I have always been the keeper of my family’s stories so it’s not surprising that folklore from different countries would fascinate me. According to my good friend, Webster Dictionary, folklore is a community's traditional beliefs, customs, and stories passed through the generations by word of mouth. It reminds me of the messaging game I used to play as a child, where the first player comes up with a message and whispers it to the ear of the second person. This message is repeated until the last player is reached, and somehow the message never comes out like the original. Let's hope that folklore stays true to the first message. I've discovered that October doesn't have a monopoly on creepy and scary traditions and folklore. September has its own. It is a time for the Harvest and Corn moons, where farmers called reapers would use the light from the moon to keep working in the fields. Across many cultures, it's a time when the world begins to "die," and people are more concerned about how it will be reborn. The folklore of the Grim Reaper, depicted in drawings with a sharp scythe, has been a symbol of Death, harvesting humanity for centuries. Children were warned not to enter the cornfields at night because Death was there waiting for them. That was one way to keep them at home.
Feldgeister or Korndamonen are corn spirits from German folklore. Feldgeister could also be wind spirits causing lightning and rain. It is said that some Feldgeisters are shaped like animals, and some are in human form. The farmers would leave the last grain and tree fruits as a sacrifice for these agricultural spirits. As the corn-spirit flees deeper into the fields at the end of harvest, it will eventually be trapped. Either it is killed by cutting the grain heads, threshing the corn, or it is brought to the village ceremonially, shaped as a corn doll. It is said that direct contact with the Feldgeist can also cause illness.
It is interesting how spooky legends and traditions came around the time of Harvest. Many involved the grain itself and the practice of preserving some of it to last through the winter. In England, most of the grain was referred to as corn, even if it wasn't maize. I finally understand the corn dollies. These beautiful corn dollies were made to house the spirit of the grain throughout the winter, and were usually placed dressed, fed, and burned the next year after a successful harvest.
As a young girl, my family had many international friends, and I loved hearing their stories and folklore. It was fun becoming wide-eyed and frightened by La Llorona from the Latin American countries. She was the Weeping Woman. Some believed her to be a ghost or an immortal wanderer, not dead but not alive either. One night with friends from Mexico, I was told that if Llorona sees you from afar, she will pursue you, terrifying you as you race home. Sometimes she appears riding a horse or in a horse-drawn wagon, warning you against bad behavior before disappearing. In some stories, if you see her, it could be fatal. The first night I heard of the Weeping Woman, the desert wind of Tucson, Arizona, was howling outside. What an impression it made on my young mind. The best part of being scared was that I was safe inside my house with a family that loved me. Children need to hear stories, not necessarily scary ones but stories about life's struggles that hold adventure and excitement, and it is in the magic of story that life’s lessons appear and stay with the child throughout their life.