"Common images are bearded, goblin-like demons laughing or whispering sinister speech, a faceless girl (usually covering her face with hair, moving around in bed moaning and feeling my body), hands appearing from the wall and attempting to strangle me. A hung man talking in the corner of the room, and some of the most bizarre experiences may include up to a dozen 'critter' entities (think Gremlins movie) laughing and talking about me. The environment tends to feel like a holographic dollhouse, the experience peaks and then the hallucinations mysteriously vanish when I regain control of my body."
- The bizarre world of sleep paralysis
, a form of hypnagogia
and root of many folkloric figures such as succubi or incubi and the night hag
Jon Klassen is an illustrator and designer, with a blog
and a lovely website full of artwork
, including The Miser
(3:53, 2004, made with Kyle McQueen
and Dan Rodrigues), An Eye for Annai
(5:27, 2005, previously
, also made with Dan Rodrigues, .MOV video link
), an interpretation
of a Mayan folktale
(available in full in Flight vol 4
), The Adventures of Ship
, a family art project
, visual development and drawings
for sets and props
for the movie adaptation of Coraline
(a couple previous
), amongst other bits and bobs. Illustration Mundo had an interview with Klassen
earlier this year.
This entrancing 17-minute film
compiled from footage of British folk celebrations was put together in honor of a new project created by set designer Simon Costin
. Finding much of his artistic inspiration in the folklore of Great Britain, Costin wondered why there was no national center or museum
dedicated to studying and collecting these traditional customs
. So he's decided to start one, The Museum of British Folklore
, and is launching the project this summer by outfitting
a 1976 caravan
and traveling to folk festivals around the country. The expedition is intended to build interest in the museum project, and to collect and document some of the surprising variety
of more than 700
, often pre-Christian festival celebrations that continue to this day. [more inside]
Home of the Double-Headed Eagle
is a short film by Ali Colleen Neff and Brian Graves, featuring the kaleidoscopic work of visionary architecture created by Reverend H. D. Dennis and his wife, Margaret Dennis.
Now that the fighting in Gaza is over for the time being, it's time for urban legends to arise out of the morass. One story now making the rounds on the Israeli side involves soldiers claiming the Biblical matriarch Rachel warned them of Hamas ambushes
and guided them away from booby-trapped homes
. Strangely, Rachel supposedly appeared as an Arabic-speaking older woman. Meanwhile, American soldiers during the second Iraq war spawned their own urban legends
. But these stories are just the latest entries in a long tradition. [more inside]
Weavings of War: Fabrics of Memory
, an online exhibit of comtemporary textiles created (mostly) by women living in war zones.
Have you met the Yuki-onna
? You might meet her in a snow storm, and recognize her by her pure white robe marked only with a splattering of blood
and her lack of feet. She might kill you with icy breath, or lead you into the storm to die of exposure, or seduce you
, only to steal your soul. She's the subject of one of Japan's better known ghost stories
(the climax of which was depicted in Tanaka Tokuzo's 1968 film Kaidan Yuki Onna
) and has also made an appearance in Akira Kurosawa's Dreams
Inauguration 2009 Sermons and Orations Project
The Library of Congress invites you to submit digital audio or video recordings of speeches made between January 16 and january 25, 2009 on the occasion of Barack Obama's inauguration. The speeches will be archived in a collection for future scholarship, much like the Day of Infamy
and other collections capturing signifcant American moments.
Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore
publishes original academic studies in folklore studies, comparative mythological research, cultural anthropology and related fields. Previously
In an intriguing blog entry
the mysterious jasminembla muses about the man in the moon, and his relationship with thorns, linking finally to a most remarkable collection of sourced and footnoted Victorian Moon Lore
authored by a Rev. Timothy Harley, 1885. In the "Man in the Moon
" section, we learn that, indeed, the man in the moon has been traditionally linked with thorns, variously being exiled to the moon for stealing a bundle of brambles, strewing brambles on the path to church to hinder the pious, or cutting wood on the Sabbath, among other infractions - and that this folktale has existed since at least 1157, when an English abbot asks, in Latin, "Do you not know what the people call the rustic in the moon who carries the thorns? Whence one vulgarly speaking says,
"The Rustic in the moon /
Whose burden weighs him down /
This changeless truth reveals /
He profits not who steals."
Furthermore, no less a personage than Shakespeare has mentioned the thorny situation of the poor man in the moon... and most interesting, perhaps, the rather convincing theory that the bramble-burdened man in the moon may very well be an older "Jack" of Jack and Jill fame, who did not steal, but was stolen by the moon, along with his sister. [more inside]
The Southern Foodways Alliance
is one weighed-down church-supper table, full of oral history/blog projects like The Tamale Trail
, the Boudin Trail
, interviews and recipes from the Bartenders of New Orleans
, photo essay/interviews from Birmingham's Greek-Americans
, a mess o'homemade films
, and a passel of event and BBQ-shack photos on Flickr
, all smothered in the tangy-sweet academic goodness of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture
at Ole Miss. These folks get my vote for most flavorful, funkiest food-loving folklorists in the lower forty-eight. [more inside]
Excerpts from Pissing in the Snow, a collection
of ribald folk tales collected in the first half of the twentieth century around the Ozarks by Vance Randolph
. (NSFW language) [more inside]
You've got just over two weeks to make it to the John Henry celebration
in Leeds, Alabama, where some folks believe the legendary steel driving contest actually took place. Maybe you already made it to John Henry Days
in Talcott, West Virginia (or read a fictionalized account
), where some more folks claim the same. John Garst, Scott Nelson, and other folklorists weigh in here
, supplemented by a wealth of links and resources on the subject. While you think on it let Mississippi Fred McDowell
, The Boss
, Ralph Stanley
, John Jackson
, Merle Travis
, and Jason Isbell
tell their own versions.
John Garst and his research mentioned previously
Feel like you've racked up too many sins to be admitted into Heaven? Fret not, my evil friend... just hire
a Sin Eater
to gobble them
all up for you. Voila! More here.
Did Anyone Really Follow the Drinking Gourd?
Were you taught that slaves in the antebellum South sang this traditional song to convey coded instructions for escaping Northward? Were you taught that quilt block patterns could be read as a map to freedom
, or that quilts were hung outside safe houses
as signals to escaping slaves?Though these are among the most often taught stories
of the operation of the Underground Railroad, current scholarship
indicates that these aren't survivals of pre-Civil War African-American folklore, but legends constructed and popularized within the twentieth century, frequently by white writers and performers. In today's New York Times
, these legends battle it out with fact in debate over the proposed design of a new Frederick Douglass memorial [PDF]
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, but do you know Stekkjarstaur
, Ketkrokur and Kertasnikir? They're the Jolasveinar
, the impish "Yuletide Lads
" of Iceland
, and those are only some of their many names. During the thirteen days before Christmas, legend says that they do their best to monkeywrench the celebrations
with hijinks like stealing sausages, milk, and candles, and peeping into windows and up skirts
. The children of gruesome child-eating trolls Gryla
and Leppaludi, who were known for snatching naughty children
, the elves got their start in the 17th century. In the years since, their image has apparently mellowed, and now they leave children presents in their shoes and limit themselves to mild pranks.
is an hour-long documentary on an African-American dance tradition, most closely associated with historically black fraternities
(though it's also found in high schools
, and professional dance companies
). Combining footwork, hand-clapping, chanting, singing, use of props, and changing configurations of dancers, it's a tightly coordinated dance form in which teams vie for honors in competitions nationwide
"In a close-knit Chesapeake Bay community, the world’s fastest muskrat skinners face off in a truly cutthroat competition at the National Outdoor Show. One lucky young lady gets to be their queen."
[Warning: Fiddle tunes!
] Muskrat Lovely
, a documentary about the conflation of the world muskrat-skinning championships
with the Miss Outdoors beauty competition. The film will air soon on the PBS program
Catch some of the brackish flavor of the Chesapeake Bay's traditional regional culture
, including some muskrat recipes and skinning tips.
. And don't miss the link to Everything Muskrat
Wade in the Water
In 2004, Smithsonian Folklife Festival
featured the maritime cultures of the Mid-Atlantic region, from Long Island to North Carolina. Now, this site gives a home on the web to the cultural documentation gathered for the festival -- music
, stories and oral history
, an interactive map
, the occupational folklore and natural history of regional fisheries
, video, and more. The material, ably compiled by folklorists and educators, creates a lasting and very accessible archive of festival highlights as well as an excellent overview of the distinct coastal culture of the Mid-Atlantic. Don't miss the great menhaden net-hauling chantey Help Me to Raise 'Em
(links to mp3).
A journal of voluptuous reading for discerning readers, hosted in a larger collection
of bawdy books, dirty ditties and assorted salacious songcraft.
Thrill to cousin-fucking in Sport Among the She-Noodles. Puzzle over endless lashings by old women in Ms. Coote's Confession. Giggle over the protagonist of Lady Pokingham. Note for edification the blasé treatment of homosexuality, both male and female. Memorize limericks that provide both racial and sexual offense for your next social gathering. And learn obscenities you can sneak past all but the most agile editor!
also contains hours of mp3s and reams of naughty toasts, drinking songs and folk stories. Other highlights include the ability to compare American
ribaldry with earlier British
Some engravings arguably NSFW.
Alan Dundes dies while teaching. The world-renowned folklorist
, 70, tackled
everything from religion
to political jokes
with an infectious enthusiam that endeared him to students
, academics, and laymen alike. Dundes was often contacted by reporters looking for scholarly explanations
of popular culture
. His warmth and humor shined through in his speech to UC Berkeley's Class of 2002
, characteristically full of wise words and wisecracks. Those wishing to share thoughts and memories of Prof. Dundes can do so at this forum
Deliberately concealed garments footwear
and other items
have been found tucked away in buildings, sometimes even wrapped around mummified cats. This project of the University of Southampton's Textile Conservation Centre
is developing an online archive of the finds they have made in an effort to raise awareness of this folk custom
The Lucky W Amulet Archive
: "A folkloric resource that contains hundreds of interlinked pages describing and illustrating amulets, talismans, lucky charms, and good luck pieces from around the world and all eras".
The Ballad of Mulan
in Chinese calligraphy by, er, Mi Fei; also translated into English
. Via the Mulan FAQ
A friend told me the story of Corn Hill the other day (the house he grew up in is right across the street), so I decided to check out what the internet has to say about the situation. Not much apparently. This ugly website
is the only other one I found that didn't say that the pilgrims "borrowed" from a "cache" of corn that they "stumbled upon". What's really crazy is that the pilgrims had never seen corn, nor native americans. This means that they either started digging for fun, or found out about the Wampanoag burial traditions and decided it was a good idea. Either way, happy Grave Robbing Day!
Folklore and Mythology E-Texts
A multicultural collection classified according to types and variants. See also the SurLaLune Fairy Tales Pages
(portal with annotated tales, tons of illustrations), Folk and Fairytales From Around the World
(not updated since 1997, unfortunately), Hans Christian Andersen
(tales and illustrations, plus additional links), Fairy Tales by the Grimm Brothers
(German and English, with some illustrations), the Grimm Index Page
(a complete set), Red Riding Hood: A Multimedia Edition
(exactly what it sounds like; those with sensitive eyes should be warned that the page is, well, red), and Tracey Callison's extensive Sources for the Analysis and Interpretation of Folk and Fairy Tales
Have Mortar, Will Travel.
An apparently evil figure from old Russian folklore, Baba Yaga
seems to pop up where I least expect her. From appearing in the sixth Sandman collection
to her role in the Sierra classic Hero's Quest
, she (like any good mythic figure) is never quite described the same way twice, and has all kinds of neat gear - like a hut that stands on chicken's legs, and can chase victims at will. Still, her tale
seems fairly under-repeated these days. Is anyone else fascinated by this or other increasingly obscure bits of folklore?
"Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943
Approximately one hundred sound recordings, primarily blues and gospel songs, and related documentation from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia. The documentation was created by John Wesley Work III in 1941 and by Lewis Jones and Willis Laurence James in March, June, and July 1943. Also included are recordings made in Tennessee and Alabama by John Work between September 1938 and 1941. Audio Title IndexThe John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip
Folk singers and folksongs documented during a three-month trip through the southern United States. Audio Title IndexCalifornia Gold: Northern California Folk Music From the Thirties
Materials from the WPA California Folk Music Project Collection, including sound recordings, still photographs, drawings, and written documents from a variety of European ethnic and English- and Spanish-speaking communities in Northern California. The collection comprises 35 hours of folk music recorded in twelve languages representing numerous ethnic groups and 185 musicians. Audio Title Index
(As Always, More Inside)
Names of the Full Moons
We are now 4 days past the Snow Moon, and this year it's easy to see (at least here in northern Virginia) why it was so named. It was also called the Hunger Moon... [more inside]
The Modern Antiquarian.
Quirky, funny and joyous guide to the folklore and folkloric sites of Britain. There is a weblog too - read about Carmarthenshire standing stones
or adventures in Cornwall.
Did you sneeze before breakfast this morning? Well, expect some exciting news... this according to a page of sneezing folklore
. (I might add that sneezing feels mighty nice.)
- An encyclopedia on mythology, folklore, and legend.