Alchemy / Psychology / self-realisation / Shamanism

The Greenman, The Empress, Little John and Indy Jones: Untying a Celtic Knotwork


illum_recently I experienced some very vivid psychic impressions during a lucid dreaming experience. One in particular had me receiving images of the Celtic symbolSerpiente_alquimica of the Greenman, and leading a Druidic prayer ritual in a stunning forest grove. I suspect that it might have been a peek through the eyes of ancestral memory, or perhaps a hint of things to come. Cyclically speaking, it might even be one and the same event: a past and future imposed upon one another, linked acausally by reoccurring astrological conditions of the sort expressed Alchemically by the Ouroboros snake eating it’s own tail. One things for sure, I will be doing a lot more research into Celtic lore!
The timing of this experience was telling. It was the night before my dear, departed Grandad’s RWS_Tarot_03_Empressbirthday and the week previously, I had recieved a very clear psychic image of a Tarot card with a Queen-like figure in the company of a goose. The impression was the clearest psychic image I have ever had. My third-eye images are usually nebulous shapes which briefly emerge from within a green mist and then melt back again. However, this was so clear that I was able to identify the card in full-colour like a static hologram, and judging by it’s clarity it meant business. Although I am familiar with the more common Tarot images, my primary divination method is The I-Ching, so the meaning of this particular variation was unknown to me. After a quick search online, I discovered that it was a version of The Empress Tarot card, known as the Mother Goose. From what I have learned of The Empress, she is generally associated with sensuality, The Earth, creative inspiration and the divine feminine. However, she seems less commonly associated with the need for inner-child work, so the appearance of the Mother Goose variation in particular, drew sharp focus to this aspect.
A couple of days after the Tarot image, I had experienced another wonderful lucid dream. In this Robin_Hood_and_Little_John,_by_Louis_Rhead_1912one, I was faced with the choice of crossing two bridges over a river, one a very robust steel and concrete construction, and another which my higher-self informed me was there, but was invisible. This second bridge was a lot lower and closer to the river by comparison, nothing more than a thick plank to balance on. I sensed I would have to negotiate this invisible plank and confront some obstacle before I was allowed to cross, in the manner of Robin Hood facing little John. When combined with the striking clarity of The Mother Goose, it seemed to express a need to reunite with nature in order to develop a more ancestrally integrated expression of my spirituality. One which I had mistakenly believed denied to me, due to a family separation earlier on in my childhood.
I had felt nervous about crossing the invisible bridge (non-material, numinous, irrational) and so decided to cross the big, solid bridge (rational material world) in search of advice from a wise, white-haired woman, interpreted as a composite of two of my aunts, who in real life represented the restored link with a particular branch of my family tree, from which I had once been estranged.
As I went to meet this feminine elder, I pondered the plank crossing and found myself turning to one of my childhood action movie heroes in Indiana Jones. Some of the classic scenes in the Indiana Jones movies were based on the crossing of nerve-wracking bridges, after all. So what would Indy do, I thought? The answer came as a vision of myself standing in front of the invisible plank and throwing a large handful of sand across it to reveal it’s shilouette, just as Indiana Jones did in The Last Crusade, as he enters Al khazneh (Treasury of Petra, Jordan) in search of the Holy Grail.
640px-Al_Khazneh_Petra_edit_2I interpreted the throwing of the sand upon the bridge as a statement about science or faith alone in illuminating the path towards the ultimate spiritual potential embodied by the search for the Holy Grail. As the sand quickly slides off and Indy takes his first precarious step onto apparent nothingness, the implication is that material rationality will only get you so far, that any genuine spiritual path must also include the courage to act on the basis of direct experience of the numinous (non-material) realms. In broader terms, this is related to Western society’s conflicting attitudes about the relationship between spirit and matter. Relative to the contours of my inner-landscape, it reinforces identification with a few of the primary archetypal tensions represented by the (masculine) rational ego-driven aspects of the psyche in the timid (repressed) archeology professor, Dr Jones, versus the more (feminine) highly-spirited, intuition-driven Indy Jones the adventurer.
Negotiation of the invisible plank calls for a better integration of masculine and feminine cibo_god_and_the_four_elements_clip_art_19094qualities. This can be achieved by refining the interplay of Alchemical elemental forces. (fire = will, water = emotions, earth = physical body, air = intellect) In my case however, excess fire and water have created powerful antagonisms, provoking energetically wasteful emotional over-reactions when will is blocked or deemed to be threatened (steam) It’s not so much the possibility of drowing in emotions by falling off the plank, that I should be concearned about. In the confrontation between little John and Robin Hood, Robin is roundly humiliated by being thrown into the water.
This is symbolic of the checking of ego, loss of control and the overcoming of fear by falling into the water (intuition, numinosity, divine feminininity, fluididity, humility, passivity) to reunite with the balanced positive qualities of the emotions. When given their natural course of expression, their energy flows easily like the river. This way they are no longer to be feared, but become the fountain of creativity and growth that they are meant to be. The Greenman for his part, provides a balancing counterweight to all these emergent goddess qualities via his associations with positive masculine themes such as fertility, regrowth and rebirth…
I believe this is why the Mother Goose Tarot emphasized a predominant need for the earth element Etching_of_Vendome_Green_Man_misericord(sensuality, physical activity, creativity, nurturing of the inner-child) in order to promote increased grounding in the physical and energy body, and to mitigate excesses in the fire and water elements. There is also the implication that I will be allowed entry to the forrest to join the Merry Men in their revelry, only after I have sufficiently duelled with Little John. (definitively dampened my ego) Here is a call for the dynamic fulfillment of nature’s impulses as the wellspring of an authentic spiritual path, but in doing so, it has drawn attention to the need to first adequately resolve and integrate the tensions between the civilizing impulses of the dominant cultural paradigm, and a fulfilling expression of nature’s virtues.
By the time I was in the presence of the white-haired ancestral elder figure, I felt that I had already answered my own question, (the seed of this blog post already present) but the visit served as a source of great psychological comfort. While I had defeated the tyranny of physical distance in reuniting with that branch of my family tree, it took me considerably longer to bridge the psychological chasm that accompanied it. There is now a feeling of having truly come home. As I explore and integrate more Celtic influences into my Shamanic practice, this feeling is sure to grow. While there are still many mysteries to be unraveled, one thing is for certain. This standing stone no longer stands alone.

Images in order of appearance

1. Ouroboros; Theodoros Pelecanos, (1478) source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

2. The Empress (III); Rider-Waite Tarot Deck (1909), source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

3. Robin Hood and Little John by Louis Rhead (1912); source, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

4. Al Kazaneh (Treasury of Petra); source, Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

5. Cibo God and the Four Elements; source:

6. Etching of Vendome Greenman; source: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

7.  Standing Stones of Callanish; source: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5)



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12 thoughts on “The Greenman, The Empress, Little John and Indy Jones: Untying a Celtic Knotwork

  1. Pingback: Transmuting Shadow and Inspiring Global Co-Lucidity | Shamagaia

  2. Excellent post. When reading I couldn’t help but remember my Ph.D supervisor. She was interested in depth psychology and feminism. She really took the “masculine” / “feminine” idea to task.

    In some ways I agree with her. But at the same time, and to generalize, there seems to be something unique about women and men, respectively. Maybe not in heaven… but down here… in the flesh.

    The other thing that stood out was your discussion of the numinous. I believe it can be rational. But a higher kind of rationality. On this I always remember a Bible passage that hit me pretty hard, many years ago.

    Isaiah 55:6-9New International Version (NIV)

    8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
    9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Impressive post!…
    As to the Mother Goose it looks certainly as an archetypal figure and how interesting that the number of the card is three as Three means according to Carl jung the union of one and two (convergence of male and female) and it is also related to the Holy Trinity in Christianity.
    Another wonderful symbol you mentioned here is the Ouroboros, which I have always linked to the idea of Eternal return as Nietzsche stated it… It also reminds me of Prometheus myth and that eagle hawk that eternally ate his liver!.
    There are so many symbols and hidden meanings here… Your post here is an enriching way to shed lightness into dark!~ Thanks for sharing… And by the way I also love the feature!… Best wishes and happy weekend to you, Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Thank you so much for your really thoughtful commentary! I didn’t know about the Nietzsche reference. Very interesting. Archaic lore is indeed full of references to cyclic processes. Unity of opposites creating a whole in the Yin Yang is an equivalent found both in Chinese and Celtic culture. It’s cool to realize that so many different spiritual traditions across time are referring to much the same things. It shows us the embeddeness of such things in the primordial awareness of humanity irrespective of intellectual creedence. I love Plato’s description of the Ouroborous. (It would be cool to read an exploration of the symbol from your expert Grecian perspective!)

      As I was reading this quote, I also got an image of the Rainbow Serpent from the creation mythology of indigenous. Australia too. Awesome. I love this stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Amazing! I feel like Indiana Jones, after finding a rare gem. In terms of numerology,we have an interesting combination in my house. I’m a 3, my oldest son is a 6, and my youngest a 9. My bloodline goes back to Sir Richard Gilbert and my sons mother is native Sioux. Having brilliant people out there, helping us connect the dots, Priceless! Thank you for your efforts!

      Liked by 1 person

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