15 January 2024 – The Green Man

By | January 26, 2024

In the session we covered the Green Man.

There are traditions relating to the Green Man in France. Switzerland, Germany and across continental Europe as well as Britain.

They are mostly in religious settings such as churches and cathedrals and spread between late 1100’s – early 1500’s.

They were located in all parts of the church, the choir, roof, chapels, private chapels, roof bosses, sacristy which showed that they were accepted by the church authorities as well as the carvers and congregations.

We looked at why they were so popular and possible origins.  Were they supposed to ward off evil spirits, products of the imagination of the workmen who created them, linked to the Tree of Mercy mythology, reminders of the consequences of sin?

These seemed too simplistic for the widespread use of the images within the churches and across both Britain and Europe and felt it was likely to be the co-opting of pagan beliefs by the church.  The church had to work reasonably hard to get the people to join them.

We looked a number of likely examples of these including Jack in the Green which Lady Raglan was convinced was the origin of the Green Man.  The term the Green Man was coined by Lady Raglan in the 1930’s, prior to that they were known as foliate heads.

May Crosses which were done on May Day.  Not all were benign, the Burry Man from South Queensferry was sinister and involved the proper following of a ritual and discomfort for the man dressed as the Burry Man.

Last Updated on January 26, 2024