Do you ever just want to scream in the woods and go absolutely feral? Are you tired of being a cog in the capitalist machine and being ashamed of your deepest and darkest desires? Do you want to give it all up and become a bog witch?
Well, my friends, perhaps you should consider: goblincore.
Wait, what is goblincore?
If we’re speaking about ‘traditional,’ folktale-style goblins, we’d be talking about green-skinned rejects and ragtags of society, often seen wearing ragged clothes, working in mines, murmuring and mumbling in shrill voices and hoarding shiny objects.
As various literary criticism of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books surmises, these loveable nasty little critters are often used as anti-semitic material, associating Jewish people as ‘dirty greedy gremlins’ (yikes). (Fun fact! It’s the same reason why old-school Halloween-y witches have ‘big hooked noses’ and moles.)
But, a new internet community of people who want to live like goblins, is trying to change that depiction and, in turn, the goblin discourse.
(Y’all ready for this?)
‘Goblincore’ was one of a number of new trends that emerged on Tumblr around 2018. It took lifestyles and aesthetics that were completely divorced from our everyday modern big cities lives, and idealised them in a means of escapism.
People thought: Oh, to be a grandma knitting a nice woolen coat for my tea set in my sweet antique home, which created grandmacore. Or to live in a tiny cottage in the woods alone with nothing but mother nature and my thoughts (cottagecore). Or, ya know, to be a goblin in a bog hoarding shinies and projecting my most feral desires into the universe and not being judged for it (goblincore).
“Being a goblin is a little different for everyone,” reddit user buzafaszkalasz told Syrup, “[but it stems from a] deeply rooted hate for capitalism and a lot of aspects of today’s world. Goblins just want to be free of this system and its ideals and requirements.”
“We do call ourselves goblins, gobs and gobbos,” admits Reddit user tasareinspace, “but not in the same way that like I’ve seen from other communities that “identify as” something like puppyboys [or] puppygirls in the BDSM scene.”
“It’s more of identifying with a culture than identifying with “being” the thing. I personally don’t think I am or was meant to be a little green creature, I just like shiny things and other gob stuff.”
“We wanna live in the forest in harmony with nature and just appreciate the little things. We also don’t want to succumb to the ideal way of being and acting, we wanna be feral and wild and be ourselves. That’s mostly it.”
What kinda person wants to become a goblin?
As to how far someone is willing to take their duties as a goblin and what lead them down this earthy little green path differs from person to person. Or rather, goblin to goblin.
Many in the Goblincore Reddit community admit that they came across goblinism from a dissatisfaction with the way our society is run. Capitalist desires and responsibilities like a 9 to 5 job, “buying generic things you can find in shops,” and not having the time to take a moment to feel the dirt and worms in between your toes and be one with mother nature.
“Does anyone else get sad because your circumstances make it impossible to live the life you want to,” asks self-described sad goblin and reddit user baileybean3, reminiscing the times they spent, ‘being in nature and walking through my creek back home barefoot and seeing my mom’s chickens and my dad’s bees and our dog and picking black raspberries in the hedgerow[,] pretend[ing] I’m a wood nymph sustained by the juices that stain my lips red.”
“I see all the posts on here and on tumblr and I swear I tear up because I feel like there’s a part of me that’s missing and an innocence that I’ll never get back because I’m suppose to head into a much too serious part of my life where all that matters is money and I can’t stand it.”
As they see it, being a goblin is a means of rebelling against your adult responsibilities and expectations put on you. Giving it and the various cogs in the capitalist machine your tiny middle green finger.
To put simply, as reddit user GirlCanGame told Syrup, “it’s all about f[uck] capitalism and collect shiny rocks[,] man.
Harper, is a 16-year-old baby goblin and the user behind the Goblimcore (not a typo) Tumblr account, one of thousands of blogs sharing text posts and memes about goblin living. For them, they fell into goblin culture from a desire to find their identity and a place to belong.
“Before [being a] goblin, I was mostly flopping around with aesthetics,” they told Syrup via a private message on Tumblr. “I didn’t know if I wanted to be decora, punk [or] romantic goth. I just didn’t know what I wanted to look like. [But now,] I suppose I dress like a goblin.”
“I wear a lot of baggy clothes and a lot of overalls! I wear some jewelry that I find lying around my room or my house like some rings I find or a necklace I find hanging out in my closet.”
“When I first came across goblincore, I was pretty much instantly in love with it… I always had a strong liking to the woods or marshes and [the idea of] collecting anything that pleased the eye was super fun and really home for me. It was a very comfortable feeling.”
So, do people actually dress up like a goblin, collect jars of teeth and live in swamps?
While some accounts of people living like goblins claim they live near swamps and collect jars of literal bones and teeth and worship them as shinies (AKA pleasing little objects to collect), the goblins we spoke to were a little more philosophical in their practice.
“I think living in a bog would be great honestly,” Harper admits, whose shinies collection consists of shiny buttons, rocks, stickers, rings, necklaces and marbles. “A bog just seems like a great place to be, a sweet lil get away, away from the world and with yourself and perhaps anyone else you wish to take with you.”
Then, there’s Emma Orbach, a 59-year-old woman and bog witch.
Twenty years ago her and her husband bought a tiny farm house in the middle of the Welsh woods. Now she’s living independently and completely without electricity and not only recommends it, but has never once regretted it.
She went from living it up in a Victorian castle to a tiny home made purely of trees, leaves, mud and horse poop (to keep your muddy wooden hut intact).
Hi MTV and welcome to my muddy little crib.
There’s an innate sense of tranquility and acceptance with one’s identity and situation with these goblins that can be quite alluring. In a world where practically everything we do has an impact on the environment, it can be hard to manage our eco-anxiety. And, in a way, these goblin lifestyles feel like a response to that.
Whether you want to be collecting bones and teeth aside (one aspect Syrup does not recommend…), there’s a reason goblincore resonates with so many people. As political leaders gain more and more dangerous levels of power and our government continues to fail to act on environmental and health crises, the concept of fleeing to the woods becomes more appealing, especially to younger generations.
Outside of that (and those jars of teeth and bones…), goblincore seems like a community of people who, alienated from mainstream society and culture, found a place to belong. And, as a queer person who experienced that themselves, I can’t blame them for finding that.
“Though goblins in folklore are usually seen as a danger or a nuisance,” said Harper. “I would think that, in the modern age, people enjoy goblins as they’ve become a symbol for thinking about nature rather than destruction.”
See y’all in the swamp.