During lockdown I told a Shetland folktale every night of the week, and I am currently storytelling online three nights a week. I have yet to repeat a story for repetition’s sake. All this time I've been finding a new tale every day.
I once heard that the late Shetland storyteller Lawrence Tulloch kent over 2,000 different Shetland folktales. At first I couldn't even imagine how there were so many; but with every passing day, learning a new tale, I can begin to understand just how many stories we have. There are so many more tales than I had ever expected, numerous spells and enchantments as well as so many different kinds of creatures.
Have you ever heard of the Filgee, the unseen entity that sings your song of death; or the Mukkelevi, a terrifying being that rises from the sea only ever kept at bay by our oldest deity Sea Midder? The stories don't just show the magical aspects of our home, but the historical as well. They explain practices in fishing, crofting and even courting. They show the same humour that has kept us going over times of hardships, through harsh winters and even in the face of death.
Over the course of the hairst (autumn) and winter I'll be sharing a story a month, each one tying in somewhat to the time of year it is shared.
From the story of the Fisherman Ertie and the Finnieman's wager, as Ertie desperately tries to go fishing before Yül (Christmas). Or the story set just before Christmas itself, Sigurd O' Gord, when Sigurd is taken by the trows on Tulya's E'en, a night were trows are given permission to leave their dwellings under the hill and walk upon the ground as we do.