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Re: Rob & Green Men

>I am so thankful you replied and didn't think me a wee bit on the loony side. 
>Now that you mention it, I do remember reading that Tolkien used the Green 
>Man folklore for his Ents. You must, indeed, be an authority on LOTR. Books, 
>pages even!!! I'm impressed!
>According to my character-naming book, Green Knight is given as a meaning for 
>the name Bredbeddle. Who was this person, if he be a person at all?

The Green Knight is a character in the Grail mythos.  He rides into Camelot
one day, green clothes, green hair, green horse, and challenges Sir Gawain
to a duel.  One party is to strike the other with his sword, then the reverse.
The Green Knight grants Gawain first blow.  Gawain chops his head off.  The
Green Knight picks up his head, which informs Gawain that he must meet the
Green Knight a year later to accept a return blow, and rides out.  There
follows a quest in which Gawain must prove himself in an allegorical manner.

There is a link here with Tolkein.  Tolkein was a respected academic, and
one of the texts he was most famous for in academia was his work on Sir
Gawain and the Green Knight.  You will see Tolkein's name as the editor
of the standard versions of the Middle English texts about this story:


Like so many things in the Grail stories, this one clearly draws on much
earlier material.  The Green Knight is one form of the Green Man.  He
embodies the basic Green Man themes of vegetation, nature, death, and
rebirth.  The Green Man or some variant thereof appears in many
European myths and at least until recently in annual re-enactments.
See for example

For his relative the Burning Man, there's a popular annual
North American gathering.  For a rather sinister view of this form,
see the movie The Wicker Man, which is set in Scotland.

If the Green Man is a form of the more general Dying God of Vegetation,
he is preceded by Tammuz of Sumeria and is probably 10,000 years old,
as old as the beginning of agriculture.

It's not surprising that Tolkien used the Green Man.  Tolkien was
a master of mythology, particularly that of the northwest of Europe,
knowing it all backwards and forwards.

There are also many Green Man aspects to the Robin Hood stories.
We know that the lords of Rosslyn encouraged such stories, so we
have in one place strong connections to the two main bodies of
legend for Britain: the aristocratic Grail myths, and the proletarian
Robin Hood or Green Man stories.

John S. Quarterman <jsq@mids.org>

>Also, there is reference to Green Men in Roslyn Chapel legend. Could a tree 
>spirit have lived in the ancient yew that grows near it?
>I look forward to any more information or legend you or any of the others are 
>willing to share.
>Johnnye St. Clair-Gerhardt
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