Mudcat Café message #2207332 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #106626   Message #2207332
Posted By: Anne Lister
03-Dec-07 - 02:44 AM
Thread Name: Songs for the Winter Solstice
Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
Les, I wish I could follow the way your mind works. There's no question of "weighing" the volume of written evidence in Ron Hutton's book against my friend's family living tradition - I can't imagine for the life of me what good that would do, even if it was possible, as you're not comparing like with like. It is, however, important when you read a book like "Stations of the Sun" to recognise that all it can record is written evidence, and that there are numerous traditions in everyday life that will never feature in such a book. One simple example is birthday cakes - anyone got any idea when the trad started or why? Even if you could pin down the very first written account of the cake or recipe for one it wouldn't tell you when the custom actually started. Written evidence only ever exists when the tradition in question either caused some civil or criminal disturbance or when it cost (normally public) money. The ordinary, everyday stuff doesn't feature. My friend's traditions are, as far as they're concerned, the ordinary, everyday stuff - more exotic to my mind than birthday cakes, but not to them. The dialogue with Hutton happened because a number of us were puzzled as to why he was adamant that the written evidence was somehow the whole story about traditions, and it clearly can't be. I understand the problem with authenticating oral traditions, but I can't understand his refusal to even ask detailed questions when he had the possibility of doing so.

Sedayne, I think we are using the word "pagan" with very different meanings. For me (and I think for most people who would use the word to describe themselves) it is all about an essential connectedness to the wider natural world, which rather rules out your chip shop and night club queues in Lytham St Anne's. As to your scepticism about my friend's family - quite honestly, it doesn't bother me at all either way. I know them, you don't. Simple as that. Am I going to discuss their traditions in detail on a public forum such as this? No - for the very good reason that it's not my family tradition to pass on. It has survived five generations by being passed down orally, and I would need permission from her family to (a) write it down and (b) pass it on. I could use legal terms like intellectual property, but it's mainly a question of ethics. I brought her family up in the first place to illustrate how we don't, actually, know the full story about traditional knowledge even on this small archipelago. Her family exists and other families might well do so too. Her family has no contact with or interest in folk music - her own line of business is high powered software solutions, incidentally - so it's unlikely that many Mudcatters would ever meet her.

If you have a specific question, feel free to pm me, but bear in mind I will also feel free not to answer it if I feel it goes beyond what I have a right to say.