The Verdant One; The Green Man
ALSO KNOWN AS:
El Khidr; El Khizr; Al Khidri
Feast: 23 April
His true name, if he has one, is unknown. It is unclear exactly when he lived. Al Khidr literally means “The Green One” or “The Verdant One” in Arabic. He is a mysterious sage, prophet and holy man, possibly an angel, definitely an Ascended Master. He may be a spirit or he may be a man who, having drunk the Water of Life is now immortal.
Al Khidr is the Green Man. He is the patron of fertility, spring, youth, good health and life everlasting. In a dry region where the desert and drought are never far, Al Khidr is a spirit of water, allegedly responsible for several magical, therapeutic and restorative springs found in the desert. He may know, control and/or produce the Fountain of Youth, also known as the Water of Life. Al Khidr drank from the Water of Life and so is eternally youthful, healthy, energetic and alive.
Al Khidr is the patron of travelers; serving as both physical and mystic guide. He mysteriously and miraculously appears to rescue or guide travelers in need and then just as mysteriously disappears. There have historically been many reported sightings and encounters with Al Khidr.
Al Khidr has been venerated since before Islam although how much before is unclear. He may predate Christianity and Judaism, too. He is identified as a contemporary of Moses with whom he is said to have traveled. He is venerated among such diverse spiritual traditions as the Bektashi, Druse, Kizilbash, Nosairi and Yezidi.
Highly unusually, he is a pre-Islamic spirit who is perceived as benevolent by Islam. Devotion to Al Khidr is considered compatible with Islam because he is considered to support and serve the Prophet, not be a competitor or rival. Al Khidr is revered amongst some branches of Islam, especially Sufis. Depending on tradition, Al Khidr may be considered an angel, prophet or saint. Although now venerated all over the Islamic world, the heartland of Al Khidr’s veneration is Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Balkans.
Al Khidr epitomizes the goodness and generosity inherent in the world. Al Khidr guides spiritual seekers and those who seek the mysteries of the divine. He initiates those who walk mystical paths. The hallmark of many Sufisaints is a meeting with Al Khidr who bestows a cloak representing their initiation.
Al Khidr is the subject of many, often contradictory, legends. The prophets and saints with whom he is sometimes identified include Elijah, John the Baptist and especially Saint George whose feast day he shares. (In other words, some believe Saint George and Al Khidr to be one and the same; two names for the same being. In Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Palestine, images of Saint George may be identified as Al Khidr.) In some places, his feast day is considered the first true day of spring. Stories of Al Khidr were extremely popular in Moorish Spain; it’s possible that after the Christian Reconquest, these legends were transferred to Saint George. Alternatively, Al Khidr and Saint George (or at least some of his paths) may initially have been a Pagan spirit who transitioned to Islam and Christianity under two different names.
Historical sightings of Al Khidr describe him as a traveler riding a greyhorse; although these days, it may be a grey car or perhaps even a Greyhound bus. He leaves telltale signs of his identity: his footsteps allegedly leave a green imprint. Places where he sits or that he touches may also turn greenish. Some describe him as having a greenish hue, a lingering effect of drinking the Waters of Immortality. You can allegedly recognize him because one of his thumbs lacks a bone.
Myths from India suggest that Al Khidr’s true home is beneath the sea and that he travels to land sitting on a green carpet that skims the surface of the waters.
Al Khidr appears amongst Persian miniatures but images of Saint George or the Green Man may also be used to represent him
All green plants but especially hemp; marijuana
Al Khidr is a traveler; a man always on the move and so, not surprisingly he has close associations with many places:
• Khidrlik (literally Khidr’s Place), a popular Turkish place-name, usually refers to high places
• There is a hot spring named in his honor near Elbassan, Albania.
• Sanctuaries or sites associated with Al Khidr are also often linked to the Crusaders including sites in Damascus and Jerusalem and a spring in Nablus (‘Ayn al-Khidr)
• The shrine of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, is associated with Al Khidr by Muslims, Saint George by Christians and Elijah by Jews. The shrine has historically been associated with miraculous cures of mental illness • Abadan Island, Iran is dedicated to him
If a shrine specifically associated with Al Khidr is inaccessible, never fear. Vows to Al Khidr have traditionally been fulfilled at shrines dedicated to Saint George.
Ascended Master; Green Man
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.