The Green Man and the union of the spirit and the earth

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"I accept that I am a part of this process- the process of merging the spirit into the earth- as most of us likely are. I have in the past had many dreams in which my body and the bodies of a few other individuals were covered completely in a layer of green leaves. I had no idea what this symbol indicated until I came upon information about The Green Man, a mythological character who arrives to resuscitate mankindís intimacy with the earth. In mythological pictures he is shown covered in leaves.

            I can therefore declare with awe and humility that we are not here to abandon the mystic flesh, but to exalt it. We are not here to be liberated from this realm, but to be liberated within this realm." (excerpted from OM, baby!, by Jack Haas)


Green Man

The Green Man

(artist unknown: if you are the artist, please contact me, and due credit will be given)



"...There are legends of him (Khidr) in which, like Osiris, he is dismembered and reborn; and prophecies connecting him, like the Green Man, with the end of time. His name means the Green One or Verdant One, he is the voice of inspiration to the aspirant and committed artist. He can come as a white light or the gleam on a blade of grass, but more often as an inner mood. The sign of his presence is the ability to work or experience with tireless enthusiasm beyond one's normal capacities. In this there may be a link across cultures, ... one reason for the enthusiasm of the medieval sculptors for the Green Man may be that he was the source of inspiration." ó William Anderson, "Green Man: The Archetype of our Oneness with the Earth"



I find the article below interesting, not necessarily due to its content, but because of its use of my name, Jack, and because of similar symbolism from some of my dreams, which I include in OM, baby!:


    "Another direction we can take when looking for the meaning behind the Green Man is to study the character known in England as 'Jack-in-the- Green'. This was a figure who joined the May-Day revels in the 19thC, becoming particular!y associated with the chimney sweeps who along with many other trades, used this national holiday as an opportunity to boost their lean income with a little begging. In return, they provided some entertainment of rowdy variety. This involved them dressing up in gaudy tinsels and ribbons, with blackened faces "like morris dancers" and performing a rough and ready dance around a Jack-in-the-Green to the music of shovels, sticks, drums, and whistles. The Jack was a man inside a conical framework of wicker covered with leaves. A small gap was left in this, through which the occupant could peer- very like some of the Green Man figures in the churches.

    The Jack had to be built by the sweeps. If any rival group of tradesmen appeared with one, a bloody fight often ensued. There were many complaints of the rowdy and drunken behaviour on May-Day, which my have been one factor in its eventual decline.

    At the turn of the century, however, he was rescued from these unseemly and common clutches to become the leading figure in many May Pageants organised by middle-class revivalists. Their pageants looked back to a distant "Merrie England", wholesome and pure, where everyone knew their place and was happy with their lot. Many "folk" activities were taken up with interest at this time, and many were in fact saved from decline. One such was the morris-dance.

    One of the few pieces of documentary evidence we have of the existence of the Jack-in-the-Green outside these 19thC sweeps' revels links him firmly with the morris. An account of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's third voyage to North America in 1583 includes a description of the "entertainments taken across the ocean for the solace of our people and allurement of the Savages". It goes on to describe the "cavortings of the morris dancers, hobby horse, and jack o' greens", which apparently went down well with the audiences.

    Whatever he was before he met the sweeps, and wherever he came from, he ended up as a symbol of the May - the traditional beginning of the Spring. This symbol of regeneration as part of the life-cycle again bring us back to the ideas behind the Green Man in church-carvings. While we cannot prove a direct historical connection between the carvings and the pageant-figure, it is apparent that they are connected. That the Jack-in-the-Green is more directly associated with the celebration of the life-force is argued in Sir James Frazer's massive work, The Golden Bough. He described the Jack as our own version of the typical leaf-clad mummer found throughout Europe. Though in England his history and meaning are unknown (no-one ever asked the sweeps!) similar figures in other parts of were certainly explained by their celebrants as being representations of the spirit or god of the yearly renewal of life.

    Whilst the study of architecture, folklore and anthropology can give us a clue to the Green Man's nature he has also inspired a more poetic approach to the nature of his mystery... "



    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
    drives my green age."

    Dylan Thomas


The Spirit and Flesh Sacred Texts Online Library: world religion and spirituality, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Gnosticism, Alchemy, Paganism, and more.