John Matthews,
The Green Man: Spirit of Nature
(Red Wheel/Weiser, 2002)

The Green Man: Spirit of Nature is a gorgeous little gift book, only 6" square, that comes in a boxed gift set with a Green Man wall plaque. The plaque is 3.5x4" and made from a deep, dark green that is almost mossy in appearance.

Although the book contains only 64 pages, it is packed with information about the folklore of the Green Man from around the world. It is divided into three sections with five headings: "The Coming of the Green Man," "Myths and Traditions," "The Return of the Green Man," "Celebrating the Green Man" and "Travels of the Green Man."

Some of the earliest recorded images of the Green Man were found in what are now Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. But the likeness of the "Nature Man" can be found all around the world. The author has included a list of the most famous carvings and statues, stating their location by building, city and country. He has also provided a list of festivals and celebrations for several countries, including Switzerland, Scotland, Mexico and most of Europe.

From the Norse World Tree, Ygdrasil, to the Mediterranean god Attis, readers will become acquainted with the wide array of representatives of the Green Man throughout history. There are legends and folktales, such as the stories of Enkidu and Gilgamesh or Osiris and Seth, scattered throughout the book.

In addition to lavishly colored illustrations, there are many full color photographs of statues, tapestries, paintings, carvings, building moldings and even a stained glass cathedral window.

This book may be small, but it contains a lot of information and will give you a strong working knowledge of the history of the Green Man in folklore and application. The gift set would be a wonderful surprise for any nature or plant lover, folklorist or person setting a new home. Give your loved one this book and plaque to protect their home or garden from the bad forces of the world!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 3 May 2003

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