Myths and Folklore

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Why are Myths Important?

When one reads about the ghosts of Devon, or about its myths in general, it's hard to ignore the degree to which mythology has impacted its culture.  Each ghost story or legend flags up a new one, some oft reported, and some one-time anecdotes of specters or pixies.  The spirit (if you’ll pardon the pun) and atmosphere of myth permeates and penetrates the walls of even the youngest and most secular places in Devon.

When one observes the landscapes and cultures of Devon, it is not surprising to see this level of interest and concern in the supernatural.  It is such a pervasive part of this part of the world and its understanding of itself.  To see just how clearly these stories build, layer, and perpetuate, one needs only put on the hat of an anthropologist, and follow in the footsteps of earlier folklorists.

Folklore is important for a variety of reasons.  It ties a people together, and ties those people to the place or places they live and work.  The perpetuation and distillation of stories like that of the Hairy Hands create shared cultural memories and experiences, which help to tie people together.  Sometimes, it can be as practical as a story that was made to amuse, or a cautionary tale for young children, to deter them from walking into the woods alone, but other times, a myth can encapsulate or preserve the mindset of an entire culture, talk about their anxieties, their fears, or the things they celebrate.  This is why in some way, though you can never cover every variation of every myth, each bit of legend is vital for understand a place and its people, and how those things intermingle and grow.

Certainly, this is what folklorists such as Devon’s own Sabine Baring-Gould postulate, and what we do as well.

Authored by Emily Daluga, Alana Gale, and Alex Kirshy


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Ghosts header image in the public domain