Jonet and the Bear

Woodcut from History of the Northern Peoples by Olaus Magnus, 1555

I thought that given the current state of things, with all of us confined and waiting, It might be more useful to have a sort of bedtime story.  During this time of uncertainty those of us who are self employed and who also have multiple chronic illnesses are really feeling the potential stress of the Stay at Home order.  In response, I have written a fairy tale for my patrons based on the traditional Shetland tale, Jan and the Bear. You can hear me read this story and have a copy of it to read at your leisure by joining my Patreon here at any level.

There are many strange stories of bears in the North of Scotland where they are not native. These stories involve mostly polar bears captured and brought in on whaling ships and they are as disturbing as the witch trials. One story is as recent as the 70s. Locals in Banff, the village where I live, have told me about a man who would perform wrestling matches with a trained bear. He would even perform in local schools, and this is something those in their fifties remember seeing as children. In one version I have heard, the bear eats the man. In my imagination, these captive bears started to take on a certain kinship with the women I have been researching. Maybe this was the force driving this version of Jan and the Bear. I have changed it up, removing the animal cruelty and switching out the stubborn man Jan for an old woman. Her smeddum, or hard-headed common sense, is central to the tale.

 

“The Cailleach of the Borehole” at The Bottle Imp

19th Century photo of the Witches Stone of Dornoch

My piece on the witches stone of Dornoch, “The Cailleach of the Borehole,” is published in The Bottle Imp, the online journal of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies. You can read it here: https://www.thebottleimp.org.uk/2019/12/the-cailleach-of-the-borehole/

This is part of the larger project I’m working on at the moment, writing about the witches monuments of Scotland. You can read more about that project at my Patreon Page.

Thank You Patrons!

I’ve been writing up my field notes to Witches Monuments throughout Scotland, up at my Patreon. I’ve made a video to thank my patrons for all their amazing support. Making this video was way out of my comfort zone but I help it gives a suitable signal boost to my gratitude.

New Patreon Page

I love DIY culture, and owe much of my life to its ethos. For years I have supported artists I admire on Patreon, which embodies the ethos but is even better as it creates community around creators. It’s a website that lets you support artists and writers and in exchange you get an exclusive look at their work before it goes out into the world. I have been building my Patreon page for a while and finally decided to launch it today, at the May full moon.  I will be adding weekly updates about my creative process as well as monthly poems, short fiction or non fiction pieces inspired by folklore, witchcraft and the wild landscape.  I hope you will join me on this journey.