The World of the Mysterious (7)

Last time we looked at the Wodewose. Here he is:For me, the strange figure of the Wodewose is based on a Bigfoot type creature that may still have been alive and well in the vast forests of Western Europe in the early Middle Ages. At this time, the forests in England, for example, were enormous and covered between a third and a half of the country. And even when the Wodewose was gone for ever, then there were still people who had heard their grandfather’s tales about him and who could recreate him in their own world.

He was certainly famous enough to feature in documents written on old parchment . This one dates from 1325. He is on all fours because he has to fit in between the text in Latin and the bottom of the page:

A similar ‘margin picture’ dates from the 1300s. Notice the mother and her child with another young woman (bottom left) and what is either a fight or a very keenly contested game of golf (bottom right):

In this old drawing, the Wodewose looks as if he has lost his club and is struggling to find it (not a golf club, or a country club, but the other kind):

These two individuals are from a series which show the Wodewose’s well known desire for women, yet another feature he has in common with Bigfoot. Picture 1 shows his gentle method of courtship:

The second shows his next step which could well be summarised as “RUN!!!!” If you read about Bigfoot a lot, you will be familiar with his ability to pick up hogs and other farm animals and run off with them. But beautiful ladies are even more impressive:

This Italian lady, though, is well versed in the tricks of both Italian men and Italian Wodewoses. Forewarned is forearmed:

Is the Wodewose carrying a golf club in that last picture?

Bigfoots and Wodewoses hate dogs too:

It is my belief that the Wodewose may well be the direct ancestor of the now much more famous “Green Man” which is a very familiar figure to anybody who visits medieval Western European churches. The Green Man is believed to be the deity who brings back the greenery every year in spring, hence the leaves pouring out of his body. This one is in Norwich Cathedral:

This one comes from Lincoln Cathedral:

The Green Man does also have an aspect as a kind of guardian of the forest, and the trees and the plants therein. And that, of course, is a rôle ascribed to Bigfoot by many different Native American peoples. This Green Man is taken from Poitiers Cathedral in west-central France:

The Green Man very often seems to occur in areas which have originally been heavily forested. The best Green Men I have ever seen occur in the Chapter House in Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire. At the time it was built, it would have been in Sherwood Forest:

Next time, the explanation.

One final point is that in these blog posts about Bigfoot, I have tried very hard to use only images which are available to be used. With some images that is not the case because otherwise there was nothing else available. I am 100% willing to take them down if this causes a problem for anybody, although I suppose there is the flattering aspect that they were the best I could find!

16 Comments

Filed under Cryptozoology, History, Literature, Personal, Science, Wildlife and Nature

16 responses to “The World of the Mysterious (7)

  1. One wonders how these stories begin and develop into myths with such a stronghold on a culture.

    • A recent good example is that recently it was discovered that woolly rhinoceros and men overlap in time, and the idea has been put forward that that is the origin of the unicorn. A similar tale is that, centuries ago, weathering in the Gobi Desert area uncovered fossils which were then mutated into the gryphon. Apparently the triceratops was one of the most gryphon-like fossils. Perhaps, therefore you need a grain of truth, and that grain must be about something very dramatic and out-of-the-ordinary. Another way to start a legend is that people have vague memories of a large animal that used to be there but which then became extinct in that area, usually because of man and his insatiable desire to hunt. People hunt less nowadays, and so, that animal will start to recur, as it expands its range back to what it was. Except now, nobody knows what the animal is. That has happened with the spectacled bear in Argentina, where it is now being mis-identified as Bigfoot.

  2. I’ll look out for each of them

    • I’ve not seen a Wodewose in a church so far because the statues seem to be present just in East Anglia and adjoining counties. The Green Man is a lot commoner and is best looked for, in my opinion, on the rood screen of any cathedral you go in.
      I was very surprised to find how long belief in this deity persisted. The architect of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge (built 1446 to 1515) has given himself a commemorative roof-boss in one of the less important chambers. It has his initials on it, if I remember correctly. He could have put anything he liked next to his own roof boss, but he has chosen a Green Man, which he clearly thought was his best chance of rebirth after death.

  3. First time I’m hearing about the Green Man, John.

    • He is a huge figure from the Middle Ages in western Europe. Anywhere which at the time was in a forest may feature him in their church, usually hidden away in decorative carvings of foliage. He is present in England, France and especially Germany where the finest Green Man I know of is in the cathedral at Bamberg.
      Just google images of green man. or there’s Wikipedia which is quite good
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Man

  4. It would appear that the Wodewose is a keen golfer. I drove past a golf course every morning and there would appear to be several of the creatures lounging about on the edges of the course. Could they be about to partake in these strange rituals depicted in these pictures?

    • Well, I’ve always thought that the type of person who lounges about on the edges of golf courses may well be the very same type of person who will pursue any maidens who are lounging about in the area. It is the law of supply and demand, though. Maidens lounging on golf courses at eight o’clock in the morning may be few and far between, in which case, presumably, the Wodewoses go back to their game.

  5. John, you do go on about stories and stuff that I have never even heard about. How fascinating again this post was! Your research powers are incredible! Thank you so much for not giving up on your hunt for Big-Foot.

    • I’m glad you liked it Amy. Just make sure that you have that wonderful camera of yours ready if you ever see him hitch-hiking or sun bathing on the side of a hill!

  6. Good to be back home, upright and with my own computer. Sorry I missed this at the beginning. Just a thought about myth origins; in early cultures such as Australian aborigines the desire to explain the way things came into being was to identify a creator figure and then to get a humanised form of that creator to run around doing all the making. So, when a tree or a rock formation has a humanshape it is easy to see why it could be construed as being a manifestation.
    On the other hand: we have shown how ruthless we are at destroying anything that we don’t understand maybe it just might be that many of these myths are not myths at all but sad and lonely remaining individuals that survived the current species known as ‘us’.

  7. Really fascinating. We are now reading about mysterious footprints in the Himalayas. I remembered you.
    Mysterious footprints found in the Himalayas. Army says it could be of mythical snowman
    The Economic Times
    3 days ago

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