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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Green God

 

 

Thank Goddess: after a covid-driven hiatus, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is finally open again. At last, I can go see the Green Man Gun.

I've been thinking about it for months. Now, in the normal way of things, I've not a gun guy. I don't own a gun; truth to tell, I've never even fired one. (Yes, I'm just another pansy-ass South Minneapolis liberal wussie. You got a problem with that?) In general, I don't think of guns as things of beauty.

That's why the Green Man Gun—no matter how many times I see it—invariably takes me by surprise.

The Green Man Gun is indeed a thing of beauty. No, I can't tell you what kind of gun it is. (A wheel-lock pistol?) No, I can't tell you for sure where it was originally from. (One of the Germanies, I think.) No, I can't even tell you how old it is. (“16th” century, maybe?) If you're interested, stay tuned and I'll tell you these things once I make my pilgrimage and find out. Maybe I'll even get a picture to show you.

Here's what I can tell you. It must have been made for some well-heeled nobleman, because it wasn't just made to shoot: it was made to be beautiful.

The Green Man Gun is inlaid with mother-of-pearl and colored enamel, set into the sides of the wooden stock. (“Lock, stock, and barrel” we say, meaning the gun in its entirety. “Stock,” of course, originally meant “tree trunk”: here, the vegetative component of an otherwise metal object.) The major decorative motif, of course, is swirling vegetation with a Leaf Face peering through: hence the name.

What does it mean to have the God of Vegetation adorning, of all things, a gun: a god of life on an instrument of death?

Well, we can ask this question, but—let us acknowledge—it's a modern question. The Green Man only became a god in the so-called 20th century. To the nobleman for whom this gun was made, I suspect that the Leaf Mask represented decoration, no more. At most, it would have read contemporaneously as an allusion to the forest to which one resorted for the hunt.

As modern pagans, though, our reading of the past is not limited to how the past read itself. This is a central principle of contemporary pagan hermeneutics. The New Pagan Thought is non-Originalist by definition. (Take that, foul SCOTUS conservatives.)

So let me pose the question once again: why a god of life on an instrument of death?

Here we encounter one of the new paganisms' central concepts: the fruitful Death, the death that gives life. The wheat dies on the scythe to give us bread. The grape is plucked and crushed to give us wine. The gun fires to protect, or to give us food. The Green God is no mere god of life. Like his brother the Horned, he is a sacrificial god.

Welcome to the pagan world. Here opposites meet, kiss, and resolve. Here, death brings life, and guns bear Green Men.

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Unsurprisingly, the couple that sold handmade brooms at the Renn Fest turned out to be witches.

Now, Witch World is a small place, with three degrees of separation at most, so each year, I would make it a point to stop in, and we'd swap stories for a while.

One year I was absolutely wowed by a set of hand-crafted wooden bellows hanging on the wall, the surface beautifully carved with a Green Man face.

The symbolism could hardly be more apposite. Bellows = air = the breath of life. Whose image could they possibly bear other than that of the God of All Green Life, whose reciprocal breath gives life to all us Red-bloods. And bellows blow up the Fire, which burns....wood, of course, the Green Man's very flesh. Rendered in—what else?—wood.

Charmed, I took the bellows up to the till.

“Tell,” I said.

The Green Man bellows had been crafted by their coven woodcarver. “They're his first,” they told me. “He'll be delighted to hear that he's made a sale.”

I was in love, and the price was more than reasonable, so of course I bought the Green Man bellows. I've joked for years about how I seem to be redoing my house in Early Green Man, which is frankly no more than the truth. Walking through my home, you'll find more Green Men than you could...well, than you could shake a stick at.

Back at the Renn Fest a few weeks later, I naturally stopped in at Broomhilda to say “Blessed Be.”

Laughing, they told me the story. They'd called their coven brother to tell him that he'd made a sale, and asked if he wanted to carve another set.

“F*ck no,” he told them. “Making those was so much work, I couldn't possibly charge enough to make it worthwhile.”

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The Dance of the Green Men

In the clearing, the drums throb.

Suddenly he's here among us, the Green Man: stark naked, green all over, shockingly green. The green leaves of his crown, his wristlets, his anklets, rustle as he dances.

Then there's another, a second, dancing among us. The two Green Men meet, dance together, and spring apart again, laughing.

From the woods, more hooting laughter. A third Green Man leaps into our midst, then a Fourth, but this one's a Green Woman. Her green breasts bob as she dances.

The Green Ones join hands, circling the fire. Then they peel off outwards and suddenly we're all dancing, dancing with the Green.

What, after all, is life but a dance with the Green Man?

Our dance reaches its thunderous climax. Suddenly, they're gone. The drums crash to a halt.

From the woods, one final hooting peal of laughter, mocking, fades into the distance.

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Who Is God of Furniture?

Do an image-search for Green Man Chair. Go ahead. You'll be amazed at what you find.

There must be hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of Green Man chairs out there. I've got a couple down in the dining-room myself.

And that's just the chairs.

We tend to think of the Green Man as a being carved in stone, but that's mere coincidence of survival. Stone outlasts wood.

Artists have been carving (and painting) Green Men for some 2000 years now but, starting in the Middle Ages, Green Men (aptly enough) began to sprout everywhere.

What could be more appropriate than that the image and likeness of the God of Plants should be rendered in wood: the symbol and the reality in one. To sit in the Green Man's Chair is to be embraced by the Lord of Vegetation.

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Dark Stranger

There's a Dark Stranger standing in the living room.

He who, yesterday, stood between Earth and Heaven, now stands between ceiling and floor.

The son of the forest now comes indoors.

His fragrance fills the house.

Soon we will bestow him with lights, and all the royal heirlooms of the feast: every one a prayer.

But for now he stands in shadow, and naked beauty.

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Under the Sign of the Green Branch

Why is the Green God, Lord of Leaf and Tendril, called 'Frith-God,' god of peace?

Not hard.

In days before the White Flag came to denote cessation of hostilities, truce, and peaceful negotiation, the Green Branch bore these meanings, and its bearers.

The wielders of the Green Branch bear no weapon, but the sign of life and growth.

Indeed, they bear the sign of the strong God Who Makes War on None, yet in the end wins nonetheless, through patience and persistence.

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The Dance of the Green Men

Called by the drums, we gather to the fire.

The chant begins.

Green God, Maple God,

living god of the forest:

hey ho hey ho

come to us.

It is the chant of calling. Biome by biome we call, back and forth: wetlands, prairies, tundra, orchards, gardens, fields, vineyards.

Hoo-hoo-hoo.

One from each quarter, the Green Men burst into our midst from behind, hooting. They rush in to the fire and turn, eyes bright.

Four there are: green, naked, rustling with leaves at head and wrist and ankle.

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