A Shout of Giants
Is it just me or is GIANT a word that wants to be shouted really loudly, wants you to climb to the very top of the very highest hill, fling your arms open wide and yell it for the winds to carry as far as they can, further than your eyes can see as you spin around and around giddy with glee.
Or does it make you want to stomp about taking large strides?
Or plant your feet firmly with your hands on your hips and declare sternly: FEE FI FO FUM I SMELL THE BLOOD OF A HUMAN?
Go on, take a moment, right now, even if it’s a whisper of a thing, try saying the word aloud, feel how your mouth moves around the sound, how everything about it feels large and joyous, how it taps into that childlike excitement that makes you giggle and feel a tiny bit afraid at the same time.
I’m still reading stories live most nights on Facebook and for Sunday evenings I asked people to give me a theme, see how it would be to track a story online rather than having it find me in the pages of a book – which in itself has been a really interesting journey. My mum got very specific with her theme of Scottish Giants. Not just any giant and not just any thing about Scotland but that, it turned out, very elusive breed of largesse. I was surprised (or maybe shouldn’t have been, not really) to learn you really have to dig around to find full stories of Scottish Giants, they do not, it seems, like to be pinned onto a page. It makes them angry, bad tempered and probably hungry for small humans with fleshy bottoms and crunchy bones. Like speaking their name suggests, they require movement – be it nimble and quick or sly and slow. They want physically seeking, rummaged for, standing with, climbed upon, got lost about, touched and seen and felt and tasted and most of all, smelt.
Scottish Giants are not found in the printed words of a book. Scottish Giants are found in the landscape. Scottish Giants ARE the landscape. This is where you find tell of them. Take the Old Man of Storr, he was a giant who, minding his own business, went for a walk about an island and simply dropped down dead. He can be found laying where he fell, though I leave it to you to decide whether it is his finger or his penis pointing to the sky that clearly marks him out…
The hills either side of a Loch are in fact two brothers continuously throwing boulders at each other as they argue over day and night. And of course the Giant or rather Giantess of all Giant/esses - the Cailleach herself whose basket all of the landscape is woven from the contents of, stalks about the glens.
Some stories come to us and some stories we have to go to, they are not interested in entertaining us but want to know us, and want us to know them, to seek them, explore them. I wonder how different our everyday world would be if we did this, if we went out onto the land and sought the giants and the faeries and the sprites and the dragons. All that sit just under the surface of the ground we tread without fully realising.
One of the ways I work with community is through bringing people and landscape together, digging out the hidden and entwined stories that nestle between the two of them. I miss it. But there is nothing to stop you or I still seeking out what is around us. Simply search the internet for where you live + folklore then see if you can find the places these tales hang out. Tell me how you get on. You never know, you may encounter a giant or two yourself and they may even offer up a token as thanks for your visit for you to take home, to place upon the mantle where you catch glimpse of it from time to time and remember there is more to all around us than meets the eye.