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Folklore: The Green Man

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Any info about the green man? (168)


Jack Blandiver 28 Aug 07 - 12:16 PM
Bert 28 Aug 07 - 12:20 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Aug 07 - 12:57 PM
The Borchester Echo 28 Aug 07 - 01:03 PM
BK Lick 28 Aug 07 - 01:18 PM
Rumncoke 28 Aug 07 - 07:38 PM
rich-joy 28 Aug 07 - 11:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 07 - 11:41 PM
Jack Blandiver 29 Aug 07 - 04:29 AM
Big Al Whittle 29 Aug 07 - 05:55 AM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 29 Aug 07 - 08:12 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Aug 07 - 09:40 AM
Big Al Whittle 29 Aug 07 - 10:00 AM
Bert 29 Aug 07 - 10:01 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Aug 07 - 10:36 AM
Bert 29 Aug 07 - 01:25 PM
Mrs.Duck 29 Aug 07 - 02:16 PM
ClaireBear 29 Aug 07 - 02:53 PM
Jack Blandiver 29 Aug 07 - 05:22 PM
ClaireBear 29 Aug 07 - 06:21 PM
Bert 29 Aug 07 - 06:57 PM
Herga Kitty 29 Aug 07 - 07:18 PM
Jack Blandiver 30 Aug 07 - 04:02 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Aug 07 - 05:49 AM
Azizi 30 Aug 07 - 05:46 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Aug 07 - 08:40 PM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 31 Aug 07 - 04:37 AM
Billy Weeks 31 Aug 07 - 05:35 AM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 31 Aug 07 - 05:46 AM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 31 Aug 07 - 05:58 AM
GUEST,Vin2 31 Aug 07 - 06:11 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Sep 07 - 06:37 AM
Bee 01 Sep 07 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Sam 09 Sep 07 - 09:34 PM
Malcolm Douglas 09 Sep 07 - 10:08 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 09 Sep 07 - 10:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Sep 07 - 11:31 PM
Big Al Whittle 10 Sep 07 - 02:25 AM
folk_radio_uk 10 Sep 07 - 03:19 AM
Liz the Squeak 10 Sep 07 - 03:27 AM
Jack Blandiver 10 Sep 07 - 04:14 AM
Crowdercref 10 Sep 07 - 05:13 AM
Liz the Squeak 10 Sep 07 - 06:39 AM
Liz the Squeak 10 Sep 07 - 06:41 AM
Marc Bernier 10 Sep 07 - 11:09 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Sep 07 - 01:39 PM
Big Al Whittle 10 Sep 07 - 02:01 PM
Les in Chorlton 10 Sep 07 - 02:03 PM
Liz the Squeak 10 Sep 07 - 02:33 PM
Art Thieme 10 Sep 07 - 05:57 PM
Big Al Whittle 11 Sep 07 - 02:02 AM
Liz the Squeak 11 Sep 07 - 05:17 AM
Big Al Whittle 11 Sep 07 - 06:42 AM
IanC 11 Sep 07 - 09:19 AM
Stu 11 Sep 07 - 10:51 AM
Liz the Squeak 11 Sep 07 - 12:49 PM
Rumncoke 11 Sep 07 - 02:17 PM
Fortunato 11 Sep 07 - 04:44 PM
Kampervan 11 Sep 07 - 04:48 PM
Art Thieme 11 Sep 07 - 05:00 PM
Liz the Squeak 11 Sep 07 - 05:19 PM
Big Al Whittle 12 Sep 07 - 04:27 AM
Jack Blandiver 12 Sep 07 - 08:21 AM
Big Al Whittle 12 Sep 07 - 12:28 PM
Jack Blandiver 12 Sep 07 - 01:14 PM
Les in Chorlton 12 Sep 07 - 01:43 PM
Big Al Whittle 12 Sep 07 - 03:25 PM
Les in Chorlton 12 Sep 07 - 04:05 PM
Big Al Whittle 12 Sep 07 - 04:28 PM
Bee 12 Sep 07 - 10:17 PM
Cluin 13 Sep 07 - 01:19 AM
Wilfried Schaum 13 Sep 07 - 02:01 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Sep 07 - 02:55 AM
Stu 13 Sep 07 - 04:59 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Sep 07 - 05:23 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Sep 07 - 05:50 AM
Stu 13 Sep 07 - 06:22 AM
Stu 13 Sep 07 - 08:01 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Sep 07 - 12:11 PM
Snuffy 13 Sep 07 - 06:04 PM
Les in Chorlton 14 Sep 07 - 02:53 AM
Stu 14 Sep 07 - 04:05 AM
GUEST,LTS pretending to work 14 Sep 07 - 04:40 AM
Les in Chorlton 14 Sep 07 - 04:43 AM
Stu 14 Sep 07 - 04:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 07 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,LTS pretending to work 14 Sep 07 - 06:53 AM
Stu 14 Sep 07 - 07:19 AM
Bee 14 Sep 07 - 08:34 AM
Crowdercref 14 Sep 07 - 12:14 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 07 - 12:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Sep 07 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,greenmanwest 15 Sep 07 - 05:52 AM
Les in Chorlton 15 Sep 07 - 06:02 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Sep 07 - 06:57 AM
Jack Blandiver 18 Sep 07 - 09:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Feb 08 - 04:31 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 08 - 05:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 08 - 05:32 PM
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Peg 11 Aug 08 - 09:56 PM
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Subject: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 12:16 PM

Here's an article on The Green Man that might be of interest to some of you. This was originally written for the Yorkshire based magazine Folk Leads to Song & Custom but I've heard from various people that they messed it up rather (never seen a copy myself!), so this is a PDF of how it shoud be. Click below.

Devil in the Details

Comments welcome.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Bert
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 12:20 PM

I don't open pdf files, they are too slow and I don't have time to mess with them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 12:57 PM

Then please have a look at my Heads with Leaves page which consist of a brief overview of the Green Man phenomena, plus a plethora still and moving images gathered from around the UK...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 01:03 PM

4.3 MB and it took just 20" to download, not bad for 7 interesting pages.

And a pic of one of the 'pair of lovely knockers' at Durham Cathedral © Simon Groom on Blue Peter (children's TV programme for those Over There), which he swears he didn't say on purpose . . .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: BK Lick
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 01:18 PM

Gotta mention Folk-Legacy's Green Man logo, explained by Sandy Paton here.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Rumncoke
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 07:38 PM

I forgot to time it - it certainly took this pc less than a minute to download.

I didn't realise there was any sort of problem with the meaning of the face with foliage - having always considered it a reminder of mortality - that our destiny is to return to the earth and be recycled, at least on a physical level. It is, however, not concentrating on the death of the individual but on the vigour of the life it nourishes, which is perpetually renewing and reviving.

I think it is a man thing, something the male psyche resonates to, at least it doesn't seem to give me any thoughts of creating the image.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: rich-joy
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 11:20 PM

Gotta get in a mention of John Thompson's SONG "The Green Man" (he's from the excellent Down Under duo, "Cloudstreet" and who are touring the Yookay just now ....)


Cheers, R-J


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 11:41 PM

Green Man stuff in this thread, inc. Anderson's poem.
May


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 04:29 AM

The problem is that the 'Green Man' as we have come to understand 'him' today is a totally modern & entirely bogus construct founded on a fundamental misinterpretation (and misnaming)of a very particular type of carving unique to the architecture and theology of Pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism.

I'm not pushing any particular religion here, rather calling into question why this should be the case - like calling into question the 'mythconception' of Ring-a-Roses being a reportage on the symptoms of the Black Plague. There was no 'Green Man' before Lady Raglan named him so in 1939, thus linking such carvings to the various green men & Jacks-in-the-Green of British folklore & custom (none of which can be shown to be any older than the 17th century). And it's only in recent years that this Ancient / Celtic / Druidic / Pagan / Tree Spirit / Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth (call it what you will) has emerged as a largely unquestioned orthodoxy, so much that this is the line invariably taken in most church & cathedral guide books.

Take away the name, and what we are left with are visages of a profound and elemental horror entirely in keeping with certain key aspects of the human experience. As I say, no jolly Jacks-in-the-Green these...

That said, I was initially drawn to such carvings because I perceived them as being pagan, as pagan as I in fact, though largely because of the books I was devouring at the time. One of my favourite songs on the subject concluded with the lines:

But I'll fetch home the summer from the green-wood;
the trees & flowers unfolding to my song;
leaf-canopied; ablaze with twisting ribbons;
I'll call from hearth and plough the merry throng.
And on the winding green, with pipe and tabor,
I'll lead you all a fine dance, the summer long...

(segue into Idbury Hill, aka London Pride, which is also my beer of choice at The Shakespeare in Durham. How sad is that? Choosing a beer because it shares a name with ones favourite Morris Tune... I might add that I've lately been singing the verses of Kipling's Puck's Song to the tune of London Pride & it works a treat.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 05:55 AM

Just wanted to say I really liked this thread and the PDF.

I first got interested in The Green Man after reading a very downmarket romantic novel call Jack in the Green by Clo Chapman. Loved it! And wasn't there a Kingsley Amis novel called The Green Man?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 08:12 AM

And, despite its reputation as an ancient custom, there are no records of the tradition of building and displaying Jack-in-the-Green before the late 18th century.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 09:40 AM

It seems to me that the 'paganisation' of folklore is the result of the self-same Victorian paternalism that was used to justify the evils of colonialism. It's there in the cultural condescension that would interpret any given folk custom as being somehow 'vestigial' of something now 'long forgotten'.

When the thoroughly aristocratic Lady Raglan first called her medieval ecclesiastical foliate-head a 'Green Man', she did so fully in the faith that the Jack-in-the-Greens (or should that be Jacks-in-the-Green?) etc. were survivals of pagan fertility rites quaintly perpetuated by an ignorant lower order of society unwittingly preserving (as mere superstition) an ancient belief system that they themselves couldn't possibly understand, either in terms of its 'true' provenance or else its 'real' meaning.

That such thinking still exists today tell us much about the political & cultural agendas of modern pagans and such-like new-agers who think themselves privy to a deeper, sacred knowledge (such as the tripe one finds in most books on the Green Man) which masquerades as ancient wisdom but which is, in actual fact, wholesale invention on the part of the writers.

It occurred to me recently that I love Green Men in the same way that I love the singers in local folk clubs and singarounds. It's these people (in all their stylistic diversity & invariable idiosyncrasy) that give substance and vibrancy to the notion of the 'revival', just as the highly individualistic stylings of (say) Davie Stewart might give us a sense of the wide tradition he himself was but a part of. It is in the singing of traditional song (whatever the hell that might be) that the individual interfaces with the collective; and, no matter what ability the singer, I always feel I gain a far greater appreciation of such a song by hearing it sung than I ever do by seeing it written down.

Empiricism in all things; and the more I experience the corporeal wonders of the univese, so the more wondrously devoid of anything so much as resembling absolute meaning it all becomes...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 10:00 AM

writers who invent things....tut tut!
the spirit of Gradgrind.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Bert
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 10:01 AM

Great website Sedayne, and good scholarship too. Would you mind if I put a link to it on my website?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 10:36 AM

Thanks, Bert - feel free to link. What's your URL so I can return the favour?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Bert
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 01:25 PM

Thanks, I'm at www.newgatesknocker.com.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 02:16 PM

10 secs to open. Very interesting.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: ClaireBear
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 02:53 PM

Sedayne, please share the origin of that wonderful song snippet you quoted. I'm very intrigued.

And thank you for the scholarship and photographic records you have shared with us -- terrific stuff.

Claire


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 05:22 PM

I wonder, did it ever have a tune as such? For sure I used to sing it to a sort of melody-cum-psalm-tone accompanying myself on a medieval harp, circa 1983. But before that, circa 1980-81, you could catch the author of the piece performing it with West Northumberland's once-premier, much missed & fondly remembered, alt-folk combo Badger in the Bag (the Incredible String Band meets The Grumbleweeds with a healthy dose of Malicorne - & featuring the multi-instrumental talents of Whapweasel's Mike Coleman no less...) as part of their Green Man's Morris sequence.

Here it is in full:

^^
The Green Man's Song - by 'Dancing' Jim Wetherspoon   

Before you laid your tracks or daubed your houses;
or the drove the furrow hard across the wold,
I danced alone beneath the spreading branches,
and sang away the winter's clinging cold;
spelling sap to rise and the buds to quicken,
and lithe green shoots to spring from out the mould.

Wry masons and woodcarvers called me to them,
when spires were raised to match my tallest trees;
they set my leaf-mask leer on arch and lintel,
and grinning out from between the pimply knees,
of dozing friars, on bum-worn misericords
to mock the preacher's dry solemnities.

But I'll fetch home the summer from the green-wood;
the trees & flowers unfolding to my song;
leaf-canopied; ablaze with twisting ribbons;
I'll call from hearth and plough the merry throng.
And on the winding green, with pipe and tabor,
I'll lead you all a fine dance, the summer long...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: ClaireBear
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 06:21 PM

Oh, that is gorgeous. Thank you very much for posting it.

I wish I could have heard it circa 1981. Amazingly, although I'm from California and by rights should not have any idea whom you are speaking of, Malicorne and Whapweasel are both personal favorites of mine -- and less amazingly, I've known Robin Williamson of ISB since the '70s, when his "Merry Band" included two dear friends of mine.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Bert
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 06:57 PM

I liked the website so much that I went back and read all of the pdf file. Great work.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 07:18 PM

Re the question about the anachronistic camera symbol (which I really didn't expect to find in a discussion of the Green Man) - it's a symbol, and its meaning is recognisable for drivers of vehicles travelling at the relevant speeds, so it's fit for purpose. Ditto the steam engine symbol on railway level crossing signs.

And wld, you're right about the Kingsley Amis novel.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 04:02 AM

The speed camera digression was about the notion of symbolism in general and its role in cultural subversion in particular; as such it really ought to have been in parenthesis.

When I think of Kodak Pocket Juniors, the image is one of innocent sea-side fun with jolly chaps and happy flappers promenading along the front at (say) Lytham St. Anne's, having a spiffing time of it (cue soundtrack of 'Yes Sir, That's my Baby!' as recorded by Ace Brigode and his Fourteen Virginians on April 30th, 1925...). The Pocket Juniors (etc) were the mobile phone cameras of their day, 'kecking' and 'happy-slapping' notwithstanding one would hope, and whilst the photographic archive does bear testimony to a more 'glamorous' purpose, this is surely no less than one would expect given the legacy of photography from its earliest days.

I once knew an old lady who proudly displayed artful (and often 'au naturel') shots of herself as a young girl, taken by her beau with his Pocket Kodak Junior (which was also part of the display) as they roamed the hills and dales of Northumbria in his father's Bentley Vanden Plas in the heady days of the 1920s. No speed cameras back then of course - but such iconic innocence endures even in these most cynical of times, which is why I find it ever-so slightly disconcerting that the speed camera is symbolised in such a way; at least with the train the purpose remains the same.

Badger in Bag were some band that's for sure, though in Whapweasel something of their legacy endures; and 'Dancing' Jim is present on their CDs and website with his superlative graphic designs, ever evocative of the West Northumbrian wilds...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 05:49 AM

"Some of those medieval artisans obviously felt it would be wise to combine a time-honored symbol of their old religion with those of their newly adopted one. They were hedging their bets, apparently, for the Green Man is an ancient fertility symbol of pre-Christian England representing the marvelous death and rebirth of life that occurs annually in the cycle of the seasons. Speirs puts it this way: "Who is the Green Man? He is surely a descendant of the Vegetation or Nature god of almost universal and immemorial tradition (whatever his local name) whose death and resurrection are the myth-and-ritual counterpart of the annual death and rebirth of nature, in the East the dry and rainy seasons, in Europe winter and spring"."

This from "Gotta mention Folk-Legacy's Green Man logo, explained by Sandy Paton here." the post above suggest how these strange, almost totally unsubstansiated ideas are regenerated!

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 05:46 PM

Fwiw, if you asked most Americans who are aged thirty years and over what they thought "the green man" meant, I think they'd mention The Jolly Green Giant .

I'm curious if the people who thought up this ad concept based it on the folklore Green Man.

It's interesting how many commercial product names or ads used to promote those products have some folkloric association.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 08:40 PM

Academic articles on such subjects can be pretty dull, but this one is fun.

Tom E. Sullenberger, "Ajax Meets the Jolly Green Giant," Jour. American Folklore, 1974, vol. 87, no, 343, pp. 53-65.

The Chicago-based agency that handles the Green Giant campaign, drew this comment from J. D. Femina, a competitor:

"Burnet is the agency that figured out a way to sell vegetables: they invented this green eunuch called the Jolly Green Giant. The giant stands for good quality, and he comes from the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant and the people look at this big green guy and figure, "Gee, it's got to be good stuff." And they Buy. Who knows what the Green Giant stands for? Maybe because he's so big he means quality... That big green son of a bitch, the Jolly Green Giant, is fantastic. He sells beans, corn, peas, everything. When you watch the Jolly Green Giant, you know it's fantasy and yet you buy the product. Do you know what other food advertising is? Most food advertising is like gone by the boards, you don't even see it. But the Jolly Green Giant, it's been automatic success when he's on that screen."

Whether "there exists a more than coincidental similarity between the Jolly Green Giant and the fertility figures compiled by Frazier* is a tempting conjecture, but what or how much to make of this apparent similarity is a knotty issue indeed."
*"The Golden Bough."

....."The related question of whether the Jolly Green Giant was knowingly produced by people who consciously set about to revive a latter day spirit of vegetation with friends and relatives back in the old country, whether he was born from the collective unconcious of the parties involved, or whether he was merely the accidental offspring of an agency "skull session" also invite imaginative surmise."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 04:37 AM

Nice to see your Green Man writings and photos getting an appreciative new audience, Sean. However, I'd like to go a little bit off-topic and ask you to tell more about Badgerin the Bag, who sound very intriguing. Did they ever release any records?

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 05:35 AM

Most 'green men' one sees in churches are fantastic, dreamlike, sometimes nightmarish inventions, but a minority have strikingly 'real' faces, suggesting they could be portraits. Of whom? The stone carvers themselves?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 05:46 AM

"Of whom? The stone carvers themselves?"

Wouldn't fancy meeting a group of them on a dark night, then!

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 05:58 AM

I've always thought the Green Man on pedestrian crossings must be a vestigial remnant of an ancient symbol of protection. Mind you I also think that archaeologists will view Tesco and Nike as gods that us supersticious consumers worshipped (and who's to say they'll be wrong?)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,Vin2
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 06:11 PM

Roy Harper's last cd (i think) was entitled 'The Green Man' with a cracking song of the same name, check it out (as they say)..innit..


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 06:37 AM

Having fun at Fylde right now (despite a blocked ear, which at least saves me the bother of finger-insertion during singarounds...). Further to the Badger in the Bag legacy : do check out Kate Green's very splendid My Space page. Whilst the Badger's never made an album (though they came close in 1983) Kate's 'Unkindness of Ravens' CD is very much part of that family, along with Whapweasel & The Half-Remarkable Questionnaires (very occasional Incredible String Band tribute band with whom I once appeared myself supporting Dr Strangely Strange at the Be Glad ISB convention in Leeds circa 1995...).

Actual portraiture in the Green Man carvings is something naturally avoided by The Raglanite Orthodoxy, but it's certainly there. Also of interest are the various racial stereotypes one finds portrayed as 'Green Men' - like the 'Foliate Osama Bin Laden' in the cloisters of Chester Cathedral (see the Chester section of my Heads-with-Leaves page.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Bee
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 09:40 AM

Green Men in Canada: here's a page from my friend Colin's online stained glass portfolio (loads slow). I work with Colin on larger commisssions, so some of the foliage and almost all floral work is mine. Colin was deluged with requests for Green Man images for a while about ten-twelve years ago, when 'Celtic' and 'Druid' themes were something of a fad here.

The main image I've linked to was commissioned by an American tattoo parlour.

http://caileansglassworks.ca/gallery.htm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,Sam
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 09:34 PM

Those who say that the green man image didn't appear before the 18th century are wrong. Look up Rosslyn Chapel outside of Edinborough, Scotland, and you'll see images all over- and it was built in the 15th century


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 10:08 PM

Nobody has said that here. You are probably confusing the holiday 'Jack in the Green' tradition (see Georgina's post) with the unrelated 'foliate head' carvings that have appeared in churches since the Norman period. Nobody called them 'Green Men' until Lady Raglan in 1939 (Folk-Lore 50, 45-47), but ever since then the romantics have been imagining all sorts of extravagant things involving pagan fertility rites and the like.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 10:17 PM

Let us try a THIRD Time without HTML (clones don't vex me) much shorter this time.

THANK You Sedayne and Q!!!

Sedayne - obviously YOU are knowledgable on the subject. Could/would you post two "primary sources" for your fount of information.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

MC needs more of your kindred


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 11:31 PM

Pretty potent stuff those stone carvers were drinking.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 02:25 AM

Yes you're right Malcolm, I'm confused as well. I've always imagined jack in the green and the green man to be out of the same drawer. GS Fraser and The Golden Bough and all that.

A woodland sprite. A personification of natures ability to regenerate, but with great destructive power and the will to do humankind mischief as part of that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: folk_radio_uk
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 03:19 AM

Re: Kate Greens'Unkindness of Ravens' mentioned by Sedayne. It's a great album. Kate recently sent me a copy for airplay and it sounds great. She has also, along with her daughter, Eleanor, been recording with Clive Palmer of the Incredible String Band for his new album.

Her myspace is here: http://www.myspace.com/kategreenmusic


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 03:27 AM

WLD - 'The Green Man' by Kingsley Amis was adapted by Michael Bradbury into a BBC TV 3 part drama way back in 1990. Oddly enough, I was transferring it to DVD only this weekend! It starred Albert Finney, Michael Hordern, Nikolas Grace (as a very "hip and trendy" vicar!), Michael Culver and Josie Lawrence amongst others. I'd forgotten how raunchy and creepy it was!

The comment about not being traceable further back than the 17th Century was made about Jacks in the Green (plural rules as for courts martial and mothers in law), rather than foliate heads/extruding foliage. There is more than enough evidence to show that the 3 commonest forms (foliate head, the face in the leaves and the face emitting foliage) can date back to near Roman times - I found one in Denmark last month on an early mediaeval font that looked like a Lewis chessman.

Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) wrote a damned good song about Jack in the Green...

Have you seen Jack-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He quietly sits under every tree
in the folds of his velvet gown.

He drinks from the empty acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground
signals the snowdrops it's time to grow.

It's no fun being Jack-In-The-Green
no place to dance, no time for song.
He wears the colours of the summer soldier
carries the green flag all the winter long.

Jack, do you never sleep
does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
motorways, powerlines,
keep us apart?
Well, I don't think so
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.

The rowan, the oak and the holly tree
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter's night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming.
Jack, put out the light.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 04:14 AM

Very busy just now - meanwhile, Liz the Sqeauk, do you have any pictures of the Danish font GM?? If so, I'd love to see them...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Crowdercref
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 05:13 AM

One origin of the 'green man' images of the high medieval period is medieval religious folklore. Several 'mystery play' texts, including the Cornish Ordinalia, contain the story of Seth and Adam, which is the first part of the Tale of the Rood. At the conclusion of Seth & Adam, Seth places on his dead father's tongue three seeds taken from the (stolen) fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Straight away the seeds flourished and Adams face was surrounded by shoots and leaves. With other foliate decotations that image was placed i the roofs of medieval churches and catedrals to remind us that the seed of knowledge of good and evil lie within us all.

This Christian tale, which is not in the Bible, was well known in those days. It has its origins in a pre-Christian Judaic tale that can be found in the Midrash and started in oral tradition.

Sedayne's remarks about Lady Raglan are spot on.

The above is the most credible origi I've come across.

Oll an gwella

Crowdercref


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 06:39 AM

Sedayne - if Flickr ever let me back into my account, I'll post one but if you PM me an email address I'll send you a copy.

If you want to visit yourself, the church is St Catherines in Hjoerring, just north of Aalborg.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 06:41 AM

Crowderchef - I'd heard that tale long ago but with different names - and never connected it with the Green Man image before. Now, the penny has dropped with a resounding clang. Do you have any bibliography or MS references for the play or the story please?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 11:09 AM

All very interesting. I see repeated denials that this "green man" has any relation to pre christian religion. Although I know little of the pre-Christian history in the British Isles, or anywhere else for that matter, I always thought that these "green men" looked strikingly similar to the Wild Maa of the Vogel Gryph Festival in Basle, Switzerland. It has been explained to me that the Wild Maa was a pre-christian fertility symbol which became adopted as the symbol of one of KlienBasle's trade guilds in the 13th century, along with Vogel Gryph, and Leu. It had been my assumption that these grotesques found thru-out Europe actually were signatures by the mason which included the recognized symbol of his trade guild, which may or may not have come from pagan idolatry.

Any Comments
Marc Bernier


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 01:39 PM

"It has been explained to me that the Wild Maa was a pre-christian fertility symbol which became adopted as the symbol of one of KlienBasle's trade guilds in the 13th century, along with Vogel Gryph, and Leu."

All sounds sort of plausible but who explained it and what was the evidence?

Pardon my cheek but as Malcolm pointed out above:

"You are probably confusing the holiday 'Jack in the Green' tradition (see Georgina's post) with the unrelated 'foliate head' carvings that have appeared in churches since the Norman period. Nobody called them 'Green Men' until Lady Raglan in 1939 (Folk-Lore 50, 45-47), but ever since then the romantics have been imagining all sorts of extravagant things involving pagan fertility rites and the like."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 02:01 PM

"but ever since then the romantics have been imagining all sorts of extravagant things involving pagan fertility rites and the like."

well I think the thing is: with The Black Death, The Plague, the Hundred years War - it would be nice to think they did have a BIT of fun, now and again.

I like to think of them running round the glades of Sherwood, in Lincoln green daubed in Wattle and woad, little green mini skirts and showing each other their nuts and waving round their hazel wands in an extravagant fashion. In fact it sounds like decent sort of night out.....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 02:03 PM

This is the kind of forum I am not really allowed on! Have a good time drummer


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 02:33 PM

Er... can you actually daub yourself with wattle? It's either the branches you slap daub onto to make walls or the fleshy bit that hangs down from the head and neck of some birds.

Or it's a flower.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 05:57 PM

Is there a connection to "Sir Gawain And The Green Knight"---a favorite of mine.

I've always seen Woody Guthrie's song "EAST TEXAS RED" as an inadvertent (probably) more modern incarnation of "Gawain and the Green Knight."

At least, there is a similarity in the plot line. The encounter, a wrong done, a declaration of ultimate revenge with a year delay, the return a year later---the culminating retribution and death.

An aside: Gordon Bok did a very nice carving of The Green Man. He gave it to Sandy and Caroline Paton, and I photographed it at their place in Connecticut. Once again, it can be seen in my photos collection at
http://rudegnu.com/art_thieme.html

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 02:02 AM

Liz, you can daub my wattles any time dear...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 05:17 AM

Ah, you say that now WLD, but if I came anywhere near you with a bucket of daub, you'd think otherwise... it's main component was cowshit.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 06:42 AM

well perhaps I couldn't manage a whole bucket by myself, however perhaps me and all my leafy friends from the Woodland Support Group could share you out.....Cowshit! I love it when you talk dirty....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: IanC
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 09:19 AM

Actually, as the name suggests, Daub is mainly mud. In different places (and for different purposes) they added cowshit, cow hair, straw and other interesting items.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Stu
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 10:51 AM

"There was no 'Green Man' before Lady Raglan named him so in 1939, thus linking such carvings to the various green men & Jacks-in-the-Green of British folklore & custom (none of which can be shown to be any older than the 17th century)"

There was a great traditon of carving heads in the 17th Century (one that sits above the fireplace in a local pub) especially in some of the remoter rural areas, specifically the Peak District of England. Here researcher Ann Ross came across a community of people who still worshipped 'the old gods', independent of any of the new-age mumbo-jumbo normally associated with any form of nature worship.

In their book 'Twilight of the Celtic Gods' David Clarke and Andrew Roberts intepreted the belief system of these people as a survival from England's celtic past, a point which Anne Ross concurred with at the time. Included in this was a continuing tradition of carving stone heads, which were incorporated in domestic buildings suchas houses, barns and walls as place guardians - they contained the spirit of the land. These were still being carved up until the last war, and a BBC Everyman programme entitled 'The Isle is Full of Noises' claims heads are still being carved today for this purpose, although they seem to indicate these are placed in a rural environment near the entrance to a wood etc.

The book and TV programme also list other examples of extant 'pagan' practice and belief that has survived from the distant past in. It's interesting that these beliefs are attributed to our Celtic ancestors as the English tend to ignore their Celtic past even though it still looms large in their consciousness - the enduring popularity of the Arthurian tales amongst other cultural elements reminds us many of their ancestors were Celtic too.

Regardless of the authenticity of the research of Clarke and Roberts et al (which seems valid but the book does indulge in some speculation . . .) there is a case for some sort of belief survival associated with green men, even if we can never discover their true meaning. Many may well be portraits but then so many stone carved heads on cathedrals and churches seem to be, but to presented as a foliate head must have been a special honour.

In truth, does it actually matter? Many on our Islands have lost their connection with their land and this was an important part of our character as we know from our songs and stories, and the modern green movement gives voice to this deep connection and perhaps even revilatises it in people who never might find that conection in todays urban environment.

Balance in all things; I don't see a purely empirical approach as necessarily the way forward - our ancestors on these islands relied on their instinct as well as their ability to reason to relate to the world around them. It worked from the time they crossed the land bridge after the ice retreated up to the last century in some places, and that must mean there's something in it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 12:49 PM

I come from cattle country. The main componant of daub in Dorset is cowshit and horse hair. Although the soil is good and fertile in Dorset, the whole county is basically chalk and in places the topsoil isn't that deep. Cows, on the other hand, are abundant. Besides, it keeps it moist and pliable longer and gives greater adhesion once 'daubed'.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Rumncoke
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 02:17 PM

And it is reusable - if your wattle gives up, or you need to make a bigger house, you can just knock down the wall and throw the daub into water to soften, maybe mix in a few more cow pats to freshen it up a bit, then slap it on the wall again to get a few more centuries use out of it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Fortunato
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 04:44 PM

Liz,

I understand that a 50/50 mixture of cowshit and buttermilk is an excellent paste for removing freckles,

but I can't find anyone who'll let me try daubing it on them.

by the way, Liz do you have freckles?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Kampervan
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 04:48 PM

Rumncoke is dead right.
Always re-use your daub.
However, if you find yourself in need of a little more then let me know. It's one of the products that I stock.

Can't vouch for the freckle treatment though!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 05:00 PM

Just don't fall into it --------------'cause you'll be interred/I>!!!

Art


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 05:19 PM

I don't have freckles.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 04:27 AM

freckles, wattles....as the Late Great Eddy Waring used to say, they're all good mates in the showers....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 08:21 AM

As has already been noted, there is a well-established agenda on the part of certain folk-lore researchers to interpret even the most innocuous of folk customs as being vestigial of some ancient prototype, invariably pagan / pre-Christian, and invariably 'stripped of its original meaning'. In this respect I'd have to say that Anne Ross is as guilty as the best of them, especially as she writes with such didactic certainty (as she does in Grotesques and Gargoyles, 1975) that: "One of the most pagan and archaic concepts in the imagery of the Christian Church must be that of the so-called Green Man or Jack o' the Green."

Admittedly 1975 is quite early for this sort of talk - in my experience books on Paganism, Folk-lore & Witchcraft are tellingly void of Green Men until around 1979. It is, for example, supremely significant that the Green Man is altogether absent from The Wicker Man (1973) - surely the cinematographic watershed of much of today's paganism (and 'Dark Folk').

Getting back to Ross, it's interesting to note how absolute such statements have already become even by 1975, leading to the situation we find today where such notions are trotted out in church and cathedral guide books as a matter of fact. Whilst in Sheffield on Monday I noted the comments in the Cathedral guide book concerning the impressive carvings to be found in the Shrewsbury Chapel where a glorious (and disputed!) Sheela-na-Gig is said to be the 'Mother Goddess' and the Green Man her 'consort'. For more on the Sheela-na-Gig, another famously paganised feature of Pre-Reformation church architecture, see the very excellent Sheela Na Gig Project .

I therefore applaud Gloucester Cathedral for producing their splendid pamphlet on the Green Man, which makes quite clear that all links to paganism are quite without foundation. Would that others did likewise, for it must be said that the worst offenders for promoting the 'paganism' of 'Green Men' are very often the Anglicans themselves, keen on turning a quick & cynical buck at the expense of this fascinating facet of the culture and theology of those who built the churches and cathedrals in the first place.

As for the queer notions of Clarke, Roberts, Ross et al - such thinking is, and can only ever be, a matter of pure speculation; and that would be fine were not for the sad fact that such wayward perspectives come seemingly ready-made for a market ravenous for such assuredly authentic cultural / spiritual provenance they find altogether lacking in the real world... Otherwise, a very good place to start would be Bob Pegg's 'Rites and Riots' (copies of which can be had for next to nothing via Amazon); and Bob Trubshaw's worth a look too!

Finally, I picked up a copy of 'Folk Leeds to Song & Custom #6' whilst visiting Hobgoblin in Leeds yesterday, thus seeing the bewildering (and entirely unauthorised) liberties the editors thereof have taken with my Devil in the Details article. But, overall, I'd have to say I was quite impressed with the results & applaud Sam & Ed (and Graham Miles?) for their work. In any case, it's a cracking little magazine - with a fine recipe for Stovies besides. Check out the site at Folk at the Grove.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 12:28 PM

well yes, but don't WE have any importance?   This hunger for a bit of racy 'hows your father' in the depths of the greenwood - as a counterbalance to the 'fly on the wall' prosaic reality of everyday life - maybe this is the reason the Green Man is in every garden centre. And maybe that's why he's there in history - our ancestors felt just that same need.

perhaps our feelings are the key to it, rather than some facts in a museum.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 01:14 PM

Off the top of my nut, I'd say that our feelings are indeed the key to it, as such theology would seem to arise as a concerted reaction to the same basic primal / lustful / instinctive impulse that you speak of; one which in the Abrahamic tradition is defined as the 'sin' with which we are in constant struggle, both actual & metaphorical.

In the Gnostic tradition they went as far as to see it as part and parcel of the material creation of Lucifer, ideas which we see expressed today in terms of the Nature / Nurture dialectic and, perhaps, writ large on the (invariably) tormented faces of the Green Men themselves.

So in one sense, yes, absolutely; the Green Man does represent that very same impulse, albeit in terms of dire warning as to the consequences of allowing oneself to become thus beguiled in the green-wood; especially those of the cloistered Holy Orders, to whom the green men were primarily addressed.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 01:43 PM

Thanks for an excellent contribution Sedayne! The trouble is, as Jones used to say, they don't like it up 'em!

The people who want the faces in the churches to be evidence of pre-christian or pagan beliefs and practises behave and seem to think in the same way as those who see morris dancing and black faces in the same way.

The best collection of evidence is, I think Ronald Hutton's "The Stations of the Sun" (see my previous thread). He finds almost no evidence for a thread of survival of pre-christian anything and massive evidence for the power and influence of organised religion going back at least as far as the printing press.

It seems odd that dancers and musicians who are keen to make up dances and tunes and play all kinds of music, some of which sounds like Dixieland Jazz, cannot relinquish the black face because they say it is "traditional" and possibly pre - something or other and not to be changed.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 03:25 PM

"The people who want the faces in the churches to be evidence of pre-christian or pagan beliefs and practises behave and seem to think in the same way as those who see morris dancing and black faces in the same way."

I think in truth, they are my feelings - at least ever since hearing The watersons' Frost and fire album sometime in the 1960's. Since then, I have always thought of our folklore as something defined in our nation, by all its inhabitants and all its conquerors. the confused sensiblity about whether we were celebrating winter solstice/or Christmas as a religious festival, fitting in rather well with a culture where even now most of the buggers are pretty illiterate.

I have always suspected that the golden thread of folk culture lies with the proles, and there is a motherlode of atavistic daftness and folk knowledge running straight underground from the Brythons mudhuts to the modern housing estates.

We used to go paste egging when we were kids in the 1950's, and none of our parents (who sent us off paste egging) seemed to know what it was about. I followed the recent revival of the thread about Wren boys in Ireland - it also seems shrouded in mystery.

I'm not sure cerebration is what has kept this stuff going all those years when no one was interested. Is turning up the lens on the microscope going to help. People indulge in these beliefs and practices - because they enjoy it, not because they understand it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 04:05 PM

We can all say we believe all sorts of things. But to suggest a thread goes back a long way needs to show some evidence of that thread, does it not?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 04:28 PM

well its interesting certainly where it all comes from. you seem to hinting at some sort of conspiracy to make it seem older than it is.

i suppose it matters for historians, but lets face it, the history we learn in school is such a load of bollocks and self advertisement for the politicians and monarchs that its very hard to know what the truth is. probably we'd be better off not knowing any of it.

Take all those Irish threads where Keith and Divis Sweeney used to get steamed up. Ninety per cent of that was all about Keith couldn't get his head round that fact that the English weren't 'decent sort of fellows' in everybody's book!

I'm not sure why you think anyone would be deliberately trying to mislead us all.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Bee
Date: 12 Sep 07 - 10:17 PM

Sedayne, thanks for the well written information there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Cluin
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 01:19 AM

Like antlers, like veins of the brain, the birches
Mark patterns of mind on the red winter sky;
'I am thought of all plants, 'says the Green Man,
'I am thought of all plants,'says he.

The hungry birds harry the last berries of rowan
But white is her bark in the darkness of rain;
'I rise with the sap, 'says the Green Man,
'I rise with the sap,'says he.

The Alders are rattling as though ready for battle
Guarding the grove where she waits for her lover;
'I burn with desire, 'says the Green Man,
'I burn with desire, 'says he.

In and out of the yellowing wands of the willow
The pollen-bright bees are plundering the catkins;
'I am honey of love, 'says the Green Man,
'I am honey of love, 'says he.

The hedges of quick are thick with May blossom
As the dancers advance on the leaf-covered King:
'It's off with my head, 'says the Green Man'
'It's off with my head, 'Says he.

Green Man becomes grown man in flames of the oak
As it's crown forms his mask and it's leafage his features;
'I speak through the oak, 'says the Green Man
'I speak though the oak, 'say he.

The holly is flowering as hayfields are rolling
Their gleaming long grasses like waves of the sea;
'I shine with the sun, 'says the Green Man,
'I shine with the sun, 'says he.

      ~William Anderson, The Green Man


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 02:01 AM

An interesting variation in my home church (about 1300 A.D.):

the tympanon of a small port is filled with a vine with many branches, growing out of a human head. It is supposed to show St. John 15, 5: I am the vine, ye are the branches.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 02:55 AM

Sounds interesting, Wilfried - is there any way you could send me a picture?

Also, regarding the story of Adam and the Three Seeds, have a look at The Life of Adam which comes from The Golden Legend (Aurea Legenda) by Jacobus de Voragine from 1275, as referenced by Kathleen Basford in her seminal work, The Green Man (1978).

Here's the relevant passage anyway:

And in the end of his life when he should die, it is said, but of none authority, that he sent Seth his son into Paradise for to fetch the oil of mercy, where he received certain grains of the fruit of the tree of mercy by an angel. And when he came again he found his father Adam yet alive and told him what he had done. And then Adam laughed first and then died. And then he laid the grains or kernels under his father's tongue and buried him in the vale of Hebron; and out of his mouth grew three trees of the three grains, of which trees the cross that our Lord suffered his passion on was made, by virtue of which he gat very mercy, and was brought out of darkness into very light of heaven. To the which he bring us that liveth and reigneth God, world without end.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Stu
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 04:59 AM

"As for the queer notions of Clarke, Roberts, Ross et al"

I think that's a bit strong - Anne Ross certainly isn't some new-age hippy wafting incense sticks and hugging standing stones - her seminal work Pagan Celtic Britian is still the foremost text on the subject. This is a scholarly work not some airy-fairy new age rubbish.

The discussion seems very centred on the notion the Church was responsible for the creation of the green man, and the Church was responsible for his creation. There is evidence to refute this, and we have to look further afield than Britian to find it. The green man is not confined to the British Isles, he is present throughout Europe, and especially in France and Germany where he is seen in Churches and Cathedrals much as he is in the Isles.

Anderson (1990) states the only green man named in a carving is in Musée Lapidaire St-Denis and appears on a fountain c1200 under the name Silvanus. This god was present in the Celtic pantheon in Britian too where he is called natively as the 'woodland king' (Green, 1986). This god is present both on the continent and here (we know that 'Celtic' culture was distributed across Europe from Hungary to Spain) and he is also named in the French carving. The fact this carving is attributed to the Thirteenth century illustrates the fact a continuity may well have existed between Celitc and mediaeval Europe.

I believe it would be a mistake to overplay the role of the church with regards to it's influence on the core beliefs of the common people. The fact the Christian church used ancient religious sites to build their churches on and adapted the indigenous popluations own festival to their own ends demonstrates their desire to impose their own religion on the population - it's not beyond the bounds of possibility they hijacked the green man and sheela-na-gigs as they have much of our cultural heritage in the past 1500 years. Certainly, when someone carved the name of the god of the greenwood on a stone fountain in France 800 years ago, the churches agressive cultural steamrolling of the deeply-held beliefs of the locals might have have rankled with them too.

Refs:
Anderson, William (1990) The Green Man Harper Collins, London and San Francisco; 111-112.

Green, Miranda (1986) The Gods of The Celts Alan Sutton Publishing Limited; 182-183.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 05:23 AM

But I thought it had been faily clearly demonstrated that the faces in the churches were first called "Green Man very recently. The faces in the churches are green?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 05:50 AM

Actually, it's worth having a look at the named foliate face on the fountain in the Musée Lapidaire St-Denis; compare the beautiful carving of the sculpture itself with the crudely executed graffito scrawl of the name which could have been added at any time, by anyone.

That it has been seized upon without question by Anderson, Grundy et al, shows just how dodgy the pagan hypothesis is. But remember, there was no pagan hypothesis before 1939, just as there was no 'Green Man' - this is a very modern concept!

There is absolutely no Celtic precendent for the Green Man; and given the abundance of Celtic heads of all types in the archaelogical record, one would have thought if the Green Man did have a Celtic provenance, one would have turned up by now.

So, queer notions as I say; wayward speculation entirely without foundation - and the fact that Green Men are to be found throughout the Churches and Cathedrals of Europe is surely a further demonstration of their significance to the culture and theology of pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism rather than the indicator of a Celtic provenance you seem to be suggesting?

As for Sheela-na-Gigs - see my entry above for 12 Sep 07 - 08:21 AM


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Stu
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 06:22 AM

"The faces in the churches are green?"

Not sure what your point is here . . I agree that it has been demonstrated that 'Green Man' is a modern name although some foliate faces (if we're going to get hung up on the nomenclature) are painted it may well have beed they all were at some point as statues and carvings in Churches were often painted brightly in the medieval period. Chances are them leaves might have been green.

Sedayne - Thanks for the link to the Sheela-na-gig site - brilliant. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere there is one in the church near to where we play our sessions and that's not on the list. I'll have to dig out the ref and go and have a look.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Stu
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:01 AM

I agree the celtic link is tenuous, but the inscription on the Lapidiare St-Denis seems to have been carved by someone with knowlege of Celtic gods, although you make a good point when say the date of the inscription is of course, entirely unknown - I stand corrected.

In fact, Roberts et al aren't really interested in the green man, I was using their research to demonstrate the survival of fragments of ancient belief systems could exist, and in the case of the green man it's not possible to exclude the possibility it might be the case. The Silvanus inscription aside there is no evidence that would convince me it was a pre-christian survival or a post-christian fabrication.

There is evidence of a continuous belief system - the work of people like George Ewart Evans demonstrates that in rural regions life was largely unchanged from pre-Saxon times up until the first world war (and later in some areas) - and this includes farming techniques and practices as well as folkloric elements of everyday life. In truth it's impossible to tell how old these survivals may be, but it's not "wayward speculation entirely without foundation" to suggest this might have happened in other cultural threads.

But at the end of the day, does it really matter? I went through a long period where I questioned my early life convictions on these subjects, including the green man. Whilst doing a geology degree I started to look at the world in a very different way - the pursuit of empirical evidence to substantiate or discount theories and scientific speculation (which is often as wayward as any other). In the end I realised that for me there was room for both, and engaging for the numinous nature of our lives and our place in the natural world was a part of being human, and it didn't need to happen in the new-age bullshit way.

Sorting it out from the crap? Now that's the real trick.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 12:11 PM

"Whilst doing a geology degree I started to look at the world in a very different way - the pursuit of empirical evidence to substantiate or discount theories and scientific speculation (which is often as wayward as any other)."

With all the due respect a bucket of cold water can bring "which is often as wayward as any other" it is not as wayward as any other. The stuff we call science is pretty well coherent. Almost all the science in the world is believed by all the people who study it. The only division is at the edges of knowledge and understanding.

Science, like nearly all scholarly study, moves forward in the same way. Information is gathered and hypothese are constructed and tested. They are open to the rest of the scientific community to knock about.

It is clearly much more difficult to study the History of a 1000 years ago than it to study bees and that is why historians are very careful about primary source knowledge.

When people make stuff up and pull together different collections of information I am not sure what it is. Is it fiction? Fiction can be excellent but The Bard and Peeps were doing different things and what they wrote has to be treated in different ways.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Snuffy
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 06:04 PM

Les,I read that bit of Stigweard's completely differently to you.

He is not saying that science is wayward, but that the speculations (hypotheses) of scientists can be every bit as wayward as the speculations of non-scientists: if so they can be disproved by the rigorous application of scientific method.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 02:53 AM

I am not sure that we disagree. I guess their are three parts to this business:
1. The practice of Science
2. The practice of scholarly study
3. Speculations about the origins of folk lore

I think the first two are the same. The third seems to attract people who promote all sorts of ideas with out much evidence, the origin of morris and those faces in churches are two cases in point.

I have danced morris and I don't doubt for a minute that their is something a bit special and a bit odd about it. I have seen lots of those faces all over Europe and they too are odd. One small problem for the pre-christian / pagan origins is the almost total lack of any evidence and the habit that people have of passing on il-founded ideas as if they were factual.

Whilst searching the woods for Jack-in-the-Green some of these people might tread in some bear poor. I hope it sticks to them and they ponder the difference between evidence and patched up day dreams!

Now, I have to nail a horseshoe to the garage. I understand it brings good luck and even more if you don't believe in it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Stu
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 04:05 AM

Snuffy's understanding of what I meant is right - the method of science is not wayward (in most cases - there's always one), but the speculations arising from the study of gathered data certainly can be, and often is.

I don't think this is a bad thing - some of the concepts physicists and mathematicians work with require a fair dollop of imagination and can be difficult to understand. When doing above mentioned degree (much to my lasting regret I never finished it due to work committments - one day though . . .) we looked a facies analysis. This is where you look a sequence of rocks and through interpretaion speculate how they came to be laid down. The books all say one thing - let nobody tell you how any specific sequence was laid down - decide gor yourself. Question, question, question - the basis of good science.

This is why I question Sedayne's interpretation of green men - although having thought about a fair bit since this thread started his theory is beginning to sway me a little more and I might change my point of view, I'll read up on it a bit more. His views on the survival of pre-christian fragments of belief I don't share - in my opinion the evidence for continuity is very strong, and I think he's wrong to dismiss the work of people like Ann Ross who is an academic of excellent reputation.

But then that's the way the process works. Get ten palaentologists in a room discussing the evolution of flight in avian dinosaurs and you'll get ten different opinions on how it happened (chuck in an ornithologist and he might even dispute the fact birds are dinosaurs). Plenty of hard evidence, lots of bones to study, lots of feathered dinosaurs, very little true consensus of opinion except on the broadest of issues.

I see no harm in speculating about the origin of many of our customs and beliefs. It's easy to sit on the sidelines and throw stones at people who are discussing theories, putting forward ideas etc without putting any of your own forward. Belittle away, but I'd rather be searching the woods for Jack-in-the-Green and treading in deer shit than sat at home rummaging through books. I'll never find evidence of his actual existence in the woods near my house, but something tells me he might just be there. If you stop and listen closely, you can hear his laughter amongst the rustle of the autumn leaves . . .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,LTS pretending to work
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 04:40 AM

If you want to see the Jack in the Green, find any spot outside and sit down (take a stool or blanket if you want). You don't need to have your feet in poop to see him. As Ian Andersone put it above, I saw some grass growing through the pavements today. There's your Jack in the Green. He's what you want him to be and does as nature intended, he grows, reproduces and dies, to grow again and you'll never stop him.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 04:43 AM

I will have a think also and reply in detail later. I once had a summer camp job in Mass. We were in a forest - The Mohawk Trail State Park - I think and I had the distinct feeling of being watched and nearly seeing American Indians. Of course it was all in my mind but none the less powerful for that.

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Stu
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 04:58 AM

He's as near to us now as the back of a shadow . . .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 05:51 AM

All such carvings would have originally been painted; in some places the tradition still exists, most famously perhaps in the cloister of Norwich Cathedral where one of most iconic of all 'Green Men' is predominantly leafed in gold.

As for getting 'hung up on the nomenclature', it is the very name 'Green Man' that has lead to 'his' unquestioned paganisation in recent years. Take away the name, and what one is left with an un-named ecclisial foliate grotesque often set quite deliberately within the context of other religious iconography of the time.

There are good arguments to be made for the Roman Catholic church adopting many elements of pre-Christian & 'pagan' belief. After all, it doesn't get any more 'pagan' than naming the most important Christian festival after an Anglo-Saxon hare goddess and celebrating it on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox! But the 'Green Man', perhaps somewhat ironically, would appear to be an entirely Christian invention.

If certain elements of folklore are indeed evidences of a continuation of an ancient belief system as has been suggested (but never actually established - see above 29 Aug 07 - 09:40 AM), this has nothing whatsoever to do with the 'Green Man', who is not, and has never been, a folkloric image. It is only very recent years it has become so, which is perhaps a subject worthy of discussion in its own right - whereby such an absolute orthodoxy might have arisen as though overnight without any foundation whatsoever.

That Anne Ross helped instigate this orthodoxy by her highly suspect & often downright glib, unsubstantiated observations does, I'm afraid, cast something of shadow over her reputation otherwise.

As I say, even church & cathedral guide books sell their 'Green Men' as being pagan. Recently in Durham Cathedral I caused mortal offence by suggesting that the 'Green Man' one of the (Christian) ushers pointed out to me as being 'pagan' was more likely a graphic depiction of one the most central aspects of Roman Catholic theology. Anglicans, it would seem, are obviously happier with paganism than they are with Roman Catholicism.

I say again, I'm not pushing any sort of religious view here, just taking a look a something that has always intrigued me in the eventual hope of establishing some sort of balance on the subject, which, for the most part, there isn't.

The new edition of Fortean Times (FT228 - October 2007) has just come through my letterbox & I see they've printed my letter (p. 76) on 'Green Men' which might, I hope, stimulate further discussion on the subject!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,LTS pretending to work
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 06:53 AM

The majority of Anglicans seem to forget that our mediaeval cathedrals and churches were built as Catholic places of worship - they didn't spontaneously spring into being with the introduction of Protestantism. Many a village church and cathedral spire have echoed to the Latin Mass, the Credo and Benedictus rang out before any Book of Common Prayer was made. For some people, the thought of Catholics worshiping in "their" church is more abominable than it being used for Satanic rituals and Hollywood movies.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Stu
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 07:19 AM

Nice to know you're a Fortean Times reader Sedayne - it's gone a bit downhill in recent years but still pretty good. I'll pick up a copy and have a pike at your letter - nice one for getting published.

There is a certain pleasure to be taken from the irony that a Christian creation (although I personally still reserve judgement on that) is being hijacked by the modern pagan movement and subverted for their own ends*.

About bloody time too.

*I agree - this is a subject worthy of discussion. I wonder if the process of paganisation of the Green Man is analogous to the sort of myth-making we see with urban myths. I feel the motivations might be different, but it would make an interesting subject for study.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Bee
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 08:34 AM

Some long gone to dust mason, I suspect, may be having a last laugh, having carved the very first foliate head completely out of his own imagination, chiseling away at his oak leaves with an admiring nod to the Roman love of acanthus leaves.

I know there may be, as Sedayne suggests, a churchy basis for these Green fellows, and there may even be an echo of earlier worship as others speculate.

But I have always found that scholarly people, and that includes archaeologists and historians, often tend to spin a religious tale out of the smallest evidence when it comes to ancient times. Many times, they may be onto something. Other times, not so much.

I'm reminded of the various arguments about all those fat little prehistoric Venuses, pounced upon as being little fertility figures or even little mother goddesses. Quite a few years back, someone writing for British Archaeology Magazine (sorry, can't find the article) re-examined the little women and made some entirely different speculations, one of which was that they may have been essentially ancient pornography, and another of which was that they may have been tokens representing captive women (some of them have some interesting suggestions of bindings). He or she may be as wrong as the Mother Goddess folk, but the arguments were just as rooted in probability.

One need only look at the history of 'clan tartans' to see how eager people are to clutch at some kind of continuity of ancestry. For years (and still, occasionally) I did work for a fellow who supplied the artistic desires of that segment of the North American population which is fascinated by their Scottish (and 'Celtic') forebears. There's no question that the works we turned out are things of beauty, but we eventually gave up explaining to people the actual short history of clan-specific tartans, and the monkish and Scandinavian origins of knotworks, and even the specific rules around heraldry, because they didn't want to know. They had their own mythology, which included no clever tailors, no official heralds, and a lot of pre-Christian fakelore.

All quite harmless, of course.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Crowdercref
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 12:14 PM

Dear Liz the Squeak,

The original is (I think) in the Bodleian.

The transcription often used by scholars is:

NORRIS, Edwin, The Ancient Cornish Drama (2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1859; repr. London & New York: Blom, 1968).

The Tale of Seth and Adam is (naturally) in the Origo Mundi (i.e. the first of the three plays).

The variant from Jewish oral tradition has also been printed but I don't have the ref to hand.

Gans gorhemmynado an gwella,

Crowdercref


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 12:50 PM

Note also 'The Golden Legend' in respect of the story of Adam and the three seeds (see my entry above - 13 Sep 07 - 02:55 AM). As I say Kathleen Basford referenced this in her seminal work on the subject, 'The Green Man' (1978).

As for Fortean Times, we subscribe to it annually as a matter of course, living as we do out in the wilds of Durham. If you've got a copy of FT222 (May 2007) to hand you can see my image of the 'Foliate Osama Bin Laden' from the cloisters of Chester Cathedral; he keeps some choice company in there too, so if ever you're passing Chester be sure to check them out. And look out for the Cheese Rolling too; I made a wee film of this (see Cheese Rolling in Chester ) back in March (complete with the various 'municipal Green Men' from the surrounding buildings) - some choice comments on there too!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 06:01 PM

did anyone else come across Clo Chapman's novel in the Nightshades romantic novel series?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,greenmanwest
Date: 15 Sep 07 - 05:52 AM

I had always thought the name was taken from the phrase "out on the Greenman's" which meant beyond the edge of town, beyond the cultivated fields. It was the place the pagans, or more precisely, heathens - retreated to when the Christian churches came in. If you lived on the Greenman's you were living in the rough, and it was not uncommon for heathens to use leaves and foliage for camoflage. Sometimes they were hired by the townies to police the woods and keep out strangers and highwayfolk. Later on, as cathedrals became more ornate, these heathens would be depicted on the outside amoung the gargoyles to protect the cathedrals as they protected the towns.

If there was a god involved, it may have been Herne the Hunter - who used to camoflage himself.

When I lived in Germany as a teenager, a lot of the farmers near Heidelberg seemed to think that the greenman was a way of hiding images of Pan on the cathedrals in plain sight. The leaves originally were the grape leaves pan wore. Eventually the leaves became more generic and less grape like.
Much of the craft of cathedral decoration was devised to try to bring the heathens around to the new, better way of the church (better in the eyes of the church)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Sep 07 - 06:02 AM

"It was the place the pagans, or more precisely, heathens - retreated to when the Christian churches came in."

"and it was not uncommon for heathens to use leaves and foliage for camoflage"

"Sometimes they were hired by the townies to police the woods and keep out strangers and highwayfolk"

Evidence?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Sep 07 - 06:57 AM

Relationships between Herne / Cernunnos & the Green Man have been suggested before, but I've never seen an antlered Green Man. Those with horns are clearly depicted as Old Nick himself, who does, I admit, derive from earlier Romano-Celtic imagery, but never associated with foliage.

There is an absolute beauty in the Templar church of Saint Michael, at Garway in Herefordshire (for image click HERE ) - a classic example of the Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture. Here, his satanic identity seems fairly unambiguous, though when we visited Garway earlier in the year, there was a big display detailing his pagan & folkloric associations! I note with interest that the new 'Merrily Watkins' novel by Phil Rickman
("As if an episode of The Vicar of Dibley had morphed into Cracker") is set around the church at Garway... Oo-er - though needs must I wait for the paperback, unless my ever resourceful father-in-law picks up a copy in a charity shop first...

I've never come across the phrase 'Out on the Greenman's' - is that a translation of the German? I like the speculation though, especially regarding the role of the 'outsider in the wilderness' in medieval / pre-industrial times, though it doesn't account for the fact that most Green Men are found actually on the inside of the Churches and Cathedrals. And is Pan ever depicted actually wearing leaves I wonder? Examples welcome!

Whilst it is undoubtedly true that the mission of the early church was to site both churches and festivals with respect to pagan sacred places & sacred dates, there is nothing to suggest the pagan deities themselves were ever taken on board. It is the sheer lack of anything resembling a 'Green Man' in the Romano-Celtic or the Norse-Saxon pantheons that is the problem for those wishing to establish a pagan precedent; hence the spurious links to the various Jacks-in-the-Green of folk custom, none of which are as old as the Green Men themselves.

Living as we do in the urbanised, polluted, sprawling mess that is 21st century England (Britain / Europe), it's quite natural that for many the 'Green Man' should become the mischievous guide that might lead us a fine dance back to a lost utopian wilderness of the green-wood (real or imagined / actual or symbolic) once peopled by such grotesque vagabondian outsiders we see depicted (as Green Men) in many churches. For some choice examples see my wee film of Saint Peter & Saint Paul, Salle, Norfolk - and if you're ever passing, be sure to call in...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 09:45 AM

Here's an article that's worth a look, despite a few deliciously wayward tangents & conclusions:

The Name of the Green Man


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 11 Feb 08 - 04:31 AM

Just picked up a copy of Cathedrals in Britain and Ireland by William Anderson and Clive Hicks (MacDonald & Jane's, 1978) in which we find but a single reference to a green man (a caption to a photogaph of one of the Chester misericords), with nothing in either the glossary or the index. Given that Anderson & Hicks's later Green Man (The Archeype of Our Oneness with the Earth) (HarperCollins 1990 & COMPASSbooks, 2002) and Hicks's own The Green Man - A Field Guide (COMPASSbooks 2000) are both 'key' works in the popular Paganisation of your common-or-garden EFH (Eccliastical Foliate Head), this strikes me as a particulary significant absence.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 05:27 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 05:32 PM

As Edgar Rice Burroughs pointed out (1906), the little green men moved to Mars. They invented the flying saucer.









Sorry-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 05:50 PM

100


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 11:29 AM

Going back to songs about 'The Green Man' Alan Bell wrote a rather good one years ago.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Peg
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 09:56 PM

"It is, for example, supremely significant that the Green Man is altogether absent from The Wicker Man (1973) - surely the cinematographic watershed of much of today's paganism (and 'Dark Folk')."


Not true. The village's main pub is called The Green Man! The sign (with its odd image) is shown very prominently. I would hardly call that "altogether absent."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 04:11 AM

Must say I've never bought into the paganisation of the Green Man favoured by fundies. The medieval minster builders, people who weren't averse to the odd Doom painting, never AFAIK elided foliate heads with Old Nick as visual simulacra. Iconoclasts, men you'd assume would have a grudge against this particular idolatry, don't appear to have singled out leaf faces for their ire and big hammers.

The Green Man in pub signage sees him as Robin Hood, Jack in the Green and the Jolly Green Giant of tinned food fame which is also a bit of a presumption IMO. My suspicion is the foliate head in churches had some significance which was fully compatible with a Christian reading to their builders that has been lost. TGM could be a personification of summer (like moons and suns have faces) without implying an extra deity, or the abundant wood the beams are made from, or a visual signifier for all acts of human creation - but we're in the world of guesswork.
Conspiracies are one of the better uses for Occam's razor. There's no need for goblins.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 04:03 PM

The village's main pub is called The Green Man!

Ah yes - this was touched on this elsewhere (where? I've no idea!). Certainly there has always been a folkloric interest in the pub name, (which has nothing to do with the ecclesiastical foliate heads!) and given that the writers of TWM certainly did their researches into such things (mostly through The Golden Bough!) then it's hardly surprising. What is surprising however is that, other than the pub, there is no other mention of The Green Man in TWM. In any case, TWM just might represent the earliest instance of a foliate head in the context of a Green Man pub name. The confusion between the Foliate Head and The Green Man as a pub name is c/o Lady Raglan in 1939 and the modern trend for Green Man pub signs to show foliate heads derived from ecclesiastical carvings, no matter how stylised these have become in recent years.

Okay - what I'm really looking for now are publications which mention The Green Man & Foliate Heads in a pagan / folkloric context prior to 1975....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 May 15 - 10:31 PM

great thread!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The Green Man
From: Ged Fox
Date: 19 May 15 - 06:05 AM

My dad mentioned once that, when he was a lad (circa 1930) living in Walthamstow in the shade of Epping Forest, they used to play a game at grass cutting time wherein one child was buried in cut grass and the rest made a circle dance while chanting "Green man arise-o" until the green man jumped up.


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