Skelling, Skeklers and Guising. Exploring Liminality – Celebrating Scottish Folk Magic and Community Traditions

by Scott
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Join the Taibhsear Collective, (the folks who brought you “Dreaming Bread and Skyrie Stanes” in 2018), for “Skelling, Skeklers and Guising. Exploring Liminality– celebrating Scottish folk magic and traditions” on the 23rd and 24th of November 2019 – Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh.

Accommodating your feedback from last year’s event we have spread the merriment over two days to allow a more relaxed pace. 

Have a look below for the full programme!

Saturday 23rd November

Saturday evening will be dedicated to music, story, dance and song as we gather around the community fireside with gifted musicians and tellers. Guiding us into a night time filled with the wonder felt when we sing and celebrate the thin liminal places of Scotland.

Our journey through the weekend starts with short form stories from up and coming story tellers from across Scotland curated and hosted by Amanda Edmiston. They will spin us tales of Samhuinn and guising – helping to arm you with some knowledge of why Scotland’s liminal places are both a blessing and a curse! 

Then follow us into the main theatre for music from Burd Ellen and some incredible guest musicians invited to join us by Debbie Armour (Burd Ellen). Debbie and Amanda (Botanica Fabula) will also be giving you an exclusive taste of our next Taibhsear Collective recording project!

The night will wrap up at 10pm and with a “good wish”; we will send you home and look forward to seeing you all again on Sunday morning. 

Tickets for this as a stand-alone event are £15. There is a discount available for combined booking with Sunday

Sunday 24th November

On Sunday we continue our celebratory theme and welcome you for a day filled with workshops, tales, presentations and performance.

The Taibhsear Collective offer you a warm welcome when the day kicks off at 10am. (Though we encourage you to arrive early to sign up for the workshops and take advantage of the in-house café). Amanda, Debbie and Scott (Cailleach’s Herbarium) will open the day and explain how things will work in their own inimitable styles. 

Tickets for Sunday are available here .

Speakers so far include :

The stalwart and engaging Professor Terry Gunnell will be helping us understand the links we share through the lens of Christmas Goats, Grýla, Grulicks and Skeklers: Shetland Guising Traditions and their Nordic and Gaelic Connections. Professor Gunnell will discuss the basic features of the various types of guising which took place in Shetland, based on written records and the wide range of interviews forming part of his fieldwork in Shetland (which he hopes will form the basis of a book in the next few years). The focus will not be so much on Up-Helly-Aa as on the rural traditions relating to Halloween and New Year that lay behind it. Consideration will also be given to the background of the traditions, and particularly their close relationship to Nordic and Gaelic guising traditions and the folk beliefs associated with them.  

The wonderful and dedicated Brian Hoggard, author of the book Magical House Protection – The Archaeology of Counter Witchcraft, will present on exploring protective magic and how we keep ourselves safe from witches and other things that go “bump in the night”. Brian will discuss the evidence of witchcraft beliefs which have been discovered in the fabric of buildings throughout Britain and far beyond. Objects such as witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, written charms and markings which have been carved onto surfaces are all testimony to these strong the beliefs which were once commonplace. 

Dee-Dee Chainey from Folklore Thursday, author, renowned member of the folklore twitterati, and all-round amazing person will be presenting on Journeying into the Otherworld: Death Rituals in Scotland, from the Merry to the Macabre. Dee-Dee will talk about how we have feared and revered death since time began. Conjuring beliefs and tales of the afterlife and constructing rituals and customs. To ease the passing of the spirit into the Otherworld and soothe the grief of the loved ones left behind. Dee-Dee will explore rites and traditions surrounding death across Scotland, from the rituals of prehistory still shrouded in mystery, to the strange and unusual customs of more recent times.

Similar to last years shenanigans the presentations will be interspersed with performances from gifted tellers, bringing the key themes of the day to life.

A range of workshops will be facilitated throughout the day drawing on these main themes with chances to craft, create, converse and learn more about Scottish folk magic, tradition, lore and practices as they stand today. 

Artist Input

Throughout the 2 day event you will also be able to see a specially curated selection of artwork dealing in our themes of disguise, transformation and liminality.  

Our artists include; highly respected Scottish painter Karen Strang, who has spent years engaging passionately and directly with the history of witchcraft in Scotland, Gemma Dagger who has created a fascinating and evocative photographic study of the Shetland tradition of skekling, and Julia Jeffrey an illustrator and tarot artist, drawing inspiration from Scotland’s well of magic. There will also be an interview and Q & A with the artists.

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louise watt 10th September 2019 - 3:11 pm

Just a wee bit of information that you’ve got my film linked up there (Clutching at Straws). Nice to see it on the website and happy for you to post it here, but it would be good to know if you also intend to show it at your event. Thanks

Scott 11th September 2019 - 12:49 pm

Hey Louise, Thanks for getting in touch. i’ve emailed you directly :)


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