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Golgari Color Pie Study - Definitive Duality


Golgari is one of those combinations that has both fascinated and eluded fans of Magic the Gathering for quite some time, what I mean is that its a pairing that seems to tie itself to a single very specific representation on every Plane, but why is this and is there more than meets the eye? In this article I will explain to you what exactly Golgari believes and why. What you will come to understand is two things, Golgari is a combination that has a very unique perspective, and that the way in which we experience this pair throughout magic does indeed explain something very profound. With that I want to begin with the core conflict at the heart Golgari, one that makes its way into almost every Green and Black card we play, as even their thematic differences can reveal what this pairing truly is.

Life and Death

There are two inescapable aspects of our existence, and that is birth and death; the growth and decay of all things. We see these themes represented time and time again in the combination of Black Green or Golgari. But why is that and is there a deeper meaning behind all of it? While these concepts seem superficial they reveal a deeper perspective which lies at the heart of this enemy pairing. There is no life without death and no growth without rot, one does not exist without the other. This is a case of enemies in theory being a part of a single whole. While these themes appose each other in a fundamental way they must respect each other and the circle that they play a role within. In this way Black and Green can see across the divide into each others realm.

This in turn provides a unique perspective to the pair that no other dual combination can mimic. So what does this mean for Golgari outside of its thematic representations. Well think of it in this way, with this breadth of understanding of life and death one can know peace when it comes to the inevitability of its existence. This is why Golgari has a relationship with both death and life in equal measure, one that is not based in fear but rather reverence, and why they can find the beauty in both that which decays and in what grows. They understand that in death a new life can be formed and in that way there is beauty and balance in everything.

Think of it like this, a compost heap is repulsive at first site with its rot and smells, yet it is brimming with bacterial life. In fact this death and decay repeated upon itself creates the greatest conditions for life. Not only is there rich microbial life, but it can also be used to grow new existence. Golgari is then a combination who is fascinated with the state between, or the space in which life decays, or in which decays breads new life. This is why these themes are ever present and why things like rot are so common with this combination. With this outlook there is beauty in such things, or a visceral fascination. Stepping away from a more thematic representation of the combination I want to now discuss what I believe to be one of the greatest conflicts that this enemy pairing must resolve and that is Autonomy or self reliance verse Destiny, purpose or that of tradition.

Autonomy and Destiny

For Green I chose the word Destiny, but in truth it could be called purpose as well, in that Green believes that each entity upon its world is meant to do and be something and it is that entities job to fulfill that role within their life, so in a way a persons destiny is set in stone based on their purpose. In some ways Green has a solidified view of time in this way. Destiny speaks to its purpose taking itself into the future and tradition purpose handed down from the past. This is something taken straight from nature, with the exception of humans, each animal and plant has a sole purpose and the removal of it can cause rippling effects felt throughout the world, this is why Green is so avid it continue natures legacy.

In the opposite way Black does not believe it should be shackled by a purpose, each person should be able to carve their own path and make the most out of their own life, destiny, ones role or traditions be dammed. In this way Black wants true autonomy or pure self reliance, unrestricted by outside forces. But you see you cannot escape these outside forces, and in the same vein perhaps our destiny isn't set in stone. This is where Golgari sits. Said from Golgari's perspective it would be something like this, I am aware that there are forces outside of my control that effect everything within and outside of the scope of my life. I am at peace with this and will apply change where it is possible for me, and so I should instead not fight against everything outside of my control but rather accept what I am and do the most from what I am given, always at peace with what I cannot do.

So in this way Golgari is not shackled by its fate but rather sees the path laid before its life and understands that it sits at its center, its fate ever in flux, its eyes to the the sky its purpose within itself. A maggot does not dream to be a king but it will still consume to its hearts content. It accepts what it is while exerting itself where it can. So you see, Golgari once again balances self interest, or the self in general with outside forces greater than itself. Sure its destiny is not set in stone, but it was placed here for some purpose, or at the very least it was born into an already established ecosystem that must be respected. Things like tradition then are not so much restrictions but guidelines passed down of proven paths aimed to help the next generation find their way. It could be said then that Golgari sits in the middle of both life and death, and then of purpose and autonomy. Like most enemy pairs it is a balancing act, which leads us into another important conflict within this colour combination and that is Ambition versus that of Harmony and Balance.

Ambition and Harmony

It could be said that nature maintains balance, or harmony because it does not take more than it requires for itself, but does this not discount the great achievements of humanity even though its actions have disrupted this delicate ecosystem? From another angle it could be said that ambition does poke its head into nature and it's because of this that evolution does take place. Even though one of Blacks greatest traits could be said to fly in the face of one of Greens core tenants we can see how grander aspirations can potentially be allowed in nature as long as it is not in excess.

You see where the enemy colours do not agree is in the extremes of their ideals. Green does not allow for unrestricted ambition, or in other words the unrestrained taking of resources from it, as this will ultimately disrupt the balance that nature has cultivated over millennia. The interesting thing is that Black disregards balance and harmony completely, just like it rejects most things, as it does not want to be told how it should be when what it wants to be is more important. Perhaps this is because Green can recognize most things as part of the being that portrays them, it is more patient and accepting even if it doesn't ever fully agree.

When these colours come together Black is able to see that its efforts have diminishing returns, in that it cannot continue to take and take without consequences. In this way a Golgari aligned person will indeed pursue their ambitions but will not take without end. It respects the balance for what it is and for what it provides, for if everything were to be taken from the earth then nothing would remain for me. On the other side of it Green can see the value in the strong reaching for the highest heights. Perhaps the first creature to step foot on land would not have done so if it did not desire what lied beyond its borders. It can be said that Green forgets that even ambition has its place and that it may just reject it because it has seen how much damage humanity is willing to cause when it forgoes the respect of such a balance. In this way Golgari sees that the world is indeed dog it eat dog and in some round about way this does create some form of balance, taking shape in what we call the food chain.

The hierarchical structure naturally forms when the strong take what they want but respect the power that others hold over them, and over ages this eventually solidifies. In that way a natural harmony is formed, the key is to understand that everything is finite and that we must understand that our actions have consequences. From here I want to discuss a concept within Golgari that I don't see brought up but one that has become clear in my mind over the course of the writing of this script. With such grand ideas of self and those of the grander world around it there is then a natural line towards formed towards a thinker who discusses such ideas. For this I have titled it as such, the practical versus that of the listless thinker or philosopher.

Practical and Listless Thinker

With concepts such as place and purpose so prevalent in Green's mind it can be a color whose head, figuratively speaking, is usually up in the clouds. These ideas are grand and the scope of which causes Green to see itself as but a small speck among an infinite universe. This is then directly contrasted by Black, a color, whom it could be said, sees itself as the center of the universe, naturally then black is a color who prefers introspection and self analysis over that of ideas of place within. This, among blacks other traits, is why Black it is often a color who is atheistic and amoral. This is directly at odds with Green who takes on a more wise and holistic outlook, that of scale beyond itself or a purpose which guides its actions. It could be said with confidence that these ideas are nothing alike and would lead to a stalemate of ideas, but of course we know that these ideas must come together to form this combination.

These conflicting opinions are then transformed into something more agnostic and practical. Once again it is an understanding that there is indeed forces of great scale beyond our understanding, and we are indeed a small piece of it and yet we cannot simply create our own gods from our lack of understanding. In another way it is the ideas that respects the power we ourselves hold, beings whose own bodies and minds are a miracle. In turn this mixture of concepts, both personal and grand in scale, leads perfectly into someone who is a philosopher.

Someone who thinks both within and without and of where the balance lays between its own self importance and that of our true purpose, our reason for existence. In many ways it can wrestle with this dichotomy for ages, never truly coming to a satisfying conclusion. Now this may not be a common version of Golgari but I believe it is in there, especially with what we have discussed so far in each of our previous topics, or when we apply this combination to our own lives and strongly defined characters. Golgari above many other combinations is granted a very unique perspective, one that is both grand and intensely personal.


It all starts with the core inescapable fact of our existence, everything grows and dies. We are not beyond both concepts and Golgari understands this, and instead of fighting against either it accepts both in equal measure, finding that space called rot, the continual death and growth found in nature. These concepts are not inconsequential either, they reflect what is at the heart of the combination. We see this in how Golgari balances its own very personal desires with that of purpose and place, of destiny written not in stone but rather a living document forged ourselves.

Do not discount Golgari for it sees the world around it from a perspective not shared by many, that of viewing both the grand scale of the infinite and that of its own very personal experiences of it. I put a thought out to you to test your perspective. Where is the line in the sand, does destiny dictate everything around you, are their forces out there persuading your every action or are we totally alone, free to act how we deem fit, a universe in our own right. If you answer one way or the other you might indeed take on one of the two colours but if you stand somewhere in the middle, with a practical and agnostic outlook, you my friend might be Golgari.

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