Jim isn't pagan, but his husband, who is, told him that I was the one to talk to. In my pagan arrogance, I could understand why he would be interested in the Green Man. What I couldn't understand was why he should be so interested.
I rattled on for a while about late Roman Bacchic motifs and medieval sculpture, clearly missing the point entirely. Finally I trailed off and asked the question I should have asked first.
This autumn children's game, a variant of "tag," comes from the old Hwicce tribal territories in England's southwest Midlands. Like many traditional children's games, it is circular, self-replicating, and orally transmitted. The game's ritual structure and deeply mythic resonances will hardly be lost on anyone likely to be reading this post.
Players gather in a circle, hand-in-hand, around a mound of leaves. (In some versions, they circle.) They chant:
Leaf Man Rise Up Leaf Man Rise Up Leaf Man Rise Up
I keep joking that I'm redoing my house in Early Green Man.
My friend Gary has a Green Man wall in his house. There must be 50 different Green Men in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and mediums on that Wall. You can't hardly help but bow. Me, I've got them all over the house, peeking out from the most unexpected corners. One of the hazards of 21st century consumerist paganism, I guess.
The Green God: Earth's Firstborn and, they say, favorite. (But maybe, like in my family, she just understands him better.) She does give him that incomparable Coat of Many Colors every year as a sign of favor. And so his brother becomes a kin-slayer, most terrible of crimes. But that's never the end with the Green Man. “Cut me down,” he says, “I spring up high.” Irrepressible.
I wanted to share the experience Roy, my husband of thirty years, and I had at the Goddess Temple of Orange County Friday night as the temple celebrated their first Green Man Father's Day. The temple for sometime now has been shifting toward welcoming families and on Fourth Sundays had been inviting men to the temple. Like the Green Man, Consort of Goddess, these men are encouraged to emulate feminist ideals or archetypes of protector, supporter, nurturer. These are the men of our future.
During the the evening the men who have helped the temple were honored - the men who built the Sekhmet's 4' pyramid throne, and do all the things at the temple the priestesses don't have the abilities or money to do. As each of the men stepped forward to share a few words, I have to tell you how gratifying it was to hear herstory coming from the lips of men. As I sat in the room and listened to one of the men talk about being a devout Christian in his twenties, then realizing the inconsistencies, to discovering the Divine Mother, then hearing him tell how patriarchy has dealt women and the planet a lousy blow - I had goose bumps and I had to hold back tears.