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The Mythic Forest, the Green Man And the Spirit of Nature: The Re-emergence of the Spirit of Nature from Ancient Times into Modern Society Paperback – March 30, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0875864341 ISBN-10: 0875864341 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Algora Pub (March 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875864341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875864341
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,487,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A prolific writer about contemporary paganism and pagan themes generally, Varner here turns his attention to The Green Man as an avatar of trees in particular and the vegetable world in general. His first section sets the stage by reviewing ideas and beliefs about the spirit of nature, sacred groves, and May Day. He draws heavily on research from the late 19th and early 20th century, some of which has been academically refuted but much of which was simply discarded as not useful to the coming industrial paradise. --booknews

About the Author

Gary R. Varner writes about folklore and ancient traditions, geology, archaeology and anthropology, sharing a fascination and respect for humankind's early and contemporary cultures. His recent books include: Essays in Contemporary Paganism (2000); Sacred Wells: A Study in the History, Meaning, and Mythology of Holy Wells & Waters (2002); Water of Life Water of Death: The Folklore and Mythology of Sacred Water (Fall 2004); and Menhirs, Dolmen and Circles of Stone: The Folklore and Magic of Sacred Stone (Algora 2005).
Varner lives in Oregon; he is a member of the Oregon Writers Colony, the American Folklore Society and the Joseph Campbell

More About the Author

Gary R. Varner is a lecturer and writer on folklore and early religions. He is the author of a series of popular books comparing legends and beliefs around the world published by Algora Publishers as well as other publishing companies. His approach incorporates details from ancient cultures and from Native American, UK and European, Asian, South Pacific and African folklore.

Varner has traveled extensively to research his projects, most notably to England, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Mexico and the American West,Southwest and most recently to the Southeastern parts of the United States.He is a member of various sections of the American Folklore Society. Varner's focus centers around ancient traditions and how those traditions, along with their folklore and mythology, continue to play an important part in contemporary society. He is listed in successive editions of Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World reference works. He has recently appeared on various television shows discussing architectural symbolism and will be featured in up coming History Channel broadcasts. He also has research papers featured on

Varner lives in northern California. His website is popular with those interested in pre-Christian religions, traditional beliefs, myths, legends and superstitions.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alice Berger on July 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Who is the Green Man? "The image of the Green Man is that of a foliated head, a face with vines and leaves sprouting from the mouth, eyes and nose, the hair and beard formed, as well, from leaves and twigs. The image may be stern and almost frightening, or a beguiling face peering out of a wealth of vegetation. The Green Man represents the creation of all plant life and its continued renewal." (p.85) But where and why did these images originate, and how have they evolved over the years?

This comprehensive and well-researched work is presented in two parts. In the first section, the author introduces the reader to the numerous spirits dwelling in the forests. The mystical properties of various trees are also explored as well as the legends associated with them.

In the second part, the reader encounters many of the gods and mythical characters who share several qualities of the Green Man. These include an affinity with vegetation, springtime resurrection, and abundant harvest. The author also touches on the interesting appearance of the Green Man in religious structures, where one would least expect to see this pagan figure. Many pictures of the Green Man in modern era architecture are provided.

The Green Man has been with us for several thousand years, but why does humankind keep creating his image? Maybe to remind us of our connection with nature, and our responsibility to make sure the forests and vegetation continue to thrive.

This is a well-written and well-documented portrayal of mystical forests and the Green Man. If you are interested in this enigmatic figure and what he represents, I highly recommend this book.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ganesh in Greenery on January 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting read. Varner follows a clear line of "The Green Man" or nature spirits from ancient Phoenicians and pre-Columbians to Romans, right on into Christianity. The book could have used more careful editing, or just one more draft, as some of the information is repeated and the logic is sometimes circular. It is excellently annotated though, so it leads you to many other good works.
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