Christus Vernalis Quasi Sylvanus

Ted Nasmith's illustration of Gawain and the Green Knight

Nine years ago the idea suddenly hit me like a meteor that the Green Man was in fact Christ.

Let me explain.

I have posted entries before about how my entire life has been occupied on some level with trying to determine what I believe and to apologize (in the original sense of explain or rationalise) for my inherent tendancy toward pagan, earth-based, quodlibet spirituality. I knew when I began this that I would have to account for that central figure of Christianity, and today when the university is closed for Easter seems the best time to open this particularly slimey and slippery can of eels.

Why slimey and slippery, you ask? Because the entire history of Christianity has been defined by this very endeavor: each culture and age reinventing the idea of the Christ according to its own understanding of the divine as its traditions concieved of it. This provided the scope I mentioned before which has allowed me to dodge the essential question of my own belief, but also denies us a definitive answer for who and what Christ is, what our experience of him is to be and thus what it means to be a Christian: hence countless heresies, hence the reformation / counter-reformation et alia, et cetera, ad nauseum gu basachadh.

In my musings on Christ and his nature during another Easter, I suddenly realized that, if there were a Christ who lived and was resurrected by the power of a Holy Spirit that was inherent to his person, then it was this same divinity, this same power that was in Nature, that powered all life, and that was the well-spring of vitality in the resurrection of the world in Spring. Nature = Christ – by this reckoning, and thus by divine grace – the living, realized state of being one with this nature – we take part in our full nature as humans – the head of the entire living world in which we live, and Christ – as Nature: the Green Man – is our head as wellk by nature of being one with “God the Father”.

So what does “God the Father” mean? There’s plenty of scholarship to get into this from two thousand years of wrestling with that one, but here’s my answer in a nutshell. The idea of “God the Father” is essentially that faculty of divine resaon that produces the definitive – the Mind of God as it were. Basically, God = divine reason / langauge (the much celebrated logos), Jesus = mask / identity of God, Spirit = the divinity that produces life … but is this what I believe?

As an ontological model of divinity it works – moreover, I find it beautiful – but I have never experienced any real connection with this. Such a God was always ‘out there’, ‘up there’ and aloof. More problematically, this idea of God always tended to bring up feelings of guilt, exclusion and alienation – as if the idea dissected the divine rather than put me in greater communion with it.

AHA! This then is a primary article of my own belief: the proper idea of a divinity brings us further into the realization of our immediate connection with this divinity. We already are in the full presence of divinity, but for whatever reason we are not aware of it, not fully present to it or to ourselves. To have a true idea of divinity is to have a direct perception of divinity. This is why when I heard the answer to my prayer in my youth (see the middle paragraph of “Porneia atque Generes Dicendi”) it was simply a vague feeling with words to give it focus. It was all that I could understand given my preconceptions.

I believe that there is a God, supreme and manificent, transcendent and the font of all things, but there is more to this than simply the monotheistic blinders most Christians wear. I believe in the Green Man and that He is in all things and that we are related intimately to Him, but I am unsure of the connection between these two deities. I think that to look further into the nature of divinity and determine my beliefs, I will have to turn next to the Tuatha De Danann and the remnants of continental Celtic religion. As part of this, I think I will also have to get into the sociological facets of religion .i. religion and identity.


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