Continuing our journey with ancient archetypes that can assist us to reinvent the masculine, we turn to the Green Man. What symbol, metaphor, archetype, seems more pertinent today than a recovery of the Green Man?

Head of a Green Man on the south side of the main west entrance of Derby Cathedral, England. Photo by Parkywiki. Wikimedia Commons.

After all, the Green Man (and Woman—90% of Green Men are men in the medieval Cathedrals but 10% are women such as those in the Cathedral of Norwich; and besides, archetypes are gender fluid), represents our relationship to the vegetative world, to plants and trees and nature. 

Many of the multiple images of the Green Man depict him with a beard that grows up and around his face, a kind of wreath, therefore. And very often there is nested in that wreath birds or grapes or other living things. The Green Man is an archetype of fertility and generativity, and how humans can and do carry on the generativity of nature.

A fan-made video to accompany the song “Greenman” by the duo XTC. The song is from the 1999 album Apple Venus; the video by Brazen Upstarts combines references to the four elements, Earth worship, and anthropomorphizing Nature’s wonders and calling them Gods.

I am reminded of the rich statement of the Cosmic Christ, “I am the vine.” The vine is everywhere; the vine is very sturdy and stubborn and knows how to cling to life. Vines can grow through concrete! 

How are we vines? Vines to one another? Vines to future generations? Are we carrying on the fertility and generativity of the Earth? Or interfering with it? “Do we create? Or do we destroy?” as Dag Hammarskjold used to ask. 

Angel Trumpet Vines. Photo by Tom Stang. Used with permission.

Vines have deep roots in the ground, in the dark, in search of the Source where life finds its nourishment. How fierce is our search for the Source in the dark, in the ground? If Christ is the vine, we are other Christs. So we too are vines reaching and extending into deep places. 

Pruning often is part of the vine. Jesus urges us to “remain in me” and promises that “whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty” (John 5:2, 15:5). 

To be continued . . . .

Adapted from Matthew Fox and Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 89-94.

And Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 19-32.

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

Banner Image: The Green Man (David Risley) holding the crowns of the Bean King and Pea Queen at the 2019 Twelfth Night celebration in Bankside. Taken outside Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Photo by Ethan Doyle White. Wikimedia Commons. 

Queries for Contemplation

What does it mean to you to be labeled a “vine”?  Repeat the mantra, “I am a vine, I am a vine.” What comes up?

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7 thoughts on “And Now, The Green Man”

  1. Avatar

    The ‘Green Man’ of yore has been replaced by the ‘Man/Woman that ‘spends the green’, meaning money, on an overabundance of consumer goods and foods.
    Instead of growing, replenishing and reusing we are tearing resources out of the ground just to dump them back in, unusable, within a few years. We are looking for a fleeting emotional comfort with desires that never truly satisfy. Add to that envy, greed, ‘keeping up with the Jone’s’, call it all what you will. A very important lesson came to me early in life from my father. Upon receiving my first new bike, no beginner bike given, he told me to take care of it and not lose it as it would be the one and only bike purchased for me. And I did take care of it and did not lose it. When I earned money from my first jobs did, I bought and paid for my own new 10 speed bike. I used that bike in high school, university and when starting my first new job in the big city before it was stolen. I retired my father’s lawn mower, 50 years after purchase, after he had passed, and mom was moving out the family home.
    Buy a few things and take care of them. Borrow a few things and return them in the same condition you received them. Today’s ‘Green Man/Woman’ can be effective without even planting one tree. What we do need to do is shed the consumer mentality and all the excess arms and hands, we have carrying all consumer goods as substitute for emotional and spiritual comfort. And the vine will flourish. –BB.

  2. Avatar

    Soul Chord Vine

    Soul chord vine
    Weaved round
    The ancient tree
    Drumming sound

    Soul chord vine
    Threads of Light
    Roots descend
    Spirit takes flight

    Soul chord vine
    Unfurling green
    Emerging truth
    Awakened dream

    Soul chord vine
    Fragrant flower
    Smudging scents
    Healing power

    Soul chord vine
    Prayers spiral
    Pipe smoke rises
    Connection vital

    Soul chord vine
    Ripening wisdom
    Circle of Grandmothers
    Oneing with kin-dom

    Soul chord vine
    Veils thinning
    Birthing sacred Self
    Now beginning.

  3. Avatar

    The “I am a vine… “ mantra reminds me that We Are All in essence and uniquely interconnected and interdependent at our deepest levels with SOURCE~CREATION~LIFE~DIVINE LOVE~WISDOM~BEAUTY~JOY~DIVERSE ONENESS… with-in Our physical and non-physical Sacred Evolving LOVING multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS….

  4. Avatar

    I LOVED the video!
    As for what would we do without fruits? If we don’t stop killing our pollinators, we may find out…
    Thank you. This meditation fills my heart.

  5. Avatar

    Vines are gardeners’ lessons in humility, defying trellis and pole, happily reaching where Life-Spirit takes them
    sinuously curling their glorious way
    twining blooming fruiting in luscious ancient-rooted abandon
    far-journeying away from scripted commands of narrow confinement
    like divinely-graced prayer-poets and wild-sprung hedge-mystics
    growing into the Son
    The Spirit
    her vine-children.

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