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

Green Man miscellaneous

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:


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 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



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

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:

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: . 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:

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

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

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 :