Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man by Nina Lyon (Faber, 2016) 


Introduced by Lesley Arrowsmith of Hay Cinema Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye

Last year I went to an evening organised at Addyman’s bookshop, where half a dozen local authors read from their works. Oliver Balch read from Under the Tump, another chap read from his book about a huge refugee camp in Africa – and I picked up a book called Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man, by Nina Lyon.


I’ve had an interest in the Green Man for a long time, and Herefordshire is particularly rich in images, mostly in medieval churches, so I was interested in seeing what Nina Lyon had to say.

Nina Lyon chronicles her interest in the Green Man, even toying with the idea of creating a new cult around the mythological figure – only to find that he is already being celebrated in all sorts of ways already.

She goes to the Clun Green Man festival, meets a shaman to talk about trees, decorates a wild corner of her garden in an attempt to make it into a sacred grove. She goes to Germany, where medieval images of Green Men are as common as they are in the UK – but the modern pagan revival of interest in them just doesn’t seem to have happened. She goes in search of the Green Chapel from the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and meets the Bedlam Wild Hunt Morris men in a pub.

She also talks quite a bit about philosophy – it turns out that she has been involved in the running of the How the Light Gets In festival at The Globe in Hay. In fact, the owner of The Globe at Hay, who she refers to only as H, is the father of her children. Throughout the book, she only ever refers to the people she meets by initials – but I recognised some of the local ones, such as G, who lives in a gypsy caravan and has made a Green Man maze at Penpont – he used to run Hay on Fire, a wonderfully anarchic Hallowe’en celebration when I first came to Hay.

So I learned a bit more about the Green Man, and had the enjoyment of recognising local places and people in the search for him, so it was well worth the cover price!


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