“When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy, and the dimpling stream runs laughing by; when the air does laugh with our merry wit, and the green hill laughs with the noise of it.”
The primary colours of blue and yellow unite to create green. Green is the symbolic meaning for new life, resurrection, hope, fertility and environmental awareness. In ancient Egypt, green was associated with the Nile, the source of regeneration and rebirth. In neighbouring Greece, Aristotle believed that green was placed somewhere between black, the symbol for earth and white, the symbol for water. The Romans had special reverence for green as it was the colour belonging to Venus, the goddess of gardens, vegetables and vineyards.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the neolitic people in northern Europe used the leaves of the birch tree to make inferior quality dyes. Archaeology, however, has not shed any light on how the ancient Mesopotamians were able to create their vibrant green costumes. Indeed, the production of green dyes remained illusive even in the middle ages. It was not for want of trying. They used ferns, plantains. Buckthorn berries, the juice of nettles and leeks, and the digitalis plant to name just a few, to produce a dye that was resistant to washing and sunlight. A breakthrough came in the 16th century. It was a two-step process, where cloth was first dyed blue with Woad, and then yellow with Yellow-weed.
The Green Knight was one of the most renowned characters in the King Arthur narratives. Legend portrays fairies, dragons and monsters as green. Beau Brummel, the famed British fashion icon, wore a green suit. The Suffragettes used the colour green to symbolize hope.
Today, our earth is in need of hope. Decades ago, Theodore Roosevelt said, “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
May we heed his warning…
“The world has changed.
I see it in the water.
I feel it in the Earth.
I smell it in the air.
Much that once was is lost,
For none now live who remember it.”