I have a thang about Green Men. It was just a little interest before I went to the U.K. but by the time I came back it had grown hugely. Green Men and more rarely Green Women represent the forces of nature merging with humanity
“‘The Green Man’, a name coined by Lady Raglan in 1939, is a medaeval image usually found in churches. Carved in stone or wood, depicted on stained glass, illuminated manuscripts and elsewhere, he can be recognised as a face, often grotesque, with foliage sprouting from his mouth, nose, eyes or ears. Alternatively, he may be a face composed entirely of leaves. Exterior or interior, he features on capitals, corbels, choir stalls, bench ends, fonts, screens, roof bosses — indeed, any surface open to ornamentation.
The earliest known examples are in the art of Classical Rome, from where the idea seems to have moved northwards, to be adopted by Christianity and spread far and wide along the pilgrimage routes. The Green Man vanished with the ‘Old Faith’ after the Reformation. By the time of his reappearance, on seventeenth century memorials and eighteenth century Scottish gravestones, the emphasis had shifted, the purpose redirected. For the Victorians, he played a major role in their church restorations and as a decorative motif on street architecture. Even today, when he enjoys a revival, his significance can be manipulated to suit our particular needs. The imagery has captured the imagination of modern artists working in various media. Surely change and development guarantees his survival!”
From “The Green Man: Variations on a Theme” by Ruth Wylie
His roots may go back to the shadow hunters who painted the caves of Lascaux and Altimira and may climb through history, in one of his manifestations through Robin Hood and the Morris Dances of Old England to be chiselled in wood and stone even to this day by men and women who no longer know his story but sense that something old and strong and tremendously important lies behind his leafy mask. One of the earliest English epic poems Gawain and The Green Knight may refer to yet another manifestation of the Green Man as the God that dies and is reborn. He is the Green Man, Jack in the Green, the Old Man of the Woods, Green George and many other things to many other men but one common theme runs through all the disparate images and myths, death and rebirth and the Green that is all life. Mike Harding
Although the Green Man has been used for purely decorative purposes, I believe that the images are an expression of our relationship with nature and as a pagan I see them as a warning regarding our treatment of the earth. We are not separate, we are not in control and we are quite capable of wiping ourselves out.
Here are a few pictures of my Green Men