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Green Man Paperback – 15 Oct 1998

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Compass Books; New edition edition (15 Oct. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0951703811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0951703816
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 23.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 721,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a well researched book, heavily illustrated with wonderfully clear photographs. I found it to be a fascinating and educational read. The author traces the image of the Green Man in all his many forms (and even includes a Female version) from the dark ages to the present day. If you want pretty pictures you'll find plenty here, but equally of value is the absorbing text.
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Format: Hardcover
Cynics might say he's just part of the ecological bandwagon. The Norwegian Green Party has focused its anti-acid rain campaign on an image of him as protector of forests, and one of the more surprising expressions of the Green Man figures in New Age pagan rituals. Dozens of witches' covens still celebrate May Eve, or Beltane, around the figure of the Green. Beltane consists of three days of celebrations, climaxing when the high priest ritually transforms into the Green Man, bestowing his blessings on the coven members and presiding over a feast - followed by what can only be described as an orgy. This pagan philosophy of the coven places the Green Man at the centre of the creative process. Since pagan communities were generally matriarchal, it is only in their festival of spring that the Green Man is celebrated as the male form of regeneration and renewal. On the autumn equinox at Hallowe'en, he 'dies' to restore seasonal and sexual balance.

But he's seen in hundreds of English churches as a leafy head, and he certainly tells us something about our human relationship with the natural world.

There’s a popular belief in this figure: Film director John Boorman says that as a child, the Green Man saved him from injury when he fell from his treehouse and that he's been trying to find the mysterious tree spirit ever since.

Composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle describes the Green Man as 'my own personal god'. He wrote an opera, based on the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. (In Gawain (Gavin) and the Green Knight, the Green knight appears and joins in the Christmas feast at the round table with Arthur. He issues a challenge — he will be passive to any blow providing he who gives it seeks him out in New Year following and is also passive.
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Format: Hardcover
Certain sites are of special interest to the new age thinker – Stonehenge, Glastonbury Tor and Tintagel. Another favourite site is Chartres Cathedral, one of the true wonders of the western world. As soon as Chartres turns up in any thesis on western art, you can expect trouble. When the Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh, so-called final resting place of the Knights Templar, also turns up, you know the trouble is serious.
For a new age thinker, William Anderson is fairly well behaved. He saves the more outrageous theories for a short final chapter. But throughout the book he does use the old magician’s trick of distracting you, while he sneaks things past you. It’s done well. He shows off his learning about Medieval thought and society and while you, the reader, are absorbing that, he sneaks in unsupported theories as established truths.
This is fine, provided you, the reader, keep your wits about you. Even if the raw facts do not quite speak for themselves, the many excellent, well-chosen photographs certainly do. The trouble is that many of the same subjects can be found in the original work on the Green Man, Kathleen Basford’s The Green Man (1978). Basford largely limited herself to picture, description, location and date; although, in her introduction, she did attempt to link the Medieval Green Man carvings back to Roman images of Bacchus and Okeanos.
Of course, the impulse to speculate on what an apparently pagan symbol is doing in so many Medieval churches and cathedrals is almost irresistible. He has been “traced” back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and even to Jain temples in India. He has been linked to a Celtic god, Arthurian legend, and May day ceremony and other folk customs, all of which are themselves of mysterious origin.
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