ireby folk festival
the lie of the land by andy letcher
The Lie of the Land - Andy Letcher


This year our neighbours have pulled out all the stops with the Christmas lights. They’ve festooned their roof with so many glowing figures and flashing LEDs that I’m half expecting the arrival of wise men from the East. Along with the usual secular Christmas imagery of holly, reindeer and felicitous wishes (spelled out in Dickensian copperplate) t...more


A Visit to the Witchcraft Museum

The idyllic fishing village of Boscastle, situated by a natural harbour on the north coast of Cornwall, is famous for two things: the flash floods of 2004 that dramatically washed half of it away (thankfully without loss of life), and its museum, the Museum of Witchcraft. The latter, which only just survived the deluge, will be well known to all lo...more


A Visit to the Witchcraft Museum - part two

Next, there are objects from learned or ‘high magic’, a tradition that extends back as far as Late Antiquity. Here the magus employs symbolically charged paraphernalia - robes, swords, wands, special incenses, etc. - in dramatic and complex rituals to manipulate both natural and supernatural forces so as to effect change, both in the outer and inne...more


A Field in England

According to the jurist and polymath John Selden (1584-1654), there ‘never was a merry world since the fairies left off dancing and the parson left conjuring.’ If by some act of holy conjuration he’d been able to see Ben Wheatley’s dark, psychedelic costume drama, A Field in England, I think he’d have thought we were right to leave fairies and magi...more


May Morning

May Morning in Oxford is a rare and wonderful thing. Records suggest that people have been celebrating the arrival of spring here since tudor times, when a Queen of the May was paraded through the town by militiamen, morris dancers and men dressed as women (see, it’s traditional). In the seventeenth century, John Aubrey noted that ‘boys do blow cow...more


The Mummers Play

I must admit I’ve come to dread the onset of the festive season. I resent the arrival of tinsel and mince pies before the first sparklers of Bonfire Night have even been lit. I get mardy about the barrage of supermarket adverts promising to make our Christmases ‘easier’ even as they trick us into buying more stuff. I despise the sickly syrup of Chr...more


The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

As a creature of summer, the arrival of autumn always brings a certain sadness. The days might still be bright and warm but damp in the morning and the evening chill herald the sun’s decline. The hope of an Indian summer recedes and the reality of living on a damp island sinks in once again. But over the years I’ve developed a set of seasonal habit...more


lucy ward

gilmore & roberts on tour
bridget marsden and leif ottosson
telling the bees

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The Lie of the Land

Andy Letcher investigates the Folk, Folklore and curious customs of the British Isles...
About Andy Letcher:

andy letcher A writer and a folk musician, Andy is the author of the acclaimed 'Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom' and has published a range of articles and academic papers on subjects as diverse as psychedelics, paganism, shamanism and evolution.

A modern day troubadour, he plays mandolin, writes songs, and fronts darkly crafted folk band, Telling the Bees. A leading exponent of the English Bagpipes, he plays for brythonic dancing in a darkbeat trio called Wod, and in a duo with hurdy-gurdy maestro, Cliff Stapleton.

telling the bees
jamie smiths mabon on tour