Monday, 30 January 2012

The Green Man Cometh

We of the Learned Society are well acquainted with the Green Man and have seen numerous variations of this ambiguous character carved in stone in many of the churches we visit. On my very last Ramble I found this particularly pleasing ancient version in St Martins church in Thompson, Norfolk that peers out from a spandrel of the Sidilia....

And the Cathedral in Norwich is famed for its various representations of this woodland spirit including this one...

I say woodland spirit, but who knows for there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding his origins and his meaning. Some see him as a pagan deity, akin to the Woodwose - A symbol of rebirth and fertility. A symbol equally at home within the Christian framework that is well known for borrowing from earlier ancient customs and beliefs. There is probably some truth in this, although the motif is now so ancient we can never be certain.

For that reason you can understand how pleased I was to finally get to meet the Green Man in person. After all these years of staring into those foliate covered enigmatic faces I couldn't believe my luck when I bumped into him this very morning whilst walking my dogs in nearby woods. I had so many questions I wanted to ask him - Of what life was like long ago, when man was content to hunt and gather? What was Robin Hood really like and was Maid Marion as fit as they say?

The spirit of Ancient Briton awoken once more

Alas he was a man of few words and given that he had awoken early from his long winter slumber I suppose I should not be to harsh. He did however say that his name is Keith, he really loves the Ragged Ramblers Blog and that he was really looking forward to spring and a dam good shag.


Make of that what you will.

+Many Coats+


  1. Us spiritually advanced stone masons have a golden rule: If a young mason comes to us for work and proudly displays his carving of a 'Green Man' in his portfolio, we tell him to fuck off and never come back.

    I know a theatre director who says the same thing to anyone who admits that they were a child star in 'Oliver!'.

    I am proud to say that I have never carved a Green Man in my life.

    1. It must be a grand thing to be a 'spiritually advanced stone mason' who prides himself on having never carved a Green Man. Yes, you should be proud - that's quite an achievement!

      Barry Saitch

    2. I'm reviewing the situation. Can a fellow be a villain all his life?

    3. Mr Stephenson,

      Do you consider yourself at home?

    4. That Green Man, does it fall from the skies above?

    5. Dear Mr Stephenson,

      Speaking as a spiritually advanced stone mason, I wonder if you could answer a simple question - where is Love?

    6. Perhaps it's underneath the willow tree?

    7. We must have civil words, Bill. Civil words

    8. Once a villain, you're a villain to the end!

    9. Who is this man?

  2. I'm sure to some Tom that your comment would suggest a unyielding dislike of the 'new age' connotations that have enveloped the Green Man in modern times. I however see the deeper meaning of your words - That you realise the Green Man encompasses the full depth of human understanding and as such only a man in his declining years - One who has experienced all that a single life can fear and feel. Only a man who has done all he has dreamt of doing can know a slight something of the human condition as personified in the motif of the Green Man. And as such is only in his decline able to capture that knowledge in stone. Certainly something a young man new to his trade is unable to do and even a man like you Tom who I hazard to guess is in his middle years is not yet ready to achieve.

    Tom I salute your craftsmanship and patience!

    +Many Coats+

  3. I'm with you Colonel. Nothing like a good oak leaf shag after a long day putting down the locals.

  4. It is beginning! He is Keith, we is Keith - Green Keith, grey Keith - we all is Keith! I hold it to be a self-evident truth that every person on this planet is called Keith. All of the world's problems are, in essence, about the denial of this inner Keithness. Since I surrendered myself to the Truth of Keith, I have found an infinite serenity and peace. May Keith be with you...

  5. The revelation of divine Keith!

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