Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Spirit of Green

'Every man marvelled mightly what it should mean
That a man and his horse should be the colour green.'
-  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, anon.
   An Irish poem translated by Caitlin Matthews

     "Through northern and western Britain, this day is the focus of many May-time customs.  These customs, banned by Parliament under the Commonwealth of the seventeenth century, were reinstated at the Restoration of monarch, when King Charles II mad his triumphal entry into London.  Know thereafter as Oak Apple Day, it is celebrated in Britain by the wearing of sprigs of green oak leaves.
     An earlier veneration was restimulated by an incident that befell Charles II when he was but a prince.  Fleeing from the parliamentarian soldiers, Charles was forced to hide in an oak tree.  But he face peering out from among the green leaves, originally in the primeval forest but now also in contemporary May-time celebrations is a much earlier one, that of the Green Man.
     This Evergreen God is one of the earliest deities.  He is represented in many summertime customs by mummers and disguisers who wear garlands of leaves and flowers or cover their bodies in greenry to ceremonially show the Green Man to the people.  He come out of the primal, all-encompassing forest that once covered the earth, dynamic and vigorous, with pulsing sap of summer in his veins.
     The Green Man is the irrepressible wildness of the world of vegetation.  He bides in the stillness of the deep forest or dances in the sun-fllled arcs of leaf-green light that filter through the branches of the tree canopy.  His name is delight, and his meaning is mysterious - a potent sexual forces that invigorates the earth at this time.  As the Evergreen God, he is likewise potent in the wintertime when he plays a riddling game at the thresholds of the year with such daring ones as Sir Gawain.
     Ask your spiritual allies to take you to meet the Green Man in meditation or soul-flight."
-  Caitlin Matthews, The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year, Harper One, 1999, p.224.

Walkers Between the Worlds:  The Western Mysteries from Shaman to Magus.  By Caitlin and John Matthews.  Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions, 1985, 2003.  Bibliography, index, 441 pages. 

"I call upon loud-roaring and reveling Dionysos,
primeval, two-natured, thrice-born, Bacchic lord,
savage, ineffable, secretive, two-horned and two-shaped.
Ivy-covered, bull-faced, warlike, howling, pure,
you take raw flesh, you have triennial feasts, wrapt in foliage, decked
with grape clusters.
Resourceful Eubouleus, immortal god sired by Zeus
when he mated with Persephone in unspeakable union.
Hearken to my voice, O blessed one, and with your fair-girdled nurses
breathe on me in a spirit of perfect kindness."
-   Orphic Hymn (#30) to Dionysos


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