Green Man & Resurrecting Nature Deities
This portal was curated by:

GREEN MAN

Lady Raglan suggested that in antiquity, the Green Man was ‘the central figure in the May Day celebrations throughout Northern and Central Europe’. As the Green Man is also portrayed with acorns and hawthorn leaves, symbols of fertility in medieval times, this would seem to reinforce the association with spring.

Related figures such as Jack in the Green and Green George appear much later in our folklore. The earliest record of a Jack in the Green appears in The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser in 1775.

However the common theme which runs through these figures would seem to be that of death and rebirth, and the Green that means life.

Perhaps then, the Green Man appears on our medieval churches as a symbol of rebirth and resurrection, tying together the old ancient pagan symbols associated with spring with the Christian faith.
DATABASES
Lady Raglan suggested that in antiquity, the Green Man was ‘the central figure in the May Day celebrations throughout Northern and Central Europe’. As the Green Man is also portrayed with acorns and hawthorn leaves, symbols of fertility in medieval times, this would seem to reinforce the association with spring.

Related figures such as Jack in the Green and Green George appear much later in our folklore. The earliest record of a Jack in the Green appears in The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser in 1775.

However the common theme which runs through these figures would seem to be that of death and rebirth, and the Green that means life.

Perhaps then, the Green Man appears on our medieval churches as a symbol of rebirth and resurrection, tying together the old ancient pagan symbols associated with spring with the Christian faith.
The category of dying and rising gods, as well as the pattern of its mythic and ritual associations, received its earliest full formulation in the influential work of James G. Frazer The Golden Bough, especially in its two central volumes, The Dying God and Adonis, Attis, Osiris. Frazer offered two interpretations, one euhemerist, the other naturist. In the former, which focused on the figure of the dying god, it was held that a (sacred) king would be slain when his fertility waned. This practice, it was suggested, would be later mythologized, giving rise to a dying god. The naturist explanation, which covered the full cycle of dying and rising, held the deities to be personifications of the seasonal cycle of vegetation. The two interpretations were linked by the notion that death followed upon a loss of fertility, with a period of sterility being followed by one of rejuvenation, either in the transfer of the kingship to a successor or by the rebirth or resurrection of the deity.
In the ancient world, the coming of spring was often linked to mythical tales of rebirth and resurrection. At the centre of these stories were a cast of fertility gods who share similar origin stories, and parallels with the Christian festival of Easter.

Springtime is celebrated with a diverse array of traditions across the world. Christians associate the season with Easter when they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the idea of a deity who perishes and is brought back to life was a common theme in the ancient world, predating the Bible. Spring mythology is often intertwined with the Earth’s cycle, meaning the stories feature fertility gods as the focal point.

The connection between rebirth, resurrection and spring can be tracked as far back as ancient Egypt and the god Osiris. Osiris was murdered by his rival Seth, who tore his body to pieces and scattered the parts across Egypt. The goddess Isis retrieved the pieces and buried them – an act that brought Osiris back to life to sit as judge in the underworld. His demise and rebirth speak to his dual role as the fertility god who gave life to plants and vegetation while controlling natural phenomena such as the annual flooding of the Nile.
The Green Man motif has many variations. Branches or vines may sprout from the mouth, nostrils, or other parts of the face, and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Found in many cultures from many ages around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetation deities

In one of his roles the ancient Egyptian God Osiris is regarded as a grain-deity and is commonly depicted with a green face representing vegetation, rebirth and resurrection. Containers of soil in the shape of Osiris planted with seed ("Osiris Beds") are found in some New Kingdom tombs. The sprouting grain implied the resurrection of the deceased.[12]

Khidr or al-Khidr (Arabic: الخضر al-Khiḍr "the Green One", also transcribed as Khidar, Khizr, Khyzer, Khizar) is a revered figure in Islam, whom the Qur'an describes as a righteous servant of God,[13] who possessed great wisdom or mystic knowledge

The Green Man is a recurring theme in literature. Sometimes the figures of Robin Hood and Peter Pan are associated with a Green Man, as is that of the Green Knight in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
However when we come to the idea of Jesus’ decent into hell it seems that we have a direct borrow from the Adonis religion, and in fact from other religions also. Both the Apostles Creed and the Athanasian {Creed} say that between the Friday night and Sunday morning Jesus was in Hades. Now this idea has no scriptural foundation except in those difficult passages in the First Epistle of Peter\[Footnote:] I Peter 3:19–4:6.\ which many scholars have designated as the most ambiguous passages of the New Testament. In fact the idea did not appear in the church as a tenet of Christianity until late in the Fourth Century.\[Footnote:] Weigall, op. cit., p. 113.\18 Such facts led almost inevitably to the view that this idea had a pagan origin, since it appears not only in the legend of Adonis, but also in those of Herakles, Dionyses, Orpheus, Osiris, Hermes, Balder, and other deities.\[Footnote:] Ibid, p. 114.\

-- Martin Luther King, Jr,
"The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity"
Visit our special guest curator
Related Portals: