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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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: 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: 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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Folkdays: Rainbows

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We’re living in a very precarious and frightening moment in time. Looking back through history, humanity has faced moments like this many times before; look through the lens of folklore and myth, and we see that humans have always been able to combat our fear with creativity.

Today, creativity is being revived in a myriad of different ways, as people all over the globe seek an emotional outlet during the various quarantine measures. Here in the UK, the reoccurring motif has become that of the rainbow. Paintings and collages decorate the windows of homes, places of work, and schools; rainbows can be seen everywhere, from roadsides to the virtual platforms online.

Inspired by this, I thought I would take a look into the folklore and myth surrounding the rainbow, and what it has meant for humans and our creativity.

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Folkdays: Rag Trees

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The walks, especially the less-trodden tracks, around the Clent, Walton, and Wychbury Hills are where I get most of my inspiration, and where I feel my creativity recharging. One of the most special spots on these walks is the dell behind St Kenelm’s church. The spring is said to be where the Anglo-Saxon boy-king Kenelm was martyred, and the trees and undergrowth which still grow there feel powerful in an ancient way.

It is no surprise then, that the people drawn to this spot feel compelled to follow an ancient Celtic ritual, and deck the surrounding branches with rags and ribbons.

The folk tradition of the ‘clootie well’ is a fascinating one: read more about it below.

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