Celtic Legend of the Green Man

Green Man


Black & white photo was taken by Simon Garbutt and is a carving on the Church of Saint Mary and Saint David in Kilpeck, Herefordshire, England

The Celtic Legend of the Green Man

The Celtic culture is rife with ancient and perplexing myths and legends. One of the more well-known is the legend of the Green Man. The oft-depicted image, of a male face not just surrounded by green (i.e. fertile) foliage, often displays the flora flowing out of his mouth. What could this possibly represent?

General consensus is that the Green Man is a symbol of fertility and rebirth. Every spring life begins anew as the countryside blooms. Early pagan cultures probably added him to their spiritual pantheon to mirror the human cycle of birth. Understanding basic biology, these early groups could have wondered, “How could Mother Earth give birth without some help?”

People think of Britain and envision different colored fields of pastures separated by long linear hedgerows. Thousands of years ago, the countryside was far from civilized and open. The land was in fact heavily forested. These thick, dense woods were often dark, even in the bright, high summer sun. Forests were generally feared and there are many stories that warn people of the dangers of the brooding woodlands. It’s no wonder that tales of a spiritual being became associated with such a fearful place.

But just what is it that erupts from the mouth of the Green Man (see the black & white photo above), is it simply a metaphor for life springing forth? What if it is entirely something different, something that is relatable more to the modern age?

I’ll leave you this to ponder, if the Green Man is a pagan symbol, why is it found on and in many Christian churches in Britain. One of the churches, which may be familiar to you and is known to have over 100 Green Man visages, is Rosslyn Chapel. Do I have your attention now?

In Harbinger (the second book of The Katie Walsh Mysteries), I postulate an entirely different origin and meaning for legend of the Green Man. Start the adventure with Trove (the first of the Katie Walsh Mysteries), then in late Summer 2013, continue the journey with Harbinger.

Trove is available from Amazon.com in two formats:

Trove – Kindle format

Trove — print format

9 thoughts on “Celtic Legend of the Green Man

    • if you think about it the forces of nature are both good and bad,some days its really nice some days their could be a tornado or hurricane.depending on conditions and circumstances,no ultimate good nor ultimate bad but neutral

  1. It’s interesting how Christianity will take something pagan and make it its own. So is the Green man evil or good? Both? Enjoyed the blog.

  2. So many Celtic traditions were taken over by the Romans when they invaded Britain and it is from their writings that a lot of the ‘evidence’ that we have is ‘known’. I’m currently doing the April A-Z Challenge Blog Hop on Celtic/Roman Britain AD 71-84, blogging every day, some to do with Celtic traditions, gods and goddesses. http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com

  3. What a wonderful article. With my history background I’ve know about the Celtic “greenman” for years but never seen it so elegantly written. Great job KJ. I hope you continue to share you knowledge of legends and myths with us in the upcoming weeks, months, and years.

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