This month: fairy tales from ancient Egypt!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ideas of Good and Evil in Jorinda and Joringel


The old woman in Jorinda and Joringel (full text provided by clicking here) is no ordinary sorceress. In fact she is a magician of the highest order, an arch-sorceress or Erzzauberin. She has gruesome physical characteristics and other unusual attributes, including red eyes and yellow skin, the ability to spit poison and bile and the power to transform herself and others into birds. She is also able to cast spells, which transfix people. Clearly she is aligned with a malignant force. But curiously she is also aligned with Zachiel, who has the power to break her spells and does so at her request. Zachiel in this fairy tale is probably a reference to the archangel Zadkiel, the Biblical angel of mercy (alternative spellings: Zachiel, Zadkiel or Zachariel). Zadkiel is the Patron Angel of all who forgive and according to Judaic tradition, it was Zadkiel who prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac.

The relationship between arch-sorceress and archangel is an interesting one. The witch seems to have authority over the archangel Zadkiel for it is at her request that Zadkiel releases Joringel from the spell. It seems they are working together in some capacity. Or, are they merely representatives of the two forces acting in creation, light and darkness or good and evil? In the Middle Ages these powers were frequently described as angelic or demonic beings. The Biblical portrayal in the New Testament (Pauline Epistles, Colossians, Romans and Corinthians) emphasizes that God has created these powers and they are under his dominion. Some religions claim that there is no omnipotent good power, but rather good and evil are equal forces acting in the world and the human being and creation itself are seen as their battleground.

To read about the fairy tale Jorinda and Joringel, click on the link:





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