If you don’t know me personally, you probably wouldn’t know that I have a little obsession with fairy tales. Also, folklore, fantasy, myths and legends.
I did my English Literature Honours thesis about the Cinderella story and have a vast array of fairy tales/folk tales/fireside stories/myths/legends etc (including at least 3 volumes of 1001 Arabian Nights) on my bookshelves.
For the past few years, however, this hobby hasn’t received all that much fire from me. Which is fine – I mean we can’t pursue everything all the time can we?
But as I was looking for new podcasts to listen to recently, it suddenly dawned on me: hey! I wonder if there are any good ones about fairy tales out there?
Well, I did a little Google search and, let me tell you, there are loads! Some are obviously better than others, but wading through the masses, I discovered a few that definitely deserved a click on the Subscribe button.
Here are a few of my favourites right now:
Singing Bones is a podcast that looks at the origin of fairy tales, the bare bones of stories that have been the basis for so much of literature, film, and pop culture.
It’s presented by Clare Testoni, whose sweet and syrupy voice offers a suitably ethereal feel to the show.
I’ve only checked out two episodes and want to save the rest for moments when I can dedicate my full attention to really listening. They’re just so full of interesting facts, theories and retellings.
I absolutely loved the episode about the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Who knew the whimsical tale was actually based on a true (and mysterious) event that has plagued the German town’s collective memory since 1284?
Taking folk tales from all over the world, this podcast explores them anew from the female character’/s’ point of view.
Apart from being hugely interesting in the way it pulls apart gender constructs in the stories that are so ingrained in our psyches, it also offers insight into the tellings of tribes, clans and communities you may never have heard of before.
What’s quite fascinating, is the fact that many of these diverse ancient stories share themes, stock characters and narrative structure.
Feminist Folklore is presented by Rachael Marr and Carlea Holl-Jensen, who offer a hilariously wry take on the things we’ve always just accepted to be, well, fairy tale-esque.
Listen to the one about Tannakin Skinker, a pig-faced princess with a lovely figure, who needs to (you guessed it) get married to have her curse lifted.
Every fortnight Alicia and Lauren – the hosts of Deviant Women – discuss a different bad ass woman from history, fiction, mythology and the contemporary world.
They focus on those who aren’t afraid to break the rules, to subvert the system, to explore, to seek and to challenge the status quo.
What’s great about their selection of women, is the fact that they aren’t just the same ol’ same ol’. A lot of research seems to go into finding truly captivating characters and unpacking them in great detail. (They also have a dramatic little podcast jingle I can’t get out of my head!)
I found myself entirely drawn into the episode about Isabelle Eberhardt, a bold, talented, and rebellious woman who was moulded by an unconventional upbringing in Switzerland in the 19th century. In 1897, she set sail across the Mediterranean Sea for the golden dunes and rugged landscapes of North Africa, where she spent most of her time dressed as a Muslim man.
Her life ended tragically early, nonetheless, she managed to produce a few beautifully written books about her experiences.
I mean, just read this quote:
“A subject to which few intellectuals ever give a thought is the right to be a vagrant, the freedom to wander. Yet vagrancy is a deliverance, and life on the open road is the essence of freedom. To have the courage to smash the chains with which modern life has weighted us (under the pretext that it was offering us more liberty), then to take up the symbolic stick and bundle and get out.”
Hidden Creatures is a Cryptozoology podcast dedicated to finding out more about the creatures that elude science.
It was actually Imar who first got me into in cryptids many, many years ago and I’ve always hoped there was some truth in fabled sightings of the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot and the likes.
This podcast covers a broad spectrum of animals whose existence cannot (or no longer) be proven. It offers a delightful blend of science, folklore, creepy stories and the almost certain knowledge that the natural world has some secrets its been keeping for a very long time.
The first episode is all about Nessie and, coincidentally, a great place to start!
This is a podcast about the weird, obscure, mysterious, and lesser-known side of Disney. It’s hosted by major Disneyheads Natalie Palamides and Carrie Poppy, who also happen to be masters of comedy and seriously entertaining banter.
It’s all pretty fun and light-hearted, but also super interesting.
In one episode, they interview a woman who used to play several princesses at Disneyland (which doesn’t sound fun AT ALL by the way) and another spends a good deal of time discussing whether Walt Disney is the first person who was cryogenically frozen, as many conspiracy theorists believe.
I mean, look, you aren’t going to feel intellectually stimulated after an episode, but it will probably lift your spirits if you’re stuck in traffic.
(P.s. Another thing you don’t know about me: when I was a toddler, I had an imaginary friend named Mickey. He used to sit on my hand and I’d have long conversations with him. It’s kind of sad my imagination wasn’t strong enough to come up with its own character :’))
What podcasts are you listening right now?
Or do you have any suggestions of fairy tale-related stuff I can check out?