Aug 28, 2015

Tam Lin Ballade - Part 1



http://www.uexpress.com/tell-me-a-story/2009/11/29/janet-and-tam-lin-a-scottish
Tam Lin is an ancient Scots ballad which also appears in Scandinavia. The tale of "Tam Line" is mentioned in Vederburns Complaint of Scotland (1549) and an air by the name of "Young Thomlin" appears between 1600 and 1620. A ballet of "Thomalyn"was licensed in 1558. There are many variations on the name "Tam Lin" In addition to those above he is known as Tom Line, Tom Linn, Tamlin, Tomaline Tam-line and Tam Lane. These word are by Burns circa 1792.
The ballad , concerning a mortal woman who encounters a mysterious man in a forbidden forest. When she finds herself pregnant with his child, she seeks him out again and learns he is a mortal man, captive to the faeries and at risk for sacrifice as their tribute to hell. To rescue him, she must find the faeries at midnight on Halloween and pull him from horse as the faerie troop passes by. She must hold onto him as he is transformed into a variety of beasts, or fire, or other dangers. She does so, and at the end of the tale, the Faerie Queen speaks her wrath at the departed man, wishing she'd taken out his eyes or his heart to prevent his rescue.
Tam Lin has been a beloved tale for centuries, both because of the magic in the tale, and because it is a traditional tale centered on female daring and bravery. Some versions of the ballad date back centuries, while others are still being written today. The story has also grown well outside the traditional format, and can be found in prose books, plays, artwork, and other forms.

Tam Lin Meta Version 




  1. I forbid all young girls
    Who have golden hair
    To travel down to Carterhaugh
    For young Tam Lin is there
  2. From all that pass through Carterhaugh
    He will take a fee
    Their rings or their green mantles
    Or their virginity
  3. Janet was sitting by her window
    Sewing a lovely seam
    And wished to be in Caterhaugh
    To walk the woods so green
  4. She tucked up her skirt of green
    And she tied back her hair
    And she left for Carterhaugh
    In great haste to get there
  5. She had just pulled a single rose
    She'd only taken one
    When suddenly Tam Lin appeared
    To protest what she'd done
  6. "Why do you pluck the red red rose
    And why do you harm the tree
    And why have you come to Carterhaugh
    Without first asking me?"
  7. "I have the right to come to Caterhaugh
    The rights are mine by birth
    So I will come to Carterhaugh
    And not ask your leave first."
  8. He put his arm around her waist
    And they lay on the ground
    And what they did next I couldn't say
    The leaves were all around
  9. Janet went to her father's house
    And all who saw believed
    She was now looking pale and green
    They feared she had conceived.
  10. "Well I have had a lover
    And now I am with child.
    It was not with any man here
    But a fairie in the wild"
  11. She tucked up her skirt of green
    And she tied back her hair
    And she left for Carterhaugh
    In much haste to get there
  12. "Why have you come to Carterhaugh
    Past the fields of heather
    And will you kill the lovely babe
    That we have made together?"
  13. "You must tell me now, Tam Lin,
    Tell the truth to my face,
    Are you a mortal man
    And can you leave this place?"
  14. "I am a mortal man
    And of human flesh and blood,
    Human by my birth,
    And human in my love.
  15. "I used to go out hunting
    But I fell from my horse one day.
    The Queen of Fairies captured me
    And in their land I must stay.
  16. "The faerie land is a pleasant place
    But there's a darker side as well.
    At the end of every seven years
    They make a sacrifice to hell.
  17. "I am so young and handsome
    I fear that they'll choose me
    To be the one to pay the price
    Unless I can get free.
  18. "Tonight is Halloween
    And the faeries will be in sight
    If you wait for them at Mile's cross.
    Please come for me tonight.
  19. "Take a hold of me when I pass by.
    Hold me tight to you.
    Promise me you won't let go
    No matter what they do.
  20. "They'll turn me into a frightening beast,
    And things to give alarm,
    But underneath I'm your own love still
    And I will not do you harm.
  21. "They'll turn me to a lion.
    They'll turn me into a snake.
    They'll turn me into a burning thing,
    All to get your grip to break.
  22. "When I am a man again
    Put your green cloak over me.
    I'll be as naked as a newborn child
    But love, I will be free."
  23. She tucked up her skirt of green
    And she tied back her hair
    And she left for Mile's Cross
    In great haste to get there.
  24. The faerie horses came riding by
    In the middle of the night
    And some were black and some were brown
    But Tam Lin's was milk-white.
  25. She pulled him down from off his horse
    With her arms around his shape.
    The faerie court gave an angry yell
    "Tam Lin is trying to escape!"
  26. They transformed him into frighting beasts
    And into things to give alarm
    But she held on tight and feared him not
    And he didn't do her harm.
  27. At last he was himself again
    So she wrapped him in her cloak.
    She was rejoicing in her victory
    When the Queen of Faeries spoke.
  28. "If I had know, Tam Lin," she says
    "that you were up to no good
    I'd have taken out your green eyes
    and put in eyes of wood."
  29. "If I had known, Tam Lin," she says
    "you would have always been alone!
    For I'd have taken out your mortal heart
    And put in a heart of stone."
O I forbid you, maidens all,
That wear gold in your hair,
To come or go by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.


There's none that goes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad,  

Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.


Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her brow,
And she's away to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can go.


When she came to Carterhaugh
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she found his steed standing,
But he was away himself.


She had not pulled a double rose,
A rose but only two,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Saying "Lady, pull thou no more."


"Why pullest thou the rose, Janet,
And why breakest thou the wand?
Or why comest thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?"


"Carterhaugh, it is my own,
My daddy gave it me,
I'll come and go by Carterhaugh,
And ask no leave of thee."


Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her brow,
And she is to her father's house,
As fast as she can go.


Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ball,
And out then came the fair Janet,
The flower among them all.


Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then came the fair Janet,
As green as any glass.


Out then spake an old grey knight,
Lay over the castle wall,
And says, "Alas, fair Janet, for thee,
But we'll be blamed all."


"Hold your tongue, ye old faced knight,
Some ill death may ye die!
Father my babe on whom I will,
I'll father none on thee."


Out then spake her father dear,
And he spake meek and mild,
"And ever alas, sweet Janet," he says,
"I think thou goest with child."


"If that I go with child, Father,
Myself must bear the blame,
There's never a lord about your hall,
Shall give the child a name."


"If my love were an earthly knight,
Though he's an elfin grey,
I would not give my own true-love
For any lord that ye have."


"The steed that my true love rides on
Is lighter than the wind,
With silver he is shod before,
With burning gold behind."


Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her brow,
And she's away to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can go.


When she came to Carterhaugh,
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she found his steed standing,
But he was away himself.


She had not pulled a double rose,
A rose but only two,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Saying "Lady, pull thou no more."


"Why pullest thou the rose, Janet,
Among the groves so green,
And all to kill the bonny babe
That we got us between?"


"O tell me, tell me, Tam Lin," she says,
"For His sake that died on tree,
If ever ye were in holy chapel,
Or Christendom did see?"


"Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
Took me with him to bide
And once it fell upon a day
That woe did me betide.


"And once it fell upon a day
A cold day and a snell, *windy and sharp
When we were from the hunting come,
That from my horse I fell,
The Queen of Fairies she caught me,
In yon green hill to dwell."


"And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
At the end of every seven years,
We pay a tithe to Hell,
I am so fair and firm of flesh,
I'm feared it be myself."


"But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
Then win me, win me, if ye will,
For well I think ye may."


"Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that would their true-love win,
At Miles Cross they must bide."


"But how shall I thee know, Tam Lin,
Or how my true-love know,
Among so many uncouth knights,
The like I never saw?"


"O first let pass the black, lady,
And then let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
Pull ye his rider down."


"For I'll ride on the milk-white steed,
And ride nearest the town;
Because I was an earthly knight
They give me that renown."


"My right hand will be gloved, lady,
My left hand will be bare,
Cocked up shall my bonnet be,
And combed down shall be my hair,
And there's the tokens I give thee;
No doubt I will be there."


"They'll turn me in your arms, lady,
A lizard and an adder,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your child's father."


"They'll turn me to a bear so grim,
And then a lion bold,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
And ye shall love your child."


"Again they'll turn me in your arms
To a red hot brand of iron,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I'll do you no harm."


"And last they'll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed,          
Then throw me into well water,
O throw me in with speed."


"And then I'll be your own true-love,
I'll turn a naked knight,
Then cover me with your green mantle,
And hide me out o sight."


Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Jenny in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did go.


At the mirk and midnight hour
She heard the bridles sing,
She was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.


First she let the black pass by,
And then she let the brown,
But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
And pulled the rider down.


So well she minded what he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win,
Then covered him with her mantle green,
As happy as a bird in spring.


Out then spake the Queen of Fairies,
Out of a bush of broom,
"She that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately-groom."


Out then spake the Queen of Fairies,
And an angry woman was she,
"Shame betide her ill-fared face,
And an ill death may she die,
For she's taken away the bonniest knight
In all my company."


"But had I known, Tam Lin," she said,
"What now this night I see,
I would have taken out thy two grey eyes,
And put in two of tree."

Symbols in Tam Lin




Toll or Wad

There's nane that gaes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.
The Fairies were the owners of the green wood, and a capricious lot. It was considered rude at least and dangerous at worst to intrude on their realm without asking permissions or giving something in return for what you might take. It was considered forbidden to take anything from areas strongly protected by the fairies, and even in those areas not directly under their protection, it was usually considered wise to at least ask permission first.

Tam Lin's specific demands were of particular significance. A ring was likely to be a sign of allegiance, such as a king might give a vassal or a husband to a wife. A mantle might symbolise kinship and protection, either by the specific colors present or by the symbolic covering they afforded (see covering with mantle, below). Gold was symbolic of wealth, particularly the wealth of nobility and aristocracy. 

In another sense, all of these items are symbolically linked to the final demand he might make, a maiden's virginity. A stolen ring, like a broken circle, symbolizes the breaking of the hymen, and is also tied to notions of virginity through association with marriage and fidelity. A mantle is a cover that protects a woman's modesty, and gold as virginity was sometimes referred to as "maiden' wealth"


Plucking a Rose


She had na pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till upon then started young Tam Lin,
Says, Lady, thou's pu nae mae.
 

Roses are one of the most symbolically imbued items in mythology. They represent everything from passion and lust to the ideals of purity. In this story, roses are depicted as one of the flowers protected by faeries, and thus Janet's defiance in traveling to the forbidden wood is compounded by her plucking of a forbidden flower. By plucking it she has entered the world of magic and mystery. In another sense, by seizing a flower associated with romance, she initiates her interaction with Tam Lin by claiming the flower for her own, foreshadowing her coming 'deflowerment'. More specifically, the tightly folded petals of an opening rose are often used as symbols of a woman's sexual anatomy, a symbolism that goes back at least as far as "The Romance of the Rose". Finally, she is a maiden, and roses are the symbolic flower of the Virgin Mary in Catholic mythology. Mary was known as the "rose without thorns", and therefore the virgin Janet's seizing of the rose may be interpreted as laying claim to a saving grace.


Getting the Child's Name

"If that I gae wi child, father,
Mysel maun bear the blame,
There's neer a laird about your ha,
Shall get the bairn's name.
When Janet confirms she is pregnant, the reaction from the other members of the hall is less than favorable. Often, someone speaks of someone getting the blame, and Janet says that she'll not give the child's name to any lord there. There is more going on than simple disapproval of an out of wedlock pregnancy. Janet is the daughter of a high ranking lord, and she is heiress to some of his lands. As a virgin, she would be valuable to marry for reasons of wealth or political alliance, but after being deflowered and impregnated, her position in life is greatly in jeopardy. It would be unlikely that a prospective suitor would take her if she is no longer a virgin, and her chances of having an honorable marriage are even slimmer when she is pregnant by someone else. This helps explain why some members of her family in some versions counsel abortion despite the moral and physical risks involved.

There was what was once known as 'stealing' an heiress, that is, raping a female heir and then forcing her into marriage as she would no longer be fit for marriage to any other man. The exchange at her father's hall where a knight says that all the men will be in trouble now and Janet's response that she'll give none of them her child's name means that while she acknowledges her pregnancy she refuses to allow herself to be forced into a marriage to retain some semblance of honor. Her further defiance in stating that she has taken a fairy, a creature outside the bounds of the mortal realm and feudal system, not to mention unmarryable (in much folklore, faeries were afraid of the church, so no wedding could take place), is truly stunning, and both underscores the strength of her character and gives and additional motivation to undergo the trials involved in winning Tam Lin away from the faeries. Tam Lin's disclosure that he is not only a mortal but one of some rank is another saving grace in Janet's situation, and while he was the cause of her problems, by saving him she also saves herself.


Halloween and Human Sacrifice

"And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
Ay at the end of seven years,
We pay a tiend to hell,
I am sae fair and fu o flesh,
I'm feard it be mysel.

"But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
Then win me, win me, an ye will,
For weel I wat ye may.
 

Halloween, the Christian celebration of the eve of all saint's day, was originally the Celtic celebration of new year, Samhain, midway between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice. This is why Tam Lin refers to the night of Halloween as the end of seven years.

In the Celtic mythos it was a time to prepare for the coming winter, a festival to celebrate the completion on the year, and a magical night when the barriers between the realms of the living mortals, the past dead, and future unborn weakened, allowing transitions and change. It was considered the night that the dead were most likely to visit those still living, and when fortunes could be told of the coming year. Many cultures retain some of this belief in the "day of the dead" celebrations, which include feasts and visiting of gravesites to honor departed ancestors. In many Celtic cultures it was traditional to put out gifts of milk and barley for any wandering spirits, both as thanks and for good luck, which may tie in to the stand of milk Janet sometimes takes with her to Miles Cross.

In Christian imagery, Halloween is the night when the ghouls and demons have one last run at the world before being driven off on the morning of All Saints. Many of the pagan or pre-christian beliefs were demonized or taken over by Christianity, and most likely the notion of the old power of the faeries being linked to hell arises from this view on the old Celtic beliefs. This Christian viewpoint would tie into the idea that the night of demons and ghouls was a time of sacrifices to hell.

The degree to which human sacrifice may have played a part in any pre-Christian Scottish culture is debatable; both early Roman invaders and later Christian ones accused the locals of it, but as both were also very prone to sensational propaganda, neither is a reliable source. Some areas of Scotland did have ritual slaughters of cattle near Halloween, but this served the practical purpose of reducing the herd size before winter as much as anything else.

As an additional note on the timing of events in Tam Lin by the solar calendar, several versions of Tam Lin have Janet returning to her family after her initial encounter with Tam Lin, and sometime thereafter showing what can be presumed to be the signs of morning sickness and early pregnancy (pale and wan, green as grass). If one presumes that the onset of morning sickness is usually several weeks after conception, it would place the timing of their initial encounter around the vernal equinox.

Seven Years

The faeries perform their sacrifice every seven years. Why seven?


In Christian mythology, it took seven days for God to create the world (six days plus a rest on the Sabbath), and it is therefore often taken as the number to complete a cycle in a lot of resulting imagery. It's also considered a lucky number in a lot of western superstition.


In English law, seven years was often the standard period for a legal sentence of transportation ("For seven long years I'm transported") or the period a time a person had to have been missing before they could be declared legally dead, allowing their spouse to remarry. In areas and colonies were indentured servitude was legal, seven years was a standard maximum length of contract.

Additionally, seven years was the standard time period an apprentice would serve under a master before they could be said to have learned their craft

According to some, seven years was the length of rule of a Sacred King (see below).

For any number there is likely to be a large number of possible associated meanings and folklore, but the meanings above seem to be the most relevant and likely connected to the story of Tam Lin: seven years completes the cycle, seven years ends the indenture, breaks his bond with his mortal family, ends his separation from home, and risks his death


Faerie horse: color and bells


"O first let pass the black, lady,
And syne let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
Pu ye his rider down.

"For I'll ride on the milk-white steed,
And ay nearest the town,
Because I was an earthly knight
They gie me that renown.
 

There is clearly levels of status in the faerie troop, usually denoted by color of either the horses (such as in Tam Lin) or by the faeries themselves (such as in The Fairy Oak of Corriewater) with humans set aside as different. The faerie troop has black and brown horses for the knights and the musicians, but a white horse for Tam Lin. This is sometimes explained as a sign of honor, and sometimes unexplained. The white horse may also be meant to symbolize purity, either Tam Lin's human purity in contrast to the demonic image given of the faeries, or the purity of the individual chosen for sacrifice. Horses figure prominently in pre-Christian Celtic mythology as well, as some Goddesses were said to take the form of horses. Epona, worshipped in th British isles, was said to take the form of a white horse, and was considered a fertility goddess, which would tie in to the harvest imagery in this story.

In Russian folklore, a procession of colored horses from black to white indicates progress towards a goal, as if from nighttime to daylight (thank you to Cat - ed)

The faerie horses may also have bells on the bridles, possibly meant to warn humans of the presence of the fey as they posed some danger to those humans caught unaware. These elements can also be seen in "Thomas the Rhymer". One version of Tam Lin depicts him as wearing bells about his middle in much the same way as the Queen of Faeries does in Thomas Rhymer.

As a last note on horses in the ballad, when Janet goes to rescue Tam Lin, she must find him among the faerie troop and grab a hold of him. Most versions describe him as the rider of a white horse, often with hair down, a hat, one hand gloved and one hand bare, and other signals of his identity. However, several versions not only omit these specific identifiers, but leave it unclear as to whether Janet is throwing her arms around Tam Lin's neck or the neck of the horse.

Transformations

"And they'll change me then, and it's all in your arms
to many's the beasts wild
You must hold me tight, you must fear me not
I'm the father of your child,
you know that I'm the father of your child."
Janet must hold on to Tam Lin as he is transformed into a number of strange and frightening objects. Most of the objects are either frightening, dangerous, hard to hold, or all of these. The first level of this test is that it is simply a test of Janet's bravery and strength, like any hero who is facing down a challenge. On another level, it is a test of her devotion and love for Tam Lin. Throughout the story his identity and his relationship to her are in question. Through the trials she is presented with a number of false images meant to frighten her away, and she can only win him if she is certain of what she is truly holding. The trial requires great courage and great love.


In addition, Janet is usually presented as the heir to Carterhaugh woods, but is forbidden to enter because the fairies claim ownership of the land. The battle over Tam Lin is also a battle over the magic in the woods, and whose claim was greater. If Janet wants to own the woods, she must be willing to face down the monster that dwell within it.

It can also be seen as a fight for Tam Lin's soul, which the faeries are presumably offering to hell. The outside physical appearance was considered to reflect inner being, but Tam Lin's soul was to some extent captured by the faeries. The Queen has command of him, and by slating him for sacrifice, disposal as well. The transformation into animals and inanimate objects (none of which were generally considered by christians to have souls) until he emerges from the water a naked man sound as if Janet must hold onto Tam Lin until his second baptism of sorts restores his soul to safety and to his own control.

The image of beasts and the faerie procession may originate in the celebration of Samhain, when (according to some) the Celts would dress in costume to celebrate the end of the harvest and the coming of winter. It is this tradition on which Halloween costumes are also based, and both play with the idea of disguising a persons identity (and thus their soul) for ritual purposes.


One of the most commonly named creatures in the transformation is a snake or an adder. This images has sexual overtones that would tie into Janet's need to conquer the earlier imagery of sexual indiscretion (and in some versions, even non-consensual sex). Additionally, the snake has strong religious imagery. The christian notion of snakes as sinful not withstanding, snakes are commonly viewed as being powerful beings of a mysterious and immortal nature due to their ability to shed their skin. In combination, these symbols behind Janet's struggle with the snake suggest that she is struggling with the primordial forces of nature. This is strengthened by the fact that this scene (as well as her earlier meetings with Tam Lin) occur in the forest rather than a civilized setting. The woods themselves may represent sexuality and/or the primordial forces also represented by the faeries. By struggling with beasts in the forest held by the old races in order to achieve her goal, Janet is struggling with the forces she needs to master in order to control her own destiny as a mature and sexual woman.

Green Mantle and Kirtle

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she's awa to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can hie.
Both the mantle and its color are symbolic in important ways to the story. Green is the faerie color and it is considered unlucky for mortals to wear it in an place where the faeries might see them (see Alice Brand for an example of this ). Likewise, Janet refers to Tam Lin as "elfin grey" when speaking of him, since the root word for both colors was the same.
Green has other symbolic meanings though. One is that a woman who dresses in green is supposed to be sexually promiscuous, since green hides grass stains. The other is that a woman dressed in green has left or been left by her lover, a 'grass widow', from the days back before divorce was a possibility for most folks.
Janet specifically wears green into Carterhaugh woods despite the knowledge that faeries dwell there, which supports the earlier notion that she originally went there as an act of defiance, but it is noteworthy that Tam Lin specifically instructs her to wear the mantle when she comes to rescue him.
"And then I'll be your ain true-love,
I'll turn a naked knight,
Then cover me wi your green mantle,
And hide me out o sight."
Apart from the need to provide cover for a wet and naked man in the woods during late fall, mantles (like the greek Aegis) were signs of protection, so Janet casting her mantle over Tam Lin makes sense as the final act of recovering him from the faeries. It is a statement that he is now her own and under her protection, but the choice of color is interesting. Possibly the color is either meant to confuse the faerie magic when she battles them, or as implied by Tam Lin's further command to 'hide me out of sight', simply as a means of camouflage in the green woods.
Gold sometimes represents virginity, or a 'maiden's wealth': the 'King's maidens that wore gold in their hair' were those whose bodies and minds were still virgin, which means still under his mental domination (hair, as a product of the mind, suggests thoughts, beliefs and attitudes.) Their gold in their hair is their own mental potential but the King still controlls it. This image confirms that the feminine is subservient to ruling male attitudes, that it has yet to differentiate into its own conscious form.
But Janet desires fertility: she fastens her green mantle a little above her knee which means she is ready and willing to meet Tam Lin. She defies her father by going off 'as fast as she could flee'.
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