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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in folklore

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Pins and Needles and Nails

Generally speaking, pins, needles, and nails are protective elements in folk magic. They are one of the elements included in many British witch bottles, which function by drawing in malevolent magic and trap it. One source describes a witch doctor who recommended that a man “take a Bottle, and put his Wives Urine into it, together with Pins and Needles and Nails, and Cork them up,” first to be set on the fire to explode and then later buried in the yard to heal his wife from an illness (Saducismus triumphatus). In Appalachia, Scots-Irish settlers held onto these traditions and passed them down. Here, pins, needles, and nails can be used for protection, healing, divination, love magic, and cursing.

 

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Grains, Spirits, and the Spurtle

It started when I was having trouble buying grains -- rice, flour, oats, you name it -- due to the quarantine panic. I looked in the pantry and realized that we had somehow previously amassed 10 lbs of grits along with 5 lbs of cornmeal -- plenty to get us through a temporary grain shortage. I was relieved, and my gratitude made me think of my ancestors and their reliance on grains, and of the ancestors of peoples around the world who did the same. Grains are sacred everywhere, although the specific grains will differ according to location.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    It's my understanding that cherry wood is toxic containing cyanide. Your land spirits are looking after you to have left the mapl
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Cherry wood does contain traces of cyanide -- definitely not good to eat (unlike the fruits)! Because the wood contains such a sma
A Little Folklore of Light & Shadows

We often find ourselves yearning for light and warmth during these last winter months in the northern hemisphere. We grow tired of being bundled up, of shivering, of staying indoors. Yet, if we look carefully, we begin to notice that, little by little, the light is growing. Situated in the fading of winter, the holidays celebrated on February 2nd -- Groundhog Day, Imbolc, Candlemas -- feature an interplay of shadows and light as we approach revitalization in many forms.

 

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Seeing The Shape of Folklore: From Popculture to Source Culture

One of my favourite things to contemplate is the connection between folklore as its found in the living cultures, particularly the Celtic language speaking cultures, and folklore as its manifested in popculture. I have written articles about aspects of this and even presented a paper at the University of Ohio for a conference they had in February of 2019. There are so many diverse factors that influence and shape the way that folklore is preserved within a source culture and the ways that that same material is taken, reshaped, and spread throughout popular culture. 

As I was thinking about this all today, and particularly the ways that popculture reimagines older and existing folklore it reminded me of something. There was a time in Europe when very few of the educated elite there had been to Africa, especially the interior, and so descriptions of animals found there - and more to the point artwork depicting them - were quite fantastical. For example the image with this blog was created by Albrecht Durer in 1515, based on  a written description and rough sketch he had seen although he personally never saw a living (or dead) rhinoceros. 

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Not Only Lammas: Other August Harvest Holidays and Traditions in Europe

Grains are goldening, apples and other fruits are ripening, and beehives are thick with honey. The harvest season has come and is rapidly maturing. While Lammas and Lughnasadh have passed in the UK and Ireland, other harvest holidays are still just beginning. Each festival celebrates the culmination of hard work and good luck, and marks the turning of the year, the slow fade of summer into fall, and the gratitude that people still feel for the benevolence of their lands.

Grains, Apples, and Honey

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Powerful Hues: Protective Colors in Household Lore

Color symbolism is a major and timeless element of magical practice. Colors have been used in spells and rituals, in the construction of talismans and spiritual art, and in the protection of the household for centuries. Humans are highly visual creatures; as animals, we rely primarily on our sight for nourishment and protection, and color perception has helped our species identify safe things from dangers. It's natural that colors would take on powers of their own over time.

 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Animal Guardians on the Roof

A while back, my husband and I came across Escape to the Country on Netflix. We love house-hunting shows in general, and we enjoyed the glimpses into the local cultures, traditions, and landscapes of different regions of the UK, where the majority of our ancestors came from. In episodes featuring thatched homes, the straw bird finials that sometimes occupy the roof lines stood out to me as a particularly interesting craft. The show didn't make too much mention of them, but it was obvious that there was more to them than mere decoration.

 

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