Explore Folklore

Bob Trubshaw. Explore Folklore. Explore Books/Heart of Albion Press, 2003.

The sections of Bob Trubshaw’s primer on the current state of British folklore most likely to interest Magonia readers are going to be chapters six to eight, which deal with contemporary folk beliefs and narratives, and the intersection between folklore and claimed supernatural experience. These sections include discussions of topics such as satanic abuse panics, urban legends, alien abduction and other UFO narratives, ghost stories, fairy lore, the old hag, earthlights etc etc. We are pleased to see that Magonia is referred to several times in these presentations.

Of particular interest are summaries of Jeremy Harte’s researches on the origins of the heritage ghost story, where he points out that the historic ghost emerged as a consequence of the early 19th century popularization of history, and features figures drawn from certain specific periods, such as the Tudors and Stuarts which were centres of Romantic interest. Ghost stories thus contain folk images of the past just as UFO stories contain folk images of the future. Harte also argues that fairy lore has an elite, courtly rather than folk origin.

Increasingly I feel that these folk memorates cannot be treated as isolated fragments being used as quasi-scientific evidence for something or other, but as integral parts of narratives of whole personal and community histories. John Keel was saying this sort of thing thirty years ago but it has still not been properly taken on board.

In many ways that could be theme of this whole book, which is the gradual liberation of folklore from its 'olde worlde' pagan-survival, peasant-custom obsessions of its founders, towards a study of the whole history of the whole people. -- Peter Rogerson

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