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The project ran training workshops for recording oral tradition, produced a touring exhibition, ran workshops of Perthshire songs Gaelic, Scots and English and produced a book with CD, In Our Day Themed lectures and workshops offered to the widest age range, large or small groups of different ages and abilities.

Visit web site: www. About writer's work Interested in the many facets of traditional Scottish folk culture, most of her publications have a strong basis in live interviews of tradition bearers. She adds that it also had an instructive intent, for instance, being used as a way of ensuring children kept away from bodies of water by telling them a scary monster might eat them if they went near the local loch. Also, in the Pre-Enlightenment age, tales of why certain things happened, such as bad weather, explained things like the power of nature in a way in which the folk would understand them ix.

Folklore also strongly represented what is seen as the folk culture of the Pre-Enlightenment era, such as cunning healing Miller: Great minds of the 19th century thought that it would be a good idea to preserve what they believed to be the dying culture of the common people, and Scotland was no exception. The twentieth century also saw some great folklorists, including John Lorne Campbell and his wife, Margaret Fay Shaw, who collected a lot of Gaelic lore. Their extensive library of recordings and literature is now under the care of the National Trust for Scotland on the Isle of Canna.

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Otta F. Swire might not be so well known, but she makes for an excellent introduction to the first time reader of Scottish folklore, with her gripping writing style. City of the Dead Tours. The Mackenzie Poltergeist. Kingshill, S. Miller, J. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Paranormal Database. Start looking for the 'smoking Muse' and you'll see her everywhere.

Nuckelavee: The Demon Horse of the Scottish Isles - (Orcadian/Scottish Mythology Explained)

Before long you end up with the questionable gender stereotype of the femme fatale - Keats' 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci', where the object of desire transmogrifies into one of fear. The idealised Muse becomes the 'Cruel Mother' Child So, to the ballads themselves. Thomas the Rhymer [09] The well-known Border Ballad of 'Thomas the Rhymer' is attributed to the 13th Century Thomas of Ercildoune, a historical but elusive figure who lived in the area of what is now Earlston, Berwickshire.

The ballad relates an encounter between 'True Thomas' and the Queen of Elfland. One day, May Eve while sitting upon Huntley Bank, Thomas beholds an otherworldly woman - richly clad she rides a fine horse adorned with silver bells. She introduces herself as the Queen of Elfland and summons Thomas to her land, to 'serve her' for seven years. They ride for 40 days and nights through a blood-red liquid until they arrive at a tree whose fruit is forbidden [10] in some versions the Queen gives Thomas an apple from this which bestows upon him the gift of prophecy.

There they have a ritual meal, before the Queen shows Thomas three roads - to Heaven, to Hell and to Fairyland. They sojourn to the latter, where Thomas resides for the set term. Upon his return he wears clothes of an elven green. These prophecies are extant and seem to add credence to Thomas' personal creation myth — unless we choose to deconstruct it as an adept bit of early Medieval spin- doctoring.

Yet could this exchange be read as a metaphor for the creative process? Is the otherworldly border- crossing in fact a synaptic leap — the exchange between the Left and Right sides of the brain? The encounter was said to have taken place on the Eildon Hills, in the Scottish Borders, which I visited back in the early Nineties, conducting my own phenomenological research I spent a very windy night on the Eildon Hills - it is one of several hills which have an initiatory aspect, e.

The Rhymer's Glen visited by Sir Walter Scott with JMW Turner and the nearby Rhymer Stone [11] seem to attest to the 'veracity' of the legend — the latter was in fact erected in by the Melrose Literary Society and supposedly marks the spot on which the fabled Eildon Tree once grew, under which the historical Thomas was said to have taken his famous nap. A similar plaque at the British Camp, on the Malvern Hills, marks where the medieval poet, William Langland, describes Piers Plowman sitting down and receiving his vision of the 'Great Plain', while he 'slombred on a sleping'.

In Pembrokeshire formerly Dyfed is Gorsedd Arbeth, a mound at Narbeth, where The Mabinogion tells us Pwyll, Lord of Dyfed, beheld a similar vision in white — Rhiannon, who initiates him into the deep and perilous mysteries of marriage. Is there a link between these sites — as hills of initiatory vision?

Or is it a simple topographical fact that from a hill you can see further, and can often feel inspired - the rush of endorphins when reaching the summit conducive to an epiphanic sensation? King Sil who was believed to be interred beneath Silbury Hill, Wiltshire although all archaeological excavations to date have proven to the contrary. Perhaps then it is not surprising to discover that the Eildon Hills have their own legend of a fool figure in this case, a fellow named Canonbie Dick who discovers King Arthur and his knights - and has the power to awaken them with a horn.

As is usually the case, the trespasser fails to win the treasure, the royal entourage remain dormant - mythical sleeper agents - and the culprit dies soon after relating his tale. Could such stories of sleeping kings be a metaphor for our own dormant potential and what might befall us if we fail to activate it? Other spurious monuments e. In the hills above Aberfoyle, [15] home of Rev. Robert Kirk, 17th Century Scottish Minister and author of monograph, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies, a sign -posts bearing red mushrooms [16] lead visitors on the Fairy Trail to the 'fairy circle' which Kirk was said to have stepped in, disappearing into Fairyland, where, according to his legend, he remains trapped to this day.

Despite the kitsch quality of this commodified mythscape, some visitors have attested to psychic experiences, even receiving communication from Kirk himself Stewart, A form of channeling is said to take place, and wisdom from the 'Otherworld' is downloaded. Are such experiences a way of creating meaningful narratives for the mysterious process of inspiration? The pink noise of, say, a babbling brook, affects the brainwaves, changing them from Alpha to Theta — when greater synaptic leaps occur, the spark of inspiration bridging the gap.

The Kelpies - malevolent water spirits from Scottish folklore

Is this the 'fire in the head' WB Yeats describes in the 'Song of Wandering Aengus', in which the protagonist goes out to a hazel wood, and, at a transitional time, encounters the Muse in the form of a 'glimmering girl', which he spends the rest of his life pursuing? Time for a fairy story.

At the revels under the hill he played the drums while the Little Folk danced. Sometimes they all flew off to France or Holland and back in a night 'to enjoy the pleasures of these countries'.

Folk Lore in Lowland Scotland

Sometimes 'France' or somewhere equally 'exotic' to a Brit was an analogue for Faerie, hence Shakespeare's setting of that quintessentially English fairy story, A Midsummer Night's Dream, in a wood near Athens. It was said that 'all the people in Scotland' could not keep the Fairy Boy from his Thursday night flitting. So Captain Burton, accompanied by some friends, tried to hold the lad in conversation one night. They placed themselves between the Fairy Boy and the door of the room in which they were sitting, but about an hour before midnight they suddenly realised that the boy had slipped away unobserved.

Again, everyone watched him closely but he eluded them, and vanished to keep his nocturnal tryst on Calton Hill. There are similar stories up and down the land — e. Any Fairy unfortunate enough to stray into this realm usually doesn't fair well. If we read this story metaphorically we can see echoes with the other material of the Borders - a fairy hill; a Crossing between this world and another; otherworldly music; threshold guardians preventing a return in this case, to Faerie ; and a vanishing like Thomas the Rhymer, or Robert Kirk.