Tomtens, Nisse, Tonttu — various names for Yule Elves

You can use the folklore of the yule elves to engage your children in the act of honoring house and land spirits during the holiday season. They can be your answer to Elf on the Shelf for the Yuletide season if you are a folklorist like me.

Yule Elves, also called Tomtens, Tonttu, or Nisse are associated with Scandinavia, the Winter Solstice, and the greater winter holiday season. They are known as gift givers, but not the same way as Santa Claus — although, like Santa, it is important that you are nice to make your nisse happy!

I first…


The welcome sign entering my mother in-law’s village, Gallura region of Sardinia

In Sardinia, people tend to live longer than in other parts of the world, and everyone from researchers, to famous actors, want to know why. Likely it’s a combination of factors: diet, environment, and lifestyle; all vital components of a traditional way of life. But let’s try to break it down a little, and clear up some misconceptions along the way.

We all know traditional Italian food is amazing, delicious, fresh, and healthy. We’ve all heard about the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. …


There is a new character, a catalyst that has entered the scene, and sets the stage for our everyday life. This character has become central to all our life stories in recent weeks. It strongly influences what we do and say on a daily basis, without the need to utter a single word. When something this powerful and all-consuming enters our lives, it is a good practice to try to understand why it is here.

The reason ties back to old ancestral wisdom about the sacred contracts we make with ourselves, each other, and the world around us.

There are…


When the role of Mother begins to wear on you, or you question your ability to be the best parent for your child, and you feel alone, and frustrated and maybe a little scared, feel into the moment, and know you are not alone, that there are so many other women out there in the same moment feeling just as you do.

Mama, you are not doing it wrong, you’ve been wronged.

It is hard to live in a world where your sense of things, and your priorities don’t align with what you see in the world around you. It…


Each plant has its own magic. If you hoped this would be a list of the most magical and witchy plants on the planet, I am sorry to disappoint you; this is not that kind of article. Instead, the aim is to debunk some of the mystery surrounding “magical plants”, and to inform you that in fact all plants are magical, and the magic doesn’t only come from the plant itself but stems from your relationship to various plants. The intimacy between plant and practitioner is where the magic is.

OUR RELATIONSHIP TO PLANTS

I like to think of our…


Despite a diet laden with carbs, Italians can expect to live into their eighties and on average have better heart health and mental health as compared to Americans, Canadians, and Brits. Bloomberg named Italy The World’s Healthiest Country in 2017.

Several studies have linked the Mediterranean diet with many health benefits such as reduced aging, a healthier brain, weight loss, and a lowered cancer risk.

But what exactly is the Mediterranean Diet and how do we rationalize Bloomberg’s results with the pervasive dogma in the American media that carbs, especially in the form of wheat are actually unhealthy to the…


Part 2: The Real Mediterranean Diet (What About the Carbs? Olive Oil? Gluten?)

The third part of this series explores Blue Zones, and Sardinia’s centenarians. It connects some dots between food, land, and traditions, and discusses why some of the most traditional foods in the diet are not part of the Blue Zones discourse. Live Like A Sardinian: The Key To Longevity

Four years ago, we were in Sardinia visiting family. Before leaving on the trip, I had been on the Paleo diet for some time. Touted for its anti-inflammatory properties, and its straightforward eat this but don’t eat that…


Grow Saffron Crocuses (+ recipe)

Saffron is one of the most highly prized and expensive spices in the world. It has been cultivated for over 3,500 years on many continents. It has been used throughout history as a spice, dying agent, and as an ingredient in cosmetics (Cleopatra used to bathe in water steeped with saffron); it has been perfume, and folk medicine.

The word Saffron comes from the Persian word “zarparan” which literally means “yellow stigmas”. 90% of the world’s saffron is grown in Iran, yet some of the best saffron, known for its intense flavor and aroma is…


Sardinia’s Ancient Olive Trees

“… I like them all, but especially the olive. For what it symbolizes, first of all — peace with its leaves and joy with its golden oil.” -Aldous Huxley

Sardinia is a lesser-known Italian island known mainly to outsiders for its stunning beaches. However, there are many enchantments that this ancient island has to offer beyond sparkling blue turquoise seas, such as the Olivastri Millenari di Santu Baltolu, or the ancient olive trees at Santu Baltolu.

There is a group of ancient olive trees that live just outside the village of Luras, in Gallura the northern…

Jenn Campus

Best-selling author, anthropologist, and mythologist. Old Ways for Modern Days: Food. Land. Tradition. Magic. jenncampusauthor.com

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