Sunday, December 09, 2007

green man: a powerful symbol of renewal

A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves.The Green Man motif has many different faces and variations. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Green Man images appear in Asian, Indian, and Arabic architecture and art as well. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, resurrection or "renaissance", representing the cycle of growth being reborn anew each spring. Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history.

I took this photo of a Green Man at a botanical garden carved from an old tree stump of a tree that died naturally--it is an excellent example of the earth deity.

Often used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings. The face is almost always male; green women are rare. Green cats, lions and demons are also found. I love that it is a symbol or mythological earth creature with creative powers of change, representing spirits of trees, plants and foliage. The Green Man is untamed nature and vibrant life energy, a spirit of the vegetable/organic plant matter realm.

Many believe the Green Man is related to the pre-Christian Celtic deity Cernunnos; others that it is simply an expression of the forces of nature, or even a reminder that we, too, are part of the cycle of life. There is no real evidence linking the images to any particular philosophy, cult, or belief, although the faces are strikingly uniform through time. A legendary pagan deity who roams the woodlands of the British Isles and Europe. He usually is depicted as a horned man peering out of a mask of foliage, usually the sacred oak.

More Green Men can be found at:

Stone Carver
Cortes Island

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