Hildegard calls Christ “green wood” and green man.  We are all called to be green men and women today.  

“Human as Microcosm of the Macrocosm” by Hildegard of Bingen in her Book of Divine Works.

If we are not, we are neither adult nor spiritual nor giving a damn about the common good, our children, or grandchildren.  Nor are we imitators of Christ.

Greening consciousness enters ALL our awareness and ALL of our professions and ALL of our relationships today.  For Hildegard, greening power is also about virtue, i.e. that inner power we all have to choose and act wisely—indeed to be virile, strong with an inner strength and masculine in the best sense of that term.

Hildegard calling Jesus a “green man” is of very great impact; after all, she is a saint and declared doctor of the church.  In her day, the 12th century, the goddess was returning after centuries of patriarchal dominance in the time of the very cold and dark Middle Ages. 

The rise of the gothic revolution in architecture symbolizes this revolution—Otto Rank says if you want to know the soul of a culture, go to its architecture first.  

A symphony of light: stained glass windows and flying buttresses at Chartres Cathedral. Photo by Marianne Casamance on Wikimedia Commons.

The movement from Romanesque architecture—thick walls, small windows, squat buildings with defense as its motif (defense from marauders but also from the cold) is well symbolized by Mont St. Michel. 

The movement to the divine feminine is well symbolized by Chartres Cathedral and its sense of space, light, height and color through the stunning stained glass and much more.

So true is this comparison that Henry Adams wrote an iconic book  called Mont St. Michel and Chartres where he contrasts the two energies.  At Chartres, there are approximately 174 images of the Divine Feminine (in the windows and in sculpture) and 72 images of the Green Man.

The Green Man and the Goddess today have arrived to usher in a new era, a new consciousness.  That includes revisioning Christ as a Green Man.

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

And Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century, pp. 33-44.

And Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 140-168.

Also see Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, pp. 54-65.

Banner Image: Mural showing Jesus as Green Man, in a church in Havana, Cuba. Photo by Ellen Kennedy; published with permission.

Queries for Contemplation

Are you a green man or green woman?  Are our institutions?  If not, why not?

Recommended Reading

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

Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century

Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.
“This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything – everything – we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become….This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter

Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.  At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.”  – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.

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7 thoughts on “Christ as a Green Man a la Hildegard of Bingen”

  1. Avatar

    What is Green? For practical purposes, my wife is the ‘green’ queen of our household.

    Food compost goes in small compostable bags under the sink and then moves to the large green bin that goes out every week in the warm weather. The large green bin also holds organic yard waste.

    We have a ‘lazy susan’ of three bins, one for waste, one for returnable bottles and cans and one for cardboard and other recyclable packaging. In the garage, we also have bags the contain other recyclables that do not get returned. If I were to place something in the wrong bin, I would be admonished. Offices, apartment buildings and condo’s do not follow all of the waste separation rules as they have been given some sort of ‘hall pass’ which should not be the case.

    People need to examine their waste protocols and question those in malls, churches and other public places. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    The retirement home where I work, was once an old hotel. There’s beautiful wainscotting and large wood trim, lots of well crafted antique furniture and an extended enclosed sun room with lots of light. The elders diligently and joyfully tend to the greening of this place, caring daily for a large variety of flowering plants, both inside and outside the home. The artwork that hangs on the walls throughout, are paintings of nature that various elders have painted over the years, many of whom have long passed.

    Several weeks ago upper management came by and decided to update the decore of the home. So what did they bring… lots of artificial plastic plants, cheap modern fake wood endtables replacing some of the cherished antiques and large black and white modern styled photographs. They changed the color of the large welcoming front doors that were once a beautiful deep cranberry… to black.

    There was no new life generated from management’s changes to the homes environment, but rather it was all fake plastic… lacking any reality of aliveness, color and light… which reflected something much deeper about their disconnected relationships, not only to this home and the people whom live and work here together in a living community; but to Nature in general.

    1. Avatar

      I’m very sorry to hear this Jeanette, and can totally relate to the fake, plastic world you describe. I find it in total contrast to the beauty and intelligence that is displayed in today’s picture inside Chartres Cathedral. There is “a world” of difference between the two.

    2. Avatar

      That is so sad and so representative of the sterile lives of those who made the changes. As you say, disconnected from all creation and sense of beauty.

  3. Avatar

    Our True Heart Selves/Souls are a spectrum of colors, each unique with Her~His gifts and a Sacred Part of the Wholeness~ONENESS of the ongoing evolution and PRESENCE of Our Beautiful Sacred physical and non-physical multidimensional~multiverse LOVING COSMOS, including Our Sacred Mother Earth and All Her living creatures and graceful abundance….

  4. Avatar

    You might be interested to know that the “cold and dark” Dark Ages were literally cold and dark, not just due to the loss of literacy and scientific knowledge. In the mid-6th century, several volcanic eruptions (including Krakatoa) threw so much ash into the atmosphere, that the Earth was blanketed in it, lowering world temperatures to produce a Little Ice Age that lasted at least a generation. The Sun “shone without brightness” according to chronicles that survived from that era, and Chinese records describe years of “yellow snow” (from the sulphur of acid rain). The result was famines, plagues, and the total socio-economic collapse of several empires, not only the Roman. At least one new religion emerged out of the ruins: Islam. And the Khazars of what is now Ukraine, converted to Judaism. So a resurgence of the Divine Feminine and the Green Man was long overdue, after centuries of literal doom and gloom!

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