This blog is about contemplative inquiry

Tag: Green Man


I’ve experienced the turning of the year through small yet telling events.  Yesterday I got up very early, by ‘mistake’.  Awake, hearing traffic, misreading a number on a digital watch, I thought it was 5 a.m. when it was actually 3.  I decided to get up any way and do my practice.

What was on offer, when I got to the lights out and sitting part of the work, was an especially strong felt sense of being born in the dark, of an ever-waking-now experience held by the nurture of the night.  And my switching on of a lamp, when coming out of this experience, seemed like a natural next step.  I could look at the world around me with fresh eyes, with energized attention, with a sense of a blessed awareness.

Later in the day I stood at the Severn Estuary.  I experienced the wider world as latency rather than stasis.  I was in a watery place at a watery time.  There were currents flowing in both directions.  The sky above was cloudy and grey, yet looking back to the ridge that I’d come from, I could see clear blue.  There weren’t many people around.  The energy of the environment seemed to have elements of stillness, of waiting and of gathering.  For the first time in this season, I began to feel an onward pull, away from the still point of the turn, and on to what might be emerging.

In the evening I drew a DruidCraft Tarot card – a single card, to reflect the moment.  I got the 3 of Wands.  A young man looks to the horizon and a possible journey (or a possible visit).  He seems at ease and is companionably holding a tree.  His three wands have been planted nearby and are beginning to blossom.  The path to (or from) an unseen destination (or point of departure) is clearly laid out as far as can be seen.  He clearly has a certain confidence, and something to work with.  And I thought: “OK”.

Finally, I remembered a poem by William Anderson in his ‘Green Man – the Archetype of our Oneness of the Earth’, a book from the beginning of the 90’s.  The poem has 13 verses, each covering a four week period, each connected with an Ogam tree, and I’ve always run the first verse from 22 December to 18 January.  By the time I went to bed yesterday I felt ready for that verse. So during this new period I’ll be conscious of:

“Like antlers, like veins of the brain the birches

Mark patterns of mind on the red winter sky:

‘I am thought of all plants,’ says the Green Man,

‘I am thought of all plants,’ says he.”

I wonder what these lines may inspire over the next few weeks.  And for now – Season’s Greetings to everyone and warmest wishes for the coming year.


The reed beds are flanking in silence the islands

Where meditates Wisdom as she waits and waits;

‘I have kept her secret’, says the Green Man,

‘I have kept her secret’, says he. [1]

This is a dawn image for me, cool, misty, expectant, liminal.  I’m on a lake shore looking out.  I can see the reed beds and an outline of wooded islands.  It’s probably late November or early December, an in-between time, a period of latency between dissolution and awakening.  Not quite the still point at the turning of the world, yet leaning into it.  I don’t see the Holy Wisdom, and so am free of any fixed and limiting image of her.  She may manifest as she wills.  Yet even at a distance, I am aware of her presence.  Holy Wisdom is more than simple sagacity.  She is the fruit of spiritual insight and loving-kindness.  She belongs here as everywhere, connecting to this landscape with a simple English name. Holy has morphed somewhat, over time, from hāliġ or hāleġ; Wisdom has remained the same.

The reed bed image is what remains from my OBOD ‘sacred grove’ work, an active imagination practice in which I would build the core image of the grove and then develop a free-form narrative, often encountering inner world beings and/or moving out into other landscapes and connecting with them.  I began my personal contemplative inquiry when the practice lost its power as a working method for me.  What didn’t lose power was my strong felt sense of contact and guidance from a feminine higher power.  This contact had been initiated in one of the major rituals of my original Ovate grade work – though not planned for in the script.  At times I have thought of her as Sophia, but in the end this hasn’t quite felt authentic for me while practising.  I don’t feel fully engaged in the Gnostic theology and metaphysics which goes with that name.

My contact with Holy Wisdom feels simpler and She asks for a single-pointed clarity of working method – which, paradoxically, I can then relax into.  I’ve adopted an eyes open, real time form of sitting meditation, going to other traditions to get the form, yet always with Holy Wisdom as my ultimate guide.  I dedicate the whole of my morning practice to Her – body/light body work, walking, sitting, and blessing.  But my sense of connection with Her is strongest on entry into sitting meditation, where I feel supported in accessing the presence and attention I need for a free flowing communion with what is.  The reed bed image doesn’t play a direct part in this process.  Yet William Anderson’s quatrain reminds of what my practice is about, and I can slip into this imagery at any time.

[1] Green Man: the archetype of our oneness with the Earth, William Anderson HarperCollins, 1990

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