Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Green Man

The tree which moves some to tears of joy
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 human woman gives birth just as the earth gives birth to the plants ... so woman magic and earth magic are the same." ~ Joseph Campbell

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."

Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?
Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Susan Cooper
Neil Gaiman
Grant Morrison
Memory & Desire

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

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.


ScentScelf said...

Dear Roxana, Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series is a perennial favorite among my students, and I always have a bit of a twinkle in my eye when they are in our reading rotation.

Hmmm...What is this Green Witch? [scurries off to investigate]

ScentScelf said...

Okay, I'm hooked...please help. I grow hedera helix up, down, and over things in my garden, but am not sure what to expect from a scent. And the idea of Green Witch has me intrigued...but I'm not finding info. Please either point me the right direction, or give me a hint.


Illuminated Perfume said...

Greenings Dear Shelley,

Gosh, I just ADORE the Dark is Rising Series...The Green Witch being one of my favorites. My daughter Eve and I have the series on CD and listen to the whole thing about once a year.

Well, let's see what I can dig up on Hedera helix and Green Witch...both as samples and reviews.