Category Archives: Folklore

Witch Wheels & Old Shoes: Home Protection Folklore Practices

Everyone can identify with the desire to protect our homes. Today, might use alarm systems or family dogs to keep our domestic spaces safe from human predators, but our ancestors’ fears weren’t only for these terrestrial threats—they felt that their homes could come under attack from unseen forces as well.

The following is an excerpt from a talk I gave at the Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffrye Museum) in November 2019, ‘Witch Bottles & Worn Shoes: Home Protection Folklore Practices’.

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Grey Ladies in the Crumbling Stones—Our love affair with the uncanny gothic feminine

Why do the dead return? Why, in the darkness of the night, when all activity has been reduced to a trembling in the distance, do the dead disavow their rest and return to the living? Those who pass from the land of the dead to the living carry with them the promise of a place to come, and that place is haunted. –Dylan Trigg

We love our ghost stories. We love to share them, analyse them, hunt for them, and hopefully even capture them with our cameras. But therein lies the troublesome aspect of ghosts—because our search is the pleasure, there is no joy in the answer.

There is in an excitement in these feelings; as a child, many of us remember the sudden horror, then the thrill, of walking through a cemetery and imagining a hand creeping out of a cracked grave. Or walking through an old ruin, forgetting the heritage of the place to instead imagine deep tragedies of our own invention, wishing for glimpses of the ghostly Grey Ladies who cry for justice amongst the stones.

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Audio Walk: ‘They Walked in Moonlight

They Walked in Moonlight is an audio walking experience through St George’s Gardens in London, next to the Foundling Museum, taking a journey around the gardens and graves, listening to tales of the moon as told through folklore, legends, and nursery rhymes. The narrative of the walk explores how myth and oral tradition help us process difficult themes in an accessible way. The focus is on the moon, in particular, as representative of the feminine and as a light through personal moments of darkness.