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Folklore And Changes To Society.


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Can folklore be used to measure a societies development?   Do societies that are predominantly hunter gatherers have folkore and sirits predominantly associated with animals?  When you get societeies that then settle and become agriculturaly based, is it fair to say we then see the introduction of harvest spirits, also the house and hearth spirits or fairy types.   What about such things as the introduction of national religion and industrialisation.  Are these to blame for the demise of many of these beliefs or is it something else?

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Red Don
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Re: Folklore And Changes To Society.

I tend to view folklore as being associated with settled agricultural groups and tend to describe stories linked to hunter gather types such as the plains Indians as myths. 

Mysteryshopper
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Re: Folklore And Changes To Society.
Ian Topham wrote:

Are these to blame for the demise of many of these beliefs or is it something else?

Who says they die out? Do you bring a tree into your house in December?

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Neil Boothman
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Re: Folklore And Changes To Society.
Ian Topham wrote:

Can folklore be used to measure a societies development?

Yes, I believe it can. Folklore and legend reflect the prejudices, hopes and fears of a society, and their nature transmutes as the society changes and develops. Even today, folklore and myth are still alive and well in the form of contemporary, or 'urban' legends which reflect the technological/industrial society we live in.

Modern legends may have lost their supernatural aspect but, the format remains the same: a story told as true often carrying a moral or cautionary element, being just plausible enough to believe and which changes over time due to repetition and embellishment. We've all heard them; the most well known is probably the one about someones' grandmother putting her damp cat in the microwave oven to dry it - the cat exploded. This story is just about credible enough to believe but, there's no real evidence to believe that it is true. It's a product of its time; people were wary and sceptical of microwave ovens when they came on the market and the story perpetuates the prejudice that although new technology may seem to be beneficial, it can also be dangerous and unpredictable.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Folklore And Changes To Society.
Mysteryshopper wrote:

Who says they die out? Do you bring a tree into your house in December?

Ok, I agree there, but why do I bring it in?  It's for for decoration now and copying what my parents did.  Again taking decorations down after 12 days is done just to stop the neighbours talking.  If we don't know why we do something then surely it is lost.

We don't pass ill children through holes in rocks to cure them anymore, then again with industrialisation came advances in other sciences such as medicines.

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BaronIveagh
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Re: Folklore And Changes To Society.

Actually, there are still people in industrialized countries who do things just like that.  They also dance with snakes on occasion.  (And these are educated people who know what rattlesnake venom does to you.....) 

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

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Daniel Parkinson
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Re: Folklore And Changes To Society.
Neil Boothman wrote:
Ian Topham wrote:

Can folklore be used to measure a societies development?

Modern legends may have lost their supernatural aspect but, the format remains the same:

I suppose this depends how you catagorise, modern road ghosts could still be seen as modern legends or an aspect of urban myths, rather than something seperate.

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BaronIveagh
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Re: Folklore And Changes To Society.

I've had enough strange encounters to suggest that not all road ghosts are under the auspices of legend or myth, though most undoubtedly are.  The 'phantom hitchhiker' is not something I've encountered, but I did have a encounters with both a spectral rider and a mysterious figure fleeing down a road as fast as he could run...  unfortunately this was a long time ago, before I had ever heard of professional ghost hunting...

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

Mauro
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Re: Folklore And Changes To Society.

Yes, absolutely. I remember hearing that in the Midlands at the height of the Industrial Revolution there was a belief among steel mill workers that if furnaces weren't extinguished and cleaned from time to time "something" would engender in there. This "it" would of course not be pleasant. Maybe this bit of folklore stemmed from the need to have some regular maintenance.
Also let's not forget that today's Gods may become tomorrow's Devils (the Horned God, the Wild Hunt, the various White/Fertility Goddesses etc) and that even an aggressive, organized religion with the full backing of the State like Christianity had to bow down and include both old deities as Saints and ancient rituals as religious festivities. Some traditions never ever die.

In Distortion We Trust

__________________

"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"

-Kalevala, Rune XIII-




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