Fairy Tale Channel (fairytalechannel.com)

Fairy tales following the seasons and bringing warmth to heart and hearth.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Lizards, Snakes and Creepy Things

Spring is the Time of Dragons, Lizards, Snakes and Creepy Things

According to another version of the legend of NotburgaKing Dagobert held his court at Mosbach. His daughter fled from him because he wanted to force her marriage to a pagan from the Wendt tribe. She was only kept alive in a cave by a snake who brought her herbs and roots, until she finally died there. Wandering will o’the wisps revealed the girl’s grave and the king’s daughter was later found. Two steers pulled the wagon carrying her corpse and they remained standing at the place she is now buried. A church now marks the spot. Many miracles happen at that place. A picture of the snake is also carved in the stone at Hochhausen. An altar portrait shows the same, but here Notburga appears with her beautiful hair, before she was beheaded to satisfy her father’s rage.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Dragons and Lindworms in Ancient Caves in Switzerland

Grimm’s Saga No. 217
Spring Awakening: the Time when Dragons Stir 

Alpine folk in Switzerland have preserved many legends about dragons and lindworms*  In ancient times these beasts dwelled in mountain caverns, often raining down destruction on the valleys below. Today when a mountain river breaks out of its banks, tearing in its torrent trees and rocks as it descends, people still say: “The dragon has flown out.” The following story is one of the strangest ever told:

A barrel binder from Lucerne went out to find wood for his barrels. He became lost in a barren, remote area when night fell. Suddenly he slipped into a deep hole filled with mud. It was as if a spring fed its waters into the depression. On both sides of the floor of this cave were passageways leading into enormous caverns. When the barrel binder wanted to examine these areas more carefully, to his horror he met two terrifying dragons. The man prayed fervently while the dragons wound their tails around his body. But they did him no harm. One day passed and then several. He had to share the dragons’ company from November 6 until April 10**. He nourished himself on the salty moisture that formed on the cave walls. When the dragons sensed that winter was over, they decided to take flight. The first one departed with loud flapping noise while the other dragon also prepared itself. Seeing this the unfortunate barrel binder seized the tail of the dragon and was pulled upward as the beast flew out of the cave. Once above, the man let go and soon found himself in the city. To commemorate the incident he had a priest’s robe embroidered, which can still be seen in Saint Leodagar’s Church in Lucerne. According to church records, the story took place in the year 1420.

*A mythical monster like a giant reptile (or dinosaur).
** Just in time to file his income taxes.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Wood-Wife or Nymph of the Forest

In May time, the poet, wandering in the depths of the forest, is met by the wood-wife  (wood wyf) or nymph of the forest.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The origins of Little Red Riding Hood

Shrouded in Mystery: The Female Hooded Deity

According to the Roman poet Juvenal who wrote around 100 AD, the hood or cucullus was a Celtic invention. It was primarily worn by people close to the land or those routinely exposed to the elements (such as farm laborers, travelers or shepherds). It had a practical funnel-shape, which could be easily pulled over the head and it could also be worn separately or in conjunction with a cape or tunic. Besides having these utilitarian functions, the cucullus could also conceal the identity of the wearer. The most basic information about a person was wrapped in mystery so-to-speak because it was difficult to ascertain the gender, age, occupation or intent of such a cloaked figure.

In areas of Europe occupied by both Romans and Celts, archaeologists have found numerous representations of a hooded deity, which they refer to as genius cucullatus. Some of these figures are considered to be female and are believed to have some connection with earth goddesses. They often carry eggs or other fertility symbols while others carry parchments or scrolls, possibly signifying the wisdom and power associated with healing. It is thus believed these cult figures were revered for their control over prosperity, health and fertility. In 1931 two altars were found in the village of Wabelsdorf, Austria with the inscription “genio cucullato” or “to the hooded deity”. This finding is important because it confirms a formal cult following for these hooded figures. In Britain, genius cucullatus usually appears in groupings of three but in the Rhine-Moselle region of Germany the figure is usually alone and appears dwarf-like. The number three was significant in Celtic thought and the three-in-one function is prominent in the tale of Brigit, who simultaneously represented the functions of mother, guardian of childbirth and goddess of prosperity.

Thus there are ample clues in the archaelogical record but proofs confirming the identity of this figure are slim. All we know with certainty is that a hooded deity has been prominent in the European imagination for thousands of years in an area extending from Bohemia in the East to Ireland in the West.
The Dirneweibl (of Bavarian folk tradition) and the character Little Red Riding Hood share some of the attributes of this mysterious deity: they all wear a cloak, which to some extent conceals their identity; they bring life-giving nourishment in the form of wine, cake and apples and thus represent healing, security and prosperity; the color red ties them to passion, love and fecundity. In short, they represents those basic things associated with the hooded deity. It is perhaps most fitting that such a character be forever shrouded in mystery, leaving most of the story to the imagination.

This article draws heavily on information provided at www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/cucullus.jpg
It is very worthwhile to read the entire article!

To read the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood:


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

On Valentines Day: the mild beam of the soul-breathing glance

βάρβιτος δ χορδας
ρωτα μονον χε.[1]
Anacreon [Ode 1].
Lord Byron

Away with your fictions of flimsy romance,
Those tissues of falsehood which Folly has wove;[2]
Give me the mild beam of the soul-breathing glance,
Or the rapture which dwells on the first kiss of love.

Ye rhymers, whose bosoms with fantasy glow,[3]
Whose pastoral passions are made for the grove;
From what blest inspiration[4] your sonnets would flow,
Could you ever have tasted the first kiss of love.

If Apollo should e'er his assistance refuse,
Or the Nine be dispos'd from your service to rove,
Invoke them no more, bid adieu to the Muse,
And try the effect, of the first kiss of love.

I hate you, ye cold compositions of art,
Though prudes may condemn me, and bigots reprove;
I court the effusions that spring from the heart,
Which throbs, with delight, to the first kiss of love.[5]

Your shepherds, your flocks, those fantastical themes,[6]
Perhaps may amuse, yet they never can move:
Arcadia displays but a region of dreams;[7]
What are visions like these, to the first kiss of love?

Oh! cease to affirm that man, since his birth,[8]
From Adam, till now, has with wretchedness strove;
Some portion of Paradise still is on earth,
And Eden revives, in the first kiss of love.

When age chills the blood, when our pleasures are past—
For years fleet away with the wings of the dove—
The dearest remembrance will still be the last,
Our sweetest memorial, the first kiss of love.
December 23, 1806.

  1. Jump up
    ↑ [The motto was prefixed in Hours of Idleness.]
  2. Jump up
    Moriah[1] those air dreams and types has o'er wove.—[MS. Newstead.]
    Those tissues of fancy Moriah has wove.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
    ^  1. Moriah is the "Goddess of Folly."
  3. Jump up
    Ye rhymers, who sing as if seated on snow.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
  4. Jump up
    With what blest inspiration.—[MS. P. on V. Occasions.]
  5. Jump up
    Which glows with delight at.—[MS.]
  6. Jump up
    Your shepherds, your pipes.—[MS. P. on V. Occasions.]
  7. Jump up
    Arcadia yields but a legion of dreams.—[MS.]
  8. Jump up
    ↑ —— that man from his birth.—[MS. P. on V. Occasions.]

Happy Fairy Tale Valentines Day

There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved. 
George Sand

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Little Frog Queen with the Red Necklace

From the French-speaking part of Switzerland: The Little Frog Queen with the Red Necklace

Once upon a time when wishing still helped there lived a poor hunchbacked woman who ever forth ailed.  Except for one son she had no one, and he wanted to go to school.  The schoolmaster, a good-natured fellow, said to her: “What would you do without your son? He must earn bread for you or you shall perish.”

They lived in a small hut near the forest with a babbling brook alongside. The poor boy went into the forest every day and collected wood to support his mother.  Branch wood and kindling he carried home, but he sold the better wood in the village. Afterward he went to a stream and caught pretty little fishes that he sold in town. Every morning when he entered the forest a beautiful little frog sat there with a red necklace. It blinked at him and hopped around until he was finished. And when he went to the stream to fish, the frog was already there, dove into the water and jumped back and forth with joy.

But what did he see one day when he went to the brook to fish? Behind a broom hedge he saw the trembling little frog held firmly in the bill of a giant bird with long spiny legs and horny beak. The boy grabbed the frog and placed it under his shirt and carried it home.  When his mother saw him she asked “What were you thinking bringing back this frog? There are so many of them hopping around!”

“Oh mother, believe me! This one is quite different from the rest!” And he told her how the frog followed him every day, first in the forest, and then to the stream.  “Alright,” his mother replied. “We shall keep it. Take it to the garden and look after it!”

That afternoon the mother poked around in an old box where she kept scraps of material and found a purse with money.   Amazed she showed it to her son and said she couldn’t fathom how these coins had found their way into the box. After much reflection she said to her son: “By God, I believe this money belongs to us. Take half of it and go to school in the city so you can learn something!” So the boy made his way to France. In the meantime his mother took care of the little frog.  When she ate something at noon or in the evening, the little frog always sat next to her on her leather stool. When the son had no more money, he sent his mother news that he would come home again. One beautiful morning he was there. When she saw him the little frog began to hop around like a fool for sheer joy.

One day the mother received a letter from the city. It said that she had received an inheritance and should come and pick up the money. She didn’’t know anyone in the world who could have left her an inheritance. The mother said to her son: “This small frog brought us luck, of that I am certain!” 

When she had fetched the inheritance the son said to her: “I would like to speak German. If you agree I shall make my way to the city to learn it.” “Good, good, my son. As you wish; I am satisfied.” He set out but he wrote his mother many letters while he was away. One could have sworn that the little frog knew exactly the days the letters would arrive.  It hopped so happily and danced so joyfully before each letter came. But one day the son himself came home. Greetings to you dear mother! This time I will never leave home again.  With the help of my knowledge I will now earn enough so that you can enjoy your dotage!”

The mother replied happily “I will make a good soup and meal to celebrate your return.” She set the table in the chamber and did not forget to set a place for the little frog.

But when the little frog had finished its soup, it became the most beautiful maiden in the world. There was none more beautiful. She said to the young man: “When I was a frog queen I noticed that you were a good and truthful child. Above all you treated your mother well. That is why I ask you now if you will take me for your wife.” 

You can imagine how amazed he was. “I cannot say yes,” he replied, “for all the money we had I spent on my education.”  “Oh, if that’s all,” the frog queen replied, “do not worry. I am rich enough!”

It was decided that they should marry.  The day of the wedding came and they celebrated their marriage in the village. When they returned home instead of their little hut they found instead a beautiful castle.  Many servants came and went from the kitchen to the great hall and from the great hall back to the kitchen to prepare and bring the meal. Now the poor little mother was dressed in fine silk and lace.  They ate and drank for three days. I should know, because I was there and stirred the sauce. When my apron caught fire whilst I bent over the stove, the kitchen maids beat me with wooden spoons round my face until I fell unconscious to the floor . To get rid of me, they kicked me in the behind and shoved me here, where I fell onto this chair to tell my story.

The END many froggy returns!

Read more frog tales!

The Lithuanian Frog, a Tale of Bullets and Love!

Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Monday, January 29, 2018

Dodging versus Catching a Bullet: this Fairy Tale Explores the Theme

dodge a bullet. To n

To dodge a bullet:

To avoid something or some situation that turns out to be undesirable, disastrous, dangerous, or otherwise harmful. (Dodge a bullet - Idioms by The Free Dictionary)
To catch a bullet:

To catch a bullet is something only fairy tale frogs seem capable of! It is inhumanly possible to catch a bullet. It is froggily possible in this fairy tale:

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Frog Prince and Iron Heinrich

A wonderful and strange fairy tale for the frozen days of winter: only iron bands can keep a true heart from breaking.

In times of old when wishing still helped, there lived a king, whose daughters were all extremely beautiful. But the youngest one was so beautiful that the sun, which had seen so much in its day, was amazed whenever it gazed upon her face. Near the king’s castle lay a dark wood and in the wood underneath an old linden tree there was a water well. If the day was very hot, the king’s child went out to the forest and sat at the edge of the cool spring. And if the child was bored, it took a golden ball, threw it in the air and caught it; and that was the child’s favorite plaything.

Now it happened that the golden ball of the king’s daughter did not fall into her little hands, but rather hit the ground and rolled directly into the water. The king’s daughter followed it with her eyes, but the ball disappeared and the well was so deep that it was impossible to see the bottom. She began to cry and cried louder and louder and was inconsolable. And as she cried, some one called to her “You, daughter of the king, what are you doing? You are crying in a manner that even a stone would take pity.” She looked round to see where the voice was coming from, and there she saw a frog that poked its hideous head out of the water. “Oh it’s you, you old puddle splasher,” she said. “I am crying over my golden ball, which fell into the well.” “Be still and do not cry,” the frog replied. “I can help. But what will you give me if I fetch your plaything?” “Whatever you want, dear frog,” she said. “My clothes, my pearls and jewels, but also the golden crown that I am wearing.” But the frog replied “I don’t want your clothes, your pearls or jewelry. And your golden crown, that I surely don’t want. But if you will love me and I will be your mate and play fellow, I will sit at the little table next to you, eat from your little golden plate, drink from your little cup and sleep in your little bed. If you promise me that, I will dive down and fetch the golden ball.” “Oh yes,” she answered. “I promise you everything you want as long as you bring me the ball.” But she was really thinking “How that simple frog prattles on. He sits in the water with his own kind and croaks and can never be the mate of a human.”

The frog, when he had received her promise, dipped his head below the surface, sank deep into the water and after a while he swam to the top again. He held the ball in his mouth and threw it on the grass. The king’s daughter was filled with joy when she saw her wonderful plaything. She picked it up and jumped away with it immediately. “Wait, wait,” the frog yelled. “Take me with you, I can’t run like you.” But what good did it do that his loud croaking followed her, cry as he may! She didn’t listen, hurried home and soon forgot about the poor frog, who had to climb back to his water well.

The next day, when she sat down with the king and his entire court to dinner and ate from her little golden plate, something crept up the marble steps, plitsch, platsch, plitsch, platsch. When it reached the top it knocked on the door and cried “King’s daughter, youngest one, open the door for me.” She ran and wanted to see who it was. But when she opened the door, there stood the frog. She shut the door hastily and returned to the table and was very frightened. The king saw that her heart was pounding and said “My child, what do you fear, is a giant standing at the door to snatch you away?” “Oh no,” she answered, “It is no giant but a loathsome frog.” “What does the frog want with you?” “Oh dear father, when I went to the wood yesterday and sat by the well and played, my golden ball fell into the water. And because I cried so, the frog fetched it. And because he demanded it, I promised that he would be my mate. I never thought that he would creep out his water. Now he is outside and wants to come in.” And the frog knocked on the door a second time and called

“King’s daughter, youngest one,
Open the door for me,
Don’t you remember yesterday?
What you promised me
By the cool water well?
King’s daughter, youngest one,
Open the door for me.

The king said “What you have promised, you must also keep. Go now and open the door for him.” She went and opened the door and the frog hopped inside, followed right behind her feet and went to her chair. There he sat and called “Lift me up to you.” She shuddered, until finally the king commanded it. When the frog sat on the chair, it wanted to be on the table and when it sat there it said “Now slide your little golden plate over to me, so that we can eat together.” She did it, but one could see she did not do it gladly. The frog ate heartily but almost every bite lodged in the princess’s throat. Finally he said “I’m full now and tired. Carry me into your little chamber and make up your silk bed, where we can lay down.” The king’s daughter began to cry and was scared of the cold frog, which she didn’t even want to touch. And now he wanted to sleep in her beautiful clean bed. But the king became angry and said “Whoever has helped you when you were in need, you should not forget later.” She picked him up with two fingers and carried him up and put him in the corner. But when she lay in bed, he crept over and said “I’m tired, I want to go to bed like you. Lift me up or I will tell your father.” She was seized by such a bitter rage that she snatched him up and threw him against the wall with all her might. “Now you will have the rest you seek, you loathsome frog.”

But when he fell down, he was no frog but rather a prince with beautiful and friendly eyes. It had been her father’s will that he become her dearest mate and husband. He told her he had been hexed by an evil witch and no one but she could save him from the water well. Tomorrow they would go to his kingdom . They fell asleep and the next morning when the sun woke them, a carriage drove up with eight white horses. The horses had white ostrich feathers on their heads and walked in golden chains and behind stood the servant of the young king. It was True Heinrich. True Heinrich was so aggrieved when his master had been turned into a frog, that he had three iron bands placed round his heart so that it would not burst for pain and sadness. The carriage now fetched the young king to take him to his kingdom. True Heinrich lifted up both, stepped behind and was filled with joy over the prince’s redemption. And when they had traveled some distance, the prince heard a loud sound behind him, as if something was breaking. He turned and called

“Heinrich, the carriage is breaking.”
No, dear sir, not the carriage,
But the band round my heart,
In pitiable suffering,
Whilst you sat in the spring
And were a frog.”

Again and again the sound was heard and the prince thought the wagon was breaking. But it was only the bands around the heart of True Heinrich, as they broke, because his master was redeemed and now was exceedingly happy.

Links for further reading:



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Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

An Enchanted (and Endangered) Frog Maiden, a Lithuanian Fairy Tale

The Lithuanian Fairy Tale of a King’s Son and an Enchanted Frog Maiden

There once lived a king, who had three sons. He decided that they should all marry at once so he said to them “Children, you have come of age. You shall all marry at once! As soon as you ride out to your intended ones, I shall shoot off my blunderbuss. Wherever the bullet flies, ride in that direction. The person who catches my bullet shall be your bride. That is the maiden you shall bring home.”

The oldest son decided to ride out to his maiden. His father went out and shot his blunderbuss. The bullet sailed slowly through the air and the son rode after it. He arrived at a kingdom. There at the king’s court a princess stood on a flight of stairs. She caught the bullet in mid-air. This daughter was not particularly beautiful because she had pock marks. The son led her home. He now had a wife. And so the second son wanted to ride out. The father went outside again and shot his blunderbuss. The son rode out and arrived in a kingdom. Here the king’s daughter held the bullet in her hand. She was slightly more beautiful and the king’s son led her home. Now the second son also had a wife.
The third son also wanted to ride out. The father went outside and shot his blunderbuss. The son rode after the bullet and arrived in another kingdom and king’s court. There stood a green frog on the stairs and held the bullet in its mouth. The king’s son was frightened. But what could he do? His father had commanded that he bring back the one who caught the bullet. He took home the frog and placed it under his bed. There it hopped around and croaked. Shortly before the wedding the brides opened their windows. All manner of royal presents flew inside. When the frog opened its window, gifts of even rarer beauty arrived.

During the day, the frog was a frog. But at night, it slipped out of its skin and became a beautiful woman. There was no one more beautiful in all the world. And every night the little frog lay down in the bed and how happy the son was when it became a beautiful woman! But when daylight came, the son was sad, because he knew what he had to do. Finally he thought of a way out of his dilemma. He must burn the frog skin so he fetched coal to do it. In the evening when his wife had removed the frog skin, the king’s son threw it onto the fire and it burned. The wife noticed the smell and jumped up immediately. “Now you have destroyed me.” She sat down and wrote a letter to her oldest sister and then said to him: “Go to the smithy and have him forge iron shoes and a sack. He shall give you a piece of iron that is as large as a slice of bread! Place this in the sack and take this letter to my sister! You will find a bed made there for you. As soon as you are there, lay down immediately and place the letter on your neck! If you do exactly as I say, you and I can be together again. Otherwise I will not be yours and you shall not be mine. You have caused the greatest torment for me.” And she flew out of the window.

The king’s son immediately went to the smithy. He made him iron shoes, a sack and a piece of iron as large as a slice of bread. Then he took the letter and went out. He wandered and wandered and finally reached a court. There was nothing there, not even a dog. He went into the house and found a bed made. He lay down immediately and placed the letter on his neck. It wasn’t long before the sister flew inside with the sound of thunder crashing all around. She was spitting and sputtering and screamed: “Who smells like man flesh here? O, brother-in-law, it is you! You are a good bird for me to rip to shreds!” But she took the letter from his neck and read it. “So,” she said. “Get up! Come over here. I will give you something to eat! You have come a long distance and are tired.”
He stood up immediately and said: “Here is your iron bread.”

She cut it into little pieces and he ate it. Then she said: “Go into the garden back and forth!” He did this and soon saw that his shoes had become tattered to bits. He went back inside the room. Immediately the thunder roared again as someone approached. She said “Where shall I hide you?” She hid him behind the oven. Then someone entered the room and said mournfully “What did the evil one do? What torment I have suffered!” The sister replied: “If you saw your husband, what would you do with him?” “I would cut him into little pieces.” Then she flew away.

He crept out from behind the oven and the sister said: “Now go to the smithy and have another pair of iron shoes and sack forged. I will give you another letter for my other sister. When you arrive there, you shall find another bed made. Lay down, cover yourself to your chin, and place the letter under your chin." He did everything as commanded, took the letter and departed. He wandered and wandered. Finally he reached a court. Again he found nothing. Then he went into the house, saw a bed made, lay down inside and placed the letter under his chin. It wasn’t long before someone approached amidst great roaring of thunder, entered the house, spit and sputtered and screamed “Who smells here like man flesh? Oh brother-in-law, I would like to tear you to bits!" But then she took the letter, read it and said: “Get up, come here and eat! Do you have your bread?" He gave her the sack. As soon as she touched it with her knife, the iron turned into bread. She cut it and ate it. Then she said: “Go out into the garden and walk back and forth!” He did this too. Then he saw how his shoes had become tattered to bits. He went back into the house and listened as someone approached. “Where shall I hide you?” the sister asked. “Creep behind the bed!” He crept behind it. Someone entered the room and said: “If you only knew how I suffer!” But the sister said: “If you saw your husband, what would you do to him?” She answered “I would tear him into four pieces.” After uttering these words, she flew away and he crept from behind the bed.

Then the sister said to him: “Go to the smithy and have iron shoes and a sack made. I will give you a letter for my youngest sister. When you arrive at court, you shall find a bed made. Lay down to sleep and cover yourself. Place the letter on your breast!” He went to the smithy, who made him the iron shoes and sack and he departed. He wandered and wandered until he came to a court and found nothing there, not a single living being. He went inside the house. There he found a bed made. He lay down, covered himself and placed the letter on his breast. It wasn’t long until someone rushed inside the house, removed the letter from his breast, read it and said: “Get up and eat!” Once again she took his sack. As soon as she placed her knife on the iron, it became bread. She cut it into pieces and he ate. “Now go into the garden and walk back and forth!” He went into the garden and wandered back and forth. There he saw that his shoes had become tattered to bits. He went back inside the house and while they spoke, someone again approached in a roaring, buzzing sound. She said “Where shall I hide you? Creep behind my skirt!”

Immediately he crept behind it. His wife came happily into the room and the sister said: “If you saw your husband now, what would you do to him? “I would do nothing to him, nothing at all.” She immediately lifted her skirts and said “See, here is your husband.”
She welcomed and thanked him for redeeming her. They both returned to their homeland. When they reached the kingdom, they prepared the wedding feast. All three sons married at once and the father gave the youngest son the kingdom. His bride, the princess, had been enchanted before she was born. It was her fate to remain in frog form until her wedding day. If he had not burned her frog skin, she would have become a woman when she married.

More fairy tales can be found by clicking on the link:

Read more about the Dusky Gopher Frog at 

(Supreme Court Hops Into Case of Endangered Dusky Gopher Frog

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says it will take up a dispute over Louisiana timberland that the federal government called critical habitat for an endangered frog found only in Mississippi.)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Fir Trees Sing in this Swiss Fairy Tale

The Singing Fir Tree

In Switzerland, a story is told about a man named Hans Kreutz, who lived with his wife on Thun Lake in Ralligen. In the year 1555, a thick black fog descended on the village and it would not dissipate. The alarmed villagers retreated to their homes, closed doors and sealed the windows tightly. But a light blue vapor crept under the window sill and the wife breathed in this vapor and in the evening she lay in bed motionless. Hans looked into her eyes and saw no reflection there and in the morning she was dead. Many villagers died that year and the survivors buried their loved ones in the church yard at the outskirts of town, where the mountain and forest swept down abruptly into the valley. While the bells in the church tower were ringing, Hans buried his wife and returned home. For days he did not leave his house. He neither ate nor slept but could not forget the vacant stare of his beloved wife and the sound of the church bells as he lowered her into the grave.

One evening when Hans sat by the fire, he heard the church bells ring out the Ave and they rang and rang and he lost track of the time. He raised his head, for he thought he heard wonderful and sweet singing up high in the Hohlbach Forest near the tree line. But when the church bells stopped ringing, he heard it no more. The next day he sat with longing and waited for the evening church bells to ring out the Ave. At first he heard only the faintest sound of distant singing, but then the melody grew stronger until there could be no mistake. A woman’s voice sang a mysterious and beautiful song, the words of which he could not quite decipher.

But Hans spread word among the townspeople. At night the entire village listened while the church bells rang and soon everyone heard the wonderful singing daily. The singing was soothing and the villagers listened at the edge of the village until the snow began to fall and then they returned to their homes. All but Hans, who wanted to know where the singing came from. The next night when the church bells were ringing, the villagers assembled in the church yard. Hans lit a torch and climbed the mountainside, following the mysterious melody. He did this every evening until one night he finally found a giant fir tree, and its voice was sweet and clear. He shyly gazed upon the tree and in amazement listened to its gentle song.

But Hans could find no rest. The singing fir tree occupied his waking and sleeping hours and he wanted to be in the presence of its song always. In secret he climbed up the mountain during the day and spent long hours near the tree. Some time passed and Hans was called away to visit his family in the next valley.

While he was away, a wood carver from among the villagers, who had seen the beautiful fir tree, decided he needed it to make a wood carving. Because the tree was so magnificent, tall and straight, with perfectly formed branches and trunk, he had it felled and brought down to the valley. From the wood, he selected an enormous block of the trunk that had no scars or branches. From this piece of wood he began to carve an image of the Virgin Mary. He worked day and night on this carving and saw nothing more beautiful than the image of the Virgin growing out of the wood. And after some time, the villagers came to his workshop and marveled at the beauty of the image, its heavenly countenance and mild authority.

When Hans returned to the village after some months, he climbed the mountain and went directly to where the singing fir tree had stood. In its place was only a stump and Hans was gripped by such melancholy, that a loud moan issued from his lips. It was like the howling of a wounded wolf or the shriek of an eagle flying overhead. The loud cries filled the valley, echoing off the cliffs and rocks. When the villagers heard the loud cries from above, they gathered below near the church. And soon in the distance they heard the beautiful, long-missed song. They turned and saw the woodcarver, carrying his statue and saw that it was singing. He placed the statue in the church, where it stands today. And some say, they have heard it singing when a loved one dies. The place where the tree once stood is now called Marienstein. There is a smaller rock nearby, where Hans once gazed upon the fir tree. It is said that in his grief, Hans turned to stone and the place is now called the Kreutzantisch.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Happy Winter Solstice

From The New York Times:

Give Thanks for the Winter Solstice. You Might Not Be Here Without It.

The scientific start of winter offers a moment to reflect on how we might not be here to witness the changing seasons without Earth’s particular tilt toward the sun.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

David & Bing Sing a Christmas Carol

Peace on Earth: Henry, David & Bing Sing


Riding upon the goat, with snow-white hair,
I come the last of all, this crown of mine
is of the holly in my hand I bear
the thryus, tipped with fragrant cones of pine
I celebrate the birth of the divine,
and the return of the Saturnian reign --
my songs are carols sung at every shrine
proclaiming "Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And here is the version by David and Bing:

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Insects: The Butterfly in Winter

The Butterfly
A fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen

A butterfly longed to find a bride; so of course it sought a pretty one amongst the flowers. It inspected an entire meadow full but found that each bloom sat quietly and respectably on its stalk (exactly as is fitting for a young maiden when she is not yet engaged). The only problem was that there were so many flowers and the huge selection threatened to become overwhelming.

The butterfly did not like exerting all this effort. That is why he flew to visit the daisies. The French call this flower “Margerite” because they know that the Margerite can prophesy the future. And this the flower gladly does, if a lover pulls out each petal one by one, while asking a question about his or her intended true love: “Does she love me from the bottom of her heart? – Love so deep, it causes pain? – Does he love me truly? – A little? -- Not at all? –“ These and many other questions the flower will gladly answer.

The butterfly came to the Margerite to ask his question. But he did not pull off the petals. Instead he pressed a kiss onto each little bud. He did this because he reasoned, he would get much farther by showing good will.
 “Margerite, best of all blooms!” he said to the flower. “You are the smartest woman among all the flowers. You can foretell the future. Please, please tell me, shall I win her or another? Which one shall be my bride? When I know the answer, I will fly straight away to her and ask for her hand in marriage.”

But the Margerite Daisy did not respond. She was angry that he had called her a “woman”, when in fact she was a young maiden. There is a difference! He asked a second and third time. When the flower remained silent and would not utter a single word, he decided not to linger any longer and flew away to find his own bride. It was the last days of spring. All around the snowdrops and crocuses bloomed. “They are all very nice indeed,” the butterfly thought. But they are all small fish! Then he flew to the anemones. They were a little too bitter. The violets a bit too effusive. The tulips were too proud. The narcissus too domestic. The lime blossoms were too small and had too many relatives. The apple blossoms, they were as beautiful as roses, but here today, gone tomorrow, depending on how the wind was blowing. The pea blossoms pleased him the most. They were red and white, delicate and fine. They were like good domestic help: pleasant to look at and great in the kitchen. He was just about to ask one to be his bride when he spied a dried-out pod standing nearby, from its tip hung an old blossom. “Who is that?” he asked. “It is my sister,” the pea flower replied. “Aha! Later she will look exactly the same!” he exclaimed and fled because her appearance startled him.Spring passed and summer also ended. Now it was autumn, but the butterfly was still indecisive. Now the flowers all appeared in their finest gowns – but it was all for naught! They were all lacking the fresh, balmy scent of youth. A fragrant aroma is what the heart longs for when it is no longer young. The butterfly now flew to the mum and aster, but there were few to be found. So finally he settled on some crinkly mint.“The mint has no blossom, but its entire being is bud! It is fragrant from top to bottom and emits a flower’s perfume in every blade. I will take the mint as bride!” said the butterfly. And so, he asked the mint for her hand in marriage. But the crinkly mint stood there stiffly and listened silently. Finally it said “We can be friends, but not more than that! I am old and you are old. We can live and help each other, even amuse each other. But marry? Never!” 

And so the butterfly did not marry. He had waited too long, and one should never do that! And so the butterfly remained a confirmed bachelor.

Soon it was late autumn with rain and dark weather. Then water cam and the wind blew cold over the backs of the old willow trees and the branches groaned. It wasn’t the type of weather to fly about in one’s summer outfit! But the butterfly wasn’t flying outside anymore. He had managed to fly into a house, where the logs in the oven burned so brightly and it was as warm as a summer’s day. He considered whether or not he could live in such a cozy little room. “Merely living is not enough!” He finally said. “Sunshine, freedom and a small flower are what I require!” And he flew against the windowpane. The children all came running, admired him, then stuck him through with a needle and placed him in their box of treasures. Nothing else could be done for the fellow now. 

“Here I sit, pricked through by this needle instead of sitting on a flower!” the butterfly sighed. “This truly is not very pleasant! It must be what it’s like to be married, you are stuck to one spot!” And so he tried to console himself.

“That’s cold comfort, indeed,” said the houseplant on the windowsill. “But,” the butterfly thought to himself “One can’t really trust a houseplant. They spend far too much time among people!” 

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St. Joseph in the Forest

Fairy Tales for Christmas:
Click on link below to read the fairy tale!
St. Joseph in the Forest

Monday, December 11, 2017

Saint Joseph in the Forest, a Christmas Legend

Grimm’s Children Legend

No. 1
Saint Joseph in the Forest

There once was a mother who had three daughters. The oldest was naughty and mean. The middle child was much better, although she, too, had her shortcomings. But the youngest was a pious and godly child. The mother was so peculiar that it was precisely the oldest daughter that she loved most and she could not suffer the youngest one. That is why she often sent the poor girl into the big woods to be rid of her. She thought the girl would get lost and never more return. But like every good child, this girl had a guardian angel, who did not desert her. The angel always brought her back to the correct path. However, one day it seemed that her guardian angel was not guiding her by the hand for the child could not find its way out of the forest. The girl ran and ran until evening fell. Then she saw a light burning in the distance, ran toward it and came to a small hut. The child knocked and the door opened. Behind it, she found a second door, where she knocked again. An old man with a snow-white beard and venerable appearance opened the door. It was none other than the Blessed Saint Joseph. He spoke kindly to her “Come dear child, sit next to the fire on my little footstool and warm yourself. I’ll bring you a little clear water if you are thirsty. I don’t have anything for you to eat here in the woods except a few roots. You must first peel and cook them.”

Saint Joseph gave her the roots: the girl scraped them clean, then she took a piece of the pancake and bread her mother had given her and put everything in a little pot on the fire and cooked porridge. When it was finished Saint Joseph said “I am so hungry, give me a bit of your food.” The child was obliging and gave him more than she kept for herself. But God’s blessing was there and so the child’s hunger was satisfied. After they had eaten, Saint Joseph said “Let us go to bed: but I have only one bed. You lay down in it; I will lie on the straw on the ground.”

“No,” answered the child, “you stay in your bed; the straw is soft enough for me.”

Saint Joseph took the child in his arm and carried it to bed. The girl said her prayer and went to sleep. The next morning when she woke up, she wanted to say good morning to Saint Joseph but did not see him. She got out of bed and looked but could not find him in any corner. Finally she saw a sack with money behind the door. The sack was so heavy that the child could not carry it. On it was written that this was for the child who had slept there that night. The child took the sack and jumped away and returned happily to its mother. Because she gave her mother all the money, the woman had to be satisfied with the child.

The next day the second daughter also had an urge to go into the woods. The mother gave her a much larger piece of pancake and bread. The same thing happened to her. In the evening she came to the little hut of Saint Joseph, who gave the girl roots to make porridge. When the girl was finished the Saint said “I am so hungry; give me some of your food.” The child replied “Both of us can eat from the porridge.”

When afterward Saint Joseph offered his bed and wanted to lie down on the straw, the child replied “No, lay down on the bed, we both have enough room there.” Saint Joseph took the girl in his arm, laid her in bed and slept on the straw. In the morning the child awoke and looked for Saint Joseph. He was gone but behind the door the girl found a small sack with money. But the sack was only as large as the girl’s little hand. On it was written “For the child who slept here this night.” The child took the sack and ran home and gave it to its mother. But secretly the girl kept a few coins for herself.

Now the oldest daughter became curious and wanted to go into the woods the next morning. The mother gave her a pancake and as much bread and cheese as her heart desired. In the evening the girl found Saint Joseph in his little hut, just like the other two had found him. When the porridge was finished and Saint Joseph spoke “I am so hungry, give me some of your food!” the girl replied “Wait until I have eaten my fill.” Whatever I have left you can have.” But the girl ate almost everything and Saint Joseph had to scrape the bottom of the little bowl. The good man offered the girl his bed and wanted to lie on the straw. The child accepted this without hesitation, lay down in the little bed and left the hard straw for the old man. The next morning when the girl awoke, Saint Joseph could not be found. But the maid did not worry: she looked behind the door for the sack of money. She thought something was lying on the ground, but because she couldn’t really tell what it was, she bent over and hit her nose on the floor. Something stuck to her nose when she got up. To the girl’s horror it was a second nose sticking to her own. The girl began to scream and howl, but id didn’t help. She had to look at her nose and see how it protruded so very far from her face. She ran away screaming until she found Saint Joseph. She fell down at his feet and prostrated herself. Finally, in his mercy, he took away the nose and what’s more, gave her two Pfennigs. When the girl returned her mother stood in front of the door and asked “What presents have you received?”

The girl lied and said “A big sack full of money, but I lost it on the way home!”

“Lost it!” the mother cried. “We sure want to find it again.” And she took the girl by the hand and wanted to go out searching. First the girl started to cry and did not want to go. But finally she went along. On the way, the two were overcome by so many snakes and lizards, that they could not save themselves. They stung the child until she was dead, but the mother they stung in her foot because she had not raised the girl better. 

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