The Chime Child is one of the most enchanting books I know. It begins with the rustle of autumn deep in the Somerset countryside where villagers, mindful of the old ways, have set up a corn dolly for Harvest Festival.
The first witch of Western literature, Circe lived what appears to be an idyllic, solitary life on the island of Aiaia. She spent her time honing her enviable magic spells, collecting herbs from the thick forest that fringed her land and doting on her magically docile pet lions and wolves.
Mark Norman explores the folklore of bees and beekeeping in his new book, ‘Telling the Bees and Other Customs: The Folklore of Rural Crafts’.
I first caught the perfume of my wild twin by walking with muddy boots through wet grasses to my scrubby woodland den as a six-year-old. As the trees swirled I caught a scent and started to cry without understanding. I wove a pheasant feather in my hair. I hear it now in the owl court who hoot across the frost grass and moon-touched lawns of my cottage. There’s more than book smarts in that chill delirium. These are not domestic tones, not corralled sounds, but loose as Dartmoor ponies on the hill. They give me ecstasy. Not safety, not contentment, certainly not ease, not peace, but ecstasy. It’s almost painful. Makes me restless.
The Norwegian folktale, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” in which a white bear comes to take a poor girl away, is loved by people the world over. It is also part of a huge cycle of folklore and myth that has spanned Eurasia in the last 2500 years.