The Green Man – Enchanted Symbol of the Earth

Posted on July 17, 2012

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English: Photograph depicting a carving by Pau...

English: Photograph depicting a carving by Paul Sivell, titled “Whitefield Green Man.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first symbol of enchantment in our Enchanted Oasis series is the Green Man, a reflection of our longing for connection with nature.

Given the role of all plants in consuming our carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in the air for us to breathe, perhaps the Green Man symbol is a mirror of something deep within us that knows we are more intimately connected to the green world than we realize.

If you’re unfamiliar with this symbol of enchantment, Wikipedia discusses the idea of the green man in this way:

A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings (both secular and ecclesiastical). “The Green Man” is also a popular name for English public houses and various interpretations of the name appear on in signs, which sometimes show a full figure rather than just the head.

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.

We are indebted to the artists and sculptors among us who create these beautiful symbols of man intertwined with nature. For my own part, the Green Man symbol shows up in the novel series that I’m revising this summer, in a slightly different manifestation.

The artistic use of enchanted symbols can also be a reminder for many of us to take practical action.  The Green Man reminds us that it is in our best interest to remember our close connection with the trees of the earth.

Typical boreal forest.

Typical boreal forest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many ways to work on the sustainability of our world, but in my opinion,  few are more important than maintaining and rebuilding forests around the world.  The challenge is that climate change is going to make this more difficult. Across the U.S.  global climate change is creating fires that destroy forests like those in Colorado this year, and without frosts to kill insects that attack trees, many species of trees are suffering.  So, we’re going to have a battle on our hands.

My response is to donate 10% of the profits to restoring forests around the world. This is my small way of doing my part to maintain the Enchanted Oasis of our planet.

Does the Green Man or other symbols of enchantment intertwined with nature speak to you?

If maintaining a green earth is an important issue for you, how might the use of an enchanted nature symbol in your art or life add to your commitment and actions?

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