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The Green Man
The Sun and the Moon

The Celts
Dragons and Serpents
Whales and Dolphins

Faerie Folk
The Knight's Templar




























It was not until much later that some Christian theologians declared the antlers of Cernunnos to be the devil's horns. The Green Man image, previously regarded as one of many gods, became a symbol of the spirit of nature within the total creation of the one god.

In medieval, pre-Reformation days the Catholic church was politically and socially very powerful. It had its own edicts and laws which often did not coincide with those of the monarch and certainly would have touched the lives of most ordinary folk because religion played a far more significant role in everyday existence than is the case today.

Much that is taken for granted now because it is so easily explained by science must have appeared mystical or miraculous to our medieval ancestors. We know, for example, that a rainbow is formed by the refraction of light through water but what a marvel this must have seemed once. Many such natural, but at the time inexplicable, phenomena were regarded as magical or wondrous events which became embodied in plays, stories and art.

Medieval literature was largely a curious mixture of Christian belief and old pagan tales and legends. One of the most famous, Gawain and the Green Knight, incorporates the knights of King Arthur, severed heads, the Green Man and the etiquette of courtly love and flirtation, all in one story.

Another vital aspect of peoples lives was the land which, through farming, provided physical nourishment and growth; in short, survival. The image of the Green Man was associated by tradition with regeneration, rebirth and the gifts of nature. In these times the Church would have been involved with such practical, day-to-day issues as in spiritual matters for communities tended to be much smaller and people were more reliant upon one another.

Today the Green Man is still with us, whether illustrates on tins of sweetcorn an the 'Jolly Green Giant' or as a deeply spiritual instinct within. A respect for nature has always been an important part of most religions, pagan or otherwise. Communities of different people from many countries with diverse beliefs have aspired and learned to be self-sufficient by living directly from the land.

Concerns such as genetic engineering, abortion, artificial means of controlling birth and fertility, euthanasia and a belief in the preciousness of life are important issues in most religious teaching. We live in an age of pesticides, nuclear weapons, factory farming, the destruction of rain-forests, damage to the ozone layer and the deliberate pollution of our land by industrial and nuclear waste.

Our intuition warns us that we are heading on a collision course with nature. Maybe this is why the concept of the Green Man has reappeared today under a new name: ecology.


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"The Green Man" cassette, music inspired by the Green Man legends, available at the Spiral Online Shop


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                                             To "The Green Man" pathworking text