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Return of the Green Man

Jun 6, 2021
Sheldon E Shalley
Core Spirit member since May 19, 2021
Reading time 5 min.

For modern man myth is born when the outer images and events are recognized as carriers and therefore symbols of the patterns of energy at work within the individual or collective psyche.

Any organizing myth functions in ways that may be creative or destructive, healthful or pathological. Providing a summary of the stories that explain why things are as they are organizes the diverse experiences of a community into a single story and helps to create consensus, sanctify the community, and provide a path forward.[1] This is true for the individual as well. Myths come from the same place that dreams and art come from. They bubble up from the depths of the soul. They can’t be forced or construed. They can only be organized into a meaningful story. In my own life, the myth—those archetypal forces that initiated, organized, and held me in the story of the parsonage for many years—sought death and renewal, transformation and evolution. A new myth, or perhaps the remnants of an ancient myth, slowly emerged from the depths of my soul. My hunch is this is not just my myth, but a piece of a greater myth that is emerging worldwide.

As I became more aware of the likely influence of the archetype of the Green Man on my journey through the years, I decided to journey to the Green Man.

I journey to the Lower World for the purpose of contacting the Green Man. Green Man makes his appearance. His appearance was like a spirit emanating from all living things—from the grasses and earth, from the trees, from the plants—all vegetation, as well as from the animals, coalescing as a spiritual entity. As I go to leave, he hands me a piece of a root. As I contemplate this gift, I am instructed to plant it in my heart. Taking it in my hands, I take the root into my heart chakra, breathing it in. The root of the Green Man lives in me. (Journal, 5-29-11)

A review of the literature on the Green Man reveals the Green Man represents our oneness with nature, the guardian and protector of nagture, a spiritual or divine intelligence or essence in nature, a messenger revealing the relationsihp between man and nautre, the androgynous, regenerator spirit in nature, a Divine Spark in matter and the archeyptal masculine in nature as a vital resource in renewing our lost unity with the world of nature.

For me the Green Man becomes a divine intelligence, a divine light, and the wisdom and consciousness in matter that both protects and reveals its spirit. To accept the Green Man is to return to the awareness of a transrational and transpersonal intelligence, a divine reality in matter, whether that matter be a stone, a tree, an animal, an organ in the body, an object of my desire, or the earth herself.

I must now hold the dualities of mind and body, spirit and matter, personal and transpersonal, rational and transrational with a sense of mutual respect and honor sufficient to allow a new consciousness to emerge, one that recognizes the interconnection of all things. This interpenetration of spirit and matter brings spirit into matter and matter into spirit with alignment and harmony; an entity that while holding the alignment and harmony is able to transcend both, forming a third thing representing the union of the two. This third thing is a manifestation of the union of the shaman with the scientist; this third thing is the Green Man.

Everything is energy (spirit). Everything is matter. It is only the mind and the illusion of time that separates them. I paint a horse coming out of the sea. My eye catches the word Mercurius in Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis and have a “feeling” there is some connection between it and my painting. Reading, I find Jung’s reference to “the steed that is in the water is risen up” as the union of spirit and matter. I dream that a man kills a black jaguar so that I can attend a university, and twenty years later find myself in a weekend training on shamanic healing where a black jaguar returns to me on a shamanic journey. I stare into the background of a painting and see a man holding a bowl with a feather as if bringing me the gift of a feather; in meditation a hand extends an owl feather to me; months later I walk out of a building at a training on shamanic healing and am met by a man extending an owl feather to me. I paint a painting of hands over a male figure, with an eagle looking on, and weeks later find myself going for my first shamanic healing session in Sedona, Arizona, where I am greeted by an eagle at the gate. In the healing session itself, the healer uses his hands over me, working in my energy field.

Years later I find myself taking training in energy medicine where hands are used to move energy. Owls show up in my dreams and paintings and owls cross my path as I travel to and from the airport, going and returning from trainings on shamanic healing and energy medicine. I dream that a woman is holding a bowl of stones, placing one in a river to heal the river. I paint the bowl of stones. A few days later I walk into my office and there is a bowl of round stones sitting on the file cabinet, almost exactly like the ones I had painted. And then sometime later I read “everyone’s got to do what the shamans call ‘cleaning up your river.’” I dream that I’m involved in the healing of a lady in Africa with shaman and mentor Ona Sachs, only to learn some days later that Ona was in fact involved in a healing with a lady from South Africa at the time of my dream.

Is to place meaning on these experiences and events as confirmation or guidance for my journey superstition and magical thinking, regression to some prerational stage of development? Or is it some transpersonal, transrational reality—the Return of the Green Man—archetypal masculine of a divine light and intelligence in matter renewing our lost unity with the world of nature?

As psychoanalyst or shaman, as gay, straight, bisexual, or any other label we may attach to ourselves, we must value what our journeys through our various experiences show us and say to us. Then we must accept the challenge of holding the space where opposing, powerful, and equally sovereign forces collide on their way to the transformation and healing of the soul, whether that soul be mine, yours, or the Soul of the World.

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