The Sacred Marriage of the Green Man and Black Madonna

One of the important archetypes of the Sacred Masculine—especially in a time of climate change—is that of the Green Man.  The Green Man honors our relationship to Mother Earth and her creatures, especially the plant world.  

A tree carving by Paul Sivell, titled “Whitefield Green Man.” Wikimedia Commons.

The Green Man is a spiritual warrior who stands up  and defends Mother Earth and her creatures.  He also represents the heart chakra, the greening power of compassion, since the color of the heart chakra is green.  And he represents holy sexuality, our renewed powers of generativity in all their diverse and manifold manifestations.

Is there a special marriage required today of the Green Man and the Black Madonna?  After all, the last time the Black Madonna emerged in force in Western culture was at the very time that the Green Man arrived–the twelfth century, the “only renaissance that worked in the West” according to medieval historian Pere Chenu, when the Goddess emerged and society reinvented itself from the grass roots up. 

In ages past the Black Madonna not only took root in France but in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Africa, the Soviet Union.  She is seen as Tara in China and Kali in India.  She is also named by Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico (sometimes called the “Brown Madonna”). 

“An Cailleach Bheara” (Celtic hag creatrix-goddess, associated with weather, the ancestors, and winter), County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Photo by Rob Hurson on Flickr.

The Celts knew her as “Hag,” or the Cailleach, described by Delores Whelan as the dark feminine who exercises “tough mother love that challenges its children to stop acting in destructive ways…It is the energy that will bring death to those dreams and fantasies that are not for our highest good.”

In her study on the Dark Goddess Lucia Birnbaum describes how the African goddess Isis (the origin of the Black Madonna) “prevailed through the force of love, pity, compassion, and her personal concern for sorrows.”  She was associated with healing, and was a “compassionate mother.”

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, pp. 231f.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “The Green Man” (detail) by El Salvadoran surrealist painter/sculptor Ullrrich Javier Lemus and Black Madonna and Child on Haitian Postal Stamp. Image by jovike is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Queries for Contemplation

What would a Sacred Marriage of the Green Man and the Black Madonna mean to you?  And to our Culture?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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6 thoughts on “The Sacred Marriage of the Green Man and Black Madonna”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, You ask the question today, “What would a Sacred Marriage of the Green Man and the Black Madonna mean to you? And to our Culture?” Ideally I see the Green Man as representing a healthy masculinity, which is balanced in terms of the way he interacts with the environment and the culture he lives in. When it comes to the Black Madonna however, something comes up for me…. Why, if the twelfth century was the century of Mary, and the building of cathedrals in her name–why isn’t the Green Man just joined with the non-Black version of the Madonna? To me the Black Madonna represents the Dark Mother, and was worshiped as such by Ramakrishna and his followers, in the image of Kali. And before the Black Madonna, and maybe even Kali, was Isis. What did they all have in common? They were all dark, most were in triads with a Father, Mother, and Son–Kali was only black, and had none of the other motherly characteristics. I’ll be curious to see what others have to say today…

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    What I found interesting in today’s DM, was Mathews reference to the Black Madonna from the Celts, as the Hag or Cailleach…”The tough Mother Love, that challenges its’ children to stop acting in destructive ways… that energy that brings death to those dreams and fantasies that are not for our highest good.” I’m noticing how this is playing itself out, with regards to people’s dreams and fantasies around FREEDOM, and rights attached to this.

    What I also found interesting, was Mathews reference to a bottom up approach. What concerns me, as of late about this movement… is the imbalances within the Sacred masculine and the Divine feminine… and the effects of this, regarding this bottom up approach. All of this is evident within some of the protests that are happening right now… affecting both Canada and the United States and our relationships with one another. The immaturity within the children of humanity seems to be having a temper tantrum in reaction to tough love… apathetic to the highest good for all… focusing selfishly upon protecting and defending the illusion and fantasy… unconsciously unaware of understanding what true freedom really is and the values, virtues and evolutionary vision of this freedom desiring to birth itself from the groundedness of our true nature coming into being.

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      You bring up issues that concern me too. There are childish tantrums going on everywhere, and if some of them weren’t so dangerous, they would be amusing. I just want to send some of these people to a time out corner or to their rooms! But I think fierce, tough love is called for. I would like to see people of faith in a deep ecumenical group face these violent people physically and listen to them. One on one, listen to them. Not to sympathize or to agree but to show respect for their humanity and divinity.
      I am no expert, but the Black Madonna seems much more a motherly figure. It seems that many Hindus and others worship Kali for her combined creative and destructive nature, with the stress sometimes with her motherly qualities and sometimes with her violent warrior qualities. I wish that there were easy answers for the violent divisions that exist now. There may be no answers except to be as loving and intentional and compassionate as we can manage and seek out interaction with those who differ from us. It takes a lot of courage, and I am not sure that I can do it, but I am going to try.

  3. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    To whom it may concern: I just wanted to share something that Matthew wrote about the Black Madonna which helped me see her significance her significance. “The Black Madonna, after all, is 1) female and 2) black. Thus she stands for the return of the divine feminine and also the rise of the wisdom of people of color everywhere, and for the origins of the human race in Africa. The Black Madonna represents very ancient, pre-religious, energies. The goddess religions preceded patriarchy by thousands of years after all.” So, thank you for that, Matthew !!!

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    Jeanette, these words of yours get me thinking: “The immaturity within the children of humanity seems to be having a temper tantrum in reaction to tough love.” I don’t know if this is what you mean, but it seems that requiring people to get vaccinated and wear a mask is an example of the tough love leaders are displaying. Like a parent telling a 15-year-old they can’t drive alone until they take driving lessons, leaders are pushing people to do what will keep them safe. The child, of course, thinks they can do it alone; the child pushes against parental controls. Some do more than push. They have temper tantrums.

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