which was considered heretical by the Catholic hierarchy and he was expelled from the Dominican Order and the Catholic college where he was teaching. This book focuses on ten archetypes or metaphors of authentic masculinity, a sacred masculine that is not always openly acknowledged in our modern culture. The Green Man is one of those archetypes.
Yin-Yang in Balance
In the circular symbol of the Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine) in Taoist philosophy, the two halves of the circle - the Yin and Yang - are in perfect balance, which is a message in itself ; the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine need to be in balance to fully reflect the divine metaphor of the unity of two as one. In theory this is inspiring. In reality we have a different experience.
The sacred masculine is connected to the Yang energy of the circle, and yet how is this Yang energy channeled, or used? It is more than obvious that in our history and culture it has been channeled as the "profane" masculine rather than the sacred masculine, as a general rule with exceptions. Fox describes how we need a "relationship of equality between the Yang and Yin powers within ourselves and within our cultural institutions". We are still a long way from that in our individual and collective experience. Yet we also know that things are changing in ways that may increase this relationship of equality.
Metaphors, Myths and Archetypes
Metaphors, myths and archetypes are still there deep within our instinctive memories, both individually and collectively. They are covered up by our busy lives, technology, cell phones, computers and the frenetic pace of modern culture. "Ultimately men are not 'problems to be solved', but deep, impenetrable mysteries. Each one carries many stories, many ancestors, many metaphors, and many archetypes in often hidden places." Do we need to discover more of the mystery of the sacred masculine in our lives?
The Green Man Archetype
The Green Man is one archetype that has come to the forefront recently with the dramatic natural disasters of 2017. Fox refers to another book that is a classic on this topic - "The Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth" by Clive Hicks and the poet William Anderson. The Green Man is all about oneness with Nature, relationship to Nature, as opposed to the archetype of the modern era of "mastering Nature". What is the wisdom that we received from the natural disasters in terms of the Green Man archetype?
The Green Man is about wisdom in our relationship to the Earth, and a prime example is from Native American traditions that celebrated and respected the plants and trees that are the "green" life of the Earth. It is interesting to note that in the stories and traditions of many cultures as well as religious traditions, plants and trees have been used as metaphors to describe the sacredness of life. The tree of life, branches, seeds, vines, forest, fruits, and roots all strike a deep resonance within us if we are open to the wisdom of the Green Man and the sacred masculine. It is no coincidence that the modern green movement uses the same color as the archetype. It shows a more conscious integration of the wisdom of honoring the Earth with recycling, preservation, and justice for protecting the Earth, oceans, and forests.
The Green Man archetype is also connected to the silence of Nature, as in silent seeds that contain the potential to become active in creation with a certain catalyst, or in the deep forest such as the redwoods where silence has its own language. The green man represents the yang in balance with yin in Nature. The sacred masculine in balance with the sacred feminine. The oneness of the two as shown in the circular symbol with a curving line between both.
There is a connection also of the Green Man archetype to Father Christmas, and ancient portrayals of him wearing a green suit, and with the tradition and symbolism of the Christmas Tree and the Winter Solstice celebrations.
How is a man's wisdom in relationship to the Earth an important part of spiritual practice, mindfulness, and daily conscious focus? Is it to celebrate the oneness of Nature and ourselves as a sacred and holy part of the creation? Is it to become one with the Green Man archetype in which we can love, support, enjoy, and respect the Divine Spirit in Nature, especially the "green" life of the Earth? Is it to acknowledge the balance of the sacred feminine or Yin within Nature, the Earth, and also as a part of ourselves? In a prior blog - The Ancient Redwoods Spoke to Me - I describe a profound experience of discovering a profile of a Native American naturally formed at the base of a redwood tree and the experience of silence in the redwood forest. It is the photo at the top of this blog. It also is a perfect example of the Green Man not only as a metaphor, but as a "living symbol" of the sacred masculine.
The Green Man is just one of ten archetypes or metaphors described in the book The Hidden Spirituality of Men - Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. The others are Father Sky, Icarus and Daedalus, Hunter-Gatherers, Spiritual Warriors, Masculine Sexuality - Numinous Sexuality, Our Cosmic and Animal Bodies, The Blue Man, Earth Father: The Fatherly Heart, Grandfather Sky: The Grandfather Heart. Maybe some or all are calling to us now in new ways, waiting for us to listen, respond, and become more aware of their presence in our lives.
On some level we already know the messages being sent from the sacred archetypes, since we carry the stories, the DNA of our ancestors, and the metaphors of life hidden within our sacred masculinity, our individual and collective memory, our sacred rituals, and our souls.