A classic Green Man. Photo credit Dogears via wikipedia commons.
Photo credit Akoliasnikoff - Own work via wikipedia commons.
Green Man depicted in Cadiz, Spain. Photo credit José Manuel Franco via wikipedia commons.
The Green Man ~ a RISE OF ALLIES Book Extra!
Photo credit Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) via wikipedia commons.
The Green Man was an ancient pagan nature spirit, a Celtic deity of vegetation, woodlands, and plant life. He is usually depicted as a mysterious face with branch-like antlers and a mask of leaves.
According to paganism expert Patti Wigington in her article, The Green Man, Spirit of the Forest, "Such images appear as far back as the eleventh century, in church carvings. As Christianity spread, the Green Man went into hiding, with stonemasons leaving secret images of his face around cathedrals and churches. He enjoyed a revival during the Victorian era, when he became popular with architects, who used his visage as a decorative aspect in buildings."
Green Men are particularly associated with the feast of Beltane (Jake's birthday in RISE OF ALLIES!), presumably as woodland spirits, they would've been seen as returning or coming back to life with the springtime after a long winter.
Wingington goes on to write, "Legends connected to the archetype of the Green Man are everywhere. In the Arthurian legend, the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a prime example. The Green Knight represents the pre-Christian nature religion of the British Isles. Although he originally confronts Gawain as an enemy, the two later are able to work together - perhaps a metaphor for the assimilation of British Paganism with the new Christian theology. Many scholars also suggest that the tales of Robin Hood evolved from Green Man mythology. Allusions to the Green Man can even be found in J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan - an eternally youthful boy, dressed in green and living in the forest with the wild animals."
Of course, we took some liberties with the Green Man legend for our character of Dr. Plantagenet in RISE OF ALLIES. The notion of Green Men being afraid of fire, for example, simply seemed logical for a guy who was essentially a tree-person. Or as Tex likes to call him, "Ya overgrown broccoli!"
By the way, there is also an annual Green Man Festival in Wales. Like its American cousin, Burning Man, also of Celtic pagan origins, Green Man is an alternative/indie music festival where some people even like to come dressed up as pagan deities. Each year they constructed a giant Green Man like the one below to add to the festival atmosphere.