by Rose Lewis


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Many years ago in a kingdom rather different than this one, there lived an old wise woman known for her expertise in magic spells. When the Queen was unable to have children, she took to the woods, making the long journey from her castle to this wise woman’s cottage to seek her guidance. “In the forest near my cottage,” said the wise woman, “you will find two flowers, one fair and one rare. Only eat the fair flower, no matter how good it tastes.” The queen, coming upon these flowers but forgetting her words, ate both, and in due time had twins. The first daughter was biddable and beautiful, while the second was a trifle eccentric, habitually carrying a wooden spoon, and known to the family and all who saw her as Tatterhood after her unusual choice in clothing. All went well in the kingdom until one Christmas, when the castle was overrun by demons! They scared away the king’s knights, made havoc in the castle, and turned the older daughter into a goat! Tatterhood, unafraid of their wiles, chased them out of the castle with her wooden spoon and set out with her sister in goat form to find a cure, and that is where our portion of the story ends.

Artist’s Note on Tatterhood

Tatterhood is a Norwegian folktale that I first encountered in the story collection of the same name edited by Ethel Johnston Phelps. Taxonomically, it is an Arne-Thompson Type 711 with an added Motif D732, in other words a tale of a plucky, weird-looking gal who does as she chooses in contrast to her more conventional peers. Goats, depicted here with gratitude to Eadweard Muybridge, appear in every retelling of the story I’ve come across, and I’m happy to foretell Capricorn season with this ode to their stubborness, ingenuity, and distinctive beauty.

Rose Lewis

Rose Lewis is an artist, musician, and collector of arcane knowledge currently based in Portland, Oregon. Her interest in world folklore has led her along strange paths.