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Flenarnas fäbod (image source)

Ever since I first found the story of the woodswomen whispering in the woods, I have been on a journey of wandering and listening, collecting songs and stories wherever I go. And this autumn finds me yet again venturing into the dusty archives on the hunt for the forgotten stories of the Nordic woods. This is my final term (at least for this time round!) at the university and I have just started to work on a thesis in ethnology about - surprise, surprise! – the woodswomen, or more specifically, the woodswomen of the Swedish fäbod culture. 
The story of the woodswomen says that there was a time long ago when women could be seen in the woods, and indeed, there was such a time here in the lands of the north. Still people tell stories about the huldra, guardian spirit of the woods, but in the old days she wasn’t merely a fanciful story, but actually a real part of people’s lives. 
The woods of old were also alive with the people who lived there, farmers and nomads, women and men, young and old. In the woods of central and northern Sweden you could hear the haunting sound of kulninga way of singing or calling which was used in the fäbod tradition as a way of calling home the cows, scaring away wolves and bears, but also as a form of communication between people, sending messages or warnings over long distances. The fäbod was a place where women went with the cows, goats and sheep to the forest grazing areas for the summer. There were many different kinds of fäbodar, and many of them lay far away from the village, often higher up in the mountains, where the women spent the whole summer taking care of the animals, making butter and cheese.
Who were the women of the fäbod? What did their everyday lives look like in the summer woods?
Looking forward to learning more about the fäbod woodswomen this autumn, as well as continuing this journey of woodland wandering, weaving together the pieces of this book, collecting stories from times of old as well as interviewing people today about their relationship with nature and journey into the wild…

Fäbodstintan Stina, born 1849 and who spent every summer at the fäbod until 1927 (image source)


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