On the Trail of the Green Man
by Nina Lyon
Published by: Faber and Faber Ltd.
Publication date: 3rd March 2016
A provocative and playful exploration of the Green Man, from an exciting new talent.
Who, or what, is the Green Man, and why is this medieval image so present in our precarious modern times?
An encounter with the Green Man at an ancient Herefordshire church in the wake of catastrophic weather leads Nina Lyon into an exploration of how the foliate heads of Norman stonemasons have evolved into today’s cult symbols.
The Green Man’s association with the pantheistic beliefs of Celtic Christianity and with contemporary neo-paganism, with the shamanic traditions of the Anglo-Saxons and as a figurehead for ecological movements, sees various paths crossing into a picture that reveals the hidden meanings of twenty-first-century Britain. Against a shifting backdrop of mountains, forests, rivers and stone circles, a cult of the Green Man emerges, manifesting itself in unexpected ways. Priests and philosophers, artists and shamans, morris dancers, folklorists and musicians offer stories about what the Green Man might mean and how he came into being. Meanwhile, in the woods, strange things are happening, from an overgrown Welsh railway line to leafy London suburbia.
Uprooted is a timely, beautifully written and joyfully provocative account of this most enduring and recognisable of Britain’s folk images.
This is less an exploration of the the Green Man and more an exploration of Nina Lyon’s self. She says not very much with a lot of words. She also makes a historical errors in holding to the romantic view of the pre-Roman Britons, whom she insists on referring to as Celtic, and makes wild assumptions about their religion based on little evidence, among other things. She also makes assumptions about modern pagans and is very dismissive of their ideas.
The writing style was easy to read and the personal narrative engaging.
It’s not a bad book, but don’t expect to find anything historically accurate in it.