The Everyday Lore Project was my attempt to incorporate an element of folklore, superstition, tradition or calendar custom into my life, every day, for a year. And despite my best self sabotage efforts, after 380 posts, I succeeded. And now my experience and research has been turned into a book! Everyday Folklore: An almanac for the ritual year is publishing in October. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the project…
Starting on St Distaff’s Day (7 January) 2020 and running until Twelfth Night (6 January) 2021, I documented my daily adventures in folklore on my blog. I had hoped to write the odd related short story or poem, but the whole experiencing and writing and having a life and being in the midst of a gloabal pandemic put paid to that idea.
Most of the year was planned (like a giant game of Tetris/nightmare headache), but I left room for spur-of-the-moment-ness, and for trying out other people’s personal traditions. Some of the stuff I did was old, some of it new, some of it borrowed, and some of it Blue Moon related, and on Halloween/Samhain no less!
And why did I do this? I’ve always been fascinated by folklore and ritual. From steaming through Lloyd Alexander, Eva Ibbotson, Ursula Le Guin, Alan Garner and CS Lewis as a child, to studying mythology and folk tales at university, to playing Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, my head has always been slightly elsewhere. Plus I’m nosy and want to know about things.
Also I was dared. Again. I share the idea for this project with the wondrous Jenifer Toksvig, playwright, theatre maker, social observer, activist and friend since drama school. Sitting at her kitchen table in the mid naughties, both of us fresh from reading The Stones Are Hatching by Geraldine McCaughrean, we tossed around the notion of living our lives by the rules of folklore. Then a decade and a bit later, sitting in front of a mummer’s play on the South Bank on Twelfth Night, we tossed around the idea some more.
So please accept this invitation to read about my ritual year as I hung up hot cross buns, cut my toenails into three*, planted potatoes on a full moon, burnt a wicker man, knitted haggises, drank braggot, made corn dollies, made marbles, made sacrifices to the Sea Gods, dragged up eggs, got close to the fires, and tried a lot of love divination (plus many, many other things). The project was based on traditions of the British Isles, but rules are made to be broken.
If you want to find out more about folklore, tradition and the sort of things that have inspired me, I’ve compiled a Useful Onions page with information. And there’s also a general thank you page for everyone who helped me through the year – you guys were legends.
Welcome to The Everyday Lore Project.
*Well, you wouldn’t want the devil to make a ship out of them, now would you…?