Duality in Magic Green-Black (Golgari)
Updated: Apr 6, 2021
The five colors of Magic the Gathering are more than a way of bringing mechanical flavor to the game. They are also the source of their own philosophies and ideals, which dictate their roles on any given plane. Multicolored cards are no different in this regard, and in fact expand this concept into ten new philosophies, in some cases even creating common ground between colors that would otherwise be enemies. Such is the subject of this blog, the color pair Green-Black, the pair of rot and rebirth.
From plane to plane, the one common thread between them all is the five colors of Magic. The themes introduced by these colors gives us a basis for understanding every world we visit. Now, before we can talk about the pair itself, it is important to briefly discuss the two colors this blog is centered on, so that we have a basis for understanding this pair's philosophy.
When it comes to the core philosophy of Green, what you get is the color most in tune with the natural order. One who sees their own role within nature, and in turn aims to fulfill that role. To do this, Green looks to the use of deep-rooted traditions based on nature's examples. Black, on the other hand, rejects any role put onto it, for it wishes to carve its own path to power.
In other words, what this means is that it is only we who can achieve our goals, and nothing, whether that be morality or law, should ever stand in our way.
So what we have here is a pair of colors in which one side wishes to be the focus, while the other wants nothing more than to meld into the tapestry of Nature. The question then becomes: is it possible to achieve our own goals while still conforming to the greater plan of nature itself? Well, the truth is that none of us can escape nature, no matter how much effort we exert. Black on its own may try its hardest to reject this notion, but in the end, Green shows Black that there is no way to stave off such things as life and death, of Predator and Prey, and of the eventual rot of all things. Deep down, Black knows that Green speaks true; it knows better than anyone the harsh realities of life. Black's issue is in the constraints that accepting your lack of control would mean. But perhaps there is an element of control that Green on its own has overlooked.
What Green-Black has figured out, which allows them that control, is their view on life and death itself. They view both stages of existence in equal measure, in turn giving them agency over the natural world's most exacting force. Sure, on its own, Black may wish to manipulate death, but this isn't exactly what's being said here. What Green-Black understands is that life and death are merely states, and that the circle of life is continuous and not a path. This pair doesn't look at raising the dead as anything more than continuing what nature has created.
The body may rot and the mind may fade, but there is still something beautiful there.
There still exists that perfect form that mother nature herself has designed. They simply do not believe that nature in any form should go to waste.
This ideal gives Green-Black control over what may seem to others as the uncontrollable destiny of nature, especially Green on its own, who does not look past its direct existence, but with Black along can question its convictions. Now, Green-Black still makes the distinction that it is not breaking from nature, for each part of the circle is still within creation. Instead, it simply asks: if life may continue on, should it not, no matter what form it may take? “Nature's most raw beauty is the circle: perfect in its continuance, with no break between life and death”
Selfish desires and a need for control may seem, at first thought, something that Green may not understand, and yet there are many examples of this within nature, as nature is all too willing to do as it wishes, never once regarding the consequence or succumbing to remorse. Green may want a world of coexistence, but it is no fool to what it sees around it. Take, for example, the Apex predator, sitting atop the food chain, who exerts its dominance over every other living thing. You see, if preying on the weak is within the scope of nature, which is something that Green can understand, then it becomes easy to rationalize being that predator, especially when combined with a color like Black. It then becomes all too important to put themselves into the role of predator. For if you are not the predator then you are the prey, and in turn lose any control that you once had. In the end, Green-Black is the side of nature that can be cruel and selfish.
Green-Black is the pair that can find beauty in things that others may be repulsed by. An apple on the tree, red and shiny, may be mesmerizing in its simplicity, but an apple on the ground, rotten and dead, is vastly more interesting and complex. Not only is that apple producing a new scent and form, it becomes a host for new life, and in turn outmatches what it once was. In a lot of ways, this is how Green-Black see the death of any form.
A body decomposing may be used as a vessel for something new, may feed something hungry or simply may rise back up to begin its next phase.
This mindset of viewing the dark side of nature is at the core of the physicality of Green-Black's ideals. Its not just in rot and death, either; it's in things like poison and disease. It's the cruel and lingering death conducted by mother nature herself, who disguises her worst atrocities in the most colorful animals and exotic plants. Death, rot, and disease is the side of nature that others overlook, but not Green-Black. No, what Green-Black sees is perfection, beauty, and complexity.
At first glance, nature may seem like perfection and a force out of our control. But Green-Black doesn't see things this way. You see, at closer inspection, what we find is an ecosystem that is nothing but selfish and cruel, and if we just tap into this side of Nature, we may harness it for our own good. With this outlook in mind, we can then look at the world around us and at concepts such as life, death, rot, and decay in a new light.
[Edited by Cameron Davis]