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

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Twelfth Night Celebrations Sunday 8th January

Twelth Night

I would like to wish all of our members and blog readers a very Happy New Year and a Healthy and Happy 2017.

If you need to escape the post Christmas and New Year blues I would highly recommend the Twelfth Night celebrations on Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe starting at 1:45pm on Sunday 8th January 2016.

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man the Winter guise of the Green Man (and an honorary member of The Company of the Green Man) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage is piped over the River Thames, with the devil Beelzebub.

With the crowd by Shakespeare’s Globe, led by the Bankside Mummers and the London Beadle, the Holly Man will ‘bring in the green’ and toast or ‘wassail’ the people, the River Thames and the Globe (an old tradition encouraging good growth).

Mummers will then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ St. George Folk Combat Play, featuring the Turkey Sniper, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in spectacular costumes. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded since the Crusades.

Cakes distributed at the end of the play have a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those from the crowd who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people through the streets to the historic George Inn Southwark, for a fine warming-up with the Fowlers Troop, Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree, Dancing and Mulled Wine.

If you go please do take some pictures and send them to me for the blog and if possible perhaps send me a short piece on your experience for the next e-newsletter

You can find more details via the Lions Part website below:

Twelfth Night Celebrations


Twelfth Night Celebrations Sunday 3rd January

twelth night 2016

I would like to wish all of our members and blog readers a very Happy New Year and a Healthy and Happy 2016!

If you need to escape the post Christmas and New Year blues I would highly recommend the Twelfth Night celebrations on Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe starting at 2:00pm on Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man the Winter guise of the Green Man (and an honorary member of The Company of the Green Man) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames brought by the Thames Cutter,Trinity Tide (boat subject to weather!) rowed by hardy volunteers.

With the crowd, led by the Bankside Mummers, the Holly Man ‘brings in the green’ and ‘wassails’ or toasts the people, the River Thames and the Globe – an old tradition encouraging good growth.

The Mummers then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ Folk Combat Play of St. George, featuring St George, Beelzebub, the Turkey Sniper, the Doctor, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in their spectacular and colourful ‘guizes’. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded from the Crusades.

At the end of the play, cakes are distributed – a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people in procession through the streets to the historic George Inn in Borough High Street for a fine warming up with Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree and more Dancing

If you go please do take some pictures and send them to me for the blog and if possible perhaps send me a short piece on your experience for the next e-newsletter

You can find more details via the Lions Part website below:

Twelfth Night Celebrations

Twelth Night


Green Man Pubs

The Green Man of Flackwell Heath copyright © The Company of the Green man

The Green Man of Flackwell Heath

The Green Man as a pub name may have a number of sources beyond that of the Green Man of church and folklore, including from the Green Man and Still heraldic arms used by the Distiller’s Company in the seventeenth century. Some pub signs will show the green man as he appears in English traditional sword dances (in green hats). Or as the Wild Man associated with drinking and revelry and usually carrying a club. There is also a strange interconnection between the Green Man and Robin Hood. Indeed some Green Man pubs changed their signs to foresters or Robin Hood from shaggy green men used as a symbol of the Distillers’ company in the 17th century. Apparently there are no pubs in Robin’s own county of Nottinghamshire named the Green Man but there are many Robin Hoods.

It also seems that some pubs are changing their signs back from images of Robin to that of the traditional Green Man himself.

One of The Company of the Green Man’s projects is to create a comprehensive list of current and historical  Green Man public houses throughout the United Kingdom. The current listing can be found here : http://freespace.virgin.net/polter.geist/greenman_page0007.htm if anybody know of any pubs missing from the list we would love to hear from you via the contact tab above.


Green Man’s Life Cycle – by Phil Townsend

greenman greenson Greenman greenfather

My thanks to Phil Townsend for allowing us to reproduce this extract from a larger article that was published in ‘Woodcarving’, issue 39, 1998. For those who would like to visit this wonderful sculpture it is still in good condition and can be found close to the main drive through Hamsterley Forest, nr. Barnard Castle, Co Durham.

From childhood I recall a fascination with storybook illustrations where semi-human features seemed to appear in tree trunks, knotty eyes where branches had been shed, noses from stubby cut-off limbs, mouths within wrinkled folds of bark. These tree faces were often old and knobbly but appeared friendly and helpful to the travellers beneath their leaves. Often you had to look hard for the faces. Sometimes you just imagined an odd combination of knots, bark and branches looked something like a face.

In real life trees that seem capable of expression are found mainly among the broad-leaved species. Conifers are mainly straight up and down and rather boringly regular, especially when seen in ranks in forestry plantations. Such mystery and imaginings are found among plantations of spruce and fir come not from individual specimens but from the density of the planting, the maze-like quality of losing your bearings with it all looking much the same in any direction. Walking through the ranks you glimpse along an aisle of trees which then closes to become a solid wall before opening into the next aisle. It’s “now you see it, now you don’t”. These memories and observations were drawn on as a basis for a sculpture which was to have echoes of these elements. When it was first proposed to create a Green Man sculpture in Hamsterley Forest, part of the Great North Forest in County Durham, a suggestion was made to carve a single detailed image in the traditional form onto as large a butt of a tree as could be found.

But such a carving, though large in most contexts, would lack the presence required of this archetypal figure when set in his natural habitat, the forest. Also the traditional depiction of the Green Man as a gloomy and rather forbidding figure did not seem conducive to promoting a love and understanding of nature, but rather generating fear and lack of regard for it. On a practical level the idea of creating a single united image across the faces of several spatially separate tree trunks had been shown to be feasible in the well known sculpture by Colin Wilbourn on the banks of the River Wear in Durham, called The Upper Room. It seemed possible to take the idea a step further by carving an image that was seen then lost as you moved, only to be replaced by another. Now you see the Green Man, now you don’t. A scale model of trees set in a triangular formation showed that at a given distance about one third of a trunks surface was visible, so it became possible to create three Green Men, each one registering only when looking towards the apex of the triangle. But what were these three to look like?

There is much the Green Man could condemn his human cousins for (the felling of six trees in their prime for mere sculpture, perhaps?). But in a place like Hamsterley Forest where growing numbers of people come to appreciate the beauty and bounty of the woodland, this is where the Green Man would be most at peace and might cast a benign eye on the passer-by. Folklore and tradition would have it that the Green Man is always young and vital, but we know in all nature there has to be a process of growth, maturing, and decay so regeneration can take place. The cyclical manner of all life should not, I felt, bypass an image so central to its core, and so was formed this sculpture of the Green Man’s Life Cycle, Greenson, Greenman and Greenfather. 

The grand fir (Abies grandis) logs used in the sculpture were felled in Hamsterley forest, having achieved a great height by the roadside on the hill above The Grove. Apart from its size, grand fir has other desirable properties: it is straight and cylindrical in growth, has a much lower resin content than most other conifers, and has few branch knots on its lower trunk. Eight logs, all from trees about 50 years old, were delivered to the site where I selected the six best and debarked them. I decided to sink the logs into the ground to a depth of 4ft to ensure stability. Each log weighed around a ton and a half, which, combined with their 16ft length made the business tricky, especially as their position in relation to one another had to be accurate to within 1 inch or so for the carving of the work.

One of the best aspects of sculpting in public is you get to meet all sorts of people, a refreshing change from the isolation of studio work. A lot of passers-by were understandably confused by the disjointed appearance of the sculpture, which was also partially obscured by the scaffolding, and I heard the words “totem poles” offered as an explanation many times. Whenever someone showed real interest I took the opportunity to explain, but was not always understood. I heard one teenager, to whom I had described the three stages of the life cycle, calling to his father, to come and see the “mid-life crisis face”! There were some visitors not so welcome at the sculpture site: Hamsterley forest plays host to myriad insects and at different times I was plagued by flies, midges 2inch long wood wasps, and flying ants which would spend a whole day swarming over two thirds of the carving. Last year was also a bumper year for butterflies and literally hundreds converged on the clearing.

The term unveiling was accurate as we had a large green Great Forest banner slung just below the eyes of our Green Man which was released by a famous resident of Teesdale, Miss Hannah Hauxwell. There was quite a turnout. I was especially pleased to see children from four local primary schools who had been involved in the early stages of the project. They were entertained by a professional story-teller with his own version of the legend of the Green Man. This was followed a couple of days later with an enjoyable story-telling walk on the theme of The Magic of the Trees, culminating at the sculpture site with a talk from that contemporary ‘green’ man, David Bellamy, who linked legend to current environmental problems in his own inimitable way. Everyone agreed this was a fitting climax

Phil Townsend is a professional sculptor who lives in County Durham. Primarily he designs and makes outdoor sculpture, mostly in native hardwoods and a wide variety of stone – materials that sit easily with both the natural environment and the man-made.

You can see more of Phil’s wonderful work on his website at: http://www.sculptedart.co.uk/


The Green Man at the Twelfth Night celebration events: Sunday 5th January

Twelth Night

The 2014 TWELFTH NIGHT Celebrations will be held from 2.30pm on Sunday 5th January 2014.

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

The Twelfth Night celebration events:

The Holly Man from the Thames

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man (the Winter guise of the Green Man from pagan myths and folklore) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames brought by the Thames Cutter, Trinity Tide (boat subject to weather!) rowed by hardy volunteers.

The Bankside Wassails

With the crowd, led by the Bankside Mummers, the Holly Man ‘brings in the green’ and ‘wassails’ or toasts the people,  the River Thames and the Globe – an old tradition encouraging good growth.

The Mummers Play

The Mummers then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ Folk Combat Play of St. George, featuring the St George, Beelzebub, the Turkey Sniper, the Doctor, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in their spectacularand colourful  ‘guizes’. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded from the Crusades.

King Bean and Queen Pea

At the end of the play, cakes are distributed  –  a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people in procession through the streets to the historic George Inn in Borough High Street for a fine warming up with Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree and more Dancing.


Merry Yule!

Foliate Head © Rose Blakeley

Foliate Head © Rose Blakeley

A Very Merry Yule and Christmas to all our members, contributors and readers of this blog! I hope you all have a wonderful festive season. Thanks to Rose Blakeley for the wonderful picture and poem on this page. You can find out more about Rose and her work at:  http://www.roseblakeley.moonfruit.com/

The Foliate Head

Elusive, masked, I evade your eye,
Whilst silently poised from my boss up high
As a mystery shrouds me, my past is obscure
And bound by the ages, I have strange allure,
For on the winds of antiquity, here I have blown,
But still, I adorn my ecclesiastical throne.
With a delicately carved, ornate leafed-face,
A composite of foliage my features embrace,
And many strange guises oh have I,
For the vogue of my genre, with time, does comply.
I grin and I gurn, in curled, chiselled stone,
In many-a place my leaf-clad head it is known,
Whilst greenery issues from all that you see
And vegetation it disgorges from my mouth before thee.
How I leer, mock and lure, scare with no sound,
Though for my fine, flora form, I am now quite renowned,
For many have sought me, desired what they’ve seen,
They even gave me a name and embellished it with green,
But created was I for this church, my domain,
So in these great arching shadows, here I remain…
Elusive, masked, I evade your eye,
Whilst silently poised from my boss up high.

By Rose Blakeley

 

 

 

 


Book of the Month – December

Our book of the month for December is  actually an audio CD of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight by Simon Armitage read by the author. The story of Gawain has always had a link with Yuletide for me and I think this wonderful interpretation would make a perfect Christmas present.

About the Author

Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire in 1963. In 1992 he was winner of one of the first Forward Prizes, and a year later was the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. He works as a freelance writer, broadcaster and playwright, and has written extensively for radio and television. Previous titles include Kid, Book of Matches, The Dead Sea Poems, CloudCuckooLand, Killing Time, The Universal Home Doctor, Homer’s Odyssey and Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid.

You can buy this audio CD from Amazon by using The Company of the Green Man bookshop via THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee will go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members.


Book of the Month – November

 

Our book of the month for October is  “The Spirit of the Green Man” by Mary Neasham:

Review

“”Mary Neasham’s new book is a provocative and insightful look at the mysterious phenomena of the Green Man.” –Pagan Dawn

About the Author

Mary Neasham lives in a remote part of the Suffolk countryside in England, where she has spent many years studying. She is the author of Handfasting A Practical Guide and the co-author of Teenage Witches Book of Shadows and West Country Witchcraft.

Available at £11.69 using the Amazon link at The Company of the Green Man bookshop via THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee will go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members.


Book of the Month – October

Green Man

Our book of the month for October is  “Green Man the Archetype of our Oneness with the Earth” by William Anderson with Photography by Clive Hicks:

Reviews:

Green Man is a vital archetype of our time.”  — — Robert Johnson, author of He, She, and We
“A fascinating and important book.” – — – Jennifer and Roger Woolger, authors of The Goddess Within
“A significant contribution to men’s studies and healthy masculine spirituality.”  — — Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing and Creation Spirituality

Green Man is a vital archetype of our time.” — Robert Johnson, author of He, She, and We

Green Man is essential reading for those men who seek the mythic roots for a revitalized masculinity equal to the challenge of planetary culture.” — Robert L. Moore, Jungian analyst and coauthor of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

“A fascinating and important book.” – — – Jennifer and Roger Woolger, authors of The Goddess Within

“A significant contribution to men’s studies and healthy masculine spirituality.” — Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing and Creation Spirituality

“Not only completely convincing, but immensely enjoyable. For the first time the hidden power of the word ‘Green’-now given to every activity, every person dedicated to stopping the devastation of the Earth and to a new ‘greening’ of the planet-is revealed in the Green Man as this image appears in the Western cultural tradition, especially in the folk tales, rituals, literature, and art and architecture of pasty centuries. The Green Movement will attain a new efficacy through this new understanding of itself, through the archetype of the Green Man that arises not simply out of our own Western traditions but from the unconscious depths of the human psyche. For this is the role of every archetype-to guide, inspire, and energize all our human activities.” — Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of Nature

“The complete story of the Green Man from the deep past to the present. The record of his survival in Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance art is truly fascinating. We learn how this vital symbol of the rebirth of planet life lived on, together with the symbol of Mother Earth, sometimes degraded and sometimes partially accepted by the Christian Church. Now this symbol, through this excellent book, comes back as the poet’s archetype (‘His words are leaves,’ says the author). The revival of Green Man is a vital resource in renewing our lost unity with the world of Nature.” — Marija Gimbutas, author of The Language of the Goddess

“This rediscovery of the Green Man is a very timely, and has an important part to play in our search for a new relationship of living nature.” — Rupert Sheldrake, author of A New Science of Life

Not an easy book to find new but  you can purchase a second hand copy by using the Amazon link at The Company of the Green Man bookshop via THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee will go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members.


Book of the Month – September

Our book of the month for September is Kathleen Basford’s wonderful “The Green Man” described by The Times as ” The rarest, most recondite and fascinating art book, which is a folklore and magic book as well…it is an incredibly thorough study, with every example illustrated, of the weird foliate heads or masks found in the medieval churches and cathedrals of Western Europe”

William Anderson wrote “This book has opened up new avenues of research, not only into medieval man’s understanding of nature, and into conceptions of death, rebirth and resurrection in the middle ages, but also into our concern today with ecology and our relationship with the green world.”

Now available in paperback from Amazon.co.uk at £13.20 you can purchase your own copy at The Company of the Green Man bookshop via THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee will go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members.