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Thread: (The) Green Man {God of the Week}

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    (The) Green Man {God of the Week}

    The Green Man is a God or spirit of vegetation and plant growth, especially that of springtime. He is associated with the holiday of Beltaine, on May 1st, and He is the counterpart to the May Queen. He is frequently found carved into medieval churches as a sort of gargoyle, His face made from foliage, or with leaves sprouting from His eyes or mouth.


    He is shown here bearing a pair of antlers: deer shed and regrow their horns each year, and in the springtime the new antlers are covered in a fuzzy skin called velvet which brings blood and nutrients to the quickly-growing horns. The growth of antlers in spring symbolizes the new growth in the plant world, especially the trees, as they look a lot like branches. The Green Man is shown here in the velvet antlers of springtime.

    From: Thalia Took
    (...)

    Strongly connected to Jack in the Green and the May King, as well as John Barleycorn during the fall harvest, the figure known as the Green Man is a god of vegetation and plant life. He symbolizes the life that is found in the natural plant world, and in the earth itself. Consider, for a moment, the forest. In the British Isles, the forests a thousand years ago were vast, spreading for miles and miles, farther than the eye could see. Because of the sheer size, the forest could be a dark and scary place.


    However, it was also a place you had to enter, whether you wanted to or not, because it provided meat for hunting, plants for eating, and wood for burning and building. In the winter, the forest must have seemed quite dead and desolate... but in the spring, it returned to life. It would be logical for early peoples to have applied some sort of spiritual aspect to the cycle of life, death and rebirth.


    Folklorist James Frazer associates the Green Man with May Day celebrations, and with the character of Jack in the Green, who is a more modern adaptation of the Green Man. Jack is a more specifically defined version of the nature spirit than the earlier Green Man archetype. Frazer speculates that while some form of the Green Man was probably present in a variety of separate early cultures, he developed independently into a variety of newer, more modern characters. This would explain why in some areas he is Jack, while in others he is Robin of the Hood, or Herne the Hunter in different parts of England. Likewise, other, non-British cultures seem to have similar nature deities.


    The Green Man is typically portrayed as a human face surrounded by dense foliage. Such images appear as far back as the eleventh century, in church carvings. As Christianity spread, the Green Man went into hiding, with stonemasons leaving secret images of his face around cathedrals and churches. He enjoyed a revival during the Victorian era, when he became popular with architects, who used his visage as a decorative aspect in buildings.


    Legends connected to the archetype of the Green Man are everywhere. In the Arthurian legend, the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a prime example. The Green Knight represents the pre-Christian nature religion of the British Isles. Although he originally confronts Gawain as an enemy, the two later are able to work together - perhaps a metaphor for the assimilation of British Paganism with the new Christian theology. Many scholars also suggest that the tales of Robin Hood evolved from Green Man mythology. Allusions to the Green Man can even be found in J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan - an eternally youthful boy, dressed in green and living in the forest with the wild animals. Today, some traditions of Wicca interpret the Green Man as an aspect of the Horned God, Cernunnos.

    From: Here
    As the Green Man he is the God of the woodlands and vegetation. He is also known as 'Green Jack", "Jack in the Green" and "Green George". He represents the spirits of the trees, plants and foliage who has many powers over nature that promote growth. He has the power to make it rain and foster the livestock with lush meadows. As Green George he has been represented as a young man cloaked head to foot in greenery. In early depictions, the green vegetation emphasized his phallic symbol of fertility as he lead processions through tribal lands. As the Green Man he shares his woodland home with the forest fairies often called "Greenies" or "Greencoaties". What today we call Nature Sprites. The Green Man is depicted as a horned man peering out from a mask of foliage, connecting him to the image of Horned God.

    From: Here
    In some Wiccan traditions, the Oak King and the Holly King are seen as dual aspects of the Horned God. Each of these twin aspects rules for half the year, battles for the favor of the Goddess, and then retires to nurse his wounds for the next six months, until it is time for him to reign once more.


    Often, these two entities are portrayed in familiar ways - the Holly King frequently appears as a woodsy version of Santa Claus. He dresses in red, wears a sprig of holly in his tangled hair, and is sometimes depicted driving a team of eight stags. The Oak King is portrayed as a fertility god, and occasionally appears as the Green Man or other lord of the forest.

    From: Here

    Also see:

    Theories and Interpretations
    History of the Green Man

    Cernunnos {God of the Week}

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    I have that Anne Stokes art on a decorative tile (about page size, 8-1/2" X 11") in my living room. It's a wonderful depiction. The tile can be found on eBay and elsewhere for not too much money.

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    More an archetype than an actual god. There wasn't anything "secret" about the church carvings. It was just a part of Christian architecture from the period.

    Also, Jack in the Green was the result of competing guilds seeing how many leaves they could get onto a costume for the May Devotions celebrations, eventually reaching the point where it completely covered the person wearing it.

    So, the modern Green Man is a Paganized blend of things from Christianity, rather than the other way around. How many modern pagans who celebrate Beltane with something involving the May Queen and Green Man know their practice is rooted in celebrations for Mary, Queen of the May?

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    Quote Originally Posted by perceval23 View Post
    More an archetype than an actual god. There wasn't anything "secret" about the church carvings. It was just a part of Christian architecture from the period.
    Not sure of the truth of that considering the number of Shelia-Na-Gigs that are also to be found on many churches of the period. That and factor in that it was not universal to all churches nor even all countries in the given time frame though the style of church was pretty universal at that time.

    Also, Jack in the Green was the result of competing guilds seeing how many leaves they could get onto a costume for the May Devotions celebrations, eventually reaching the point where it completely covered the person wearing it.

    So, the modern Green Man is a Paganized blend of things from Christianity, rather than the other way around. How many modern pagans who celebrate Beltane with something involving the May Queen and Green Man know their practice is rooted in celebrations for Mary, Queen of the May?
    The rest I simply do not know about as it did not interest me greatly.

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    It's true, though. Personally, I find how archetypes and traditions actually developed, and how some things are universal to multiple cultures and belief systems, to be a fascinating subject. It gives you a more objective, and less prejudiced, viewpoint. I think calling the Green Man an archetype is more accurate than calling him a "god" because the term "god" implies that something called the Green Man was worshiped by some ancient people, somewhere.

    The term "Green Man" was coined in 1939 to describe that particular part of Church architecture. It represented rebirth and renewal. The archetype relates to many figures from different cultures and customs, including Jesus, St. George, the Celtic Lud, the Mesopotamian Tammuz, the Egyptian Osiris, the Norse Odin, the Jewish Elijah, and the Muslim Khidr ("the Green One"). There are foliate heads in Iraq and Lebanon dating to the 2nd Century. So, if those stonemasons were inspired by anything specific, the evidence suggest the Middle East.

    Jack in the Green is part of the archetype, but his origins weren't really religious. Again, it was competing guilds seeing who could get the most flowers and leaves on a costume for the early May celebrations for Mary, Queen of the May. He became the May Queen's mischievous companion, and, for some reason, had a special association with chimney sweeps...

    http://youtu.be/yu23HHmOG48

    J. M. Barrie took the Alice figure, the modern version of the Goddess Descending to the Underworld, and had her meet what became the modern Green Man figure...

    http://youtu.be/RexSlaSnFrk

    The Holly King and Oak King were created by Robert Graves in his 1948 book, The White Goddess. He didn't intend his poetic vision of archetypes to be taken as literal history.

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    =perceval23;4692474]It's true, though. Personally, I find how archetypes and traditions actually developed, and how some things are universal to multiple cultures and belief systems, to be a fascinating subject. It gives you a more objective, and less prejudiced, viewpoint. I think calling the Green Man an archetype is more accurate than calling him a "god" because the term "god" implies that something called the Green Man was worshiped by some ancient people, somewhere.
    I don't call him a god either, so pretty much agree with your statement. Can't think of the exact name but there was also a brown-man type figure in parts of southern Britian I heard about. Except the brown-man was was not carved itno buildings but more a regional legend type thing.

    The term "Green Man" was coined in 1939 to describe that particular part of Church architecture. It represented rebirth and renewal. The archetype relates to many figures from different cultures and customs, including Jesus, St. George, the Celtic Lud, the Mesopotamian Tammuz, the Egyptian Osiris, the Norse Odin, the Jewish Elijah, and the Muslim Khidr ("the Green One"). There are foliate heads in Iraq and Lebanon dating to the 2nd Century. So, if those stonemasons were inspired by anything specific, the evidence suggest the Middle East.
    Honestly that seems to be the trend in modern paganism, take a term that was coined in the mid 1900's and pass it off as something ancient. I once read a theory that tied it to the middle east and to the Templars bringing it back to greater europe, especially parts of Britian. The Shelia-Na-Gig was also part of that speculation though I also read of them both being seen as the fertility and fecundity of male / female in nature which tied it to fertility and agriculture issues.

    Jack in the Green is part of the archetype, but his origins weren't really religious. Again, it was competing guilds seeing who could get the most flowers and leaves on a costume for the early May celebrations for Mary, Queen of the May. He became the May Queen's mischievous companion, and, for some reason, had a special association with chimney sweeps...http://youtu.be/yu23HHmOG48
    I can't even speak on Jack in the Green beyond the character being part of the inspiraiton for the Holly and Oak Kings and that is suspect to my understanding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MonSno_LeeDra View Post
    Can't think of the exact name but there was also a brown-man type figure in parts of southern Britain I heard about. Except the brown-man was was not carved into buildings but more a regional legend type thing.
    You may be thinking of the woodwose or "Wild Man of the Woods." It was a kind of forest spirit or monster that took the form of an extremely hairy humanoid. Usually depicted naked or in loincloth, and covered with long hair all over the body. Both male and female woodwose sported beards. Folklorists consider them the British equivalent of the Greek satyr. They could also be included as part of the Sasquatch/Yeti family, though sightings are rare in the modern era, implying that the cryptid is extinct in the British Isles.
    Last edited by Daecon; November 8th, 2012 at 10:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    You may be thinking of the woodwose or "Wild Man of the Woods." It was a kind of forest spirit or monster that took the form of an extremely hairy humanoid. Usually depicted naked or in loincloth, and covered with long hair all over the body. Both male and female woodwose sported beards. Folklorists consider them the British equivalent of the Greek satyr. They could also be included as part of the Sasquatch/Yeti family, though sightings are rare in the modern era, implying that the cryptid is extinct in the British Isles.
    That might be it. Been a number of years since I heard about it so it's sort of foggy in my mind but what you've written sounds right to what I recall.

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    I don't think of the Green Man as being a single deity, just as I don't see the Horned God as being a single deity. It's a role, much like "Sky God", "War God", et al. There are many that fit these roles. I worship a deity whom I view as both Green Man and Horned God, but that is idiosyncratic to that deity being a horned god of the wild.

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