‘A Sylvan Yule’ A magical blend of live music, original and traditional tales, folklore and festive sparkle

Amanda Edmiston Botanica Fabula: Posted on 17 December 2015 15:53

Just before I explore the tree stories, land legends and folklore that inspired it…12241307_947995271913599_7845544575851257089_n-1

I’m going to shamelessly plug next weeks lovely new session!

Join us at 4pm on the 21st of December 2015 at the Secret Herb Garden near Edinburgh for a festive storytelling session with Amanda Edmiston and musician Louise Cairns entitled ‘A Sylvan Yule’ A magical blend of live music, original and traditional tales, folklore and festive sparkle with writer and Storyteller Amanda Edmiston


and musician Louise Cairns


and their new Yuletime performance. A session that travels through a slumbering winter wood, gathering together the traditions and stories behind six Scottish trees. Amanda and Louise’s last four events with us have sold out and been hugely well received:

” I really enjoyed the show – really different and it worked well I thought. Amanda was really engaging and I loved the mix of words and music. The piano music was beautiful. It was a lovely way to spend a Friday night” A teatime event for all ages. A glass of mulled apple juice or a mug of tea and a mince pie are included in the ticket price. £7.50 general admission price. Babes in arms go free! Tickets available now via Eventbrite here or at the shop/cafe or by calling 0131 445 5888.

IMG_2886I live near a beautiful community woodland, created on the site of an old quarry, now pathways, ponds and balletic birch provide a habitat for birds and wildlife, food for foragers, a peaceful place for contemplative walks, a energetic wild space for children, dogs and activities and a magical place where if you listen carefully and are have an open heart and can believe in stories you can maybe just maybe hear trees whisper and sing.

It is said when night and day are the same length at Yule that the trees can whisper and sing…across Northern countries many stories tell that trees whisper ‘if you care for us we’ll care for you’ and as far as I know this is true, but each has a fairy tale that you can hear if you follow that advice and have a listening ear, if you care for a tree I’ll share it with you.
I even adapted a story about one such tale and made it into a wee book a few years ago which you can still get in time for Christmas here: Euan and the Elder: http://www.botanicafabula.co.uk/Products.html

There’s something very evocative about a Birch wood, the trunks gracefully sway and tremble you can easily see how Nordic folklore about dancing faeries came to be when you watch a Winter Birch tree grace a purple December sky.

I love the fungi that develops alongside Birch, favourite of Finland and flying reindeer Fly Agaric adore Birch but it’s also a creator of fairy rings and the beautiful Elf steps in the picture above.

And of course as I wove together tree stories for my new Yule session with the most mesmeric enchanting music from Louise Cairns for The Secret herb garden I had to bring in the equinox trials between the Winter Holly King and the Summer Oak King.

Featured in Cad Goddeu The Battle of the Trees, the  medieval Welsh poem preserved in 14th century manuscript known as the Book of Taliesan. The poem tells of  a traditional story in which the legendary enchanter Gwydion animates the trees of the forest to fight as his army.

Holly it was tinted green he was the hero.

The oak, quickly moving,

Before him, tremble heaven and earth.

A valiant door-keeper against an enemy,

I tied it in symbolically with the old story of the seasonal  change at longest night and the battle fought between winter and summer

then made the kings turn back into trees and stand guardians of a wood full of stories..

the pathway leads past Tara in Ireland

In an archive in Edinburgh lies leaves of books full of land lore, legends of place: The Dinnsenchas, they hold stories of Ireland and some pathways through our interconnected Scottish mythology. One of these ancient tales shared around fires for centuries before but written it’s believed 500 years ago tells of a magical being who arrived at Tara with a branch… bearing acorns, apples, hazelnuts to feed fish that would hold all the worlds knowledge, hawthorn berries to heal hearts and Ash keys to open enchanted doorways. As this curious figure shook the magical branch, these five trees took root across five lands, sentient arboreal guardians of place. (c)AmandaEdmiston2015

and into the very heart of the forest to hear the stories of a tree many of us hold dear, the tree that for many cultures for thousands of years has held the promise that Spring will return, the star graced , resinous scented, evergreen glory that is the Pine.

IMG_3072Pines singing of Springs return, well they were set alight long long ago in a town called  Riga and Yule logs have warmed toes and hearts for thousands of years, the history behind our use of candles and lights to decorate maybe? And tree decorating happens all over Britain and much of northern Europe from clooty trees that grant wishes to revered apple trees at harvest left with gilded fruit to encourage fresh growth next year.

One winter’s night in 1536, so one version goes, Martin Luther was walking through a pine forest near his home in Wittenberg when he suddenly looked up and saw thousands of stars glinting jewel-like among the branches of the trees. This wondrous sight inspired him to set up a candle-lit fir tree in his house that Christmas to remind his children of the starry heavens as a connection to the Christian story of Christmas that he held dear. It is said that as friend of Queen Charlotte he introduced her to the decorated tree, first a Yew branch was used, then later the pine…and brought to Britain by Queen Victoria’s husband prince Albert.

But I know another story I hear it whispered by our trees as we weave our way deeper into the forest…(c)Amanda Edmiston2015

But to hear that…well for now you’ll just have to come along on Monday and let me lead you into our Sylvan Yule!

IMG_0694If we don’t see you there then I hope you have a very balanced and beautiful Yule and a Happy Christmas and Amazing New Year … Amanda xx

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