Monday, August 07, 2006

Robin Hood, the Green Man.

The importance of Robin Hood to the people of England far exceeded the basic legend which persists today of a Nottingham teenager, loyal to an absent King, and defending the poor from the abusive systems of the rich. Robin Hood in many ways was "the Green Man". A metaphor for the old ways and the old religions, under which life was better, game was plentiful, and taxes less punitive. (Above left: The Green Man from 1991's Robin Hood, as he is depicted in Robin hood and Maid Marian's wedding ceremony; a Pagan service carried out by Friar Tuck. Above right: Herne the Hunter, the Pagan priest from Robin of Sherwood, from whom Robin Hood recieves guidance. Below: The nightmarish world of an England awaiting the return and triumph of the Green Man.)
The Green Man can be found in seemingly countless stone and wood carvings within churches across England (churches that were often built on places of Pagan worship), and even occurs in other lands and cultures. He is a symbol of rebirth and fertility, a representation of how life returns to the soil in the spring, bringing fresh crops. These carvings represent an act of faith that the Green Man will return, bringing the warmth of the sun, and that the harvest will be plentiful. Early Christian missionaries would incorporate such entities as the Green Man into their preaching as a means of encouraging new converts. But after the Reformation the Green Man was discouraged, and his image would not be incorporated again into church decorations until the 17th century, later to become especially popular during the Victorian era.
To the people of England Robin Hood represented the same thing: A time when Saxon rule would reaffirm itself over the Norman lords, a time when King Richard would return to oversee the welfare of his own people, a time when their practical Pagan faith systems would not be persecuted by an increasingly influential, and affluent, church.
Above: Maid Marian and Robin Hood stride across the barren, cold landscape, their love not yet consumated. Below: Robin Hood and Maid Marian marry in Pagan style, bringing hope to the land. The Green Man has returned. (Pictures from Robin Hood, 1991).

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