Mythology of the Green Man
The Green Man is the second oldest of all archetypes. He is both the leader and the lover, the celebrated and the sacred gift. He feeds the earth spirits and he is also the father and brother of the forest and the field, the furred and flying, the hooved and horned ones. He is the stag in the heart of the wood. He is the sound and symbol of the rut. He is eternal joy, ecstatic awareness, tender partner to Mother Earth, as well as her ever-rebirthing son. He is the eternal seed of life.
He has variously been named Pan, Dionysius, Bacchus and Freyj in European tradition. In Northern Tradition he is the Antlered One, the face in the green wood captured among the leaves, the old sculpture of the face with greenery growing from within and around which figures so prominently on doorways, church lintels and portals leading to sacred spaces around the world. He is also Cernunnos the shape-changer and symbol of all forest beings. He is Herne, the Sacred Hunter and Protecter of the Wild.
If we are to spare the Green Man from being sacrificed so that the natural cycles may continue – we must ask for something or someone else to stand as the sacrifice in the Green Man’s stead. This becomes even more important to our valley homeplace, because if the Green Man should die, then certainly the Red Lady, our Mother Mountain would also perish.
Someone must save the Green Man so that our Red Lady may LIVE!
Green Man Activity: Make Your Headwreath
For our Vinotok and other Seasonal Cycles celebrations you will see folks of all ages wearing hand-made floral and leaf, or evergreen and pine cone wreaths.
The word “wreath” dates from the 12th Century and means to twist or “writhe.” Wreaths are circular designs woven from plant and other materials. Wreaths have been used throughout history and many cultures to also denote honor and reverence which is being paid to an exceptional individual, and individuals in celebratory events. Wreaths are laid on graves, seasonally hung on front doors, decorate special trees and sacred spots in Nature, are given to champion athletes, worn by brides and grooms.
At Vinotok we also call them Halos or Crowns. A wreath does just that, it sets a person apart, crowning and surrounding their head, face and personal energy with color and texture while it captures the light in a soft halo. A wreath may be bestowed just like a crown. As embodied archetypes of Nature, the Green Man and the Harvest Mother receive lovingly and intricately designed headpieces that may include flowers, bones, fur, gems, totemic and meaningful objects and symbols of their station and importance in our community.
The experience of spending time in fields, forest and mountains, caringly and sustainably gathering your natural materials, pausing to sit in the sun, feel the breeze and savor the quiet, is a lovely ritual of its own. In this way you can make yourself, your child, your sweetheart, your horse, your front door a Vinotok Wreath in the way of the ancient intentional Hearth Magic. Weave blessings, healing, prayers, offerings and gratitude into a loving gift from your hands and your heart!
How to Make a Headwreath
1. Grab some 2—3 willow branches from our bucket if you’re at the Green Man altar! If not, ethically harvest smaller, pliable willow branches.
2. Start with your base. Take your willow branches and bend them back and forth to make them pliable. Wrap one around your head, making it a little loose. You can intertwine the ends of the willow so they stay, or affix with some twine.
3. Take a second same-sized branch, bend it to make it pliable, and twirl it around the first, again either weaving the ends together, or tying them together with twine. Put the two ends at opposite points for balance.
4. To gather your decorations, take a slow walk in nature and only harvest a few things at a time from different areas so not to hurt Mother Earth. Don’t harvest live wildflowers, but dried stalks and seed pods are okay (just shake the seeds out on the ground).
5. With the two branches you have a way to weave your decorations (flowers, grass, dried flowers) in between the spaces of the willow branch. You may need to tie them with twine.
Some Secret Pro Tips from the Maidens
Add to your wreath a bit at a time throughout the week, so come the burning of the Grump, or Autumn Equinox, it is full and in it’s glory.
You can use aspen branches instead of willow, it has fun shoots that make it look more wild.
Wind a thin piece of willow around finished wreath for added security.
Add ribbons, feathers, bone, stone and beads to hang off your headwreath.
Poem for the Green Man
ask rivers, ask aspens to tell, of their wild son who, walked long ago
He who wanders, with forest women
across snow drifts, at the Crest’s cliff
unkempt shepherd, mud-born and grinning
A dancing man, with great ram horns
moving among, worlds of man and beast
noise maker, Earth’s lover, for Earth still mourns.
Pass your crown to, who our town needs
to guide us through, valleys and peaks
as seasons change, as wind spreads seeds
Lead us towards, dancing in the sky
gather from the dirt, hunt for your meat
keep us living, while green things die
ask rivers, ask aspens, to choose, a man from those, we love and know
By Anna Claire, Vinotok Wordsmythe