Monday, February 19, 2018

Along for the Ride

I found Nina Lyon's book, Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man, utterly delightful. It blends the author's scholarship on the Green Man, a fairly common medieval architectural, folk/cultural, and literary motif with a mysterious meaning (and a particular interest of mine), with the story of how she went about her research. That makes it not only the kind of book I love to read, but also the kind of book I'd like to write someday: adventuresome, personal, and scholarly, all rolled into one.

The result of this successful blend is a memoir, more or less, of time spent traveling around England and parts of Europe attending festivals, dabbling in modern pagan practices, exploring architecturally significant buildings, interviewing learned folks, and walking in various wild locales. We hear not only the informational results of Lyon's interview with so-and-so, but also what sort of cafe they met in and what they each had to eat or drink during their talk. It works very well.   

The author's viewpoint is alternatively erudite, personally revealing, and droll, with a playfully dry wit prominently on display. I would have loved to travel along with Lyon as she tracked down the Green Man, and thanks to this book, I feel that I have. We would probably have gotten on splendidly, having our interest in the Green Man to bind us together on the journey.

The Green Man himself retains a good deal of his mystery, despite sincere attempts to suss him out. Whether he's a pagan nature figure, a semi-demonic representation of earthy influences that the Church tried to squelch, or the guardian spirit of ecology, he retains his ability to shape-shift and reach any audience. He and Lyon make a very engaging pair and thanks to this chronicle, I've been on his trail as well. 


I needed to notice trees in a way that was not dependent on taking photos of them as a visual notepad. I needed to notice them in a being way. It occurred to me that a lesson from a professional tree-communicator might be just the thing.

I found myself shopping for shamans online, which seemed a little perverse, and was therefore enjoyable for it.There was a man called Michael Harner, the Colonel Saunders of the shamanic training scene, who seemed to have a number of affiliated organisations who trademarked their courses. I don't know how trademarking shamanic guides went down with their spirit guides. Maybe the Upper Realm is more like our own than we think.

Note: This book counts toward Ethereal 2018 and also toward the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018


  1. Jane, you are a fantastic review-writer! You describe engagingly what a book is about and exemplify clearly and delightfully why you like it. If I weren't sure this is one of your keepers, I would ask you to save it as a prize possibility with the handwriting and water books! Well done, making me keen to read about something I have never heard of.

    You would be an asset on, where many enthusiastic reviews are short on knowing that they should not be book summaries but personalized feedback précis. This is non-fiction but in the fiction that is so prolific, non-spoiler précis are important. Anyway, I am glad to be person getting to read your excellent style somewhere. I see I need to add my own reviews to "Ethereal".

    1. Thanks so much, Carolyn. After my hiatus from blogging I feel I've lost a step or two in review-writing (veering toward the personal rather than the literary analysis I used to be adept at, thanks to 5 years of grad school). Your praise means a lot. I do like being useful.

      I think you'd really like this book! I definitely did.


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