Thursday, 16 May 2013

I'm a skeptic, but I adore the magic of folklore

Folklore can be pretty fantastical - after all, it often deals with beliefs and traditions dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years. Within folk texts we find strange monsters, literal ghosts, buried treasure, magic and more. All of this gives us a great insight into how certain groups of people used to and, in some cases, still function.

Some folklore enthusiasts take it one step further and tend towards believing some of the things that they study - whether that's dowsing, time displacement or cryptids. I'm not one of these people. I'm what you might identify as a skeptic, someone who only believes something when presented with sufficient evidence. The scientific method is my constant companion and aids my view of the world, a world where there are a lot of strange things to believe.

So what draws me to folklore - something that tends towards the irrational? To me, folklore provides the world with magic- not real magic with spells and such - but it provides a way to view the world through a different lens. I don't need or want the magic to be real, I think there's enough wonder in the universe without having to invoke mysticism, but at the same time I'm fascinated by people's beliefs in strange and bizarre things. There probably isn't an abominable snowman, but researching yeti myths throughout the world is as exciting to me as learning about exoplanets and quantum physics. We can determine so much about humanity from the study of folklore - specifically about the human part. In history we learn about the big events and figures, but in folklore we glimpse the real lives of real, everyday people - their beliefs and values.

Folklore is magic. Spells may not be real and spirits may not exist - but in the field of folklore these things come to life.