Pagan Symbols and Themes: Water Well, Linden Tree and Sun
The early Christian church forbade the veneration of groves, trees, stones and wells. Veneration of such things did not figure prominently in the Christian religion, so presumably the intent of such laws was to end pagan cult practices. Places where water sprang from the earth were considered to be sacred to the pagan. Folktales and saga are filled with the remnants of ancient beliefs concerning the water cult, which are difficult to fully understand today. We know from early historical accounts that ancient Allemanic and Frankish tribes prayed at the edge of springs, lit candles and peered into the reflected light of the pool. They left sacrifices on the banks or threw offerings into the water. Incantations to the water spirit were often recited there. Water had healing, strengthening and redemptive properties and Nordic tribes blessed and sanctified newborns with water. Similar to the Christian custom of Baptism, pagans also believed in human redemption and transformation brought about by water. An ancient rite required that newly married women throw an offering into the water of a well located in a sacred grove, often made up of oaks, ash or linden trees.
The linden tree (British English = lime) is a frequent pagan marker in sagas and fairy tales. Germanic tribes assembled under the linden tree and held celebrations and dances there. But most importantly, judicial or thing meetings were held under the linden semi-annually. It was believed the tree facilitated the discovery of truth and it has been associated with justice and jurisprudence ever since. In rural Germany during the Middle Ages, courts were frequently held and verdicts read under the linden tree (See The Stone Table of Bingenheim).
In ancient mythology the sun frequently appears as a god. A distinctly pagan sentiment is that the gods enjoy gazing at human beauty and often like to mingle with humans. This pagan element is prominent in the first paragraph of Frog King. The sun, which had seen so much in its day, was amazed whenever it gazed upon the princess’s face.
Fairy tale factum:
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