The Green Man
The story of the Green Man is one of the oldest in the world, dating back many thousands of years to the cave painters and the shamans of North America and Europe. He can be recognised in the literature of early Mesopotamia, in the Egyptian myths of Isis and Osiris, the dances and folk plays of Europe, and the trickster figures of many other cultures.
His European origins lie in the spiritual intuitions of the tribal peoples who lived in the vast woodlands that once covered the continent. He is, in part, the spirit of these woodlands, a representation in semi-human form of the abiding life force of the trees.
From the Green Man our ancestors learned the secrets of life: the mystery of the seasons; the knowledge of medicinal herbs and plants; the belief in an Otherworld and the afterlife; and the concept of death and rebirth, one of the oldest themes known to us.
In the later, literate world he adopted the form of a mythological archetype representing the spirit and intelligence of nature, and, as counter balance to the feminine, its masculine consciousness. This archetype is manifested in figures such as Green Jack, Robin Hood, Robin Goodfellow, Herne the Hunter, the Green Knight, John Barleycorn, and other characters from the songs, folk plays and legends of Europe.
More recently he has reappeared as a potent symbol of ecological concern and as a prophet, warning of the disastrous consequences if we continue to destroy the natural resources of the earth. He is a symbol of our ability to interact with our environment, of our responsibility to take only what we need to survive, and a reminder that we are not the lords of creation, but equal partners in the vast, living ecosystem that is our planet.