The History of The
The Green Man is a mystical
and puzzling figure, his existence through many cultures and faiths
worldwide and throughout history gives him an omnipresence that cannot be
ignored. He is never obvious, never showy, but can be found somewhere in
nearly every church or churchyard and in much art and architecture – the
more you look, the more you find.
What does he mean? Historians are still puzzled, as his presence is not
directly representative of an element of any particular faith, but the Green
Man is in essence larger than one faith, or all encompassing life, as in
Pagan symbolism he represents fertility, the cycle of life through eternity
The Green Man has been around a long time, the first carvings of foliate
heads were found in Roman art during the first century AD. Carvings and
symbols can be found all across what was once the Roman Empire, and he
appears in Britain in the Eleventh Century. Interestingly in the early
depictions he was sometimes portrayed as a demonic figure being trampled –
perhaps denoting Christianity’s conquest over Paganism or human dominance
over nature, but his carved presence often tucked away in corners, carved
into beams in roofs or under seats suggests he was never fully suppressed.
So his roots can be traced through Pagan, Greek, Egyptian and Roman myths,
and his ancestors are Dionysus, Bacchus and Osiris, amongst others. Some
speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the
traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of
examples found throughout history. Phil Lister writing in 1982 suggests
“this has led many to seek clues in myth, legend and religion. John
Barleycorn - celebrated in song - shows the same themes of death and
rebirth, as does the Green Knight in the Arthurian story of Sir Gawain.
Medieval legends of the Wild Men - dressed in leaves, living in the forest
and venturing forth to take food, have been connected with the Green Man. In
some stories of Robin Hood - the robber and hero dressed in green - he
attains godlike status and links with the Horned God Herne. Present-day
Western pagan thought identifies the Green Man as the symbol of the
qualities of godhood within the male, as well as being an expression of the
cycle of life, death, rebirth and its relationship with the transcendent
life-force, the Goddess, the female expression of divinity”
The following extract from an article written by Adrian Gardiner and
published in The Scotsman provides a fascinating modern take on the Green
Man’s most recent incarnation;
“The Green Man is immortal. He has had, to date, four distinct lives: in
art, in architecture, in nature and in today’s environmental consciousness.
In his third reincarnation, the Green Man witnessed environmental
destruction and slumbered. In the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian
era he went back to the garden - in the wrought-iron gates of Kew, on urns
at Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire. This was the era when botany became a
respectable science. And in the past 30 years, the Green Man awoke and took
charge of our ecological consciousness. He invented the Green Party, drew
our attention to rain forests and recycling, developed cycle lanes and cheap
public transport. And he paved the way for the Gaia theory, that the planet
is a self-regulating organism which will always survive, despite mankind’s
puny attempts to destroy it. The Green Man, 2,000 years old, is alive and
well and living in a garden or cathedral near you.”
The Green Man continues - a symbol of the continuous regeneration of life
and the interdependence of all things.
The Breinton Morris - Who is the Green Man?
(prepared for Fools & Animals Unconvention, Wath-upon-Dearne, Phil Lister
Adrian Gardiner. Saturday, 19th May 2001. The Scotsman. The Scotsman
Green Man Conservation was founded with both
nature conservancy and a profound admiration and love of trees and wildlife
in mind, gleaned through both academic learning and innate respect derived
from immersion in our natural environment.
Nature conservancy translated through years’ voluntary work with conservation trusts,
farming experience, academic and experiential training, and work in the tree
surgery industry as well as the corporate market, was no mean challenge, and continues to provide challenges to this day.
It is, however, this diverse mixture of
experience and values that brought about the emergence of a company
dedicated to a unique way of working, whereby our principles dictate our
business, and as a result we can often be found talking ourselves out of
work for the benefit of the trees!
We work closely with Tree Officers and the
Forestry Commission to ensure best practice and continually invest time in
education and training to keep up-to-date in the hugely diverse and
ever-changing world of arboriculture. To maintain a large knowledge base we
spread specialist subjects both within the company and maintain availability
via consultants to provide the best service possible.
Above Centre; The life in trees
never ceases to enthral: The Old Bull of Hatfield Forest; a carved growth upon an
ancient Yew. Green Man Conservation Our Inspiration -
Vibrant, thriving, well-managed woodland habitat is a joy in all seasons.
Green Man Conservation
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