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The Green Man


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Modern Wicca's Green Man -- who is he and where does he come from? Presented at Kaleidoscope Gathering 2010.

Modern Wicca's Green Man -- who is he and where does he come from? Presented at Kaleidoscope Gathering 2010.

Published in: Spiritual, Education

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  • 1. The Green ManIn modern Wicca the Green Man is often seen asan aspect of the Horned God, especially in hisCeltic Cernunnos form. Yet is he really an ancientCeltic figure or a Medieval Christian one?As presented at Kaleidoscope gathering July, 2010
  • 2. What Well Cover (Agenda)  What a Green Man is  A brief review of the historical record  What we think he may have represented to those who carved him  A look at the Mysteries of Dying and RebirthThe Whitefield Green Man
  • 3. Things to Remember• We know almost nothing about the Green Man• Now a central figure in Mayday lore & celebrations throughout North and Central Europe (from 18th C.)• Pagans use him as an emblem of life, death and rebirth
  • 4. Who is He?  Frequently found in church architecture; also in municipal buildings  Term dates from articles written in the 30s "The Green Man in Church Architecture", The Folklore Journal, 1939 – Lady Raglan  No idea what, if any, name originally given  a.k.a. Robin Hood, King of May, the Garland & Jack-in-the-Green  central figure in N. & Central European Mayday celebrations
  • 5. Types of Green Man  Foliate (the head turning into leaves)  Spewing, Uttering or Disgorging (spews vegetation from its mouth)  (Blood)Sucker (branches coming from eyes, ears & nose)  Jack In The Green (face appearing in a bower of leaves)
  • 6. Earliest Records  c.100 Viridios, Ancaster 2 inscriptions - (Proto-Celtic Wirdjos - Green Man?)  c.500 Nicetius decorates cathedral w. Green Man from a Roman temple  Others follow suit  Reformation: not seen  Now been seen as a hidden decoration mostly in churches & cathedrals
  • 7. Cylenchar, the hidden one  disgorging woodland & meadow spirit of Spring rebirth & renewal a.k.a. Jack-in-the-Green, Welsh Gwrddni  located high up by the roof or in dark corners but also hidden in plain sight amongst carvings e.g. leafy designs beside every doorway just one of which will have a face
  • 8. What Might He Represent? Resurrection - hope of new life, green leaves sprouting from a sometimes obviously dead head Creation - uttering leaves into being Wood Spirits - leaf masks in particular seem to show beneficent face shining with energy of Nature Protection - if Celtic, its use beside or above doors may protect the building from evil spirits or luck Fertility - some, especially cat-like ones, seem to be associated with harvest (cat as corn spirit)
  • 9. (continued) Portraiture - some have such character it appears to be taken from life. Are these portraits of clerics, sponsors, masons etc. involved with the building? Decoration - Renaissance foliate heads merely a formal decoration & found everywhere Wealth - 19th C. Banks frequently feature Green Men. Not only is such carving the preserve of the wealthy, but the lush foliage issuing from a face symbolises the generation of wealth at that time.
  • 10. Gawain & the Green Knight,  The story-poem of Gawain and the Green Knight was written in the 14th century—a time when many of the foliate heads were being carved on the cathedrals of Europe. 
  • 11. Rosslyn Chapel  excess of 110 carvings of Green men in and around the Chapel  progress from E. to W. young in East (Spring) aging as we progress towards the setting sun in the West & Autumn of mans years
  • 12. How We Use Him  As an archetype of our oneness with the earth hence as a symbol of the Green movement  Son of the God of life & death and of the Goddess of birth & renewal  Some Wiccans see him as the Ever Returning One as opposed to the Horned Lord of death and what comes after
  • 13. Q&A