The folklore of May Day
Myth & Moor update

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Telling the Bees has just released their third album, Steer by the Stars, and it's thoroughly gorgeous. Featuring ten brilliant new songs by my friend and neighbor Andy Letcher (with bandmates Jane Griffiths, Jim Penny, Josie Webber, and Colin Fletcher), plus enchanting art by another friend and neighbor, Rima Staines, I highly recommend it to fans of innovative folk music and folkloric arts.

Please visit the Telling the Bees website for more information on the band and their work. Their name comes from the old English custom of "telling the bees" about deaths, births, marriages, and other important events in their keeper's lives. It is also the name of a classic poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.

Telling the Bees

Telling the Bees, art by Rima Staines

If I had to pick a favorite song from Steer by the Stars, it would be "A Puppeteer Came to Town" -- reminding me as it does of the puppet show below (created by Andy, Rima, my husband Howard, and artist Nomi McLeod)  -- but all of the songs are wonderful. Listen to three more pieces from the album here and you'll see what I mean.

Dreamgrubber Theatre

Dreamgrubber Theatre 2

Dreamgrubber Theatre 3"How the Hoggler Got Its Name" by DreamGrubber Theatre, Chagford

There are no videos for the new album yet, so here is "Blackbird" from two years ago. Enjoy.

Telling the Bees by Charles Napier Hemy
Art above: Telling the Bees album art by Rima Staines, and "Telling the Bees" by Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917).


Oh, thank you for all this and the references too. How I LOVE these songs, these lovely folk. I wrote to them to ask for a way to pay by check or money order and the price in American dollars with shipping but the site won't take the message. I'll find a way through to them.

Try a message through their Facebook page:

Folks, I'm a little behind in responding to comments on previous posts, and emails too. I sprained my ankle rather badly while out walking in the hills with Tilly over the weekend (getting back home again was something of an adventure) and that's caused some knock-on problems, including wooziness from pain meds, and an inability to get to my studio -- which is up a steep hill. I'll post as often as I'm able to this week, but please bear with me.

Love them, love them! I'm sure I'm not their only Tasmanian fan; they're truly magical. My sister has just ordered their latest album for my birthday, so I'm eagerly awaiting it...


Dear Terri, so sorry to hear about your mishap while walking the other day. You need to keep off the feet for awhile. A sprained ankle is no fun. Sending wishes to heal quickly with prayers.
Have thoroughly enjoyed all the wonderful photos and great books that you've been sending out over the past few weeks- so inspiring! You've given us much to read and ponder upon so it won't hurt us spoiled babies to develop a bit of patience. Blessings to you as always.....

Hi Terri

I love these songs, the tradition/lore of "telling the bees" and that classic poem by John Greenleaf Whittier. I have always been drawn to his work and this verse was just beautiful!.

I am sorry to hear of your sprained ankle! Please rest and take care of it. Meds can make one dizzy, whoosy and even nausea. I hope this ailment's pain subsides and you mend quickly!! I send you my positive thoughts and prayers!!

My Best

Please heal quickly, Terri. Sprained ankles are no joke!

If you haven't read 'Strandloper' by Alan Garner, I think you'll find it interesting. The connection with bees comes in toward the back of the book. ;-) Reading is a good occupation while healing!


I hope the ankle heals quickly. Personally speaking I find that getting the balance right in these circumstances is a delicate act of precision; the injury/illness has to be bad enough to justify doing nothing, but not so bad that you can't enjoy being pampered by everyone around you while you convalesce.

Incidentally Clare tells me that I'm the worst sort of patient; 'a grumpy old warthog' were the exact words used.


Please take care of yourself. I sprained my ankle once years ago while in Boston and had to get myself home to Chicagoland. I empathize. Interestingly, my doc told me to walk on it because they'd found it was better than not. But, I'd say, follow whatever your doc says to do. If you're allowed hot packing some, maybe an epsom salt soak would help. I certainly think it can't hurt.

Be well.

Telling Off the Bees

I tell them, stop with all that buzz,
no one asked you to share.
I tell them, go shave off that fuzz,
I'd like to see you bare.
I tell them, sting--you'll get a slap,
besides, you will be dead.
I tell them, give me sweets not crap,
preferring to be fed.

©2015 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Just loved the tradition and idea of "Telling The Bees" along with the lore of the Hawthorne tree/blossoms and Beltane Fires. A mix of thoughts came to mind when contemplating May and the emergence of the May blossom or Hawthorne flower including the 19th century writer of "The Scarlet Letter" and his character of the impish child.

May Blossom

You were born the day after
we lit pyres, each hive
of golden sparks
told what they must cleanse.

You were born the day after
we hung wreaths
blessing the womb
of earth and woman.

You were born the day after
bundled in leaves,
Pearl blossom
( of the scarlet berry)

sylvan child,
spawn of Hawthorne's mind.

Best to everyone,

Hi Jane

A Big "Grin" -- this is delightful with its tone and wit!

tell them, sting--you'll get a slap,
besides, you will be dead.
I tell them, give me sweets not crap,
preferring to be fed.

that's what I would also say to them.
Thank you for sharing this!


Hi Terri

I send you my wishes and prayers for continual healing and the lessening of any pain. Take care and rest!


For a time I felt as if I were the queen of the sprained ankle, 3 in 4 years. Air braces are remarkably helpful, as they massage and support the ankle when you begin to walk again. Holding healing thoughts for you!

OOOOOO, gorgeous, , bundled in leaves. Yum.


Thanks so much Jane!!

I really appreciate your thoughtfulness!! Wish we had some Hawthorne trees blooming here in Sothern California but we do have the yellow, flowering palo verde trees. And I have grown quite fond of them, too!

My Best

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