Green Man Encounter
One summer afternoon in 2007 I was returning from Central London and my train had spent a few too many minutes idling at the platform in New Maldon station. Lost in thought, I had been looking out of the window at nothing in particular when I suddenly saw something that made me gasp out loud. At the far end of the London-bound platform is a thick bank of trees and shrubs behind a fence. I was astonished to see what appeared to be an enormous face made up of the surrounding foliage looming out at the opposite platform and looking very similar to the typical appearance of the 'Green Man', as seen in church carvings. The face was about 5ft (1.5m) in diameter and about 7ft (2m) or so from the ground. I was amazed how perfect the face seemed to be - though at the same time I knew it was just my brain demonstrating its knack for face recognition in random patterns. I probably gazed in wonder for 20-odd seconds before the most shocking thing happened.
Suddenly, and with tremendous velocity, the entire face withdrew backwards into the vegetation, which caused the surrounding bushes and trees to sway violently. Most striking of all, a branch that must have been under the 'face' swung upwards with immense force - as if a huge weight had been lifted from it - before smacking into the surrounding greenery and, I suppose, reassuming its original position. This whole motion took about a second and the face had completely disappeared! I could accept that a fox or even a human might have been sitting on the branches and had jumped off, causing them to bounce back into position, but this would not easily account for the very distinct retraction of the face, as if it were wrenched backwards into a tunnel.
The face in no way looked constructed or man-made and seemed to consist of a natural, though utterly remarkable, arrangement. The features of the thing were clear to see and I was particularly struck by the grinning mouth and staring eyes. Quite how the verdant visage was sucked backwards, I have no idea.
I have often wondered how, or indeed why, anyone would have achieved this bizarre effect for bored South West Trains passengers. The train drew away and I sat back in my chair feeling strangely unnerved. On all of my subsequent journeys through the station I have never seen anything like it again.
Nick Skerton, Kingston upon Thames, London, 2009
It makes me wonder about our ancestors and whether they saw this more often in times past. It’s all connected to ancient tree worship. Could this be the reason for all the green men carved in churches, and our current belief in them? Where did this spirit come from if not the old Gods - and back then the trees were our Gods. Did our pagan forefathers see this in trees more often when nature was more revered, respected, and a large part of our every day life?
|Hawthorn Green Man by Aaron Pocock|