Forest Halls

Music And Magic Await You!

Green Man art by Jane Valencia

May Day/Beltane And The Green Man In Our Time ~

Back in 2006 I wrote this article for the gorgeous and thoughtful Community Threads website. The Green Man has much to tell us right now! I hope you enjoy this glimpse of our green nature. - Jane

Green Man Jewelry made by ?

"We have entered a deep magical forest. Great ancient trees surround us. Moonlight spills through the branches, suffusing the many forest paths with a pale glow. The paths criss-cross, traveling between all places and all times. We have no idea which one we should follow. We turn to the Keeper of these Forest Halls, the Green Man. Perhaps he'll tell us which one we should take.

With his staff he gestures to a group of paths. In a language that whispers like leaves, he lets us know that any path we take will lead to magic ..."

- from FOREST by Debra Knodel & Jane Valencia

In 1996, my harp duo partner Deb Knodel & I featured the Green Man in the music of our album, Forest, and in our Forest concert performances. In our concerts, we led our audience into our magical realm of Forest Halls, interweaving harp music, myth, artwork, poetry, narrative, and song in a celebration of natural mystery.

A couple of years later, Deb moved to an island in Puget Sound, and my family followed nine months later. On this island of forest and magic, it truly seems as if I've entered Forest Halls!

Here are a few images and thoughts related to the Green Man grown in the past few years here in Forest Halls. Enjoy!

Forest graces,
Jane Valencia

Green Leaf

Written four years ago ....

May Day, 2002

Beltane, more commonly known these days as May Day, is a rambunctious celebration if the virility and vitality of life. At this time of year, nature is hell-bent on procreation. Even on a chilly overcast day like today the air is scented with apple blossom. The pheasant who announces his presence each morning in our field ("honk--honk" flap-flap-flap) is quite dapper these days: red-brown feather coat at its brightest. Last year we glimpsed him, his gray-brown missus, and their plain youngling marching up our path to the forest. Why must the male always announces his presence? Hardly a survival technique, it seems, but perhaps a territorial one.

The forest is rampant with new growth. Stinging nettles crowd like cheering parade-goers in our clearings. Chickweed wriggles across my partially constructed labyrinth. Luckily I'm hungry for the iron-rich green of the nettles, the herby snippets of the chickweed. The forest is now a place where I can forage. Each season on the island I learn a little more -- that Western hemlock needles brewed as a tea makes for a fine source of vitamin C. That the roots of licorice fern -- the pretty ferns that grow high up on tree branches of big leaf maple taste true to their name -- like licorice. Each bit of the forest I consume brings me further into the green. The green grows within me with each leaf, each berry, each root.

The other day I discovered a photo of a green man, one I took at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Novato, California more than ten years ago. As our festival community celebrated May Day today, with the weaving of the May Pole, music, a cake walk accompanied by a fiddler and by violin and flute by some of the kids -- a cake walk in which all the winners generously shared their cakes (yum!) -- I thought of how May Day is a festival of the Green Man. The Green Man, who represents the mysterious intelligence ofthe natural world, and who can be rambunctious, or at times, (to humans "outside the green") sinister.

Ren Faire Green Man

The Green Man is the regenerative spirit, and in the autumn its destructive one. He is the Green Knight who challenged King Arthur and his court to a deadly beheading game. He is also the gregarious host Lord Bertilak, who generously served--and tested--Sir Gawain, a young knight from the Court and the only man brave enough to take up the Green Knight's challenge. It seems to me that our species is currently being tested. We have blithely severed the head of the Green Man. Are we honorable and brave enough to submit to the challenge, to "offer our heads" in return-- that part of us that dwells in an industrial-corporate court, that believes it can plunder the green without consequence? Can we prove ourselves as heroes, refusing to flinch, even as we gladly sacrifice our consumer culture in service to lightening our walk upon Lady Sovereignty, the Earth.

Or perhaps the challenge is to become green men and green women ourselves, to take up the head of the earth and join (or rejoin) with the weaving of its life force--to become the consciousness of this planet and of its many cycles and beings.

Green Leaf

What it means to be a Green Woman, a Green Man.

Imagine: leaves sprouting from your body, before your eyes. Imagine peering from among those leaves - that layering of hand upon hand of leaves at your periphery, and the clear vision before you - and behind you. The scent is deep and sweet - pollen on the wind - aromatic essence that is nector in your mouth. You are like the butterfly, delighting of each flower with the tendrils of your tongue.

The essence swirls, sweet and deep and fills the garden within you - the veriditas, the green - within your soul. It spreads forth, a green energy that joins you with plants, insects, microorganisms, animals, streams, hills, mountains, sand, ice, stone - in short, all the world. The veriditas flows within and without you, down through the spiraling of leaf and bark and trunk that is your body. Through your legs into your feet. Your toes lengthen, spread, reach into soil, into the good rich loam. Your roots feast on that bounty of earth, reaching outward, interweaving with feet-roots-hands-fingers of others. You and the others share messages, perhaps even lives - for it is easy to connect this way, within the earth.

And above your heart-space, above the crown of yourself where you puzzle, wonder, imagine, think, are your arms stretched forth - your hands as leaves, collecting sunlight. You draw nourishment and energy and strength from the very soul of the universe itself. The sun, our Spirit. Moisture from the heavens waters us and inspires us. The weaving of our leafy selves with our kindred spirits - the Community of All Beings within and without the world - saves our lives.

How can we not be abundant?

How can we not be generous?

That is the message of the Green. To give and to grow, to heal and to nourish. To tease and to leap and to play, for we are abundant. We are the dancing, laughing Green.

Green Leaf

Deer and Green Man