What’s the idea?
Learn about The Green Man; the mysterious figure who is part of many Midsummer and other celebrations around the world.
What’s the story?
I first discovered the Green Man when I was studying in Scotland.
Some of my friends invited me to attend a Pagan celebration.
As part of the celebrations, one of the group was dressed in leaves and other greenery.
It was an amazing sight as he danced around the bonfire!
So, of course, I asked what this figure represented.
When they explained the history I was fascinated to learn how old this character really was, so I decided to find out more.
The Green Man is a mysterious figure who pops up in many cultures that worshipped nature
For example, he is known in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia and even as far as Russia and India.
In fact, he is probably the most prevalent and visible pagan characters in our society today.
But who is this mysterious and magical character and why is he so widespread?
People should do this because…?
The Green Man is still represented in many cultures and it is interesting to find out how he is portrayed.
By learning about ancient traditions you can connect with your past and learn more about life before modern religions.
Learning about traditions is a fun way to educate children about the past.
Who is the Green Man?
He is related to vegetation deities – nature gods who birth, life, death and rebirth are related to the growth cycle of plants throughout the year.
Specifics about his beginnings and his worship are not fully known.
However, he is always known as a kind and benevolent character.
He is connected to our attempt to maintain a spiritual connection to the land and the cycles of nature.
The term ‘Green Man’ is actually relatively recent and was first mentioned in the journal “Folklore” in 1939.
However, the concept of the Green Man is much, much older.
In fact, it dates back to c.4000 years BC.
Nomadic tribes from Northwestern Europe travelled to warmer climates and began to settle and farm.
Growing crops had previously been carried out by the women in the tribe, but now male warriors started to get involved.
This is the main reason the figure is always depicted with a man’s face…showing the fusion of man and nature
The Green Man is also woven into the fabric of many folklores, stories and festivals.
One such example in the UK is ‘Jack the Green’.
In a celebration associated with May Day, a man with green skin and dressed in leaves leads a procession.
This procession symbolises the end of winter and the coming of spring.
Other historic characters like Robin Hood, Peter Pan, the Greek God Pan, the Roman God Bacchus, the Green Knight in the stories of King Arthur, even the Jolly Green Giant are all a reference to our green friend.
A lot of artists have used the Green Man as inspiration for their work.
There are even several modern festivals that have incorporated him as a theme.
Where can I find him?
Why not see if you can find the Green Man hiding in your local area?
His image often appears in churches, graveyard, or decorating the outside of older buildings…especially around the roof.
He may be hiding in the design of old furniture, mantlepieces and doors.
You may also discover a Green Man pub near you…especially if you live in areas where there are stretches of ancient woodland like Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Yorkshire and the Midlands.
Here is a clue to help you find him.
He is always shown as a man with leaves or foliage coming out of his face and hair…usually also his mouth.