Category Archives: Folk Tale

Mister Fox and the Demon Dogs…

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Something untoward is about to happen

on the edge of Langsett Forest…

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The Langsett Foxes have their Fire Festival

usurped by a Pack of Hellish looking Hounds…

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And you think Charles James Fox will be okay with that? …

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Bone-white winter gleams in the moonlight. Silent shadows hunt in the night…. The Hunter’s Moon sails above dark hills, caught in the empty fingers of the treetops. A mysterious company gathers to kindle the flames of the dance; arcane patterns of fire woven in the blackness to the beat of the drums. Silent as ghosts in the darkness, others follow their trail, lurking in the night to watch… and wait… seeking their chance to usurp the forest throne… Old Fox wanes with the fading year, his fur touched by the silver of frost. Can he hold his realm against the ghostly challenge of the Demon Dogs? Yet all is not lost. They have seen it in the smoke… three magicians use their arts to breathe life into the spirit of Fox…

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A  Graphic Novel from France and Vincent

featuring the elusive Mister Fox.

Available on Amazon UK, Amazon US and worldwide.

For more details of Mister Fox, visit his earth…

The Celebration of Mister Fox: more and less…

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…More, because our Foxes are one-third Man

And also less, because our Foxes are one-third Man.

Huh?

Man’s individuality makes them more yet,

By its very nature,

That individuality has to be less than whole.

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Unlike Animals all the species of Man,

And there are many, can be traced back to one common ancestor,

And they have named her Lucy, which means ‘light’…

‘We did too, see Foxes,’ objects my Companion, ‘proper ones!’

Well, quite…

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The Celebration of Mister Fox: bestial cluster…

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Bear and Wolf,

And Dog and Fox are all closely related.

It is tempting to imagine a common ancestor;

Bigger than Wolf but smaller than Bear.

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But the official line has something

Much less rapacious originally slink down from the trees.

To replace what?

The Dinosaurs whose more agile brethren had taken to the air.

I wonder what Linnaeus would make of the Mister Fox procession,

As it snakes its way through the alleys and walkways

Of the Saturday night revelers, encouraging all to join its wake.

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“We saw Foxes!” says my companion.

Well, yes and no…

We saw something less

And something more than Foxes…

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The Celebration of Mister Fox…

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I never knew Holmfirth in the days of mill workers and clogs.

I really got to know her in the Post Industrial gloom,

Of swish Cafe Bars,

And cosy restaurants,

All day drinking parties frequented by the nouveau riche…

Who leap from still moving taxis,

Done up to the nines,  dressed to kill,

While up on the hill,

Something feral is stirring…

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Something ancient and unsought…

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So, as the lazy cars slow crawl,

Through tight-cobbled streets,

Held up by roaming party-goers,

Soft parading their unsteady path from the park…

And boozers sing boldly in the late afternoon heat

With rabid mouths, foaming,

Never quite finding the beat…

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A beast is preparing,

to be unleashed,

In the dark…

The Marsh King’s Daughter III…

 

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Hi-ho the Carrion Crow, bow and bend to me…

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…There usually is.

Perhaps one reason for the tale’s obscurity these days is its perceived, overtly, Christian message.

This takes the form of a priest who is captured and tortured by Helga’s Viking fosterers, provokes in her the first stirrings of love and compassion and affords the young girl opportunity to embrace the process which results in the fusing of her day/night time personalities and her achievement of wholeness in mind and form.

However, the culmination of this process is complicated somewhat by the priest’s death at the hands of robbers and his subsequent appearance in a dream vision and by the denouement of the tale which sees the Changeling Child whisked away to heaven by the priest only to return a short time later and find her original home now long lost to the ravishes of time.

The Rip Van Winkle like nature of the priest’s ‘heaven’ may give inkling  to the original story source for this episode, as might his appearance on horse-back wielding his cross much like a knight would wield his sword.

As an other-world component of the story the Christian priest is perhaps less dramatically successful than he might be as a ‘Fairy King’ or ‘Lord of Light’ but still gives us pause for thought and contemplation as to the precise mode of consciousness his figure represents.

That’s almost all, folks…

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 ‘What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

long live the weeds and the wildness yet.’

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All photos – Sue Vincent.

All epithets – The Grateful Dead, ‘Mountains of the Moon’.

Epitaph -‘Inversnaid’, Gerard Manly Hopkins.

The Marsh King’s Daughter II…

 

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‘…The Earth will see you on through this time…’

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…There always is.

The Marsh King sinks back beneath the waters with the unnamed Egyptian Princess in his thrall.

Some time later a green shoot with a water-lily bud appears above the slime.

The bud unfurls to reveal a small girl-child.

The child is spotted by a watching Stork and is taken to a barren Viking couple who, quite naturally, are enthralled with the gift and immediately besotted with the child.

Children normally display both the physical and temperamental characteristics of their ancestors, predominantly their parents, and usually in more or less equal measure.

Here, these tendencies are pronounced.

Helga, for this is the name the Viking couple choose for her, is a beautiful girl-child during the day, albeit displaying a strong blood-thirsty streak, whilst as the sun sets she turns into a compassionate, toad-like monster!

Is the name significant?

How important is it that Helga is the only named character in the story?

Could any device be better chosen to make us consider the diurnal polarity of Day and Night and their profound affects upon our consciousness and its natural tendencies?

Cold mountain…

Warm earth…

If we are in any doubt as to what we are to make of these devices we are introduced to the somnambulistic nature of both Denmark and the nether regions of Marsh-Land later in the tale.

To make matters worse, Helga’s apparent beauty beguiles all those who gaze upon her and blinds them to the reality of her brutish day-time nature.

It is only her adoptive Viking mother who witnesses and begins to see and realise the true nature of the problem presented to both her, and by extension us, in the form and expressions displayed via the mysterious Marsh King’s Daughter.

There is more…

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The Marsh King’s Daughter…

 

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‘…Hi-ho the Carrion Crow, Fol-de-rol-de riddle…’

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Although the second longest of Anderson’s Fairy Tales, The Marsh King’s Daughter is relatively little known and perhaps, even, considered to be one of his ‘lesser’ tales.

It is a huge, sprawling epic of a yarn, which like most of his stories draws liberally from the ancient sagas, legends and folk tales which Hans imbibed in his youth.

Unlike some story tellers, although Anderson approaches the traditional devices with free reign, he never loses sight of their psychological and spiritual import and consequently, whilst sometimes apparently piling device upon device in wild profusion, there is always a satisfying, not to say, profound pay off to his seemingly more fantastical meanderings.

In these posts then, rather than retell the story, we intend to focus on aspects of the tale in order to investigate and elucidate the psychological and spiritual components of the story as a whole.

The Marsh King himself, though central to the plot, plays a comparatively minor role in the story, appearing just once, initially disguised as a tree stump.

It is a cunning disguise which gives the foul fellow the opportunity to drag an unsuspecting princess to her apparent doom beneath the marshes.

But wait, how did such a delicate, pretty one find herself on the edge of a marsh in Denmark?

She was sent from Egypt by her dying father to look for the antidote to his wasting disease.

And how did she get there?

She donned a feathered cloak and flew there as a swan.

Then, why didn’t she simply re-don the cloak and fly away when the Swamp Man revealed himself to her?

Because her jealous sisters, who had flown with her, stole her cloak and destroyed it…

Spatially, the construct is no less dazzling.

Here, as in most traditional stories the horizontal polarity of Egypt and Denmark constitutes a world and its other-realm.

The Outer, wasteland, can only be re-invigorated from the Inner depths which appear to be somewhat murky.

The healing herb reputedly grows in a bog, the domain of the Marsh King.

Already, the mix of natural metaphor and deep psychological insight  begins to weave its ancient magic.

But there is more…

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Mother Bear…

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With a total disregard for tradition we tackled our ‘just right bowl of porridge’ first .

It is strange to say, perhaps, but this particular conglomeration of, once covered but now exposed, structured stone did not, initially, feel particularly motherly.

For one thing there seemed to be a general reluctance for people to step inside.

Was this fear, awe, reverence… ?

Perhaps it was a commingling of all three emotions…

The structure does cast an illusion of wanton precariousness.

Those undressed slabs of rock together comprise an impressive sight and tonnage.

The bones of our ancestors were once interred here.

More recently it has served as a sheep shelter.

Whatever it was it was soon dispelled as we got ‘down and dirty’ in the chamber in order to read a contemporary ‘Druid Prayer’.

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There is a theory about male and female standing stones.

The broader, squatter, shorter stones being deemed female whilst the taller, thinner, longer stones are deemed male.

It struck me that if the Cap-Stone were upright it would probably be regarded as a male stone.

According to another theory the Cap-Stone would definitely be male, irrespective of whether or not it is standing, for it has seams of white-quartz running through it.

From this angle though the Cap-Stone, in its present state, looks like nothing so much as a bird skull.

Which notion may cause pause for further thought…

Was there a deeper level of symbolism at play than the familiar Womb-Tomb equation?

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There is talk in the official literature of a possible second chamber and certainly from this angle the Cap-Stone looks quite badly broken.

It would also explain the curiously lonely looking ‘stone figure’ to the right.

Whichever way one approaches the structure it is hard to shake the resemblance to a modern day coffin with pall bearers…

Except, perhaps, this one…

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The Cap-Stone possesses contours which closely resemble a distant Head-Land.

This is best seen in image one.

When the structure was covered in earth and grass this resemblance would, presumably, be even more accurate, especially if seen from a distance.

The portal ‘looks out’ across an ocean which has an island in it.

It is from this Isle, legend tells us, that St Samson flicked the stones to land and take up their present position.

So, St Samson must, at some stage in his story, have been a giant.

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Of Truth and Legend…

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‘The Silver Well: Legend says that St Augustine once visited Dorset. While there he met some shepherds grazing their flocks and asked them whether they would prefer beer or water to drink. The temperate shepherds replied ‘water’ whereupon St. Augustine struck the ground with his staff, crying, ‘Cerno El’ as the water gushed out. The words were supposedly a pun on Cernel, the old name of the village and meant ‘I perceive God.’

It is thought that the above legend was invented by the Benedictine monks of Cerne Abbey to serve as an attraction to pilgrims.
Closer to the truth perhaps is the story of St. Edwold, a member of the Mercian Royal Family who one day had a vision of a silver well. He went wandering through the countryside and when he came to Cerne he gave some silver pennies to a shepherd in return for bread and water. The shepherd then showed him a well where he could drink and St Edwold recognised it as the well of his vision. He built a small hermitage by the spring and lived there until his death in 871…’

Information Plaque, Cerne Abbas

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‘Are the monks responsible for the Legend of Silver Well such villains if they tweak the truth in order to entice pilgrims to their shrine?

People who have embarked on a Pilgrimage always get something, even if that something isn not quite what they bargained for.

And how true is the earlier story of St Edwold for that matter?

There was doubtless a hermit and a hermitage at one time.

How he actually came to be there is quite another thing altogether.’

Excerpt from, The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent