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The Northern Antiquarian Forum

Archaeology, folklore & myth of Britain's pre-christian sites & heritage: stone circles, holy wells, maypoles, tombs, archaic cosmologies and human consciousness. Everyone welcome - even Southerners!




    Post  Guest Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:15 am


    The Green Man is depicted as a representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings.

    The Green Man motif has many variations and is found in many cultures around the world, being related to the ‘Spirituality within Nature’, it is the principle mediating between the cosmic natural realm and the physical world of humankind. It represents the principle of transmission/contact/communication with the spiritual/cosmic realm. It represents ‘Truth’.

    The Green Man of medieval literature displays ‘truth-bringing’ as his main achievement. In medieval theology green is always referred to as the ‘colour of truth’.

    Truth is sober and settled green,
    Mercy is pure white,
    Righteousness in red is seen,
    Peace as black as night.

    Although unnamed in the Qur’an, the name the Green Man (al-khidhr) has come down through oral tradition and is seen here (Surah 18, The Cave, A.60-82) as a mysterious figure who met with Mosses near the Fountain of Life.

    In Islamic mysticism (Sufism) Khidhr is seen as an Immortal (Angel) and appears at crucial times in Sufi writings to those in need of guidance.

    His insights are drawn from the living sources of life. He understands clearly the nature of paradox in human relations and nature. The gifts he offers to those who seek him out are Mercy on High, and Knowledge on High. The Green One does not reproach the traveler on the Way. Each one follows their own path to the best of their judgment, and inevitably makes many false steps. So in the episode in the story of Mosses, Mosses adopts the attitude of learner to the teacher.

    Khidhr takes Mosses through three paradoxes to be found in life: Apparent loss may be real gain; apparent cruelty may be real mercy; returning good for evil may really be justice and not generosity.

    Sufism, an esoteric movement within the shadow of Islam with firm roots in Indo-European Shamanism, maintains a vertical understanding of the relationship between spirit and matter, with matter as the extension of infinite subtle realms. In this tri-partite structure, the imaginal realm is a form of intellection that mediates between matter and more subtle perceptual realities. The realm of being to which this intellection gives access is the place of vision and symbol, what depth psychology calls the world of the psyche and of the imagination, the ‘luminous darkness of divine night,’ that which underlies all things and from which emerges colour and light, as well as the active principle that keeps things hidden, and Khidhr, the Green Man, is regarded by the Sufis as the force mediating between the imaginal and the more embodied realms. It is the mundus imaginalis, the ’Black Light’, the imaginal world, to underscore the fact that it is not imaginary or unreal. Through the agency of the active imagination we have access to an intermediate realm of subtle bodies, of real presences, situated between the sensible world and the intelligible. This is the realm of the anima mundi - ‘World Soul’.

    “Therefore, we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.”
    (Plato, Timaeus, 29/30; 4th century BCE)

    The nearest equivalent figure in the Bible is Melchizedek, King of Salem, priest of the most high God: he blesses Abraham, and Abraham gives him one tenth (tithe) of all his wealth (Genesis. Ch 14. 18-20).

    More light is shed upon this episode in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews (Ch. 5-7). Melchizedek the Sacred King of Salem (Jerusalem), King of Peace welcomed the tribe of Abraham, after the slaughter of the Kings, to Canaan and blessed Abraham from whom he received tithes (tithes from the tribe of Abraham that came down into Palestine from Armenia at the close of the third millennium B.C. The figure we know as the Biblical Abraham would by this time have been long dead, the name referring to his Clan/Tribe).

    Melchizedek, who was a priest to the Supreme God, ‘had neither father or mother, being without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like to the Son of God; remains a priest to the Supreme God continually’. Melchizedek is an Immortal (Angel), and was later to appear to Mosses in the flame of the Burning Bush (Exodus Ch. 3.).

    The Green One is an immortal with no gender, a vision of Hope risen with her anchor chain severed. Blue and green are shades of white. White is neutral, nothing. The Green One is our guide to that which is no thing.

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