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  • A Green Stranger or Angel or Fairy? March 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Lots of supernatural creatures from the Green Knight to aliens are green: and the general, though by no means universal opinion of folklorists has been that green is for vegetation. Here is one reference from the late 17C* that has  confused Beach. We are in Westmorland in north-west England and this is from a one page ballad sheet.

    Being a true relation of one Gabriel Harding, who coming home Drunk, struck his Wife a blow on the Breast and killed her out-right; then did he forswear the evil Deed which he knew himself guilty of. Likewise how a Stranger or Angel did give sentence upon the man for killing his Wife. Likewise how the Stranger or Angel did give Sentence upon the man for the killing of his Wife. Also how Satan did break the mans neck that did forswear himself; and the Stranger or Angel did command Satan to hurt none else, and to vanish; which being done, there was a pleasant Harmony of Musick heard to sound: Then did the Stranger cloathed in Green, take his leave of the people; whereof the chiefest in the Parish desired it might be put in Print, and have hereunto set their Hands.

    Green is often in later times associated with fairies: usually fairies have green clothes, though sometimes they have green skin and even green hair. The Angel or ‘Stranger’ is also, like fairies, found with music: though music appears in some other supernatural accounts from England, the all too monotonous music of the spheres. The real meat is a long ballad that follows sung to the tune of ‘in Summertime’! Beach includes a couple of the most important passages for the ‘angel’ and then the whole as a gif.

    So why is the angel green? Louise Yeoman, a fine Scottish writer, who often strays into supernatural lands, in her excellent ‘Archie’s Invisible Worlds Discovered – spirituality, madness and the Johnston of Wariston family’ makes reference to early modern visions from Scotland: ‘peopled by devils, witches, angels, boys in green clothing, men up to their armpits in blood waving the covenant’. What are these ‘boys in green clothing’? It goes without saying that Westmorland may have been English in this period, it had not been Scottish since the eleventh century. But culturally it had far more in common with Lowland Scotland than with London.

    Any help with the green stranger: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com

    *This is a guess, I can’t find any clue to the date.