So if lore is important how do we recognize it and pass it on?
In general lore cannot be found in books or in a good education. Instead it is found in those moments when we consciously or unconsciously pass on a skill, or nugget of information that was passed on to us. In some senses the passing down of lore is a spiritual thing, when we pass something on to someone else we are in a real way connecting to not only the person who gave that lore to us, but also to the person who gave it to them and so on.
When I teach Su how to make the herbal cough decoction that we use, I am passing on not only my personal lore (I developed the recipe), but also generations of knowledge on how to make people feel cared for, how to brew teas and decoctions and so on. I am connecting her, to both her physical and her spiritual ancestry. Her physical ancestors are those who are genetically related to her, while her spiritual ancestors are those not related to her who nevertheless participated in the handing down of this lore. She needs those connections and although at this age I do not expect her to fully understand I do try to express to her why we are doing what we do.
In many case the passing on of lore is done through stories and songs. When something happens in our lives that triggers a memory of my own childhood or a story that my mother told I repeat the story to the children. Last week I walked a friend’s dogs several times while she was out of town. The children know that the one dog doesn’t like to go outside for me and refer to this as “L is being a goon.” Then they want to hear/sing the song about Little Bunny Foo-Foo which is part of our lore. They know I learned it from my mother, so they get that sense of connection.
Although the passing on of lore is primarily done unconsciously through these types of daily referent interactions it is important to pass on lore intentionally as well. Each of us has access to a body of lore in all of the groups to which we belong (family, church, clubs, etc.) and we need to think about what parts of that lore are irrelevant, what parts are vital and what things resonate with us although they may not be vitally important to the other members of the group. The question of lore should be discussed by the members of the group as well in order to maintain a body of common knowledge that correctly shapes the group in the direction the members desire. Some questions to ask are:
-What lore do we share?
-How has it shaped the group in the past?
-What parts of the lore are interesting but not widely used and/or in danger of being lost?
-What lore do we need in order to continue to grow and develop as a group?
-How are we passing the lore on to children or new members?
Next week I’ll talk about Creating Lore.