The Greenman and His Ways


Deep in the ancient forests and fields of Europe, the Green Man has 
long roamed, free and splendid.  The ways of the Green Man are the ways of 
wild nature and the seasons of the Earth.  He is present wherever crops 
are grown and harvested.  He is there when animals mate and give birth.  He is 
there when the seasons change and the Sun shines.  The Green Man was well-
known to the people of Europe.  Recognition of and reverence for him, and for 
the energy of vegetation and nature, was universal.

During the Middle Ages, stone masons carved the Green Man's likeness 
into the walls and arches of the finest cathedrals; there are thousands of 
Green Man heads carved across Europe.  By the time of the renaissance, European 
indigenous religions were under constant attack by the newly powerful 
Catholic Church.  This was also an attack on the Green Man and his magic.  
Still, the cathedral presence of the Green Man was a constant source of 
strength to the people.  The Green Man's image silently echoed the 
spirit of nature.  His vigorous masculine energy was at once mysterious and 
familiar.  As the dying and returning god of vegetation, he was similar to 
Jesus.  In this way the people of the Middle Ages blended their traditional folk 
beliefs with the new religion of Christian Catholicism.

The Green Man's wisdom is that of the eternal truths, cycles, and 
passages.  We are all born, grow, age, and die, each in our own time.  It is 
this deep and sacred truth that is echoed in the figure of the Green Man.  The 
Green Man is a magical bridge between nature and us.  Human in form, he is 
also vegetable and animal at the same time.  His mysteries are the secrets 
of all growing things.  He is present in all natural foods--vegetables, 
salads, broccoli, corn, and the grains and fruits of the Earth.  He lives in 
all crops and in all things green and growing.

The Green Man is as much a part of us as we are of him.  His energy 
fills the trees that make the oxygen we breathe.  The Green Man gives us the 
breath of life.  At harvest, he surrenders his essence at the height of his 
magnificence.  Though he dies as a plant, he is born anew in the cells and 
tissues of animals and humans.  Here he nourishes us and grows, until 
in time, we cease to be and his energy is released again into the 
earth.  There it springs forth again as crops or plants in the never-ending cycle 
of death and rebirth.

                                A Green Man Ritual

Practicing the ways of the Green Man means living in harmony with 
nature and living according to the seasons.  It means looking for the blessings 
and gifts that are unique to each time of the year.  Without winter, 
there is no spring; without summer there is no harvest.  Rituals of the Green Man 
can be done for many purposes--to heal the environment, to restore balance, 
or to ensure abundance and the success of new ventures.  Green Man rituals 
should be performed with green, white or light blue, and yellow candles.  
Green candles are for growth, health, and vegetation.  White or blue 
candles represent air.  Yellow candles shine with the light of the Sun and 
its vital energy and warmth.

Symbols used in Green Man rituals may include: a growing plant, a 
branch, fruit, dried grains, a small bowl of earth, leaves, berries, and 
acorns or other nuts.

                                  A Green Man Invocation

I call to you now, spirit of nature, strong and free
Come and teach me, I am ready to honor you
I celebrate your gifts; I am ready to learn your truths,
As my ancestors did before me.
I see your power and your pain, beneath the green mantle
Of the scars on your body and the great sadness in your eyes.
You are no longer abandoned, we hear you again;
We are ready, to honor your ways.
Reveal yourself, Green Man,
Weave your spells of green magic.
Teach me and I will listen for your voice;
I will celebrate your sacred wisdom ways.

It is best to do a Green Man ritual outside, and if possible in a 
wooded place.  Take your shoes off, sink your toes into the cool earth, and 
feel the energy of the Green Man move up through your body.  Before you begin 
your ritual, take a few moments to listen to the trees, notice how they 
rustle, creak, and groan as the wind passes through them.  Breathe in the 
oxygen they have produced for you, and know this is the miracle of the Green 
Man's magic.

In earlier times peasants knew the ways of the fields and forest, and 
gave back to the Earth with the sacrifice of the Green Man.  Today we will 
have opportunities to make sacrifices and give back to the Earth, but the 
sacrifices we are making are those of care, awareness, and moderation.  
Recycling and conservation are contemporary Green Man sacrifices.

Today the Green Man is reemerging into our consciousness.  His 
presence brings balance and energy to the reclaiming of our ancient heritage.  
For men, the Green Man is especially important, as he is a guide to 
accessing balanced male power.  In our time, the Green Man is emerging with a 
clear, strong voice, guiding us toward a healthier and more stable balance 
with nature.
by Abby Willowroot
copyright 2003