Mysteries of the Green Man

The Green Man Group recently began at my local naturist park. As it is currently run, it is a once-a-month hour-long session of Kundalini yoga for men, with themes such as creativity or acceptance, loosely based on movement through the chakras. The same instructor runs a parallel group for women called Goddess Gathering. I have enjoyed the meetings so far. I had a hand in coming up with the Green Man name for the group, because I had already been thinking and writing, last year, about the Green Man as a phenomenon that can be related to naturism. I posted at about how this figure from Northern European folklore embodies a union of masculinity with nature, through counterparts or avatars in many other cultural traditions and literary treatments as well.

I decided to compose a series of mystery readings, in the ancient spiritual tradition of the term “mystery.” These mysteries are brief texts that illuminate aspects of masculinity through nature while exploring the major masculine archetypes. I’ve designed them to be read aloud and/or to serve as prompts for meditation, not only for people who identify as male. Though the idea for these mysteries sprang from the Green Man of Celtic tradition, I’ve intentionally opened them to include phenomena from other cultures. My work here is inspired by Jung, Campbell and other canonical writers about archetypes, and also more specifically informed by the recent work of Isaac Cotec, whose Masculine Archetype Deck sits here near my desk. These readings also have a special connection to the writing of fellow naturist author Robert Longpré, who explores archetypes and their relation to naturism in novels such as A Small Company of Pilgrims. A final note: These mystery readings are not erotic; however, they do treat aspects of male sexuality in holistic anatomical detail.

The first mystery, below, is a reading on the Green Man himself. Each Wednesday for the next six weeks I will post a new mystery on one of five main archetypes, followed by a dream reading and a conclusion.

Green Man Collage: Images from Wikipedia, Etsy, and my own camera.

A Mystery Reading on the Green Man

The Green Man is a hybrid of man and oak from the original traditions of Northern Europe. He roots masculinity firmly and deeply in the earth, and sends it soaring gracefully and powerfully to the sky in his branches. Sometimes he is depicted as an older man, while at other times he is more middle-aged or even young, but he always has a beard – a symbol of masculine potency and organic growth. As a representation of man in nature, or nature in man, he is nude, and his tree-like appearance embodies male sexuality as reflected in the many slang expressions that relate erections to wood. If he wears anything at all, he is cloaked only in the leaves that sprout, change color, fall and sprout again. In this cycle of leaves, shoots, vines and other vegetal manifestations, the Green Man personifies the core mystery of growth, death, and rebirth. He is the masculine counterpart to Mother Nature or the Earth Goddess.

Though the Green Man represents masculine strength, he also represents vulnerability. After all, he’s not a mountain or an ocean, but an animate tree that can be burned or chopped or infected. The Green Man must exist within nature as his support system, and for this reason he is often understood as an avatar of the masculine protector role – a male force that knows the need for protecting others because he knows his own need for protection as well. He is the Forest Father or Old Man of the Forest, whose many acorns scatter the potential for new generations to grow into the future and perpetuate the cycle. The Green Man shall be seen to unite the five main masculine archetypes: Warrior, Lover, Father, Wizard and King.

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