This is a story of a cheerful, fearless farmhand named Fred who lived in the Fens, the marshy, bogs of East Anglia. He was at home in himself and on the land, and that attracted the jealousy of the other young men on the farm. This story, inspired by a tale called "The Syleham Lamps," collected in Kirsty Hartsiotis’s Suffolk Folk Tales, features the mysterious will-o'-the-wisps, the mysterious marsh lights that appear over the bogs of the Fens in eastern England.
Robyn Watt is an animist teacher and practitioner in the traditions of the British Isles. She offers programs for somatic nature connection, and soul and ancestor-tending in the field of the animist healing arts.
After moving to Canada from the UK, Robyn navigated the experience of grieving for her homeland by reclaiming the ancient animist cosmologies of her ancestry. Through this, she came into the work of guiding others who also long to reconnect to their ancestral wisdom traditions from far away.
Find Robyn at sacredearthgrove.com, in her online community oursacredcircles.com & on Instagram @sacred.earth.grove
- Robyn begins with an invocation of the ancestors and the land as she tells a story inspired by the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk, where she grew up and where her family has lived for centuries.
- What it means to live in North America and feel the call back to ancestral homelands. Robyn describes it as a wounding but also considers the gift of reconnection that follows the pain of disconnection.
- Animism upholds the sentience and aliveness of the world. It is rooted in the ancient understanding that the world can and wants to communicate with us is something that many modern people know in their bones, even before they know the word. Animism is a powerful way to cope with environmental crisis and climate anxiety.
- The perennial struggle of nature versus civilization, as embodied by Fred and his struggle with the other stable boys
- Disney brought the will o’ the wisps to popular consciousness in the movie Brave. As imperfect as Disney is, there’s magic in the way modern retellings give us access to the ancient in a vital way
- The Fens were also home to Queen Boudicca’s Iceni tribe
- Resources and sources of inspiration: artist and author Katie Holton’s work with the Ardee Bog in County Louth; Francis Pryor’s book The Fens: Discovering England's Ancient Depths; Philip Pullman’s novel The Secret Commonwealth.
- The scientific explanation for the marshlights or “ignis fatuus”: they are created by the oxidation of gasses produced by organic decay that cause photon emissions. But also… it’s magic!
Music at the start of the show is by Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy, a Celtic Fiddle and multi-instrumental duo based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The traditional Irish reel we play at the start of the show is called "The College Groves." billyandbeth.com
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