The course was called, 'The Supernatural and Everyday History.' I wasn’t supposed to take it but I did anyway. With a title like that, who could resist?
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It was a folklore class and our objectives included learning about how folk belief impacts our everyday life, how folklore reflects cultural attitudes, and how likewise our cultural attitudes have shaped historical events.
Historical events like the Salem Witch Trials, where the dialogue between Susannah Martin and her inquisitor included this excerpt:
INQ: What ails this people?
SM: I do not know.
INQ: But w’t do you think?
SM: I do not desire to spend my judgm’t upon it.
INQ: Do not you think they are Bewitcht?
SM: No. I do not think they are.
INQ: Tell me your thoughts about them.
SM: Why my thoughts are my own, when they are in, but when they are out they are anothers.
So while others asked her what she thought of the ‘possessed girls,’ she was never accusing. She refrained from judging them. Still, Susannah was convicted of being a witch and executed at the age of 70.
Folklore is defined as:
1. The unwritten literature of a people as expressed in folk tales, proverbs, riddles, songs, etc
2. The body of stories and legends attached to a particular place, group, activity, etc: Hollywood folklore ; rugby folklore
There’s a lot of folklore out there about witches. There’s a lot of folklore out there about faeries. About ghosts, dragons, mermaids, and I could go on. I think it’s very interesting where our legends originate, and how they adapt. Why did our ancestors come up with this intricate story about a god in the clouds hammering away during thunder storms? (side note -- obviously it had little to do with Chris Hemsworth and a huge population of females getting their swoon on, but that’s a nice example of how folk belief impacts our everyday life now too, no?)
But I think it’s even more interesting what we do with the stories.
Do I accuse others of doing things they may or may not have done? Purely based on what I think I saw happen? Or what I’ve heard happened as reported by such-and-such media corporation? Yes. I have been a ‘possessed girl.’
I would rather be a Susannah Martin, though. I would rather hold back my judgment and allow for multiple sides, multiple opinions, to be right. Even if it means giving up on the idea of being honored and respected by mankind.
And yet, perhaps letting go of our need for Man's respect is how we open the gate to the supernatural again.We become like children in all the 'right' ways, allowing for multiple possibilities. Perhaps? I don't know. There's more to be thought out here...
What do you think?
What do you think?
I do know that I hope there was an angel to hold Susannah’s hand in her last moments. An angel, or an elf, or a whole legion of supernatural beings to welcome her home again.
Likewise, I hope you have an angel, or an elf, or a whole legion of supernatural beings to hold your hand and walk with you throughout your day. I hope you can feel their joy and laughter, and that you can have at least one – if not many – moments of magic today.
Here’s someplace to start: