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Blood, Blots and Belonging: English Heathens and their (ab)uses of folklore

Smith, Kate


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Dr Kate Smith
Knowledge Exchange Fellow In Flood and Society


Matthew Cheeseman

Carina Hart


The rise of exclusionary, populist ideologies in the post-industrial Global North is a well-documented phenomenon: posing moral and physical challenges to civil society, manifestations of these ideologies occur in a diverse range of European localities. A strong commonality between these local expressions is the recourse to both the context and the content of folklore and folklore scholarship. This chapter considers the deployment of folklore by English, ethnonationalist, neo-Pagan communities as they gain confidence and claim legitimacy as recognised religious organisations. Part of this claim rests on the construction of a traditional cosmology, one feature of which is the observance of calendar customs. Examination of the way in which a range of folkloric calendar customs is used to create their model of a ‘traditional’ year traces the historical development of the English, ethnonationalist, Pagan ritual year focusing in particular on the rituals associated with Plough Monday. In its incorporation of socially progressive and politically regressive discourses, English ethnonationalist spirituality presents a compelling challenge and field of study for folklorists, geographers and other scholars of nation and identity.


Smith, K. (2021). Blood, Blots and Belonging: English Heathens and their (ab)uses of folklore. In M. Cheeseman, & C. Hart (Eds.), Folklore and the Nation (262-278). New York: Routledge.

Online Publication Date Aug 30, 2021
Publication Date Aug 31, 2021
Deposit Date Sep 17, 2021
Publicly Available Date Mar 1, 2023
Publisher Routledge
Pages 262-278
Series Title Routledge Studies in Cultural History
Book Title Folklore and the Nation
Chapter Number 16
ISBN 9780367440961
Public URL
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Accepted manuscript (119 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2021 The author.<br /> This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Folklore and the Nation on 30th August 2021, available online:

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