If cottagecore is all about connecting with the pastoral, decorating with woven baskets, and making fresh-baked sourdough, goblincore is its "ugly" step-sister. It asks you to ditch the romantic white linen and pull on your rain boots and a raggedy sweater.
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Goblincore is an aesthetic trend that grew in popularity during 2020's COVID-19 lockdown (and its sociopolitical chaos), when people turned to aesthetics as, well, a way to make reality more bearable and meaningful. It's all about mushrooms, snails, moss-covered rocks, and scavenged items like seeds and acorns. Throw a few shiny coins and jewels in the mix, and you'll be well on your way to the goblin's mossy lair.
A bit about goblins:
Goblincore wouldn't exist without the mythos of the goblin: a forest creature who is said to be mischievous, trouble-making, and more than a bit magical. Cue Cristina Rossetti's Goblin Market poem, which explores the temptation of goblin fruit. Goblincore, in a way, gets away from ideals of purity and embraces something grittier and darker.
Goblins are very often found in British and European folklore, with possible origins in 12th-century Normandy, where the "gobelinus" haunted the people. Goblins don't belong to Europe alone, though; there are goblin-like creatures across the globe, including the Tengu of Japan, Trasgu of Spain, or the Tokoloshe of South Africa.
No matter which goblin we're talking about, they're all similar in depiction. They are often small, with wiry hair, rough skin, a high-pitched voice, and big ears. Depending on who you ask, they may be demi-human (of a human-like race) or a sort of nature spirit.
It's worth noting that although these creatures usually want nothing more than to steal your jewelry, taunt your children, or ride your horses through the night, some are said to be benevolent.
A note on the name:
Goblincore goes by other names, including dirtcore, gremlincore, feralcore, or cottagegoth (my personal fave). These alternate names may be used to get separation from J.K. Rowling's goblin bankers in Harry Potter, which have been called anti-semitic, according to Mashable.
Goblins may be ugly, but goblincore is beautiful:
Although it may sound like goblincore is just a rehashing of our childhood selves — making potions out of leaves and twigs, and turning over rocks to find salamanders — like other -core aesthetics, it's more than what meets the eye.
For all its so-called ugliness, it captures a specific kind of beauty: The beauty of what has been "othered." Goblincore centers ferality, a rejection of gender and beauty norms, getting your hands dirty through curiosity and exploration, and embracing the untidy, so it's perfect for people who are tired of cottagecore's aspirational minimalism and want to connect to nature in a deeper way.
Goblincore is also "popular in the LGBTQ+ community, especially among non-binary, transgender, and demigender people," according to Aesthetics Wiki.
Oh, and it's pretty witchy, too. With goblincore's inherent ties to realms like herbology and the spirit world, the intersection with witchcraft is clear. As capitalism makes access to care and stability more and more challenging — especially for marginalized folks — all things magical and natural have come into greater focus.
So, if you've ever daydreamed of walking into the woods never to return, or turning your bedroom into the set of Labyrinth, goblincore is for you.
Golblincore is all about found items:
If being neat and tidy is your thing, here's your warning: Goblincore isn't that. This aesthetic embraces the mess and the beauty of meaningful, personal stuff. Take one look at #goblincore on TikTok and you'll see shelves and mantels full of crystals, ceramic mushrooms, terrariums, bones, dried herbs, found items, art prints of the natural world, and rocks (which many folks paint with a clear gloss, because the shinier, the better). Think mad scientist meets genius botanist.
It's all about bringing the woodland in. Pick up these Mushroom Storage Boxes and this Lichen Curio Collection; decorate your desk or coffee table with trinkets and charms galore. Adorn a reading nook with this Woodland Moss Art and Mushroom Night Moth Tapestry, or make your space extra cozy with this earth-toned Color Field Wool Throw Blanket. Dark nature tones are key in this aesthetic. Think forest green, rusty red, and rich soil brown.
Lighting is important, too. Just as a goblin might steal your shiny pocket watch, you'll want to fill your home with beautiful, glinting things that catch the eye — like this Mushroom Night Light or this glimmering Woodland Faerie Lantern. This Hedge Witch Candle works perfectly as well.
And if you're aiming for magic, make or procure a Faerie Portal Mirror, which blends the mystical qualities of folklore with a goblin-y green thumb.
Scent is also part of the goblincore experience. One Reddit user, @thedoctorcat, explains, "I have been collecting moss and bones and things I find in the woods. When I can't get in nature, I try to smell like it. My favorite perfumes consist of scent notes like oakmoss, trees, vanillas, musk, patchouli, dirt, and baking spices."
Want to capture the great outdoors? Try this Imaginary Authors Cape Heartache fragrance.
Goblins are also eco-friendly:
Goblincore is associated with sustainability and eco-friendly goods, since it's so inspired by Mother Earth. While it may be tempting to buy a bunch of 'stuff' that fits the aesthetic, you should start out by exploring thrifted goods, vintage and found items, and support companies that make sustainable wares. You can use the above items and descriptors to help you find your way, but ultimately, goblincore is all about pre-loved and natural items that tell a story.