If you’re new to our elaborate parties, you might be wondering why all this fuss about some old movie, its connection with the calendar, and its special relationship to our social space. Here’s the story behind the story.
May Day, also associated with Walpurgis Nacht and Beltane, is the halfway point of spring, a cross-quarter day between an equinox and a solstice. Six months removed from Halloween, May Day’s a witching time almost as important as its better-known counterpart. It’s a good evening to burn bonfires. In Texas, it’s pretty much the first day of summer.
I first encountered The Wicker Man not long after its 1973 release. I was at UT then and saw it in a theater just off campus. Being a conservative Christian at that time, I remember not liking the movie. Time moved on, and I forgot all about it.
In Lina’s pre-Zow era, she made a trip to England in 2001 to research pagan art still evident in old churches. She stayed with her dear friend Louisa Hare near Banbury and toured nearby houses of worship. Sanctuaries over there are rife with gargoyles, grotesques, goddesses, and a peculiar forest guardian called The Green Man. Lina came home with knickknacks, books, and post cards that inspired her to create Green Men motifs from sheet metal and other mediums.
Before I met Lina, I had hosted many May 1 gatherings, but none regarded Wicker or Green Men. Curiously, one of my best-attended events happened on May Day of 1992, but had a jungle theme.
I don’t remember how I rediscovered The Wicker Man, but it was probably during some random midnight Internet browsing late in 2007. Before long, I had purchased the Director’s Cut on DVD, watched it, and realized that the well-told tale needed to be shared. Of particular note was that the inn in the movie was named The Green Man.
The first of May was still months away, but our next Winter Solstice was just around the corner. Lina and I had already become mutually fond of the idea of The Green Man, so he became that Winter Solstice icon, complete with her drawing of him, loosely modeled after yours truly.
Our first party showing of The Wicker Man was in May of 2008. As with every such event since, we served barley cakes, swilled Scots ales, and encouraged costumes. Not long thereafter, Lina and I realized our neighborhood lacked a coffee-house-style place for quiet conversation. With the addition of a new full-length front porch on our home on the trendy Upper East Side of Austin, we created just that. It was forgone to name it The Green Man. Lina also designed and painted its sign, which you see everywhere in this blog.
Last summer, L and I were delighted to tour sites in Southwest Scotland where the film was shot. Images and commentary from that pilgrimage appear on our blog post from that trip.