Folklore and myth convey numerous depictions of the Green Man with countless descriptions and explanations.
The Green Man is derived from the natural vegetative and fertility deities, which stem from the origins of mankind and through countless cultures – nature-based, alternative spiritualities and a number of religions. His legend spans numerous continents including Western Europe, Asia and South America.
He is more than just a symbol carved into the ancient architecture in places of worship. Some, such as Roweena Pattee Kryder and William Anderson, suggest that the figure is part of our collective unconscious, and represents a primeval archetype which is central to our relationship with Nature. This may symbolize the dire need to take into account the current state of our planet.
Others have gone so far as to make the argument that the Green Man represents a male counterpart – or son or lover or guardian – to Gaia (or the Earth Mother or Great Goddess), a figure which has appeared throughout history in almost all cultures.
Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples seen throughout history. He has survived countless transformations and cultural diversities but has endured in the same relative physical form to this day.
Specifics about his beginnings and his worship are not fully known and are extremely varied, due in large part to how far back he can be traced. This is a testament to the widespread reach of his character which is remembered and worshipped to this day. But the enigma remains, as no one really knows his true origin.
The Green Man is interpreted as a symbol of growth, representing the cycle of death and rebirth in the seasons, as well as man’s reliance and union with nature and the underlying life force that permeates all. The Green Man embodies the indestructible force of life and energy that transcends all borders – the borders between man, animal and vegetation.
When I see an image or hear language depicting the Green Man, something innate and beyond my current comprehension injects a life force tingle, which I know conveys something that I truly need to know and am mostly missing in my life – a yearning to be undomesticated, wild and free, as I seek my union and mystical affiliation with nature.
This magnetism attracts and compels me endlessly……
Green Man Art: Cole Clayton