The Green Man goes to church
Christianity today is strictly monotheistic, since the Reformation even the Saints and the Virgin Mary have been consigned to a lesser circle of the pantheon. It is possible (though no documentary evidence yet exists to support this idea) that no such clear definition existed before the fifteenth century and that in order to get followers of ‘the Old Religion’ into church, cult figures such as the Green man were brought into the Churches.
A great number of the images and practices of the modern church have a Pagan origin. Yew trees and Holy Water, candles and bells are all of Pagan origin while the dates of most of the major religious festivals are either on or close to Pagan feasts or major calendar events.Also, the fact that many of the oldest churches are on Pagan sites (some even within stone circles) and that saints like Brigid or Bride are Christian versions of the Pagan Goddess Brid, all indicate a stronger Pagan influence on Christianity than the Church has cared to admit.
The Green Man therefore may be just another example of a Pagan image brought into the Church to be made safe. As to the Green Lady, well there is good reason to believe that the cult of the Virgin Mary which was suppressed with such vigour by the Reformation and by the Puritans was related to the worship of the Green Man’s female counterpart. One of the Green Man’s manifestations was as Robin Hood, the Lord of the Merry Greenwood. This Robin Hood had nothing to do with the bows and arrows and Sheriff of Nottingham stories. He was an older and more powerful figure and the Robin of Loxley figure was grafted on much later. Robin Hood was a lord of Misrule as well as the King of the Wood. His lady was Maid Marion and thus the Merry Greenwood and Merry Men thus become Mary’s Greenwood and Mary’s Men and the Morris Dancers who danced on May Day got their name not from the Moors or Morriscoes but from Mary – they were Mary’s dancers and their dances when they leap into the air are a symbol of Life triumphing over death.