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