All things Green Man & Jack-in-the-Green

Archive for December, 2008

Green Man Sign

 

Andrew Smiths "Green Man" Pub Sign © Andrew Smith
Andrew Smiths “Green Man” Pub Sign © Andrew Smith

I came across COTGM member Andrew Smith’s website and loved his  Green Man pub sign so much that I asked him if he would kindly allow us to show it. Andrews site is at

www.thesignsmith.co.uk (Go on you know you want one!)


GREEN MAN

The Green Man comes and he dances all day
The Green Man comes and he is gone away
Turn and he turns in a year and a day
Green Man laughs and he loves to play.

Green Man.

Green Man?s his name, some call him Iron John,
Herne the Hunter, or Herne the Hunter?s son.
Dances the seasons as they spiral on
Call him, call him. He is each and every one.

Green Man.

He is hiding in each and every single tree
He is inside them and in you and in me
He lives he dies, but he will forever be
Grinning his grin, the grin of eternity.

Green Man. Green Man.

This Poem (actually a song) was sent in by COTGM member Mark Newell from London. You can view his book of poetry “Symbolic” at http://www.lulu.com:80/content/3980491


The Green Man

Remember me, try to remember.

I am that laughing man with eyes like leaves. 

When you think that winter will never end,   

I will come.  

You will feel my breath,  

a vine caressing your foot. 

I am the blue eye of a crocus,  

opening in the snow,  

a trickle of water, a calling bird, 

a shaft of light among the trees.  

You will hear me singing 

among the green groves of memory, 

and the shining leaves of tomorrow. 

I’ll come with daisies in my hands 

we’ll dance among the sycamores once more.

(Lauren Raine)

 


Green Man Ghosts?

 The following report is taken from the pages of the South Bucks Star of September 26th, 1986:

 Phantom of the Forest 

A GHOSTLY figure dressed in green startled two motorists as they drove past a crematorium just before midnight.

The apparition suddenly loomed up at the side of the road sending shivers down the spine of driver Mark Nursey and his girlfriend Allyson Buleptt, who was in the car behind.  

Mark, of Hepplewhite Close, High Wycombe, said: “The most uncanny thing was the way it stood. It seemed to be wearing what I can only describe as a big green jumper. I couldn’t make out the head or hands. It seemed to be stooping but was about 5ft 11ins tall and well built.”  

The ghost was seen outside Hughenden Crematorium, Four Ashes Lane, Cryers Hill.  

One theory is the figure was the spirit of the forest, a green man, as depicted on a number of pub signs in the Chilterns. He is also related to Herne the Hunter, spirit of the forest as depicted on TV’s Robin of Sherwood.  

A green man is also said to haunt the woods at Fingest. Ghosts are traditionally seen around midnight – the witching hour – and around graveyards.  

Another clue to his appearance may be a ley line passing near the haunted spot. Ley lines – alignments of ancient sites such as churches, stone circles and holy wells – are thought by some to possess mysterious powers.  

 Strange Folklore Society, based in High Wycombe, is investigating a ley line that starts at the end of Four Ashes Lane.  

On the line is a pond said to be inhabited by a dragon, St Mary’s Church, Princes Risborough and a holy well desecrated last year by black magicians.  

Speen Witch’s Stone – said to cover buried treasure but guarded by the ghost of a witch or highwayman – is also on the ley line. The green man ghost in Four Ashes Lane was standing just yards from the ley line.  

After reading the previous article another witness came forward and this is the report that appeared in The Star of October 17th, 1986:  

“ANOTHER witness of the phantom of the forest has recalled his terrifying ordeal. The seven-foot tall green ghost was seen by warehouseman Phil Mullett just yards from where 21-year-old Mark Nursey saw the figure on Four Ashes Road, Cryers Hill, near High Wycombe.  

Mark’s sighting, reported in the Star, September 26, happened just before midnight by Hughenden Garden of Rest on the road. His girlfriend Allyson Bulpett also saw the ghost. When Phil, 28, of Dashwood Avenue, High Wycombe, read the account he realised Mark had seen the same figure he saw eight years previously.  

Phil said: “It gave me quite a shock to read it. The account was so close to my own. It was about 9.30pm when I drove into Four Ashes Road and on turning my car lights on full I saw this green person appear from the right hand side of the road. It drifted out to the centre of the road and turned towards me. It waved its arms, not to frighten but as if to warn me to keep back. It drifted into the hedge on the other side of the road but as I got closer it came out again to the centre, turned and lifted its arms. I knew I was going to hit it. I think I cried out or shouted something.” 

Phil braked and although he must have hit the figure when he got out look there was nothing there. He said the figure was bright green but appeared to have no legs or hands. The body was solid and it stood about seven foot tall. Instead of a face there was just a misty grey round shape.  Strange Folklore Society is investigating the sightings.

Although presented in typical tabloid fashion (Has anyone actually ever seen a ghost in a greveyard at midnight!!!) the above experiences are nonetheless fascinating, does anyone else know of any similar reports? Please add as a comment or e-mail me at greenman@virgin.net


A Riddle

I am born on May Morning by sticks, bells, and ribbons
I am the sap in the dark root
I am the dancer with his six fools
I am the tump behind the old church
I am the lost soul under the misericord
I am the oak against the stars
I am the face that peers through the leaves
I am the fear in a childs mind
I am the demon on the roof-boss
I am killed in October and laid on church altars
I am the guiser on the bright bonfire
I am the old grain sown with the seed
I am the flame in the pumpkins grin
I am the spirit in the kern-baby’s bosom
(unknown)

To add your favourite Green Man poem or verse (or even your own composition) either coment via the tag below or e-mail us at:
greenman@virgin.net
 


The Green Man in Poetry and Verse

 GREEN MAN IN THE GARDEN
By Charles Causley

 Green man in the garden
Staring from the tree,
Why do you look so long and hard
Through the pane at me?

Your eyes are dark as holly,
Of sycamore your horns,
Your bones are made of elder-branch,
Your teeth are made of thorns.

Your hat is made of ivy-leaf,
O
f bark your dancing shoes,
And evergreen and green and green
Your jacket and shirt and trews.

“Leave your house and leave your land
And throw away the key,
And never look behind,” he creaked,
“And come and live with me.”

I bolted up the window,
I bolted up the door,
I drew the blind that I should find
The green man never more.

But when I softly turned the stair
As I went up to bed,
I saw the green man standing there.
“Sleep well, my friend,” he said. 


The Green Man

For many people their first experience of the Green Man is a chance sighting of a strange stone foliate face looking down at them from high above in a church or cathedral. Just what this supposedly pagan representation of fertility and the greenwood is doing in a Christian place of worship, has puzzled people throughout the ages.  A subversive image placed by stone carvers as a link to a pre-Christian religion? A reminder that we all come from the earth and will one day return? Or a representation of evil carefully placed to remind churchgoers to steer away from sin? 

Lady Raglan who coined the term “Green Man” thought that the Green Man of churches and abbeys was one in the same with “the figure known variously as the Green Man, Jack in the Green, Robin Hood, the King of the May, and the Garland who is the central figure in the May Day celebrations throughout northern and central Europe.”  Many people still support these connections, believing that the Green Man has many faces and that each of these do indeed have deep seated and possibly spiritual links via an ancient race memory of a time when the Greenwoods covered most of what is now Britain.  

But many disagree vehemently with these connections arguing that there is no evidence that the Jack-in –the-Green dates back any further than the sweeps processions of the late eighteenth century, (and the Garland only slightly further). That Robin Hood had no connections with The Green Man until Richard Carpenters cult series “Robin of Sherwood” created a link via the shamanic/deific figure of Herne the Hunter and his links with Cernunnos. That if the King of the May had any actual link with the Green Man carvings found in churches and other locations then there would be at least be some evidence that the carvings were in some way made a part of the May celebrations, or at least  mentioned, which it seems they were not! 

And yet others argue that even if these connections never did exist, then they have now been created and therefore will henceforth be forever inseparably entwined in that magical way that myth, legend and folklore seem to take on an unstoppable life force of their own. 

Environmentalists, New Agers, Pagans and neo Pagans all have their own interpretations of who the Green Man is and what he represents to them and their beliefs.  

Even the stone carvings found in churches, cathedrals, castles and varied other locations may not all be as they at first seem. Some Green Man hunters classify them into different types: Leaf masks, simple faces formed from a single leaf. Foliate faces created by more than one leaf. Faces disgorging foliage or vines from mouth, eyes, and/or ears. Other hunters allow inclusion of Cat and other animal faces created from or including leaves or vegetation of some kind. 

Images of the green man are found across England, Great Britain, Europe and parts of Asia and North Africa. He may date back as far as the third millennium BC, and is still being reproduced in stone, wood, art, song, story and poem today.  He may be found in his guise as dusty stone or wood carving looking down from on high in churches cathedrals and abbeys throughout England. He can be seen as a sometimes mischievous, sometimes dark figure found in Morris dances; both traditional and modern. As Jack-in-the-Green leading or included in May Day processions each year, or bought to life in new and vibrant traditions, like the Green Man of Clun who each year battles the Frost Queen on a bridge above the river Clun.  

I believe that the answer to the question of “who is the Green Man” may simply be that there is no single answer, that he is indeed an enigma, not to be solved but to continue to instil curiosity and wonder in past, current and future generations. 

And so, what you at first may have thought a gentle pastime of wandering around quiet parish churches snapping the odd photo of a Green Man on high before retiring to the nearest pub (possibly The Green Man) for a pint of Green Man ale (yes it exists) you may now realise is a pastime fraught with conflict, rivalry and quite possibly intrigue. 

I shall leave the last poignant words to Ronald Millar: 

“Two millennia old or older, the Green Man is the vibrant spirit of the wild wood, of vegetation in leaf or bud, of spring, pool and river, earth and sky, indeed the totality of nature. His voice is the hiss of the high wind in ash and oak. And his profundity those sudden silences of a forest when all Nature seems to hold her breath. When we hear or feel him no more mankind will have run its course.” 

And now over to you: I invite conversation and discourse on your thoughts about the Green Man.
Please feel free to add your comments using the link below or by e-mailing The Company of the Green Man at greenman@virgin.net


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