All Things Green Man & The Traditional Jack-in-the-Green

Green Man miscellaneous

The Enchanted Valley

 

The appropriately named Foliate Head Press has just published a guide to the Llanthony Valley, which runs between Hay-on-Wye and Abergavenny, in the Black Mountains. The Enchanted Valley is a guide to the myths and legends of this beautiful area and notes all the ancient and mystical spots along the route. It also features four green men, in Abergavenny’s Priory Church.

‘Be prepared to lose an hour as you explore the Priory Church because it is home to many beautiful monuments and tombs, one of which boasts four green men. They are tricky to spot on this highly decorated 16th century monument, but once the first is identified, the others become obvious to the eye. The choir stalls date from the 14th century and host several charming carvings of dragons and other mythical creatures.’

There are a surprising number of fascinating places in this valley, which is only twenty miles long, and as the book description says: ‘Driving along the only road through the Llanthony Valley is a joy; the landscape never disappoints. But to experience the Valley properly, one must leave the car and explore, seek out those old places where a certain sense of timelessness tugs at the heart. Taking you on a journey from Hay on Wye to Abergavenny, this book will introduce you to all these places and also the folklore and myths associated with them. It should come as no surprise that this landscape is home to fairies, that the oldest buildings harbour ghosts, or that holy wells have stories of miracles attached to them. Many tales which are firmly rooted in history also sound like folklore — but who are we to deny that they happened the way the storytellers say?’

The author Melanie Warren, has collected British folk tales and ghost stories for almost four decades. She lives in Lancashire but visits the Llanthony Valley each summer, along with family and assorted friends. In a decade of such visits, she has collected a wealth of fascinating information about the area and delights in introducing first-time visitors to the places in this book.

The Enchanted Valley, by M. E. Warren, is available now from Foliate Head Press,

https://bit.ly/33iXAme

for £9.99 plus postage.


RITUALS & DECLARATIONS ISSUE 1

Rituals and Declarations Zine issue 1 Winter 2019/2020

Limited-run (4 issues only) small-press magazine about the Weird. First issue Jan 2020, remaining 3 issues publishing quarterly after that

 

Contents

* Navigating the Hill of Dreams: the Significance of Folk Horror in an Age of Ecological Breakdown – by L B Limbrey

* Bodies of Water – Fiction by Sylvia Warren

* Acid Renaissance: Albion’s True Standard Advanced – Art by Paul Watson

* Cunning County by Emily Banting – Fiction by David Southwell, with art by Maria Strutz

* Bienvenue à Villefranche: Black Spot Season One – Review by David Southwell

* Cathexis – by Tim Dedopulos

* Cthulhu Madness – by Phil Hine, with art by Maria Strutz

* The Demon’s Mistress or the Demon’s Self: The Snake and the Monstrous Feminine – by Maria J Pérez Cuervo

* O Sunny Hour! Towards the Centenary of the Vine Press – by Justin Hopper

 

https://ritualsdeclarations.bigcartel.com/


Annual Events 2020

 

Listed HERE are all known annual events for 2020 that feature The traditional Jack-in-the-Green or The Green Man throughout the UK. This list will be regularly updated.

I would be extremely grateful if anyone who attends any of these events would send us pictures, videos or written accounts for the archive. If anyone knows of any events that are not listed here or if there are any corrections/amendments required please don’t hesitate to contact me.

If you are new to these pages and are wondering just what on earth a Jack in the Green is then your whistle stop tour of the history of the Traditional Jack in the Green can be found right HERE.


Twelfth Night Celebrations Sunday 6th January 2019

Twelth Night

If you need to escape the post Christmas and New Year blues I would highly recommend the Twelfth Night celebrations on Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe starting at 2pm on Sunday 6th January 2019.

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man the Winter guise of the Green Man (and an honorary member of The Company of the Green Man) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage is piped over the River Thames, with the devil Beelzebub.

With the crowd by Shakespeare’s Globe, led by the Bankside Mummers and the London Beadle, the Holly Man will ‘bring in the green’ and toast or ‘wassail’ the people, the River Thames and the Globe (an old tradition encouraging good growth).

Mummers will then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ St. George Folk Combat Play, featuring the Turkey Sniper, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in spectacular costumes. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded since the Crusades.

Cakes distributed at the end of the play have a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those from the crowd who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people through the streets to the historic George Inn Southwark, for a fine warming-up with the Fowlers Troop, Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree, Dancing and Mulled Wine.

If you go please do take some pictures and send them to me for the blog and if possible perhaps send me a short piece on your experience for the next e-newsletter

You can find more details via the Lions Part website below:

Twelfth Night Celebrations


Faces in the Leaves of Sherwood Forest: Hoodwinked 2018

Britain’s most familiar and best loved garden bird, the Robin, is notoriously antisocial, not only towards other bird species, but also its own. However, Nottingham will witness a round of Robins flock to its streets this Summer as part of Hoodwinked 2018, capturing the playful spirit of local legendary outlaw Robin Hood. This free public art trail is presented by Nottingham City Council in partnership with creative events producers Wild in Art and charity partner Nottinghamshire Hospice, for whom the Robin symbolises hope after the passing of a loved one.

Ipswich artist Lois Cordelia has been commissioned to paint one of thirty-three Robins after her design entitled Green Man of Sherwood Forest was chosen to be sponsored by Benoy. Graham Cartledge CBE of Benoy writes: “We are delighted to show our support to Nottinghamshire Hospice, a very well-deserving local charity. The Hoodwinked initiative will attract visitors and locals alike, encouraging people in our community to connect through creativity – something that is at the heart of what our designers do at Benoy.” Lois has recently explored the theme of the Green Man in a variety of unusual art mediums, including paper-cutting, creative cartography, and upcycled plastic straws. Now she is preparing to paint the Green Man onto an unexpected canvas: a giant Robin statue.

On the subject of her involvement in the Nottingham art trail, Lois remarks: “Have you seen faces in the leaves of Sherwood Forest? Many folklorists claim that the legend of Robin Hood is derived from the ancient image of the Green Man, or related figures such as Jack in the Green or Robin Goodfellow (Puck). No surprise that Robin Hood is clothed in Lincoln Green. The mischievous outlaw could be hiding in any disguise! Speaking as a Wild in Art addict, I can’t wait to start painting my Robin for Hoodwinked. It means a lot to be part of this (my seventh public art trail), and I’m very grateful to Benoy for sponsoring Green Man of Sherwood Forest. I often link the Green Man with the legend of Robin Hood in Lincoln Green in my artwork. My partner Jason (appropriately also an archer) has kindly agreed to model for the Green Man.”

Lois will travel to Nottingham later this month to paint her design onto the Robin statue. She will be working in a public painting space in intu Broadmarsh. Lois welcomes an audience of all ages while she paints, so don’t be shy – come along on Monday 14th May circa 10.30 am – 4.00 pm, watch, ask questions, and be inspired! Please note: the full design of each Robin cannot be revealed until the trail goes live on Saturday 7th July 2018, but you can catch a sneak preview of work in progress on some of the Robins if you drop by at the painting space.

You can find Lois blog here:

http://www.loiscordelia.com/blog/2018/5/faces-in-the-leaves-of-sherwood-forest-hoodwinked-2018

Location of the Painting Space: intu Broadmarsh, Lister Gate, Nottingham NG1 7LB, on the ground floor next door to Made in Nottingham.


Twelfth Night Celebrations Sunday 8th January

Twelth Night

I would like to wish all of our members and blog readers a very Happy New Year and a Healthy and Happy 2017.

If you need to escape the post Christmas and New Year blues I would highly recommend the Twelfth Night celebrations on Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe starting at 1:45pm on Sunday 8th January 2016.

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man the Winter guise of the Green Man (and an honorary member of The Company of the Green Man) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage is piped over the River Thames, with the devil Beelzebub.

With the crowd by Shakespeare’s Globe, led by the Bankside Mummers and the London Beadle, the Holly Man will ‘bring in the green’ and toast or ‘wassail’ the people, the River Thames and the Globe (an old tradition encouraging good growth).

Mummers will then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ St. George Folk Combat Play, featuring the Turkey Sniper, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in spectacular costumes. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded since the Crusades.

Cakes distributed at the end of the play have a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those from the crowd who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people through the streets to the historic George Inn Southwark, for a fine warming-up with the Fowlers Troop, Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree, Dancing and Mulled Wine.

If you go please do take some pictures and send them to me for the blog and if possible perhaps send me a short piece on your experience for the next e-newsletter

You can find more details via the Lions Part website below:

Twelfth Night Celebrations


Twelfth Night Celebrations Sunday 3rd January

twelth night 2016

I would like to wish all of our members and blog readers a very Happy New Year and a Healthy and Happy 2016!

If you need to escape the post Christmas and New Year blues I would highly recommend the Twelfth Night celebrations on Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe starting at 2:00pm on Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man the Winter guise of the Green Man (and an honorary member of The Company of the Green Man) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames brought by the Thames Cutter,Trinity Tide (boat subject to weather!) rowed by hardy volunteers.

With the crowd, led by the Bankside Mummers, the Holly Man ‘brings in the green’ and ‘wassails’ or toasts the people, the River Thames and the Globe – an old tradition encouraging good growth.

The Mummers then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ Folk Combat Play of St. George, featuring St George, Beelzebub, the Turkey Sniper, the Doctor, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in their spectacular and colourful ‘guizes’. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded from the Crusades.

At the end of the play, cakes are distributed – a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people in procession through the streets to the historic George Inn in Borough High Street for a fine warming up with Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree and more Dancing

If you go please do take some pictures and send them to me for the blog and if possible perhaps send me a short piece on your experience for the next e-newsletter

You can find more details via the Lions Part website below:

Twelfth Night Celebrations

Twelth Night


Green Man Pubs

The Green Man of Flackwell Heath copyright © The Company of the Green man

The Green Man of Flackwell Heath

The Green Man as a pub name may have a number of sources beyond that of the Green Man of church and folklore, including from the Green Man and Still heraldic arms used by the Distiller’s Company in the seventeenth century. Some pub signs will show the green man as he appears in English traditional sword dances (in green hats). Or as the Wild Man associated with drinking and revelry and usually carrying a club. There is also a strange interconnection between the Green Man and Robin Hood. Indeed some Green Man pubs changed their signs to foresters or Robin Hood from shaggy green men used as a symbol of the Distillers’ company in the 17th century. Apparently there are no pubs in Robin’s own county of Nottinghamshire named the Green Man but there are many Robin Hoods.

It also seems that some pubs are changing their signs back from images of Robin to that of the traditional Green Man himself.

One of The Company of the Green Man’s projects is to create a comprehensive list of current and historical  Green Man public houses throughout the United Kingdom. The current listing can be found here : http://freespace.virgin.net/polter.geist/greenman_page0007.htm if anybody know of any pubs missing from the list we would love to hear from you via the contact tab above.


Green Man’s Life Cycle – by Phil Townsend

greenman greenson Greenman greenfather

My thanks to Phil Townsend for allowing us to reproduce this extract from a larger article that was published in ‘Woodcarving’, issue 39, 1998. For those who would like to visit this wonderful sculpture it is still in good condition and can be found close to the main drive through Hamsterley Forest, nr. Barnard Castle, Co Durham.

From childhood I recall a fascination with storybook illustrations where semi-human features seemed to appear in tree trunks, knotty eyes where branches had been shed, noses from stubby cut-off limbs, mouths within wrinkled folds of bark. These tree faces were often old and knobbly but appeared friendly and helpful to the travellers beneath their leaves. Often you had to look hard for the faces. Sometimes you just imagined an odd combination of knots, bark and branches looked something like a face.

In real life trees that seem capable of expression are found mainly among the broad-leaved species. Conifers are mainly straight up and down and rather boringly regular, especially when seen in ranks in forestry plantations. Such mystery and imaginings are found among plantations of spruce and fir come not from individual specimens but from the density of the planting, the maze-like quality of losing your bearings with it all looking much the same in any direction. Walking through the ranks you glimpse along an aisle of trees which then closes to become a solid wall before opening into the next aisle. It’s “now you see it, now you don’t”. These memories and observations were drawn on as a basis for a sculpture which was to have echoes of these elements. When it was first proposed to create a Green Man sculpture in Hamsterley Forest, part of the Great North Forest in County Durham, a suggestion was made to carve a single detailed image in the traditional form onto as large a butt of a tree as could be found.

But such a carving, though large in most contexts, would lack the presence required of this archetypal figure when set in his natural habitat, the forest. Also the traditional depiction of the Green Man as a gloomy and rather forbidding figure did not seem conducive to promoting a love and understanding of nature, but rather generating fear and lack of regard for it. On a practical level the idea of creating a single united image across the faces of several spatially separate tree trunks had been shown to be feasible in the well known sculpture by Colin Wilbourn on the banks of the River Wear in Durham, called The Upper Room. It seemed possible to take the idea a step further by carving an image that was seen then lost as you moved, only to be replaced by another. Now you see the Green Man, now you don’t. A scale model of trees set in a triangular formation showed that at a given distance about one third of a trunks surface was visible, so it became possible to create three Green Men, each one registering only when looking towards the apex of the triangle. But what were these three to look like?

There is much the Green Man could condemn his human cousins for (the felling of six trees in their prime for mere sculpture, perhaps?). But in a place like Hamsterley Forest where growing numbers of people come to appreciate the beauty and bounty of the woodland, this is where the Green Man would be most at peace and might cast a benign eye on the passer-by. Folklore and tradition would have it that the Green Man is always young and vital, but we know in all nature there has to be a process of growth, maturing, and decay so regeneration can take place. The cyclical manner of all life should not, I felt, bypass an image so central to its core, and so was formed this sculpture of the Green Man’s Life Cycle, Greenson, Greenman and Greenfather. 

The grand fir (Abies grandis) logs used in the sculpture were felled in Hamsterley forest, having achieved a great height by the roadside on the hill above The Grove. Apart from its size, grand fir has other desirable properties: it is straight and cylindrical in growth, has a much lower resin content than most other conifers, and has few branch knots on its lower trunk. Eight logs, all from trees about 50 years old, were delivered to the site where I selected the six best and debarked them. I decided to sink the logs into the ground to a depth of 4ft to ensure stability. Each log weighed around a ton and a half, which, combined with their 16ft length made the business tricky, especially as their position in relation to one another had to be accurate to within 1 inch or so for the carving of the work.

One of the best aspects of sculpting in public is you get to meet all sorts of people, a refreshing change from the isolation of studio work. A lot of passers-by were understandably confused by the disjointed appearance of the sculpture, which was also partially obscured by the scaffolding, and I heard the words “totem poles” offered as an explanation many times. Whenever someone showed real interest I took the opportunity to explain, but was not always understood. I heard one teenager, to whom I had described the three stages of the life cycle, calling to his father, to come and see the “mid-life crisis face”! There were some visitors not so welcome at the sculpture site: Hamsterley forest plays host to myriad insects and at different times I was plagued by flies, midges 2inch long wood wasps, and flying ants which would spend a whole day swarming over two thirds of the carving. Last year was also a bumper year for butterflies and literally hundreds converged on the clearing.

The term unveiling was accurate as we had a large green Great Forest banner slung just below the eyes of our Green Man which was released by a famous resident of Teesdale, Miss Hannah Hauxwell. There was quite a turnout. I was especially pleased to see children from four local primary schools who had been involved in the early stages of the project. They were entertained by a professional story-teller with his own version of the legend of the Green Man. This was followed a couple of days later with an enjoyable story-telling walk on the theme of The Magic of the Trees, culminating at the sculpture site with a talk from that contemporary ‘green’ man, David Bellamy, who linked legend to current environmental problems in his own inimitable way. Everyone agreed this was a fitting climax

Phil Townsend is a professional sculptor who lives in County Durham. Primarily he designs and makes outdoor sculpture, mostly in native hardwoods and a wide variety of stone – materials that sit easily with both the natural environment and the man-made.

You can see more of Phil’s wonderful work on his website at: http://www.sculptedart.co.uk/


The Green Man at the Twelfth Night celebration events: Sunday 5th January

Twelth Night

The 2014 TWELFTH NIGHT Celebrations will be held from 2.30pm on Sunday 5th January 2014.

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

The Twelfth Night celebration events:

The Holly Man from the Thames

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man (the Winter guise of the Green Man from pagan myths and folklore) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames brought by the Thames Cutter, Trinity Tide (boat subject to weather!) rowed by hardy volunteers.

The Bankside Wassails

With the crowd, led by the Bankside Mummers, the Holly Man ‘brings in the green’ and ‘wassails’ or toasts the people,  the River Thames and the Globe – an old tradition encouraging good growth.

The Mummers Play

The Mummers then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ Folk Combat Play of St. George, featuring the St George, Beelzebub, the Turkey Sniper, the Doctor, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in their spectacularand colourful  ‘guizes’. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded from the Crusades.

King Bean and Queen Pea

At the end of the play, cakes are distributed  –  a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people in procession through the streets to the historic George Inn in Borough High Street for a fine warming up with Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree and more Dancing.


Merry Yule!

Foliate Head © Rose Blakeley

Foliate Head © Rose Blakeley

A Very Merry Yule and Christmas to all our members, contributors and readers of this blog! I hope you all have a wonderful festive season. Thanks to Rose Blakeley for the wonderful picture and poem on this page. You can find out more about Rose and her work at:  http://www.roseblakeley.moonfruit.com/

The Foliate Head

Elusive, masked, I evade your eye,
Whilst silently poised from my boss up high
As a mystery shrouds me, my past is obscure
And bound by the ages, I have strange allure,
For on the winds of antiquity, here I have blown,
But still, I adorn my ecclesiastical throne.
With a delicately carved, ornate leafed-face,
A composite of foliage my features embrace,
And many strange guises oh have I,
For the vogue of my genre, with time, does comply.
I grin and I gurn, in curled, chiselled stone,
In many-a place my leaf-clad head it is known,
Whilst greenery issues from all that you see
And vegetation it disgorges from my mouth before thee.
How I leer, mock and lure, scare with no sound,
Though for my fine, flora form, I am now quite renowned,
For many have sought me, desired what they’ve seen,
They even gave me a name and embellished it with green,
But created was I for this church, my domain,
So in these great arching shadows, here I remain…
Elusive, masked, I evade your eye,
Whilst silently poised from my boss up high.

By Rose Blakeley

 

 

 

 


Book of the Month – December

Our book of the month for December is  actually an audio CD of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight by Simon Armitage read by the author. The story of Gawain has always had a link with Yuletide for me and I think this wonderful interpretation would make a perfect Christmas present.

About the Author

Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire in 1963. In 1992 he was winner of one of the first Forward Prizes, and a year later was the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. He works as a freelance writer, broadcaster and playwright, and has written extensively for radio and television. Previous titles include Kid, Book of Matches, The Dead Sea Poems, CloudCuckooLand, Killing Time, The Universal Home Doctor, Homer’s Odyssey and Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid.

You can buy this audio CD from Amazon by using The Company of the Green Man bookshop via THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee will go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members.


Book of the Month – November

 

Our book of the month for October is  “The Spirit of the Green Man” by Mary Neasham:

Review

“”Mary Neasham’s new book is a provocative and insightful look at the mysterious phenomena of the Green Man.” –Pagan Dawn

About the Author

Mary Neasham lives in a remote part of the Suffolk countryside in England, where she has spent many years studying. She is the author of Handfasting A Practical Guide and the co-author of Teenage Witches Book of Shadows and West Country Witchcraft.

Available at £11.69 using the Amazon link at The Company of the Green Man bookshop via THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee will go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members.


Book of the Month – October

Green Man

Our book of the month for October is  “Green Man the Archetype of our Oneness with the Earth” by William Anderson with Photography by Clive Hicks:

Reviews:

Green Man is a vital archetype of our time.”  — — Robert Johnson, author of He, She, and We
“A fascinating and important book.” – — – Jennifer and Roger Woolger, authors of The Goddess Within
“A significant contribution to men’s studies and healthy masculine spirituality.”  — — Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing and Creation Spirituality

Green Man is a vital archetype of our time.” — Robert Johnson, author of He, She, and We

Green Man is essential reading for those men who seek the mythic roots for a revitalized masculinity equal to the challenge of planetary culture.” — Robert L. Moore, Jungian analyst and coauthor of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

“A fascinating and important book.” – — – Jennifer and Roger Woolger, authors of The Goddess Within

“A significant contribution to men’s studies and healthy masculine spirituality.” — Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing and Creation Spirituality

“Not only completely convincing, but immensely enjoyable. For the first time the hidden power of the word ‘Green’-now given to every activity, every person dedicated to stopping the devastation of the Earth and to a new ‘greening’ of the planet-is revealed in the Green Man as this image appears in the Western cultural tradition, especially in the folk tales, rituals, literature, and art and architecture of pasty centuries. The Green Movement will attain a new efficacy through this new understanding of itself, through the archetype of the Green Man that arises not simply out of our own Western traditions but from the unconscious depths of the human psyche. For this is the role of every archetype-to guide, inspire, and energize all our human activities.” — Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of Nature

“The complete story of the Green Man from the deep past to the present. The record of his survival in Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance art is truly fascinating. We learn how this vital symbol of the rebirth of planet life lived on, together with the symbol of Mother Earth, sometimes degraded and sometimes partially accepted by the Christian Church. Now this symbol, through this excellent book, comes back as the poet’s archetype (‘His words are leaves,’ says the author). The revival of Green Man is a vital resource in renewing our lost unity with the world of Nature.” — Marija Gimbutas, author of The Language of the Goddess

“This rediscovery of the Green Man is a very timely, and has an important part to play in our search for a new relationship of living nature.” — Rupert Sheldrake, author of A New Science of Life

Not an easy book to find new but  you can purchase a second hand copy by using the Amazon link at The Company of the Green Man bookshop via THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee will go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members.


Book of the Month – September

Our book of the month for September is Kathleen Basford’s wonderful “The Green Man” described by The Times as ” The rarest, most recondite and fascinating art book, which is a folklore and magic book as well…it is an incredibly thorough study, with every example illustrated, of the weird foliate heads or masks found in the medieval churches and cathedrals of Western Europe”

William Anderson wrote “This book has opened up new avenues of research, not only into medieval man’s understanding of nature, and into conceptions of death, rebirth and resurrection in the middle ages, but also into our concern today with ecology and our relationship with the green world.”

Now available in paperback from Amazon.co.uk at £13.20 you can purchase your own copy at The Company of the Green Man bookshop via THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee will go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members.


Rock Troll

Logogif

HAND MADE CRAFTS FORGED FROM FOLKLORE AND FIRE

www.rocktroll.co.uk


Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey Through the English Ritual Year

A Journey Through The English Ritual Year

Cecil Sharp House, EFDSS, 2 Regents Park Road, London 
NW1 7AY 16 January – 31 March 2013

 During opening hours

 www.efdss.org/

Since encountering Deptford Jack-in-the-Green in 2006 photographer Sara Hannant began a journey to explore seasonal rituals as they occur throughout the English year.  This touring exhibition, which coincides with the publication of a book of the same title, mingles folklore, myth and tradition. The images give a real sense of what it was like to be there; jostled by crowds at the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, or listening to the clink and rustle of the milkmaids, decked out in silverware, who parade with the Deptford Jack. The photographs are compelling, at once capturing the vividness, excitement and mystery of costumed processions, fire rituals, traditional dances and mumming plays that are held in rural and urban locations throughout the country.

While some folkloric customs claim ancient origins, others are recent revivals or re-inventions.  Regional traditions also vary, incorporating local and transnational influences. However, all the featured traditions mark significant times within the wheel of the year, from the spring ritual dances in Bacup to the lighting of mid winter fires in Sussex.

Photography, like ritual, charts a moment in time, yet nothing is fixed: traditional culture is shown as a continual communal process of evolution, forging a dynamic connection between past, present and future.

Janet Vitmayer, Director of the Horniman Museum and Gardens says, “We are delighted to present this fascinating exhibition, which gives a unique insight into Englishness.”

Professor Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol “Sara has a rare gift for capturing peak moments in such celebrations … the human participants emerge as vivid characters in their own right, adding depth to the drama and humour of the local seasonal rites in which they are involved. She is a genuinely talented artist.”

“Sara Hannant’s remarkable photographs convey, with joy and compassion, the mystery, charm and exuberance of traditional English ritual.” – Shirley Collins, President of the English Folk Dance and Song Society

This is a Horniman Museum touring exhibition. Promoted by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) in association with the Horniman Museum


The Green Man at the Twelfth Night celebration events: Sunday 6th January

Twelth Night 2013

The 2013 TWELFTH NIGHT Celebrations will be held from 2.45pm on Sunday 6th January 2013.

Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather.

The Holly Man from the Thames

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man (the Winter guise of the Green Man from pagan myths and folklore) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames brought by the Thames Cutter, Master Shipbroker (boat subject to weather!) rowed by hardy volunteers.

The Bankside Wassails

With the crowd, led by the Bankside Mummers, the Holly Man ‘brings in the green’ and ‘wassails’ or toasts the people, the River Thames and the Globe – an old tradition encouraging good growth.

The Mummers play

The Mummers then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ Folk Combat Play of St. George, featuring the St George, Beelzebub, the Turkey Sniper, the Doctor, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in their spectacularand colourful ‘guizes’. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded from the Crusades.

King Bean and Queen Pea

At the end of the play, cakes are distributed – a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people in procession through the streets to the historic George Inn in Borough High Street for a fine warming up with Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree and more Dancing.

More information at: http://www.thelionspart.co.uk/twelfthnight/


The Mummers Play – A Midwinter Ritual

North Curry Mummers Play Copyright © David Lawrence

North Curry Mummers Play Copyright © David Lawrence

“There can be no Green Winter
All things have a Time and Place and Order.
So – Now that Winter’s here again
Come around and gather in,
We wish your favour for to win.
This handsome band is come today
To re-enact the famous play”

A very Merry Christmas to you all. If you decide you would like to escape the turkey the inlaws and the pudding why not head out to see one of the traditional Mummers plays that take place this time each year.  Both the Green Man and Jack in the Green or Green Jack appear in the text of many of the plays.

“For now comes a man all dressed in green
The ugliest brute you’ve ever seen

Green Man
Awake , Awake now hear me bawl
For I bring life and death to one and all
Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring
Essential to all of these I bring
Pagan ritual and fertility to all I do keep
As jack in the green and green man I do leap”

You can find details of dates and times by using the wonderful resource available at:  http://mastermummers.org/index.htm . Just enter the date range and the details of any Mummers Plays taking place will be shown.

Many of the Mummers Plays take place on Boxing day including In North Curry in Somerset where David Lawrence revived the tradition:

Their play tells the story of the battle between Summer (or Good) and Winter (or Evil). At one o’clock on Boxing day a troupe of strangely garbed figures processes into the village square led by assorted musicians playing some strange old melody. A man dressed in black and disguised with a mask (for this he is known as the Guiser) steps forward to introduce the characters:

‘You may wonder what is the Mummer’s play, and what is its meaning.

This is what there was before there was Christmas.

The Winter Solstice and the turn of the year was then celebrated by a play of ritual and symbolism.

Here we have the fight between Summer ( St. George), and Winter (The Black Knight). You shall see Summer killed by Winter and then Summer’s rebirth by extraordinary means. And then you will see the death of Winter. This is the story of the seasons.

There is (supposedly) humour in this play but its true meaning lies much deeper.’

For more information about the North Curry Mummers play and for details of the book and CD of their Mummers Play go to:

http://www.fromthegreenwood.com/About%20DL/Mummers%20Play.htm


Collective Observations: Folklore and Photography – from Benjamin Stone to Flickr

13 October 2012 – 13 January 2013 (free)

Since 1897, when Sir Benjamin Stone established the National Photographic Record Association (NPRA), photographers have had a fascination with the rites and rituals of Britain.

This exhibition explores the complimentary relationship between photography and folklore practice – featuring contributions from Faye Claridge, Matthew Cowan, Doc Rowe, the Benjamin Stone Collection, Homer Sykes, Brian Shuel, Sara Hannant, Tom Chick, David Ellison and Henry Bourne.

There are 720 recorded events, rites and customs practiced in the UK each year, and folklore is reflected in every element of our community, life and values. Folklore is a vibrant element of ‘Britishness’ and a living cultural heritage that links the past to the present, helping us to understand our communities and cultures as well as our shared humanity.

Collective Observations will consider the enduring appeal of vernacular traditions as rich subject matter for image makers, and explore how photographers have consistently turned their lenses toward the spectacle of these archaic customs – whether by documenting events (like Homer Sykes and Sara Hannant), making portraits (Henry Bourne, David Ellison) or taking a more conceptual approach (Matthew Cowan, Tom Chick).

Curated by the Museum of British Folklore in conjunction with Towner


Solihull Green Man Trail

Our congratulations to member Dr Colin Harris. After 5 years of hard work the Solihull Green Man Trail is up and running (or walking)

below is a copy of the official press release.Image

Walk this way and hunt the Green Man in Solihull

A new walk celebrating the mythical wonder of a staple creature of folklore has launched in Solihull.

The Solihull Green Man Trail runs in both directions from Castle Bromwich in the north of the borough to St Alphege Church, in Solihull town centre covering more than 20 miles.

The Trail takes its name from the historical figure of the Green Man, which has been a part of folklore for more than 3,000 years.

Solihull no longer has any Green Men in the borough, but some nearby examples do remain. There are pubs called the Green Man in Coleshill, Harborne and Kenilworth, while a Green Man pub also stood on the corner of Blackford Road and Stratford Road from 1842 – 1861. This was then renamed The George and Dragon, before being demolished. The nearest Green Men on churches are in Hampton-in-Arden, Temple Balsall and Henley-in-Arden.

However, with the launch of the new Trail, the spirit of the Green Man in Solihull is being kept alive.

With guidance from Solihull Council’s Neighbourhood Rangers, local schools from across the borough have used their artistic talent to create their own Green Men, which have been hidden along the route.

As well as hunting the Green Men, there are a number of other highlights along the route.

The Trail takes in the traditional oak woodland of Alcott Wood, the 15th century Packhorse Bridge that straddles the River Blythe near Hampton-in-Arden and part of the Grand Union Canal, as better known landmarks such as Birmingham Airport and Malvern and Brueton Parks.

Dr Colin Harris, a local expert on Green Men and other traditional features and origins of folklore, has helped pull the Trail together and is keen for others to start hunting the hidden green faces.

Dr Harris said: “The Green Men hidden on this trail are fantastic and I really hope that everyone walking the Trail has fun finding them. We need to keep alive the traditions of the Green Man because he is an endangered species and unless we pass on folklore like this to future generations it will fade into distant memories. I hope this Trail helps turn a few more people into green man-iacs like me!”

Councillor Mrs Kate Wild, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This Trail takes in a great section of our wonderful borough and is a perfect way to further explore the local environment. I’m sure anyone walking the trail will find something interesting on this route, whether they are a visitor or a long-term resident.”

For more information about the Green Man Trail, download the route map or pick one up from any Solihull library. Alternatively, head to Mell Square, Solihull town centre, between 11am-3pm on Friday 27 July for the walk’s official launch.

Spot the Green Men and win!

Dr Harris is offering a prize of £25, plus a £25 donation to charity of the winner’s choice, to the first person who sends in photographs of all the Green Men in their hiding places. Images should be sent to enquiries@greenmanforum.co.uk.


Greenman Song

Marie is  searching for an old folk song she learned as a child. It has stuck with her to this day and she finds herself singing the lyrics to her children but she doesn’t know where it came from or what it was about. She is in the USA but her great grandmother was scottish so it is possible that she learnt it from her father who learned it from his father.. and so on…..
The lyrics she remember are:
I have lived through many seasons, many towns, and many lands, raised a family I’ve been married, shook the hearts of hardened hands, and still today her memory haunts me like a vision like a dream, and some pirate lives to steal her always young and always green.
See the greenman how he blossoms lines and flowers at his feet, sun in one hand, green the other, always ripe and always sweet….
That’s all she remembers, she knows the tune, and  remembers her parents had it on cassette tape….
If anyone can shed any light on the origin of this song please drop us a line at greenman@virgin.net

The Ancient Legacy

COTGM member Vanessa Piggott recently went to a performance by group called “Folk At The Fold”. They performed a play with poetry and folk songs called The Ancient Legacy based around the changing farming year “then and now,” the theme throughout was the Green man, with songs for every season and readings, and a good big image at the back of the stage. Vanessa recommends anyone near Worcester to look out for the next performance.

The Ancient Legacy

A journey through the seasons in music, song, poetry and sketches

with some of the Counties most respected folk musicians and actors.

“ When Summer days grow shorter and Autumn days draw near,

The nights grow ever longer, ‘till the turning of the year.

If, when the sun is highest, still the world turns as of old,

We know that winter’s waiting, even when the fields are gold”.…..

Vicki Williams

   And just as surely, Spring will follow Winter in the ‘everlasting circle’ of the seasons.

The Ancient legacy’ is a lively production which takes us on a journey through the seasons and the farming year both past and present celebrating them in music, song, poetry and humorous sketches.

Narrators introduce you to the modern farmer struggling with ministry documents, and the ploughboy of long ago as they journey through Spring ploughing, haymaking and harvest  until Christmas celebrations before turning again to look forward to another new year.

Throughout the play the ancient and mysterious symbol of the ‘Green Man’ appears, representing continuity of the seasons and the need for unity with our natural world, ultimately delivering a message of hope for the future.

The play has an eleven strong cast made up of local actors, singers and musicians dedicated to bringing their audience an engaging and thought provoking Production.

For more information please go to :

http://www.ericpaynefolksongs.co.uk/Folkplay.html


Lud’s Church, Gawain & the Green Knight

At this time of the year I always seem to find myself drawn back to the wonderful poem Gawain and the Green Knight. The poem was written by an unknown author in the late 14th Century, but was only rediscovered two hundred years ago and published for the first time in 1839.

The story begins as the court of King Arthur is celebrating the feast of Christmas. The door burst open and the formidable figure of the gigantic green skinned and green haired Knight rides into the great hall clothed all in green on a green horse. He issues a grisly challenge to Arthur and his Knights and asks if anyone amongst them is “bold both of blood and brain”, and will dare strike him one stroke for another, “I will give him as a gift this axe, which is heavy enough, in sooth, to handle as he may list, and I will abide the first blow, unarmed as I sit. If any knight be so bold as to prove my words let him come swiftly to me here, and take this weapon, I quit claim to it, he may keep it as his own, and I will abide his stroke, firm on the floor. Then shalt thou give me the right to deal him another, the respite of a year and a day shall he have. Now haste, and let see whether any here dare say aught.”  Gawain begs Arthur to allow him the honour of taking the challenge and so begins Gawain’s magical quest.

Anybody interested in reading the poem could do no better than get hold of a copy of the extremely accessible and beautifully written translation by Simon Armitage.

Earlier this year I finally completed my own slightly shorter quest to visit Lud’s Church in the beautiful Peak District. Lud’s Church is thought by many to be the location of the Green Chapel that Gawain travels to in the story to complete his part in the bargain that he makes with the Green Knight. Lud’s Church also has links with Robin Hood another Green Man and there is even a legend of a ghostly green man who haunts the surrounding woodland.

My walk started from a car park about two miles from Lud’s Church and followed the walk detailed at the end of this article. It took me through some incredible countryside and I was astonished at just how vibrantly green the woodlands around the area were. I was worried about missing the entranceway but shouldn’t have as you definitely know when you have arrived at this magical place.

The church is in fact a deep chasm on the hillside above Gradbach in Staffordshire. As soon as you enter you understand why this incredibly atmospheric location has inspired so many legends. Apparently many visitors find the atmosphere too overwhelming and won’t go any further than the entrance. I must admit I paused and had to take a deep breath before walking between the moss and fern clad walls but would not have missed the experience for anything.

The pathway soon leads to a set of steps that take you even deeper into the chasm. It had rained before my visit and this area was extremely muddy so I would advise good boots, but there are a number of stepping stones that lead through the mud and onto safer ground. Lud’s Church appears to have been seen a sacred place from early times. On Midsummer’s Day the light from the sun penetrates deep into the chasm. Lud or Llud of the Silver Hand is a hero from Welsh Mythology and was also known as Nud in Welsh or Nodens by the ancient Britains.  There is another legend that Lud’s Church is named after a horse ridden by a huntsman who was pursuing a deer close to the chasm. The hunter didn’t see the approaching danger but his horse, Lud, did and stopped throwing the rider to his death at the bottom of the chasm. The ghost of the hunter was said to haunt woods around the area covered from head to toe in moss and leaves. This lead to the figure being known by the locals as The Green Man.

 

How to find Lud’s Church

There is a free car park around two miles from Lud’s Church (located at 53.193063, -2.002955). Walk out of the car park and turn right. Follow the narrow road until you come to a fork. Take the right hand fork and head down the hill to the Gradbach Mill Youth Hostel. Once at the Hostel you’ll see the hostel on your right, a footbridge in front of you and a path to the left. Follow the path, which in turn curves to the left. You will come to a small gate, go through the gate and follow the path to the right. About 20m further on there is a narrow stone style on your right (with a private grounds sign on a gate further behind it). Go through the stile and turn left. Follow the road for around 30m. On the corner of the road, you’ll see another stile. Look over the wall to the right you will see the footbridge that you need to cross. Cross the footbridge and you will come to a signpost. Head for Swythamley and Lud’s Church. Head straight up the steep hill and you will quickly come across a path that goes to the right. Walk along this path until you come to a large rock formation on your right (about a ten-minute walk). You will then see a sign for Lud’s Church to the left; follow it, and within a few minutes you will arrive.