I believe one of my most important responsibilities as a parent is to give my children opportunities to connect with their spirituality and to develop a relationship with the Divine. Whatever they choose to call it–the Universe, the Life Force, Higher Power, God–it is my responsibility to provide them with opportunities to develop their own spiritual practice.
And, as is true with anything we set out to teach our children, the best way for them to learn is through hands-on creativity and fun.
So each season I try to come up with a simple activity our family can do together. Something that gets us out in nature, gets our creative juices flowing and serves as a jumping off point to talk about the spiritual significance of the season.
This year we created beautiful Green Man portraits. This was part of our family autumn equinox celebration. (You can see what else we did, and get a fun free download of gratitude conversation starters, here.)
Who is Green Man?
Green Man is an ancient symbol of nature. He has been recognized and revered by many civilizations and adopted by many religions for over 2000 years. The earliest known representation of Green Man was carved around 400 AD.
Green Man is a nature spirit, revered as a symbol of the eternal cycle of nature–the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. He is often interpreted as a representation of Father Nature, who dies in autumn and is reborn again in winter.
• large collection of leaves, nuts, pinecones, etc.
• heavy craft paper, paper plate or paper grocery bags
• paint brushes
• clothes pins
1. Spend some time outside gathering your supplies.
This is a really great excuse to get your family out in nature for a beautiful autumn walk. Walk to a nearby park or visit a favorite hike. Find a great place to check out fall foliage up close and personal. Explore.
My kids loved this stage of the activity. Their enthusiasm was absolutely infectious. My heart was so full as they were constantly, excitedly, running to show us all the treasures they were finding. (And, I should say, my kids are 11 and 5, and my too-cool middle-schooler loved this just as much as his little sister!)
It was a really beautiful way to interact with our surroundings. It encouraged us to look at things closely and absorb way more details then we normally would on a walk through the neighborhood. We found the coolest tiny acorns and exquisite leaves we never noticed before.
2. On a large, clean, workspace spread out all your supplies.
I recommend laying out all your treasures on newspaper or an old shop towel for ease of cleanup at the end.
3. Examine all the treasures you collected and determine what pieces speak to you for Green Man’s face.
I found it helpful to arrange the face first before beginning to glue pieces down.
Use a thick piece of craft paper as the base of your project. Some of the pieces require a good deal of glue to adhere to the paper so you’ll want thick paper for your project. My daughter enjoyed using a paper plate since it was already round, like a face. The inside of a paper grocery bag would also work well and it would give your face a nice, earthy feel.
4. Once you have your face laid out, start gluing.
It worked well for us to squeeze out a large glob of glue for everyone, individually (to avoid fights over our one container of glue). We then used paint brushes to apply the glue.
5. When dry, display your Green Men somewhere you can enjoy them all season long.
We strung pieces of raffia across our mantel and attached the masterpieces with clothes pins.
The faces will change and morph as the leaves dry which make the portraits a perfect representation of Green Man. As Father Nature he is also changing throughout the seasons. In autumn he morphs from his summer mane of green to the bright, vibrant hues of fall and, finally, to the cold, browns of winter.
6. Take a picture and send it to me!
Please! I’d love to see your gorgeous Green Men creations. I’d love to share them on my website and Instagram.