England isn’t a land of forest or jungle – our woods are not wilderness, are not impenetrable. Our woods are not unkempt. Our woods are not places to fear. Men work in our woods – keeping them clear and growing, logging, copsing and cropping the trees. Woods shelter deer, badgers, martens and a host of birds. Woods provide jobs and incomes, pleasure, food and beauty. They sing to us and contain our story.
But there is still more. Woods – and wood – sit right in the soul of the Englishman. Not just Heart of Oak – a celebration more of ships than trees – but the spirit of the trees still moves us perhaps more than that of the moors or of the fields. Above all else, the Green Man is the god of England. Other places have lost their secret foliate face – it still peeps out from carvings in stone but no longer lives. Here in England the Green Man still lives, laughs and has space to wander.
The Green Man isn’t someone to fear but, as Mike Harding wrote, his roots go back a long way and his manifestations are many:
"His roots may go back to the shadow hunters who painted the caves of Lascaux and Altimira and may climb through history, in one of his manifestations through Robin Hood and the Morris Dances of Old England to be chiselled in wood and stone even to this day by men and women who no longer know his story but sense that something old and strong and tremendously important lies behind his leafy mask.
Above all else, we know that if we leave things, the trees return. That those trees will break stone, turnover paving and cover over the vain constructions of man. As Ian Anderson put it:
Jack, do you never sleep ---does the green still run deep in your heart?
And the trees will follow!