The Importance of Folklore
Once, long ago but still when the world was an old place, there were no stories, for they all belonged to Nyan-Konpon, the sky god.
One day, Anansi the spider went to Nyan-Konpon, hoping to buy some stories, to which the sky god asked the spider whether or not he could afford them. Anansi told the sky god that he was certain he could meet the cost. Then Nyan-Konpon asked how. Many great towns had sought to buy his stories and even they couldn’t afford them, not even one. How could this little spider hope to buy them? And then he told Anansi the price: if Anansi wanted the stories, then he was to capture and bring to him Python, Leapord and Hornet. Nobody had ever been able to catch them before, and the sky god was sure that Anansi would be no different.
But Anansi had his tricks.
First, he went to Python, where he doubted aloud Python’s true length, after all, he couldn’t possibly be as long as this branch Anansi had found. Proud Python agreed to lie along side the branch to test who was the longest but it wasn’t easy because Python couldn’t straighten himself properly, and so clever Anansi suggested Python be tied to the stick, and that way, they would be able to see which was longer. As soon as Python was tied to the branch, Anansi took him to the sky god.
Next, Anansi went to where Leopard liked to hunt. To catch Leopard, Anansi dug a hole in the ground. When Leopard fell into it, Anansi was there to help him out with his sticky spiderweb, but alas, Leopard was soon entangled, and so it was that Anansi took him to the sky god too.
Finally Anansi went to find Hornet. He filled a calabash with water and poured it over a banana leaf so that Hornet thought it was raining. Ready to help, Anansi was there and told Hornet to get into the empty calabash where he would be safe and dry. When Hornet was inside, Anansi quickly sealed the opening and took Hornet to the sky god, after which the sky gods stories became Anansi Spider’s stories, and that is what we still call them to this day, and how the world came to be filled with stories.
Stories have always been important to me. Even from being a little kid, I would have my head buried in a book, so I suppose my love of folklore is an extension of that.
The Anansi stories hold a special place in my heart, what with my family, or at least the paternal side, hailing from the Caribbean. But there’s another important aspect to not only the Anansi stories, but most folk stories, generally speaking of course. Many of them come from the common people. These stories are born from the shared struggle against the harshness of life. If we take the story above, we see the small spider outwitting those deemed stronger and more powerful than himself, and taking the reward for himself. And what of the reward? Stories? What good are they, you may well ask, but stories shape our world, our perception of it, and ourselves within that world. Stories inspire the worst, but also the best in people. Yes, stories are powerful things indeed, and folk stories even more so. They are the voices of generations past, each one’s voice mingling and adding to what came before, adding a richness to the cloth of the story, gilding it, each generation weaving the next thread, creating a tapestry of knowledge.
What will we add to ours?
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!
You can follow Emma on Facebook.