The Woodwife, or Green Woman, is a figure from Celtic mythology, similar to the Green
Man, but less well known. She is the dryad of Greco-Roman mythology, the more ancient
Artemis, the woodwife of Sweden, and the elf maiden of Scandinavia and Germany. All
are spirits of the forest, the protectors, inhabitants or spirits of trees and sacred
groves. In some of the tales the woodwife is a trickster, seducing men into harm;
in others, she is a benevolent spirit who rewards those who respect the forest. The
legends are many, but the common thread is that she is fey, a changeling more animal
than human despite the somewhat human aspect of her appearance, and essentially uninterested
in the affairs of men except as they might serve her interests or amuse her. My
painting is an image of the legend that says she exists invisibly in the heart of
an oak tree, but at sunset can emerge, take human form, and walk about the forest.
So here, she emerges from her tree, adorned with the elements and symbols of nature–plant,
animal and bird.
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