Guest Author - Jacqueline Suffolk
The many mysteries in this world depend on the powers of our imagination and our need to understand our surroundings and unexplained events. Folklore tales were a way of explaining, what was, at that moment in time, not understood. Today, we donít believe in Giants, but in past times, tales about giants would have explained strange happenings, trees blown over or odd rock formations. How did they get there? How were they shaped? By Giants of course?
Our forebears were no less credulous than we are today, but we have the advantage of great advances in science, which answer many of the questions, but more mysteries seem to pop up as we explore our world and universe.
Some beliefs have stood the test of time, Ghosts for example, even though it stands to reason that they cannot exist, it gives us some comfort that there are still many things that cannot be explained and that we donít understand.
Behind some of our superstitions lie explanations of our pre Christian beliefs. Touching wood for luck for example, dates back to pagan times, when trees were revered and believed to have spirits. In recent history, the superstition of not walking under a ladder and dates to the times when a condemned man was hung. The man had to climb a ladder up to the gallows. The ladder was twisted away from him and the man fell to the end of the rope and was hung.
Over time, tales overlapped and intertwined and their origins became very blurred. Over the centuries, when an area was invaded the local population was enslaved. The slaves in turn would tell, the invaders children, tales of their past and the gods they worshipped, these stories would be remembered, mixed and altered to suit the times. The next generations, exaggerated these rich cultural tales to both frighten and entertain their children.
A single source may have developed into many different strands, for example, Odin, the Norse god of the dead. Though his name changed throughout history, his role didnít. He was thought of as the Devil, the ghost of Herod. In Scotland he was known as Woden, in some parts as Wild Edric or even the great King Arthur himself.
Even in these modern enlightened times, there are urban tales in the making, ghostly hitch-hikers and silent, phantom trucks gliding past on the highways. It may be our turn to record these tales for future generations.