The Original Tradition
To Restore the Wholeness of Life

Proof of Green Man as Near East Vegetation God (besides Celtic sources)

hatra-man2.jpg (13142 bytes)

Green Man from Hatra, Iraq
(300 BCE)

Green Man from Syria
(500 CE)

Green Man of Thuret (France)
(around 1250 CE)

Reborn Green Man
(2008 CE)




"You don't find the Grail,
the Grail is finding you"






"The Eternal Feminine"


The Shattered West * Letter to spiritual and religious Leaders worldwide * (Wo)Man rooted in Heaven and Earth * The Politics of "Happiness for All" * Only Tradition has Future * The Integral Way * Community democracy acc. to J.Althusius * The New Economy * Transformation Manifesto for the 21st Century * Poetry * Existential Consciousness * Revolution of Being * Youngsters are asking * Personal Reactions

Our Picture Galleries

Great Mother Gallery
Picture Gallery
Photo Gallery
Lotus Flower Gallery
Mother Pilgrimage Gallery
Maitreya Buddha Gallery
Venus von Willendorf
Shrine & Dômes
Universal Shrine
Shrine Madonna
Mary Devotion
Green Man Gallery
Green Man in Hollywood
Green Man in Ireland

Our Posters

Great Mother Poster
Poster Universal Message
Poster Transformation



The Roots of the Green Man
from the beginning until modern times

Our True Identity

"In the beginning" was the Great Mother. Actually, She is the Cosmic Womb, Who is there from eternity. The Cosmic Womb is empty, an absolute Vacuum. In Her Bottomlessness everything - including the Divine - is being born, while continuously returning. In ancient times people understood this as the Law of the Universe, the dynamic balance between birth, the web of life and death. Spiritual life is to comply with this law: dying to the old, being reborn as a New Self, while fitting in in Her web of life - Heaven, earth and the (new) community - once again.

The Universal Source

The Original Great Mother

Few people realize, that the primordial Mother was (is) black. There is a similarity between the spiritual Truth - Darkness giving birth to the Light - and the origins in human history. Hasn't mankind emerged in Africa, after all? Hence, it is safe to assume, that our common female Divine Mother was black. Which means, that during many tens of thousands of years people worshipped the Black Mother*. Of these times no archeology is left, apart from the very archaic rock paintings a.o. in South Africa and the Sahara (at that time consisting of green land). Although hunters, gatherers and animals mostly are most prominent, the Mother is always at the background. The first wave of Mother-worshipping people coincides with the migration to (Old)Europe and Siberia (40.000-20.000 BCE). Think of e.g. the "Venus of Willendorf". It lasted until the beginnings of the Nubian/Egyptian civilization (5000 BCE) before we have seen Her re-emerging in Africa itself. Nut, the all-embracing "Sky" Mother represents the original Great Mother there. She gave birth to four children, the most famous among them being her daughter Isis. Through Isis first Canaan was "fertilized", while in later centuries She found Her Way to Greece and Rome, while through the latter spreading into Europe. It is without doubt, that She has been the role-model for the Black Madonna's. Hence, Christianity's uneasiness with them. In Africa itself the Great Mother of the Yoruba (Nigeria) is still very much present. She found Her way - through slavery - to the Western hemisphere (Brazil, Cuba, Haiti). Another memory of the Mother are the many historic African Queen Mothers, like the Queen Mother of the Akan (the Ashanti of Ghana). Both Christianity and Islam have tried to subsequently eradicate the Mother. Not quite successful though. In areas where the Traditional African Religion prevails, She, often as Goddesses, has managed to survive**.       

* Because the Ultimate Truth and the African Black Mother are two sides of the same coin, we - whites and coloured people of the world - are invited to pay hommage to this unique fact. Going back - not only to the spiritual Origin, but also to our roots in Africa. She is the Mother of the whole of mankind, after all. I personally feel urged to contribute to the rehabilitation/revival of the African Mother as the Universal Great Mother of the world!

** See also: Ivan van Sertima "Black Women of Antiquity", 2002 Transaction Publishers and Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum "Dark Mother", African Origins and Godmothers, 2001, Authors Choice Press.

Originally, everything belonged to the Realm of the Mother. The problem with these archaic times is, that there weren't written records yet. Take Sumeria as our second example. At the time written records appeared, the Mother already had "given birth to Heaven and earth". So Samuel Kramer writes*: "Fourth among the creating deties was the Mother-Goddess, Ninhursag, also known as Ninmah, "the exalted lady". In an earlier day this Goddess was probably of even higher rank (compared to Her male colleagues HMS), and Her name often preceded that of Enki (one of the Sumerian Gods HMS) when the four Gods were listed together for one reason or another. Her name may originally have been Ki, (Mother Earth) and She was probably taken to be the consort of An, "Heaven" - An and Ki thus may have been concieved as the parents of all the Gods. She was also known as Nintu, "the Lady Who gave birth". The early Sumerian rulers liked to describe themselves as "constantly nourished by Ninhursag with milk" (....)**. She was regarded as the Mother of all living things, the Mother-Goddess pre-eminent. In one of Her myths, She plays an important role in the creation of man, and in another She starts a chain of divine births in Dilmun, the paradise of the Gods".

*  S.Kramer "The Sumerians", 1971 The University of Chicago Press ** The astonishing thing is, that this idea has survived until recent times. It went from Sumer to Canaan (Mother Goddess Asherah/Astarte) and from Canaan to Cyprus, where She was transformed into Aphrodite (and Adonis). First of all, there is the church of Panagia Aphroditissa, meaning the church of Mary Aphrodite. There is also the "Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa" church, dedicated to the "Our Lady of the Golden Pomgranate", symbolizing the nurtering breast of the Virgin Mary", while until recently women of the Kouklia village (near Paphos) lit candles in honour of the Panagia Galaktariotissa, the "Virgin who gives milk". Apart from Cyprus, the image of the Sumerian breast-nurturing Mother-Goddess has been found at several other places, as well, f.i. Sardinia.

Adam as the prototype of The Green Man

While God was condemning Eve in the Garden of Eden, Adam shouted in protest "She is the Mother of all living". It proves that not only women resisted early patriarchy, but men did so, as well. Adam resisted God and emphasized his deepest insight, namely, that the Great Mother and not God is the Primordial Origin of existence. It also means, that Adam himself didn't believe the fairy tale about "Eve taken from Adam's rib". On the contrary, he fully acknowledged Her as his Birthgiver. It makes Adam the ultimate hero of all men.

S. Kramer once again: "Dilmun is a land that is "pure", "clean", and "bright", a "land of the living" which knows neither sickness nor death. What is lacking, however, is the fresh water so essential to animal and plant life. The great Sumerian Water-God, Enki, therefore orders Utu, the Sun-God, to fill it with fresh water brought up from the earth. Dilmun is thus turned into a divine garden, green with fruit-laden fields and meadows. Furthermore Enki is known as the God of Wisdom, the "resourceful, skillful, handy and wise". He is the first God who is creating a World Order, a civilization, something that later on is copied by Osiris and Dionysos.* His being the precursor of a dying and resurrected Vegetation God is furthermore illustrated by the tale, in which Enki eats "forbidden fruits from Ninhursags garden" (....)**, whereupon the angered Ninhursag pronounces the curse of death upon him. She subsequently disappears. Immediately after, Enki's health begins to fail, eight of his organs become sick. A fox manages to bring the Mother-Goddess back, the latter healing dying Enki. She seats him by Her vulva, and after inquiring which organs ache, She brings into existence eight corresponding healing deities, and Enki is brought back to life and health.

* See under.

** Compare with the biblical Garden of Eden story. Here you can see how the process of patriachalization worked: things were simply put upside down.

Divine couples

Inanna/Dumuzi (Tammuz)
Later the (Mother) Goddesses systematically "delegated" aspects of their Being to men. Hence, men becoming "Vegetation Gods". Their role was to protect the seasonal cycle, while safeguarding the harvest. They did this by dying in autumn, while being resurrected in spring. The land was considered the realm of the Mother. That's why in this era the men acted as servants of the latter. The first man in written history to do so was the shepherd Dumuzi. He was the lover of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth (of Sumeria), also called The Green One. It was She who first descended into the Underworld to die in order to be resurrected. After Her return She needed a substitute in order to guarantee the continuation. She chose Dumuzi. He is the second-important precursor of The Green Man. His influence can be traced toward the West, contributing to the myth of Baal* and to the East, where he possibly played a role in the early Harappa culture of the Indus delta.

* See under.

Influenced by Mesopotamia, the myth of Osiris originated in Egypt. Here again men sacrificed themselves in relation to the Feminine Principle: Isis. She still had many qualities of the Original Great Mother, e.g. like Inanna She was called Mother of all, Queen of Heaven and Earth and The Green Goddess. Her Lover-God was Osiris. While Isis symbolized the land (Nile), Osiris was the God of the floods, fertilizing the plains of Egypt. He was therefore called "The Green Thing". Moreover, he was the initiator and benefitter of civilization, very much envied by his brother Seth. This symbolizes the struggle between fecundity and aridity. Seth kills Osiris, putting him in a chest and having him floated down the Nile. Isis - in great grief - started to search him, finding him in Byblos, Canaan. Seth - also being after him - found the body, cut it into fourteen pieces and scattered it in all directions. Again Isis found all pieces, reconstituting them together. After his resurrection Osiris took care of pro-creation (Horus), while subsequently becoming the Lord of the Underworld. Isis/Osiris were very popular in the Roman Empire, including Western Europe. They even managed to exist together with Christianity. Their temple in Soissons (north of Paris) was closed in 550 CE! 

Excavations, starting in the thirties of last century in Ugarit, Canaan, revealed a great deal about the Vegetation God Baal and his Sister/Lover, the Goddess Anat. Anne Baring says the following about him: "The Canaanite Baal, son of "the bull El" (in turn son of the Original Mother HMS), father of the Gods, was the slayer of the serpent, but he was also a fertility God, who brought rain from heaven. Like Marduk (Babylonian God HMS), the lightning bolt was his weapon, and the bull was the animal that embodied his creative power on earth. Drought was the great natural enemy of the Canaanites, as flood was of the Sumerians. Baal's descent into the Underworld caused the death of the crops, and his rescue by Anat, his sister and consort, regenerated him. Like Tammuz (Dumuzi, see above), who also goes to the Underworld, Baal continued to be the dying and resurrected Son/Lover of the Goddess, Anat, his sister-wife, Goddess of the dew, who went in search of him, defeating the God Mot, symbol of drought. Baal returns to life "as the sprouting corn". Later, as part of their overall extermination program of the Canaanite Mother religion, the Hebrews, through Elijah and ordered by Yahweh, murdered 450 priests of Baal. The priestesses of Anat (Astarte) however, were still too powerful and they had to let them go. In fact, the Goddesses of Canaan were so influential, that they still occupied a central space in the great Temple of Jerusalem, until this was terminated by Joshua (517 BCE).  

In Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Brittany (France) Celtic culture is still very much present, experiencing a revival in modern times. However, the myths of the dying and resurrected Vegetation God came originally from the Bronze Age, preceding the invasion of the Celts. The big surprise is, that at that time Canaanites (later bearing their Greek name of "Phoenicians") visited the British Isles by boat, as part of their trade efforts, eventually settling down there as well. It was them who took their tales about Baal and Anat (Astarte/Asherah) with them to Western Europe. After their invasion the Celts refrained from destroying the old culture*. On the contrary, they integrated major parts in their own mythology and customs. Their Mother Goddess was Cerridwin, also symbolized by the "Cauldron of Abundance". Cerridwin's priest were the Druids, like the priests of Baal venerating the Tree of Life (another title of Astarte). Actually, the Cauldron reminds of the earliest times of the Great Mother, in which She still possessed all qualities of existence. Hence, the Cauldron being the Primordial Vessel, through which Celtic warriors experienced death and resurrection. King Bran of Britain is their archetype. His head is cut off (death of vegetation) and subsequently preserved on a secret island**. There he lives on, symbolizing the ever-vital power of nature. Later King Arthur - see under - as the last matriarchal King will be completing the story.

* Also, because the Celts originally came from the Near East (Galatia, Turkey)! They had thus similar Eastern concepts of their own. A fact that tend to be forgotten e.g. assuming the "Celtic roots"exclusively in Central Europe or even in Ireland, only. 

**  This theme is repeated in the myth of the Shiite Redeemer El Mahdi and that of the Priest-King Prester John. See under.

Some additional remarks. First of all, we are very grateful for having found the original Great Mother story in (pre)Celtic culture. Especially in Ireland the origins (Tuatha Dé Danaan)* can be traced back. For instance, the Great Mother ("Sheela-na-gig") can still be found in churches, monasteries and castles. Celtic Christianity integrated old "pagan" elements, rather than destroying it. It means, that the Irish - despite their tremendous suffering in later centuries - still have the Original Archetype in their collective unconscious. This precious gem - once revived - could become a major role model e.g. taking the lead in greening the world. The same is true for the Green Man in Britain. It is amazing how he became a major part of the culture. However, we strongly feel, that the Green Man is universal. Actually, the British Green Man is a later development of the archaic Vegetation God, having originated in the Middle East (Bronze Age). Just like the Irish Mother, the Green Man (Her original Son/Lover) could become a poweful tool in efforts to greening the planet. Secondly, rather than being limited to folklore only (as is usually the case), we see it as our aim to emphasize the original meaning of the Green Man by going back to the Source. From there, we are renewing the tradition, as you may see here on this page. Thirdly, unlike the practices of Pagan and Wicca groups, we go beyond images, rituals and magic. To us, the Green Man represents a deep(er) spiritual Truth. He is not only intimately related to the Great Mother, but also the archetype that could possibly "save the world". He confronts everyone of us with the necessity of "dying to the old", being reborn as a New Self, while becoming part of the Whole - Heaven, earth and the (new) community - once again.       

* Meaning "The people of Dana", the latter being the primordial Mother of pre-Celtic Irish and he Mother of Daghda, the FatherGod of Ireland. Dana is related to Anat, the MotherGoddess of Canaan and/or Ana-tolia ("land of the Mother). The Irish are possibly linked to both. The first may have come to Ireland through the Phoenicians (the Greek name for Canaanites), while the latter could have been transmitted through a Celtic tribe in Galatia (now Turkey).  

Cybele is the "Mother of Gods" from Pessinus, Turkey. She is e.g. symbolized by a black meteorite (Coming from the Dark Night of the Mother), the same symbol later used for the Ka'aba, Jesus (Ruusbroec's "Shining Stone") and the Stone of Alchemy. Her festivals were wild, ecstatic and - to outsiders - shocking. Her priests often castrated themselves, as a sign of total surrender. In later times She was adopted first by the Greeks, while later becoming the Magna Mater of the Roman Empire. Both the May Pole festivals of Europe as well as Carnival are said to be the modern successors of Her worship. Her Son-Lover was called Attis. There are many different legends about his origins. Crucial is: "Whenever their origin, the relationship between Cybele and Attis confirms once again the image of the sacred marriage between the Goddess and the God or King who once personified the year God and was sacrificed and dismembered in person or in mime at the spring fertility ritual. Whether the Son-Lover is Attis, Dionysos or Zagreus, the imagery of dismemberment and death followed by resurrection is the same" (Anne Baring). It confirms my thesis, that sacrificing oneself to the benefit of the Whole is deeply engrained in the masculine genes. To take up his original role is the challenge of modern times. The renewal of the culture will only take place, if the process of emanicipation, initiated by women, will be subsequently taken over by men.

That the Mary Magdalene/Jesus story, in fact, was a continuation of the line of all above mentioned predessessors, was the greatest horror to patriarchs like Peter, Paul and all the others, something that had to be suppressed at all costs. It explains the Churches' panic with the publication of the Da Vinci Code. However, the latter is harmless, compared to the REAL secret beyond. First of all, Mary was an independent, wealthy woman, who - before she met Jesus - had free love with several men. This is not corresponding with the "lifestyle" of Hebrew women. Actually, this would have been unthinkable. What they do tell us, is that Mary was a Canaanite. Secondly, we know that among the Canaanites the Goddess religion went underground, but was still alive. Especially well educated people (women) practised the rituals. Considering her position and way of life Mary Magdalene may well have been a priestess of the Old Religion. Priestesses were very keen on finding men, who met the old ideal of Vegetation God. She found it in Jesus. So what had Jesus done during the time he had disappeared? Why he had to keep secret about his whereabouts? No other religion was so much hated like the Canaaite religion. The explanation could be, that he had his learning process with Mary and other women. After passing his examination he subsequently was anointed by the priestess, Mary.  

The Green Man

Tree of Life/Foliage
After the early Church fathers had thoroughly stamped out the Old Mother Religion, the memory went on in disguise, e.g. "neutral symbols" were used to hide the underlying reality. One of the most popular was the "Tree of Life". It is probably as old as mankind, used by both the Sumerian Goddess Inanna as well as the Canaanite Asherah/Astarte. Hence, trees e.g. leaves became hidden references to the Goddess. Since the relationship between the Goddess and Her Son-Lover had become a great taboo, the Vegetation God had to continue without his Divine Partner. So, he became "independent".(Mostly, but not entirely, as we will see). Originally, any resemblance with Christ - the latter being the only resurrected One - had to be avoided. Christ had redeemed mankind, hence The Green Man identified himself with the other realm of existence, nature (which had been his "focus of interest" throughout the centuries, anyway). Taking into account, that "nature" was the anti-Christ perse, indeed equal to the Devil, it proves that the Church wasn't able to totally eradicate the old Vegetation God. Rural people continued to practice their "pagan" rituals until very recently. So, The Green Man, together with the typical foliage in and around him, was tolerated as artistic ornament in churches all over Europe, especially in England, France and Germany.

Study of Hinduism still reveals the underlying Truth of the Great Mother. It is unique in this regard. Central in its philosophy stands the "Law of the Universe", the dynamic equilibrium between creation, preservation and destruction. Most people think, that these three functions are represented by the three main Gods: Brahman, Visnu and Shiva. Few know, that these aspects originally belonged to the Indian Great Mother: MahaDevi (or MahanMatri)*. She is the Cosmic Womb, the Great Void (nirguna), from Which the Law of the Universe originates. Hence, in ancient times these aspects were all part of the Mother. Several myths (Devi-bhagavata- Purana) make clear, that the Gods act on behalf of the Mother, only. Obviously, the Mother has both beneficial as well as terrifying appearences. In later times, these aspects were manifested in separate Goddesses, of which Kali is the most famous one. What is of interest here is, that in Hinduism the entire "primordial order" of The Eternal Feminine, together with Her "Sons" is still intact. The difference, though, is, that while in Mesopotamia (and later in the West) the emphasis lies on the Mother and one Son, the latter unifying both death and rebirth, in India these functions were given to three separate Gods**. Hence, it is difficult to describe one of them as "Green Man". Actually, the original archetype is represented by all three together. 

* Before MahaDevi, the Original Mother was known as Aditi or "Mother of the Gods". She possibly is the link between the Middle-Eastern Mother, the Indus or Harappa culture and Hinduism.

** Still later - as patriarchy proceeded - everything was turned upside down: the Gods claimed highest authority, while the Goddesses occupying a lower rank, mediating between the former and the world. She degenerated from the Ultimate Void into the "energy-aspect" (sakti) of  male supremacy.  

Lao Tzu
The culture, originated in Mesopotamia didn't only spread to India, but also to neighbouring countries. Its successor in China was Taoism. It may thus not come as a surprise, that early Taoism started in the Western regions. Hence, the main Taoist Mother Goddess is called Mother Goddess of the Western Kings. Ever since "the West" (Mesopotamia) is something magic in Chinese myths. It even includes Buddhist writings about the coming of the future Buddha. It is said, that he will start his teaching in the "Western forest". No one less than Lao Tzu also speaks of the Original Paradise. He considers it as his mission to restore the lost Wholeness of those times. Few scholars acknowledge, that Lao Tzu refers to the times of the Mother. In her outstanding articles E.Chen* elaborates on a different interpretation of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching. In short, she states that the Tao is really the Original Mother, something we - totally independent from her - had already proposed some ten years ago**. The Tao is the Valley, the Dark Abbyss, the Cosmic Womb, giving birth to Heaven and Earth (yang and yin), the latter in their turn being the origin of the "ten thousand things". Lao Tzu is actually the Son-Lover of the Great Mother, doing everything that is in his power to restore Her Orginal Reign. He is The Great Green Man of Chinese culture. Later the situation changed a little. Rather than accepting "the cycle of birth and death" Taoist sages started to pursue "immortality" with the help of the Tao.

* E.Chen "Nothingness and the Mother Principle in early Chinese Taoism" and "Tao as the Great Mother and the influence of Motherly Love in the shaping of Chinese Philosophy".

** Chinese Mother Religion

"Sakyamuni attained Full Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree". It is something that is central to every devout Buddhist. Few ask themselves, why it was exactly under a Bodhi Tree, that the Buddha got enlightened. Initiates in His Story as presented here, will quickly guess, that the Bodhi Tree just represents the ancient Tree of Life e.g. the Original Mother. So, did the Bodhi Tree "help the Buddha" in achieving his goal? If so, the Buddha himself wasn't that grateful for Her assistence. On the contrary, he had stressed over and over again, that "attainment" was the fruit of self-effort only. Something that worked for 2500 years. In our self-centered greedy culture "self-effort" deteriorated into egoism, though. Hence, the era of Sakyamuni has come to a close. While the Buddha had declared, that "one must avoid feminine creatures like the plague", later developments - as happened in other patriarchal religions as well - couldn't stop the re-entrance of female deties in the pantheon, especially in Tantric Buddhism. The Green Tara is considered a fully realized Buddha. A central concept in Buddhism is "Nirvana" or "Emptiness beyond Emptiness" as being the Ultimate Reality. This idea corresponds fully with the pre-Buddhist insight of the Cosmic Womb. However, in order to get rid of the memory of the Mother, the original meaning was eradicated by giving it a neutral, abstract name. This should not be mixed up with the "Womb of all Buddha's" of the Prajnaparamita Sutra. Here it means Enlightenment or first grade Emptiness (only). Summarizing: with regard to The Green Man, Buddhism shows a confusing picture. We have to wait for the coming of the next Buddha - Maitreya - of whom many say, that he is already among us.....for getting things straight*. 

* See: Great Mother Buddhism

Dionysos is "difficult to approach". The main reason is, that he is a composed God. He is one of the few Greek God's, who has his roots outside of Greece. In fact, many of his aspects are borrowed from Osiris. To our His Story he is an important man, because he includes many archaic elements. First of all, he is called "dimetor", which means "twice-mothered": born from an earthly mother Semele and later reborn through the God Zeus*. He is thus half Divine and half human, a theme we encounter once again in the stories about Jesus. Actually, Christianity copied various elements from the Dionysos cult. The latter consisting of widespread ecstatic worship, very similar to that of Cybele. While in Cybele's worship male priests castrated themselves (later: celibacy...), with Dionysos one sees the opposite: wild women, who in madness devour animals in order to unite with Dionysos. Two sides of the same coin. It confirms Dionysos as having (strong) links with the Old Mother Religion. Furthermore, he was slain by the Titans and resurrected through the support of the Goddess! Athena. As a typical Vegetation God he took care of agriculture, in particular that of the vineyard. His focus on wine and drunkenness is (possibly) related to the need to forget the pain of paradise lost of the Mother. Here again the parallel with Jesus. Both - because of the link with pre-patriarchal times - were extremely women-friendly. Another aspect is rather intriguing as well: his ability to easily change identity. People who have attained Ultimate Reality - and he has been "thrice-born" (trigonos)** - can shift their manifestation easily. It may have depended on the dangerous situation he was in, as a supporter of women's interests. Conclusion: Dionysos was certainly one of the most heroic Green Men in His Story. 

* Initiates in The Original Tradition are also "twice-mothered": raised by their biological mother and reborn through the Cosmic Mother.....

** See: Threefold Realization.

Al Khidr/Al Mahdi
A surprise comes from Islam. There they venerate a saint, called Khidr. "Khidr literally means 'The Green One', representing freshness of spirit and eternal liveliness, green symbolizing the freshness of knowledge “drawn out of the living sources of life.” Whatever the source for this green may be, it has come to symbolize the benign presence of the divine wisdom as imparted by the Divine Himself to Khidr and to Prophet Muhammad. Qur'ânic commentators say that al-Khidr ('The Green Man' of pre-Islamic lore) is one of the prophets; others refer to him simply as an angel who functions as a guide to those who seek God. And there are yet others who argue for his being a perfect wali meaning the one whom God has taken as a friend. Khidr is associated with the Water of Life (after having crossed the Land of Darkness HMS). Since he drank the water of immortality he is described as the one who has found the source of life, 'the Eternal Youth.' He is the mysterious guide and immortal saint in popular Islamic lore and the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path. In the Muslim tradition Khidr is alive and well and continues to guide the perplexed and those who invoke his name". (From The twelfth imam of the Shiites - al Mahdi, the hidden one, who is said to be the next Redeemer - would also have a connection with the color green.

The Maya Green GodKing (Mexico)
Many links connect the indigenous people's of Mexico with Asia. For instance, the central Deity is the Cosmic Mother giving birth to the "First Father". This "First Father" is the prototype of both Gods (of Corn, the Waters etc.) and GodKings (Pakal). Like in Sumeria these Gods are Vegetation Gods, which means that they are seasonal. Every year they die in the Mother's Womb in order to become reborn. The Maya seem to originate in Western China. Memory of Mesopotamia might have been there. The astonishing similarities between Mayan temples and the Sumerian Ziggurat is striking. Both cultures developed astronomy/astrology to an incredible hight. Jade as sacred stone is another link. The tripod vessel (pot), in Chinese called "Ding", originally a sacred vessel symbolizing the Mother's Womb has its counterpart with the Maya's. Some are even decorated with "death and rebirth" scenes on it. A joint memory of the Big Flood can be added to that. While ancient Near Eastern tradition has been transformed by subsequent European developments - Christianity, the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Rationalism, Romanticism and Modernity - sources from the Origin have survived with Maya culture relatively unspoilt (except the effects of Spanish conquest). Although I studied the ancients for decades, I have never seen such an intact ancient World View like that of the Maya's. Its relevance for World Transformation is unparalleled. I have extensively elaborated on it*.

* See: Maya Calendar End-Date

Green Man in the Dark Ages
Julian "the Apostate" can be mentioned here. As Roman Emperor he denounced Christianity in favor of the ancient Mother religion. To him Cybele was the Mother of the Gods.* However, this did not last. After him Christianity step by step got its grip on society, once again. Crusades against the "pagans" and their "nature worship" were its utmost priority. This chilling excerpt has been taken from W.Anderson "Green Man". "A woman is taking an axe to a tree. From the crown of the tree two heads rise up aghast at what she is doing. They are the spirits of the sacred tree. A bishop stands to one side blessing her action; there are other people marvelling as they look on. This scene is shown in a twelfth-century manuscript of the life of St.Amand who, five centuries earlier, had brought about the destruction of sacred groves and oaks. According to the story the woman was a pagan and she also was blind; when St.Amand converted her, he put an axe into her hand and told her to cut down the tree. When she had done so, her sight was restored to her. The story is a parable of a process that has been called the greatest psychic revolution in the history of our culture. This was the victory of Christianity over Paganism, in particular over the cults of the tree and the sacred spring. The revolution was, I believe, to have a profound effect on the later development of the Green Man. The woman who has her sight restored by chopping down the sacred tree is an emblem of humanity beginning to see and interpret Nature in a new way. If the Green Man signifies the relationship of man to Nature, then the way in which he is portrayed will change with changes in that relationship. He does indeed change during the Dark Ages, because it was in this period that he took on fully his new form as the disgorger and devourer of vegetation".

* Around 200 BCE the Romans introduced the Magna Mater as an attempt to save the old order. The attempt of Julian is a last heroic effort - before Christianity definitively took over - to emphasize the Mother as the Ultimate Reality.

King Arthur
The secret of King Arthur is that he was the last matriarchal King of Britain. It explains, why he lost his last battle against foreign (patriarchal) invaders. It marks the end of an era in which the Great Mother still had a great deal of influence. That's why the legend said, that he started loosing interest in his wife Guinivere. The latter was subsequently kidnapped by Lancelot, being a representative of the new individualistic and self-centered culture. It also explains why Arthur at last became "weak". He simply lost his credit as a Vegetation God/King. An additional story is that of the Green Knight. Three knights are asked to behead a gnome. In exchange the gnome (after taking his head back) would invite the knights to suffer the same treatment. Two knights refuse, but the third one, the Green Knight, kneeled down while exposing his neck. The gnome hit only with the backside of his axe, thus saving his life. Contrary to Arthur, the Green Knight knew intuitively about the resurrection that follows death. Hence, he - as one of the last - symbolizes the Old Tradition.

Hildegard von Bingen
An excursion is made to Hildegard of Bingen, the visionary abbess from Germany (11th century). She could have been a man (joke), because she was of a "difficult" character, while being dictatorial to her disciple-nuns. The other side of the coin is, that she also was very courageous, coming forward with concepts the Church wasn't particular happy with. One of her ideas is "viriditas", meaning that God is "greening" the entire existence with His Presence. Moreover, to her Jesus was A Green Man.

Green Man in the Romanesque Period
This was a time of hope in which The Green Man returned accordingly. In the beginning he appeared as Cernunnos, the Celtic Vegetation God (Church of St.Pierre at Moissac). Sculptors - part of common people still reminding the original Great Mother and her Son-Lover - became more and more daring, bringing in ancient motives, like the Tree of Life, all kinds of animals and abundant vegetation. Not surprisingly thus, that they started carving images of The Green Man as well. The meaning was often double. On the one hand it symbolized the connection with the natural world, which should not be forgotten, on the other hand the Church would see them as a warning. Don't become entangled in the flesh, attachment and pleasure. Both sides accepted a compromise. However, sometimes images - like that of the Sheela-na-Gig (Kilpeck, England 1130) -  really come as a (big) surprise. The figure is a naked woman, displaying her genitals openly and boldly. It means that the Church - even at this time - has not been able to fully eradicate the memory of the Great Mother. Elswhere women (Goddeses) have vegetation coming out of their vulva. At the same time the images of The Green Man started appearing more and more, together with the cult of the Black Madonna's. The latter as a "re-incarnation" of Isis e.g. Cybele, whose worship had been spread over Europe in the period before, after all. Thus, The Green Man still representing Osiris, Attis and Adonis and hesitantly.....Christ reborn. The former slowly growing to a new prominence. 

Only one time in history the original myth would re-appear. It is an absolute highlight. Many have heard of it, but a few have grasped the real meaning. The centre of the legend is the search for the Grail. There are various versions of the tale: early British, the French version of Chretien de Troyes and the German version of Wolfram von Eschenbach. The core of the story is the restoration of the Eternal Feminine through the new Vegetation God. In the course of time the God/Kings had forgotten their relationship with the Great Mother. They increasingly ruled the country in their own right. It is the reason, that the land had turned into a wasteland. The old King is called Amfortas, the "Fisher-King". He refuses to die as a true Son-Lover of the Mother-Goddess - making space for the new King to come - but is at the same time unable to pro-create himself: "He has a wound in the groin", symbol of the impotent ego. That's why he can only be redeemed by somebody, who is worthy to succeed him, e.g. the one who is prepared to take up his role as the original Vegetation God/King. All signs are auspicious for Parzival to be the next King. First of all, his mother is Herzeloyde, "clear as the light of the sun". She gives birth to Parzival, while her husband is absent. It suggests a "parthenogenesis", the original quality of the primordial Mother, who is giving birth without interference of a masculine principle. It is a confirmation of the very ancient source of the legend. Furthermore, the name "Parzival" means "The One who has gone through the Valley". The Valley stands for Womb or Great Mother. Parzival knows the Original Mother, indeed reconnects to "the beginning of times". He is also called The Green One*. In the British versions his mission is to bring the land back under the sovereignty of the Eternal Feminine. He is doing this by finding the Grail. The Grail stands for the Cosmic Womb or Original Great Mother, the Vessel of ever-flowing abundance. In Wolfram's version the emphasis lies on the initiation he went through. He started as an ambitious (ego-centric, patriarchal) knight, only to be moulded through countless challenges and obstacles into a worthy Son-Lover of the Mother. And not only that. Only after have grown mature - which is not contradictory to the previous! - as an integrated personality, who, from his own (painful) experiences recognizes, that compassion is the supreme and only way "to meaningfully functioning in this world", he eventually redeems Amfortas, while taking his place as the next King.

* Green is a dominant color in the Parzival legend. Eight of the women who serve Amfortas "have clothes greener than gras", while having flowers in their hair. The Grail itself is resting on a beautiful oriental! green silk towel. Other sources say, that the Grail itself is made from (green) emerald (just like the scepter of Prester John, see under). Also think of the "Emerald Buddha" of Bangkok, Thailand. 

Spiritual Knights
The idea of "sacrificing yourself" for the sake of the Whole found its follow-up in the ascetic movement of early Christianity. Inspired by the old Vegetation Gods (and later by Hinduism and Buddhism) hermits retreated into the desert. There they practised rather austere forms of fasting and praying. Its aim deviated from the old ideal: it was limited to personal salvation, only. The original impulse revived in the Middle Ages, though. Knighthood had two branches: worldly and spiritual. In both cases the ancient connection with the Feminine was restored, a real miracle, considering the influence of the Church on all areas of life. The former dedicated its life to a living Lady, while the latter revered a religious symbol. Both vowed a life of service. King Alfonso X "El Sabio" of Spain has to be mentioned. He dedicated his whole life (1252-84) to the Virgin, which he celebrated through his famous "Cantiguas de Santa Maria". The most outspoken figure in this regard was the southern German mystic Heinrich Seuse (Suso, 1300). He called himself the Servant (of "Eternal Wisdom" which symbolizes The Eternal Feminine). The Cistercienzers with their founder Bernard of Clairveaux can be considered as part of the movement as well. It started with the initiative of William of Thierry, who claimed that women nuns should occupy a dominant position in religious life. Later, Bernard held its famous "Sermons of the Virgin Mary", which in fact was a concealed effort to revive the old Mother tradition. The Teutonic Order has to be mentioned, as well. Although being an instrument in the hands of the Church, conquering and destroying "pagan" peoples, it dedicated itself to the Virgin Mary. An example of the fact, that veneration of the Feminine not always leads to a morally just behaviour. Too little is known about the secret beliefs of the Templars (who received their monastic rule from Bernard...), the warrior-monks of the 13th/14th century. However, their relationship with the Holy Grail and a cult object, called "Baphomet", a face with horns, suggesting links with the original Vegetation God, might explain why the Templars at last were persecuted (apart from jalousy with their wealth) by the Church and destroyed.

Prester John
"Prester John" is about the legend of a Priest-King who resided over a Kingdom in the East. He was a man of great wealth and power, possibly populated with all manner of mythical beasts. Prester John was also commonly said to have been a descendant of the Three Wise Men, who popularized gold, frankincense and myrrh by presenting these gifts to the Baby Jesus. He supposedly carried a scepter carved from pure emerald. In Wolfram's Parzival, Prester John is mentioned as being the son of a Grail maiden and Feirefiz, the (oriental) half-brother of Parzival. Through the crusades people very much phantasized about the exotic East. F.i. it was known, that  Apostle Thomas was said to have founded a Christian community in India, among other places. "From this vague sort of root, the idea of Prester John grew. It's not clear what actually and truly sparked the legend, but around the middle of the 12th century, a series of letters from purportedly found their way to the court ofPope Alexander III".  These letters were allegedly from the Prester himself, describing the paradise Kingdom he had founded somewhere off in the "East." "Several documents claiming to be versions of these letters are part of the historical record, but most of them are dated to the late Middle Ages, a period of notorious historical revisionism and outright fraud. The letters contain remarkable descriptions of Prester John's kingdom. Prester John's adventures included warriors riding to battle on elephants; encounters with cannibals , pygmies and Amazons; and the locations of the Fountain of Youth and the Garden of Eden (....); battles with horned three-eyed humans; unicorns and phoenixes; and fabulous wealth".(See also: A few things make Prester John a popular representative of The Green Man. He resembles Osiris and Dionysos, who also "went to India", like them "building civilization". Furthermore, the longing for the Original Paradise, ( linked to the times of the Mother), the dominance of the color Green and the title of Priest-King, which corresponds with those of the Vegetation Gods.

Robin Hood
In the course of time the reality of the Vegetation God became more and more diluted. His His Story slowly disappeared out of the minds of the people. Only phantasy tales (Prester John) remained. Increasingly, his image became popularized. It had to serve the escape-world of oppressed people. Something that fed their dreams, forgetting the harsh world they lived in. Not surprisingly thus, that later in the Middle Ages, a hero emerged, who's aim it was to bring relief among the peasants. Robbering the rich, while distributing wealth among the poor was his way to balance "death and rebirth". Because of his hidden life in the forests - his original name was Robin of the Woods - he is associated with Green and the vegetation (although he wasn't decorated with foliage). Because of the immense popularity Robin Hood was able to bridge medieval and modern times.

The Essence of the Green Man cannot be explained by his manifestations (carvings, rituals, folklore); rather the manifestations can only be explained by their Essence....

Usually, the artefact - of the foliate head - is taken as the real thing. In that case it is good to realize, that the carvings are only an expression of a Living Reality Beyond. Instead of judging everything according to its superficial appearence - "everything that is not a foliate head is not a Green Man" (that's what they say) - a search for the underlying spiritual Truth seems to be "equally" rewarding. This can only be achieved through spiritual Realization e.g. to find the Green Man in your own innermost core. You then come to the conclusion, that the Green Man is a symbol of Immanent Transcendence, penetrating e.g.embracing the whole of existence. The Green Man is Divine e.g. successor of the ancient Vegetation Gods. His Essence is Formlessness. Formlessness is including all forms, that's why the manifestation of the Green Man changes according to necessity and situation. It is not fixed to one kind of expression only. It is the deeper meaning of the Green Man as a trickster. Take one shape as an absolute criterion (like many authors do) and you miss the point. Do you want to know the Truth yourself? Go within and find the Green Man there!   

Green Man in the Gothic Period
The Gothic Period constitutes the highlight of The Green Man. He appears in almost all famous Gothic Cathedrals, in particular in France (Chartres, St.Denis, Sens, Bourges, Reims, Dijon, Poitiers), Germany (Freiburg, Trier, Marburg, Bamberg) and England (Winchester, Southwell, Exeter, Norwich, Lincoln). His head is mostly carved with foliage. Again W.Anderson: "These three Green Man heads on the South Portal (of the Cathedral of Chartres) set a pattern, I believe, for the future development in Europe of the image. Just as the column statues standing behind them marked a further stage onwards from those of the Royal Portal in conveying a new sense of the individuality of the soul - which was to be followed by Reims and elswhere. Furthermore, the leaves that issue from them are in each case recognizable as those of particular species: they are the oak, the acanthus and the vine. To understand the significance of finding recognizable plant species here, we have to go back sixty or seventy years to the first appearence of the Gothic style of St.Denis. There the theme of associating vegetation with sin underwent a transformation as the sculptors undertook a purer copying of classical models. At Sens, the next great centre of early Gothic, the capitals are carved with simple and beautiful ideal plant shapes that suggest a similarity with the art of Ancient Egypt or, as though under the influence of Neo-Platonic thought, they were meant to signify the eternal ideas of vegetation. This was to be followed in the later twelfth century by the sculptors of the nave of Notre-Dame de Paris where - since the first time of Roman imperial art but with a wholly different purpose - they began to portray definite and recognizable species of plants carved with delight and enjoyment as signs of the goodness of creation."    

(Pre)Modern times
Another major change came with the entry into modern times. This started with the Reformation. W.Anderson: "While in the previous era The Green Man was a symbol of harmony between the laws of Nature and the laws of humanity, the stern leaders of the Reformation disturbed that balance by attempting to crush popular ceremonies such as those of May Day in which much of the old vegetation rituals survived. Behind the success of Protestantism in the North lay powerful economic forces which required an even greater exploitation of natural resources: the extension of mining, the introduction of draining on a vast scale, the construction of canals, the rise of what was to become the chemical industry - as well as the part played by Protestant Holland and England in the exploitation arising from the newly discovered routes to Africa and the Indies. All of these depended on a necessary divorce between man and Nature in the course of which man became increasingly the manipulator and violator of Nature. The object of all these endeavours was increased productivity and fruitfulness which was to pay for the great houses of the nobility - replacing the castles of the past - and the splendid town houses of the merchant classes. As The Green Man moved into that secular world he became a frequently used symbol of that fruitfulness: he is to be seen in chimneypieces, panelling, furnishing, embroideries and bronzes. Not only does he appear on armour, but he enters the age of gunpowder by forming part of the decoration of cannon, fowling pieces and the stocks of pistols".


His Story comes to a close. It started with omnipotent Vegetation Gods, while eventually degenerating into an idol of modern society. He would probably have disappeared if in the mean time the natural world wouldn't have been degenerated with him. Obviously, these processes are two sides of the same coin. Let's recapitulate:

The Great Mother
As a Vegetation God The Green Man is the other side of the Great Mother. He is born out of Her Cosmic Womb, while continuously returning. Spiritually, it corresponds with the Light (the Divine) born out of Darkness. In the beginning both were inseparable, the former serving the latter. With the development of the ego-mind, the Original Wholeness got lost, though. Aspects of the Mother were first projected in the various Goddesses, while later becoming attributes of (Vegetation) Gods. The sacred marriage had to confirm the holy bonds between the Goddess and Her Son-Lover. This changed with late Babylon though. In the Enuma Elish (book from Babylon), the God Marduk eventually destroys the Goddess Tiamat. This "leitmotiv" was continued in the Old Testament, in which the Dark Sea (symbol of the Mother) is definitively replaced by "God's Light". Eve, still called by Adam the original "Mother of all living" became the source of doom to all mankind. The proces of patriarchalization would continue in Christianity, in that "apostles, fathers, bishops, priests and others" thoroughly erased all memory of the Great Mother. While Mary Magdalene as "the One who knew the All" was crushed, degraded into a prostitute ("Whore of Babylon" was a honorable title of the Original Mother Goddess) - so the Church knew very well about Mary's background - her seven sacred initiations condemned as her seven sins etc. etc., was replaced by the harmless Virgin Mary as the new "Queen of Heaven". Slowly the Virgin got more attributes of the Original Mother, hence the Catholic Church as one of the few patriarchal religions, having at least some form of feminine Deity.* However, by crushing the essential elements of spiritual life by the Church (Inquisition), further decay was unstoppable. People had no choice, but to fall back on their ego's. Hence, the Ego-Catastrophe of today.

* Apart from Hinduism, in which Her image was preserved and Kuan Yin in Buddhism, in which a similar process had taken place.

The Green Man
He would recognize our situation of today immediately: it is the extreme form of the "wasteland". I hesitate to become personal, but I can testify about the Return of the Great Mother firsthand. In these most critical of times, at the end of a cycle of gradual degeneration, She has re-appeared as the Reality beyond Reality. It went like this. Like in the Parzival myth I needed the first half of my life to exploring the dimensions of the mind. In the second, though, I was "invited" to accomodate to the demands of the Eternal Feminine. I had to restructure my within and without in order to be worthy to the mission She had bestowed upon me. One thing was still missing though: her counterpart The Green Man. In order to fully restore His Story something still had to happen. It materialized in making the step to actually fully identifying with the masculine archetype. It coincides with the (ecological) crisis the world is in. The Original Myth of The Great Mother and The Green Man thus coming at the right time! Rather than having to fall back on a shallow history of meaningless figures (kings, generals, popes, politician's, scientists, businessmen etc.), a vibrant inner His Story of meaning, inspiration and empowerment has become available to you. It is not enough to stay confortably in your chair, supporting some charities here and there, while going on with "business as usual". You have to become what you believe.....Your true identity being serving the Whole. Now is the hour of Truth. What are you doing, if put with the back against the wall? Hence my mission is to awaken everybody by giving the example through my own life. What a bliss, when I took my green garment on for the first time. A stream of empowerment entered my Being as well as my body. I see the saving of the planet carried out by people - Green Men and Wise Women - who start changing themselves in a most drastic way*. What is there to be lost? This came to my mind as I read Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth". What is possibly worthwile to cling to, if mankind cannot even secure the future generation? Or, in my case, if The Netherlands would be drowned in 50 years from now?  

* In the seventies Charles A. Reich already wrote the book "The Greening of America". Now the greening of the entire planet is at stake.

My two main sources were:
A.Baring & J.Cashford "The Myth of the Goddess", 1991 Viking
W. Anderson "Green Man", 1990 HarperCollins
Both books are strongly recommended!

Become a Green Man, Wise Woman respectively!

Info & contact


In order to have a full overview of the work,
we recommend you to first going back to the beginning of
Han Marie Stiekema's website.
Please, click HOME and proceed from there

2006 © Copyright Han Marie Stiekema. All rights reserved.
Everyone may use this website as a source of inspiration. However, since it
is freely given, no-one can claim, copy or derive any text, rights,
position or status from this website.

Last revising: 08/09/12