The Green Man – Enchanted Symbol of the Earth

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?

Related articles

What is the Enchanted Oasis?

St. Nectan’s Glen Waterfalls, Cornwall, UK | A...

St. Nectan’s Glen Waterfalls, Cornwall, UK | A magical, mystical and sacred place (1 of 10) (Photo credit: ukgardenphotos)

Both quiet and silence are aids to enchantment, because they allow us to hear the “chant” of nature, the sounds of our interior lives, and music.  The incessant and inescapable noise of modern life, standing in the way of an aural relationship with nature and making it nearly impossible to hear our thoughts, blocks enchantment.  To be susceptible to the spells of everyday life, we have at least to perceive nature, both inner and outer.

Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life

Yesterday, I invited you to take a journey of inner and outer exploration of our spiritual source in these white hot, thirsty days.  You may live on the other half of the world where it is cooler, perhaps cold and blustery now.  Some of us in the Northern hemisphere would love a blast of that cold!

Perhaps, in some way, the earth is sending us a message.  Many of us believe that the earth and all of nature would like us humans to embrace a more enchanting way of life.

The metaphor of the Enchanted Oasis is not a particularly new one.  It is one as ancient as human history and appeals to many of us, because no matter what time or climate we live in, we experience times in our life that feel like we are walking alone in a desert, searching for something magical to ease the burden of life. There are times in our life when we feel that the world has lost its enchantment.

In its biggest view,  the Enchanted Oasis is a metaphor for the spiritual center that we all have, whether we recognize it or not.  The Enchanted Oasis is NOT the entirety of our soul, it is the mysterious energetic diamond within each of us that allows us to be able to live joyfully on a constant basis, not just when we have peak experiences in life.

Often, we try to create an enchanted life by looking outwards and seeking to improve ourselves to be more appealing to our family, beloved, culture or world.  We believe that if we become:

  • Rich
  • Thin
  • Assertive
  • Muscular
  • Famous
  • Brilliant
  • Self-sacrificing
  • Highly Accomplished
  • Perfected

then, we believe we will deserve to live joyfully and create a more enchanted life.

Most of us have discovered if we are honest with ourselves, that transformations for external reasons don’t really work if we are not also connected to our own spiritual center.

On top of that, much of the time, when we hear the process of Awakening discussed, it is made to sound like an arduous journey that can only be accomplished through years of meditation, contemplation, celibacy, public service, and contribution to others.

Sometimes we have to be willing to look deeper into the enchanted world in which we live.

Have you ever noticed that there are people who the outer world would consider to be failures or at least not very successful who have a greater spiritual presence than many so-called spiritual people? These enchanted folk might wear unfashionable clothing, struggle to survive, be unhealthy or sick, have no great ambitions.  Outcasts.  Anonymous souls who will never be known in the greater world.  Yet . . . because they are connected to their own Enchanted Oasis, they are a greater force for good in this world than many of us who seem to have everything.

I’m certainly not advocating that we all become poor and struggle or choose to define personal and global prosperity as a bad goal.   It’s just that the Enchanted Oasis within and without does not require any of this.

This is what Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu and so many others were trying to help us see. We can tap into our Enchanted Oasis today and everyday, and there is no hierarchy of who deserves this gift.

As we begin this journey together, I’d love to hear your thoughts:

  1. Do you believe that each of us contains a compassionate, life nourishing spiritual center, an Enchanted Oasis within us?
  2. Do you have practices that allow you to maintain joy despite whatever outer events are happening in your life?
  3. Would you like your life to be more enchanting?
  4. Are you living out of the Enchanted Oasis within you?

I suspect that many of you are already living out of your Enchanted Oasis, but you might not have thought much about it in those terms.  Let me honor you for being and creating an Enchanted Oasis in your part of the world.

Hope you are having an absolutely enchanting day!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

In the Chicago area, unusually warm weather has been causing summer like temperatures before the beginning of Spring.  It seems that the combination of 80 degree weather and sun has caused life to burst at the seams everywhere, including so many more of us going outdoors to enjoy this unusual weather.

These photos aren’t truly all that unusual except for they are probably coming about a month or so sooner than I would have expected.  The usual rule of thumb is not to plant anything until around mother’s day — May 9th.  Sadly,  it’s also unusual for bugs of all sorts to be out and about this early.  I had my first mosquito bite today.

This is actually the predicted weather for climate change in the Chicago area.  As much as I care about the earth, I have to say that I enjoy this what is now unusual weather, but may not be so as the years go by.

Magnolia beginning to bloom

First hyacinth of Spring(Summer)

The trees are budding everywhere which seems to be bringing joy into the hearts of people all over our community. Don't think I've ever seen as many people walking outside before this unusual weather weekend!

Moneywort in container. Didn't expect this to return this spring, but happy to see it thriving!

Daffodils are everywhere!