This is not about little green men, from out of space. The Green Man is a forest spirit with depictions and stories dating back to the 11th Century, some archeologists even say in Celtic circles this belief predates Christianity.
The Green Man is depicted with a masculine face of varying ages ranging from middle age to an elderly man, the common denominator is the face is made up of foliage. There are even pictures of skulls with foliage wrapping around the bones or moving towards the skull. These pictures embody the ideas of rebirth, reliance and ruin that the Green Man holds.
In the early days winter was harsh anyone who has seen Game of Thrones has an idea how formidable an opponent the winter was to humanity in the early stages. The deity that brought the vegetation, was reviled for bringing life, and was considered the bringer of life in the natural world. Also the power to take and that required a level of reliance or respect, in order to experience the rebirth of Spring again.
It is believed that the Green Man was the idea behind Jack in the Green, Robin Hood, Peter Pan and Herne the Hunter during the Victorian period where the Green Man gained greater popularity.
When the different tribal and pagan beilefs came in contact with Christianity they blended the stories the locals already told and retold the stories about their spirits, and thus the church depicted the Green Man as a demon, adding horns to the depictions. It appears that this version of the Green Man captured imaginations, and inspired the idea of a nature entity that protects orchards and the environment killing those who would seek to do it harm or bad people in general. In modern depctions it is the vines moving and strangling or sntaching ankles and hanging people upside-down dropping them to death.
The Green Man has also been found as far as the middle east, he wasn’t horned in these depictions and in fact directly translated was called a green prophet.
Today the Green Man is celebrated in festivals, has a link with May Day celebrations.
Have you seen the Green Man either in art or nature?
Green Man Gallery: