Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Greenman

By: Lauren C Dole

Taking a look at Green Man

The Green man is as old as four thousand years. He has become intertwined in folk tales with “Jack in the Green”, ” John Barleycorn” and even “Robin Hood”, but each and every “Green Man” is different in the way the craftsman or the age interpreted him.

The “Green Man” is the dimly remembered symbol of an ancient spirit of Nature, recognized and revered by many civilizations and adopted by many religions.

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.”

He is the symbol of the eternal cycle of Nature, the mysterious figure who dies and is reborn each year. The Green Man motif has many 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. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance", representing the cycle of growth 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.

Superficially the Green Man would appear to be pagan, perhaps a fertility figure or a nature spirit, similar to the woodwose (the wild man of the woods), and yet he frequently appears, carved in wood or stone, in churches, chapels, abbeys and cathedrals, where examples can be found dating through to the 20th century. The earliest example of green man disgorging vegetation from his mouth is from St. Abre, in St. Hilaire-le-grand, c 400 AD.

In the Germanic nations, such as Germany, Iceland, and England, depictions of the Green Man could have been inspired by deities such as Freyr or Odin, as both have many attributes of the later Green Men from throughout Europe , In Wicca, the Green Man has often been used as a representation of the Horned God, a syncretic deity that appropriates aspects of, among others, the Celtic Cernunnos and the Greek Pan.

Many forms of Neopaganism consider the green man to represent a common form of personal transformation in meditations or ritual. The icon of the face with leaves sprouting out is a representation of a personal visionary experience of "becoming" a green man or woman.

A good bit of fun is creating a Staff or walking stick using green man. Find a suitable stick to work with.( thank the tree for the gift and leave an offering of an apple ) You want a sturdy, thick stick that will be good as a hiking, or walking, stick. The best way to find the right stick is to go to the woods and look around, testing different sticks until you find one that's comfortable for you. Make sure the stick is wide enough to provide a good work space for you to carve on.

Decide what elements of nature you will combine with the human features. Make a rough sketch of your wood spirit so you have something to work from. Place your stick on a solid surface. Secure it to a table with a clamp if you have one available. Begin by using a small chisel and rubber mallet to notch out the rough shape of your wood spirit. The finished project should look like a bas relief, so you want to hollow out space, leaving wood to carve your spirit. The finished piece will look as if the spirit face is 3D and rising from the background.

Use a carving knife and the chisel in combination to for the face and whatever nature elements you've chosen for your wood spirit. A good way to get the wood spirit down is to form the human features first and then set the nature elements around the human form. Sand your wood spirit with light grain sandpaper until smooth. You can .finish it with a clear coat of varnish or even use acrylic paint to add color, although the natural look fits the wood spirit motif best.

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