All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine


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Francisco Goya Was Right: The Sleep of Reason Breeds Monsters

Francisco Goya’s masterpiece

Last night I had a nightmare hideous beyond measure. I was somewhere back in my birth state of Iowa, having finally found a measure of financial security enough to buy and renovate an old farmhouse and barn to the witchy cottage I have always wanted–room for my books, my skulls, my herbs, my shrines, and a garden or four. After a day of basking in the sun while harvesting lavender and sage, and a visit from my daughters and grandsons, I was taking a nap on the front porch in my hammock.

You know how some nightmares go like horror movies, where the you that is dreaming can see much more of what’s going on than the you in the dream? The me having the dream watched while my kids made dinner and my grandsons played in the living room, and I began to see enormous spiders the size of fists, with poison stingers as well as fangs, as they started to emerge from the nooks and crannies of the house, along with centipedes as long and thick as king snakes, hornets the size of golf balls, and scorpions as big as cats. I woke from my hammock as a centipede slithered over my toes. I started screaming and went to jump down only to see that the porch was covered in creepy-crawlies.

My feet were bare. I was wearing a skirt.

I jumped down anyway, rushing to scream for the girls and grab up my grandkids. One of my daughters kept wanting to grab her purse and I knew there was a rattlesnake in it, I kept telling her to put it down. There were rats pushing books off the shelves with their bodies, big as German shepherd puppies, and the ground outside the house was a churning, writhing sea of hard, shiny, glistening black arthropod bodies and slithering glossy scales.

There was someone else in the house. I don’t know who. My age or a little older in appearance, with a white beard. Originally I thought it was my friend Chris, but then he slammed down a wooden walking stick and the ground quaked, ripping open, swallowing creatures whole.

That’s when I woke.

…no more dreams, please? If that was you, Old Man, I get the metaphor. You were there to save me and all I hold dear.


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Folk process or cultural appropriation

Druid Life

Last week I wrote about the right to be creative within your own folk tradition. Morgan Daimler flagged up to me that I need to tackle the other side, too – what happens when we mess about with other people’s traditions. Taking other people’s traditions, writing into them, or over them and presenting that as genuine material can have the effect of wiping out the tradition, not keeping it alive. How do you tell the difference?

Your relationship with the tradition is key here. If we’re talking about your culture, your family background, or the place you’ve lived your whole life as a participant not a coloniser, then you are someone who is inside the traditions around you. They are your traditions.

There are plenty of non-white British people engaging with British folk traditions, and that’s also fine. It’s important not to let this idea of who owns the tradition…

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