Masculinity as Standing Tall, God as Ground of Being

William Anderson, coauthor of The Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth, tells us that the 12th century Cathedral movement portrayed the Green Man “as a benign and beaming image  expressing a new attitude to Nature, one in which she is no longer the terrifying enemy of human existence of so much Romanesque sculpture, but the kindly ally of man.”

Chapel as forest: a Green Man among the leafy buttresses of Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland. Photo by Landhere on Flickr.

Here, “the moods of nature become humanized” amidst “the principle of awakening consciousness underlying all creation.”  Gaia becomes a “kindly ally” and friendship with nature, not just usefulness or fear, mark the new consciousness.

We too seek out a relationship with Nature that is one of friendship,  mutuality, reciprocity.  The modern industrial consciousness, so hell-bent on taking from, exploiting and using Mother Earth, turned its back on the suffering we were inflicting on her and her creatures for the sake of our own gains and profit. 

Now the bill is coming due and Climate Change is wreaking havoc everywhere.  Now the Green Man must stand up and assert itself. 

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

One of the dimensions to plant life is that it emerged from the waters and learned to stand up tall–to defy gravity therefore.  Trees stand tall and extend their roots deep into the earth.  They ground themselves deeply and reach for the sky, bringing earth and sky together.  We should do the same.

There is a deep relationship between the Green Man and the ground.  Thich Nhat Hanh’s favorite name for God is “ground of being” which comes from Meister Eckhart (though TNH got it from Paul Tillich). 

A return to the ground, to depth, to darkness, to roots, to mystery, to quiet, to source of all life and nourishment may reveal to us something of a renewed sense of God.  Maybe the Green Man can assist us to rediscover the sacred, that Mystery greater than ourselves.

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

Banner Image: The flying buttresses and stained-glass windows in the royal chapel of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, built 1241–1248 in the Gothic Rayonnante period. Photo by Oldmanisold on Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Queries for Contemplation

Are we learning to be kindly allies with Gaia once again?  And to stand tall to defend Mother Earth?  Is that a deeper meaning of manhood and does deepening our roots into the ground offer us a deeper connection to the Ground of Being?

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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3 thoughts on “Masculinity as Standing Tall, God as Ground of Being”

  1. Avatar

    Yes! Yes! Yes! — As answers to your three questions above, Matthew, at the end of today’s DM.
    We need to balance and integrate our masculine and feminine energies within and among us, especially in our intimate relationship with our beautiful Sacred Mother Earth and all her living creatures and graceful abundance, the sustainer of All our lives. Our toxic masculine/patriarchal energies, beliefs, values, and egocentricity have separated us for too long from one another, Sacred Mother Nature, and the Sacredness of All our physical and non-physical spiritual multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS… As special unique sacred members of Humanity, our Souls and LOVING CONSCIOUSNESS seem to be within an urgent period/transition of our Personal and Collective evolution toward awareness of Our Divine LOVING Diverse Wholeness~ONENESS in the Sacred Process of the Eternal Present Moment~PRESENCE….

  2. Avatar

    Learning to be kindly allies and stand tall to defend Mother Earth; is part of the deepening of our HUMANITY. The collective consciousness is in the initiatory rite of passage of evolving; which does offer to ALL a deeper connection to the Ground of Being… the reality of being and living in an interconnected, interdependent, interreliant world… which includes not only the natural realm, but the spiritual realm as well.

    Emerging out of the chaos and the crissises is the potential of converging with our authentic identity… in sacred relationship WITH and TO the all and the everything of creation… along with the Source of this Great Mystery that continuously maintains and sustains this intricate Webb of Life.

    Humanity is not left on its own to navigate its way through this rite of passage, but rather is surrounded and being supported from a vast resource of benevolent spiritual beings… far more than we can imagine. The key is to intuitively, creatively and ceremoniously connect WITH and respond TO these spiritual allies, present in their essence… whom desire to comfort, console and wisely counsel us through all of our unfolding initiations; both on a personal and a collective level.

  3. Avatar

    I have always found your writing inspirational – thank you. When I read your book Original Blessing many moons ago I was inspired to write you a letter (14 pages!) – there was so much you ignited in me and I was so pleased to read your thoughts. I don’t suppose it ever reached you. A number of years later I heard you talk at the Cremorne Theatre in Sydney. You had been sitting in the audience and then after your introduction you quietly got up on stage – a lovely surprise.

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