is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.
Some see nature all ridicule and deformity…
and some scarce see nature at all.
But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
~ William Blake
The Green Man iconography appears thousands of years ago throughout the world. Most often we associate the figure with European churches and connecting structures. However, the image has much deeper roots.
In ancient Egypt and Greece we have similar Green Man imagery with Dionysis, Osiris and the goat-god Pan. Even throughout parts of Mexico, India and Asia the green figure materializes in sculptures, Thangka paintings and on sacred sites. Native Americans had their own form of the green figure in the Story poles of the Pacific Northwest.
The most abundant use of the image is in the Celtic tradition where the earth is revered and the trees are considered sacred. The Green Man often appears with horns and a leaf masked face with names ranging from King of May, Green Jack, Jack in the Green and Green George. Tales of Robin Hood and Gawain and the Green Knight stem from our camouflaged hero. In some parts of the British Isles effigies of a green figure are created during a high holiday. My favorite of these stories is in Susan Coopers The Green Witch.
Mother Nature, symbol of the goddess of the earth, represents the feminine aspect of the Green Man. In Celtic Wisdom we see her represented as Sovereignty, the goddess of the land. GAIA, the idea of earth as a living organism where we are all connected, is the modern incarnation of the Green Man ideology.
The Green Man and the related archetypes discussed are symbols of our intimacy with nature.
These mythic images have an enchanting power which continues to thrive in the popular art of cultures worldwide. We see it as re-occurring themes in our modern day bards, like Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison.
In the realm of perfume “Green” is a modern fragrance family that grew out of the traditional Chypre (pronounced sheep-ra) catagory. Chypre stems from the French word Cyprus and was made famous with the perfume by Francois Coty. A classic Chypre perfume consists of a basic accord of Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli and Bergamot. For more on the origins of Chypre read on at Perfume Shrine.
The closest Chypre in the Roxana Illuminated Perfume fragrance collection is Q, the oak perfume. There is also Hedera helix and Green Witch, but those are only available upon request at the moment.
Q, with it’s association to the sacred Oak, connects us to the spirit of the Green Man. Heather Ettlinger, the poet and authoress of the Memory and Desire blog writes:
“The night I tried Q turned out to be a vivid and marvelous evening in which I picked up a fairy tale I’ve been crafting since I was a child, and took it straight into the woods for several hours. Q is both lush and restrained, majestic and simple. Not angry, not quarrelsome, not angular, but very green. I lay in bed for several hours with my wrists wresting on a pillow in front of my face, and explored the calming green of trees in sunlight.”
Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.
~ Henry David Thoreau
At top our illuminated oak image ©Greg Spalenka, just under it is a porcelain Green Lady pendant handcrafted by Ilsa and Suzanne in Holland. Below that the image is titled Spring ©Roxana Villa, prints available here, and the woman emerging out of the tree trunk is titled “Divinus” ©Greg Spalenka, card set available here, prints available here.