Folkdays: The Oak King

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With Midsummer only a day away, it feels apt to use this week’s Folkdays post to write something about the traditions and folklore associated with the summer solstice.

There were so many things I could have written about: whether it be beliefs, rituals, celebrations, or traditions. Yet, one story captured my imagination more than any other: the tale of The Oak King and The Holly King.

This story stems from pagan, particularly Celtic, mythology, yet it bears similarities to many other beliefs too. Read more about this story and these intriguing deities below!

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Folkdays: Rose Lore

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I’ve been working with roses quite a bit recently, as I’ve been making pigment from rose petals and using them to paint the flowers themselves. They’ve crept into my life in all sorts of other ways, too: I’ve recently written a piece about thorns (and the Anglo-Saxon rune ᚦ, ‘thorn’); meanwhile my research into foraging for a different creative project lead me to look a bit closer at rosehips.

As one might imagine, based on their popularity, roses are steeped in all sorts of lore, from how they were created and how they got their colours, to their meanings and associations. There’s plenty out there to read (as ever, links below); this post will focus on the aspects I find most fascinating!

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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: Bluebells

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I am blessed to have grown up in an area where bluebell woods abound. At this time of year, the Clent and Walton Hills, Uffmoor and Hagley Woods, and Wychbury Hillfort are carpeted with swathes of this beautiful flower. Though I cannot walk through these indigo seas this year, I found a much-desired stand-in this spring at the Key Hill Cemetery, close to where I live in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

Sitting amongst these stunning blooms, even if only for a little while, I really felt at peace. I decided to write about bluebells for this week’s Folkdays post, and share some facts, folklore, and photos of this, the country’s favourite flower.

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