We are meditating on recovering the healthy masculine by considering some of the archetypes that offer deeper and more ancient stories of healthy and vigorous masculinity than do many of the images our culture currently offers about what it means to be a man.  

The Polynesian legend of Ranginui & Papatūānuku • Sky Father & Earth Mother. Mythology Storyteller

We have considered the archetype of “Father Sky” and are now reflecting on that of the “Green Man.” 

Author Joseph Jastrab observes that “generations of modern men have grown alienated from images of manhood connected to the living Earth and to the Great Mystery.”  

Clearly the Green Man archetype addresses this alienation.  Embracing the Green Man creates a new male empowerment, a new warriorhood on behalf of Mother Earth and her creatures.

“Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me.” Image by Outtacontext on Flickr.

The rise of authoritarianism in many countries today is, I believe, one more sign that healthy masculinity is in trouble.  

Why do people want to project their powers onto strongmen?

Why do they want to surrender their own powers of citizenship on to one man? 

Why do people in so-called democratic countries want to believe lies and make gods and idols of very flawed politicians? And go along with retreating from gains made in justice-making and environmental awareness and expanding, not restricting, the right to vote and the rights of minorities including sexual minorities?

Green Man supporting Madonna and Child, Exeter Cathedral. Photo: Clive Hicks*. Used with permission.

Maybe it is because “generations of modern men have grown alienated from images of manhood connected to the living Earth and to the Great Mystery.” 

One sign of the healthy masculine is to respect women and celebrate the return of the divine feminine.  

A healthy man celebrates the return of wisdom that arrives with a fuller women’s consciousness and with liberation of women. 

After all, the Green Man rode in on the “skirt” one might say of the divine feminine in the 12th century.  He is doing the same in the 21st century. 

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

Banner Image: “Green Man.” Photo by Sarah Louise Hathaway on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you sense that the appeal of authoritarianism today may have something to do with a faux masculinity?  What to do about it?

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

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5 thoughts on “The Green Man as an Antidote to Authoritarianism”

  1. Avatar

    “Who is Willing to Take on St. John the Baptist’s ‘’Green Man’ Persona in Today’s World”


    Integrity is a hardship for the morally corrupt, by Peter Chrysologus (400-450 AD)

    “John aroused Herod by his moral admonitions, not by any formal accusation. He wanted to correct, not to suppress. Herod, however, preferred to suppress rather than be reconciled. To those who are held captive, the freedom of the one innocent of wrongdoing becomes hateful. Virtue is undesirable to those who are immoral; holiness is abhorrent to those who are impious; chastity is an enemy to those who are impure; integrity is a hardship for those who are corrupt; frugality runs counter to those who are self-indulgent; mercy is intolerable to those who are cruel, as is loving-kindness to those who are pitiless and justice to those who are unjust. The Evangelist indicates this when he says, “John said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have the wife of your brother Philip.'” This is where John runs into trouble. He who admonishes those who are evil gives offense. He who repudiates wrongdoers runs into trouble. John was saying what was proper of the law, what was proper of justice, what was proper of salvation and what was proper certainly not of hatred but of love. And look at the reward he received from the ungodly for his loving concern!” (excerpt from SERMONS 127.6-7)

  2. Avatar

    Resonate with the image of the Green Man supporting Madonna and child. It never ceases to amaze me, how truth finds a away of being hidden and yet revelatory in our midst; waiting to be simply acknowledged and responded to.

    There was also a strong image within the video clip… the upside down tree, with the roots protruding upwards towards the sky, that I also resonated with. This particular image, spoke to me regarding the As Above and the So Below, as being mirror reflections of one another… unfolding, evolving, emerging and converging as one unified reality… with nothing separating the spiritual from the natural world… each realm complimenting and commingling in relationship with one another. The mystics and the shamans understand how to be and live in this Mystery.

  3. Avatar

    Yes! Toxic masculinity and patriarchy, including social and religious institutions, have been around a long time in human history causing much destructiveness and human suffering up to our modern times, especially towards women and endangering Sacred Mother Earth and the survival of many species, including our own. The lack of balance and respect for the Feminine within and among us has been a long term spiritual dilemma of most men in the evolution of their souls, not recognizing and integrating the Feminine within themselves and their own healthy Masculine energies. Fortunately, Feminine energies and values have been growing in the past few decades, but healthy Masculine energies have to also grow in awareness and support of the Feminine energies in our human transformation and evolution towards a more Compassionate and Just Human Society — Queendom~Kingdom of Heaven on Earth…. This is a Sacred Process of LOVING Diverse Wholeness~ONENESS within the Eternal PRESENT MOMENT….

  4. Avatar

    Weak men know only fear and will do everything to cover up their own cowardice and lack of integrity by oppressing others. The power of the Green Man is very threatening to such men, as is the power of femininity. Toxic masculinity is in charge right now, and my prayer is that all the groups and individuals, like Matthew, who teach and practice the power of love, truth, and beauty, will eventually soften and transform those who are lost in patriarchal rage.

  5. Avatar

    Strong women TERRIFY men. A woman who achieves high levels of training or knowledge in a “typically male”-dominated field will be more likely to be underpaid and minimized, man-splained and man-owned, often right in front of her face: e.g. ideas she just presented in a meeting will be ignored, then when a man says the same thing right afterwards, the ideas — and HE — will be praised and promoted. Women are expected to be just fine with this, as if they should be humbly grateful to donate their “meager” knowledge to men’s “superior ability” to understand and present it.

    This is the sad shame at the heart of “masculinity”: its “power” is built on a tower of fragile ego and fear. Men have been taking for granted their societal dominance for so long that they can’t envision a society of equality. They never LIKED Jesus as an exemplar of MALE behavior– they hated his demand for egalitarianism and mutual respect — so they made another “Temple power structure” (male dominant religious hierarchy) as quickly as possible to replace the old destroyed Jewish one, and have vastly expanded it ever since.
    Men “proved” their power by “controlling and exploiting” everything and everyone around them. A younger generation of boys needs to learn how to be secure enough in themselves to be respectful toward everyone and everything.

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