Pseudo-folklore or Fakelore is inauthentic, manufactured folklore presented as if it were genuinely traditional. The term can refer to new stories or songs made up, or to folklore that is reworked and modified for modern tastes. The element of misrepresentation is central; artists who draw on traditional stories in their work are not producing fakelore unless they claim that their creations are real folklore.
The term fakelore was coined in 1950 by American folklorist Richard M. Dorson.Dorson’s examples included the fictional cowboy Pecos Bill, who was presented as a folk hero of theAmerican West but was actually invented by the writer Edward J. O’Reilly in 1923. Dorson also regarded Paul Bunyan as fakelore. Although Bunyan originated as a character in traditional tales told by loggers in the Great Lakes region of North America, James Stevens, an ad writer working for the Red River Lumber Company, invented many of the stories about him that are known today. According to Dorson, advertisers and popularizers turned Bunyan into a “pseudo folk hero of twentieth-century mass culture” who bore little resemblance to the original.
Folklorismus, often Anglicized to folklorism, also refers to the invention or adaptation of folklore. Unlike fakelore, however, folklorism is not necessarily misleading; it includes any use of a tradition outside the cultural context in which it was created. The term was first used in the early 1960s by German scholars, who were primarily interested in the use of folklore by thetourism industry. However, professional art based on folklore, TV commercials with fairy tale characters, and even academic studies of folklore are all forms of folklorism.
Many Pagans and Pagan traditions attempt to incorporate elements of historical religions, cultures and mythologies into their beliefs and practices, often emphasizing the age of their sources. Thus, Wicca in particular is sometimes referred to by its proponents as “The Old Religion”, a term popularised by Margaret Murray in the 1920s, while Germanic Neopaganismis referred to in some of its varieties as (Forn Sed) (“Old Custom”). Such emphasis on the antiquity of religious tradition is not exclusive to modern Paganism, and is found in many other religions. For example the terms Purana, Sanatana Dharma, and the emphasis on the antiquity of the Ancient Egyptian sources of the Hellenistic Mystery religions.
Some claims of continuity between contemporary Paganism and older forms of paganism have been shown to be spurious, or outright false, as in the case of Iolo Morganwg‘s Druid’s Prayer. Wiccan beliefs of an ancient monotheistic Goddess were inspired by Marija Gimbutas‘s description of Neolithic Europe. The factual historical validity of her theories has been disputed by many scholars, including historian Ronald Hutton.
A number of Wiccan, Pagan and even some “Traditionalist” or “Tribalist” groups have a history of “Grandmother Stories” – typically involving initiation by a Grandmother, Grandfather, or other elderly relative who is said to have instructed them in the secret, millennia-old traditions of their ancestors. As this “secret wisdom” can almost always be traced to recent sources, tellers of these stories have often later admitted they made them up.