Folkdays: Apple Lore

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Summer comes to a close with the autumn equinox. Falling on or around 22 September, the days and nights are of equal length, before the balance tips towards steadily increasing hours of darkness.

Known as Mabon in the Wheel of the Year calendar, this would traditionally be a time for collecting in the last fruits of summer, foraging for the autumnal abundances of berries and nuts, and celebrating with a harvest festival or feast. One symbol or association of Mabon is the apple. This humble fruit is as abundant in its folklore as it is in its yield: let’s explore more, below.

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Blog: Autumnal Crafts

It has surprised me that even during this topsy-turvy year, the turning of the seasons still brings the same kind of shift in energy. As the summer ends, I no longer feel like I have the attention span for research; when my poetry teaching begins again this month, I will also lack the time. But instead, I find myself to have lots of inspiration and creative energy. So, perhaps there will be fewer Folkdays, and more Blogs — and that’s just fine. Here are some of the autumnal crafts I’ve been creating most recently!

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Folkdays: Silbury Hill

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The Avebury World Heritage Site is a prehistoric landscape which boasts stone circles, henges, burial mounds and barrows. It has been considered a site of pilgrimage since the Neolithic and Bronze age period in which these monuments were built, and continues to draw in visitors today. It’s a place rich with mystery and fascination, and much work has gone in to piecing together the lives of those who built it.

Yet unlike the barrows, built for burials, and the henges creating enclosures for large gatherings, the purpose of nearby Silbury Hill remains one of the most enduring mysteries. In this week’s Folkdays post, I’m going to explore this mystery a little.

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Blog: Lammas Breads

Happy Lammas! I’ve tried out my recipe for Lammas Breads a couple of times in the recent weeks, and thought it would be nice to share it here. These little loafs are somewhere between bread and cake: they are crusty, but also soft-centred and sweet. They are also gluten free! Read more about the traditions of Lammas, and follow the recipe, below.

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Folkdays: Taylor Swift’s ‘folklore’

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On Thursday 23 July, American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift unexpectedly released a new studio album. This is not the kind of content I’d usually cover on this blog, least of all on a Folkdays post. Yet the album’s title – folklore – suggests something worth a closer look here.

I’m not a music critic: this post is not going to review Swift’s new songs, or even take a look into the lyrics. What I want to focus on is the introductory note posted by the musician, explaining the inspirations behind folklore. Taking a closer look, we’ll see that this note reveals Swift to have a deeper understanding of folklore than some might expect.

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Folkdays will be back next week.

For personal reasons, I have not had the time to devote to researching and writing a Folkdays post for today. Posts will resume next Friday as usual.

At a time where I feel a bit uprooted, I like to remind myself of this Welsh phrase

dod yn ôl at fy nghoed

meaning to come back to one’s senses, but which literally translates as ‘to return to my trees’.

I love it, and I thought you might too. Nellie x

Folkdays: Reviewing ‘The Selkie’

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I was delighted when the wonderful Imogen Di Sapia sent me her book, ‘The Selkie: Weaving & The Wild Feminine’. At first glance, flicking through the pages, I was entranced at the beautiful craftmanship of the book itself. I would continue to be spellbound by the folktale, poems, and photographs contained inside.

I only had a basic knowledge of the mythological selkie, from Scottish folklore, before reading this work. I feel very fortunate that my real introduction to the tale was through the words and art of Di Sapia and her collaborators. Hear more about it below.

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Folkdays: Goldfinches

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One of the things I feel I really miss out on when I live in the city are the birds.

The skies above are mostly the domain of urban gulls and wood pigeons. Sometimes there will be the chattering of a magpie in the early hours, or the warbling song of a blackbird at dawn or dusk. Very occasionally, I’ve seen blue tits and even a great tit in the little courtyard outside my flat, which has a few bushes and trees.

The other morning, I heard a little twittering song I don’t usually hear, and was delighted to see two goldfinches flitting about the courtyard. Their beautiful colours brightened my morning, and inspired me to research their folklore for today’s Folkdays post.

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Folkdays: Folktale Closings

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It has grown late, and the campfire has reduced to smouldering embers, which glow in the breeze that begins to creep in from the surrounding dark.

As the flames recede, so does the story: both have spent hours dancing in the air, and both now begin to wane. The tale teller, as if to coax the very last enchantment out of both fire and story, draws in closer.

Every story must have it’s ending. It is the role of the tale teller to make sure that ending is brilliant enough to keep glowing, long into the night…

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