Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fairy Tale of Prince and Horse, Chapter 3: The Magic Charm Used to Beseech the Horse

And this is the charm the prince was to use when he beseeched his horse to prophesy the future:
Huzza, huzza, hinny-whinny.
Fly like a hawk, shake like thunder.
Eyes like the sun,
Hooves swift-footed.
Your lightning-gait,
Your mane gold-plait.

Huzza, huzza, hinny-whinny.
Fly like a hawk, shake like thunder.
Legs are leaping,
Ears are keeping.
Your truth be told.
Your signs unfold.

Huzza, huzza, hinny-whinny.
Fly like a hawk, shake like thunder.
All-seeing – tell.
All telling – see.
Horse-laugh prophesy!
Horse-neigh prophesy!

Chapter 4:

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fairy Tale of Prince and Horse, Chapter 2

How the Horse Outfoxed River Witches and Forest Witches

The sun hung low in the sky when the prince and his swift-footed steed reached a lucious flower meadow. They rode through it and came to a gently rolling river. “We shall cross the river and go to the castle in the distance,” the prince said. But his horse replied: “The river is enchanted by witches. Once in the middle of the stream, the water would swell up so violently, it would devour us both. Take hold of my mane, we shall leap across instead.”

The youth took hold of his horse’s mane and in a single leap, both horse and rider reached the other side. With another leap they found themselves in the center of the forest. The youth looked around in amazement and saw majestic oaks and in a clearing, he could see a cabin. “Wait dear steed, for I long to find refreshment in that house I spy! I hear a wonderful and sweet song coming from within.” It was the enchanted song of witches, luring him to his doom.

“We must leave here,” the horse replied. “You shall not endeavor to reach that hut or we shall come to blows and the winner will then decide where we go.”

“Well let us try then,” the young man answered laughing. Both took hold of each other and a wrestling match ensued. As it happened, the young man was soon lying on the bottom. But the witches in stealth had encircled them whilst they wrestled. The steed said “Quickly jump to my back and hold fast to my mane! I shall kick our way free!” The powerful steed kicked with his hindquarters and pranced and jumped free of the forest with a single leap. Now prince and steed were well on their way and soon approached the castle of a foreign king, who had a beautiful daughter.

Chapter 3

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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Fairy Tale of Prince and Horse: How a prince allied with a horse overcame witches.

Chapter 1: The Nature of Horses: How the Horse Runs in Freedom and Understands All Wild Things
In times of old a king went to war and he was gone nine years. He left behind a young wife and his one-year old son. The king loved this son dearly. When he took leave from his wife, he made her pledge to care for this dear child with the greatest diligence and utmost prudence. The mother promised to do this. She alone would feed him and place him in his cradle. She would not allow another living person to even take him in arm. And so, the boy grew quickly like a radish.

In his fifth year, he was as big as a ten year old and had good sense and understanding. When he was eight, the young prince had already grown into a strapping young fellow, whose sole yearning and longing was to brandish a sword. He said: “Dear little mother, there is nothing for me to do at home, I want to go into the world and look for father.” “Good, good my dear son. Prepare yourself and go into the world. I also want to see father again.”

In the early morning hour, before the cock had crowed, the prince was on his way. Toward evening he reached a large wood and directly at the edge of this wood, he saw a man’s head. It was as large as a haystack and below the head lay a sword. He wanted to remove the sword but the head spoke: “Dear son, if instead you undertake to kill the magician who struck off my head with this sword, the sword will be yours, otherwise not.”

“Well and good Dear Head, I will help you. But can you not tell me where my father is?” “Dear son, when you have slain the magician and have returned to me, I will tell you where your father is. But listen well! The magician lives in a rocky cliff. Do not go to him as you are, but instead put on my armor and mount my steed. In the hollow of the that tree you will find armor and steed. And one more thing: stagger him a single blow, do not strike him twice. Otherwise, the miscreant will come back to life.”

The prince mounted the swift-hooved steed and flew like the wind to the rocky cliff. He suffered the magician such a severe blow, that his head dropped to his shoulders but did not fall off entirely. The magician said: “Have pity on me and strike off my head completely, so I suffer no pain.” But the prince replied: “A true warrior hews only once. I will not hew a second time.”

“Then I must die at once for your are my superior,” the magician replied and drew his last breath. Prince and steed flew back to the Head, which said: “Be joyful for you have released me from the spell. I will help you in the future in every way you have helped me. Take my horse, for the horse runs in freedom and has the understanding of all wild things. In times of dire distress, beseech the horse three times and he will give you wise counsel. Now return home, for your father will also be on his way and will meet you there.” The prince turned his horse and in one leap he found himself home.

As the sun set behind the hills, the father's figure could be seen on the horizon. The mother was exceedingly happy. She embraced her husband. She embraced her son. Her joy found no bound or limit. And so they lived in peace and contentment for some time. But after a while the son said: “Father, let me go out into the world to seek my fortune and test my strength.” Good, the father was satisfied. He gave his son the swift-footed steed and escorted them to the border of his kingdom.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Grimm's Saga No. 538, Siegfried and Genofeva

Genofeva in the Forest

When Hildolf was Archbishop of Trier, the Palatinate Count Siegfried lived with his wife Genofeva, the daughter of a Duke from Brabant. She was fair and pious. It happened that a campaign was launched against the pagans and Siegfried had to go to war. He ordered Genofeva to live a quiet life of reclusion at his castle in Meifelder Gau. To Golo his trusted servant, he encharged his wife and requested that he be vigilant in watching over her. The last night before his departure, Genofeva received a child from her husband. When Siegfried was gone it did not take long for Golo to be aroused by sinful desire for the fair Genofeva. Finally, he could restrain himself no longer, but declared his intentions to the Palatinate Duchess. Filled with repugnance, she rejected him. In response, Golo wrote false letters pretending that Siegfried had drowned with all his men at sea and read them aloud to the Duchess. The entire kingdom belonged to him, he said, and she could love him without fear of sinning. But when he wanted to kiss her, she hit him hard in the face with her fist and he noticed that he would not accomplish anything. He changed tack, took away from the noble woman all her servants and maids so that she suffered enormously in her pregnancy. When her time came, Genofeva bore a beautiful son and no one but an old washer woman stood by and comforted her. Finally she heard that the Palatinate Duke was still alive and would return soon. She questioned the messenger and approached Golo, who had received the same news. Golo was beside himself with fright and thought all was lost. In his distress he turned to an old witch for counsel. She asked why he was so forlorn. The Palatinate Duchess bore her child at a time when no one could know who the father was, whether it be the cook or some one else. “Tell the Palatinate Duke that she took the cook as lover. He will have the cook killed and you will live in peace.” Golo said “That’s good advice,” and so he hurried to his master and told him the entire lie. Siegfried was mortified and sighed mournfully. Golo said “It is not proper for you to keep this woman as your wife.” The Palatinate Duke replied “What should I do?”
The unfaithful servant said “I will take her and the child to a lake and drown them both in the water.” After Siegfried agreed, Golo seized Genofeva and the child and gave them to the servants with instructions to kill them. The servants led them into the forest, but one among them said “What have these innocents done?” And they exchanged words but no one knew anything bad that could be said of the Fair Genofeva and no reason why she should be killed. “It is better,” they said, “that we let wild animals tear them apart than stain our hands with their blood.” And so they left Genofeva alone in the wild wood and went out. But because they needed a sign to bring to Golo, one of them said it would be best to cut out the tongue of their hound. And when they came to Golo, he said “Where have you left them?” “They are murdered,” the servants replied and showed them the tongue.

Genofeva cried and prayed in the desolate wilderness. Her child was not yet 30 days old and she could no longer nurse the child. She prayed to the Holy Virgin Mary for help and suddenly a roe deer leapt through the bush and sat down next to the child. The deer was able to suckle the child and he drank. Genofeva stayed at this place for six years and three months. She nourished herself on roots and herbs that she found in the forest. They lived under fallen tree trunks that Genofeva was able to pull together in layers to form a kind of dwelling.

After some time, the Palatinate Duke rode out into the forest to hunt. As the hunters rushed their hounds, they saw the same roe deer that nourished the boy with her milk. The hunters pursued the deer and because there was no way out, it fled to the spot where the two walked daily. It threw itself as usual at the feet of the boy. The hounds pressed forward while the child’s mother took a stick and warded off the hounds. At that moment the Palatinate Duke arrived, he saw the miracle and he ordered the dogs to be called back. He asked the woman whether she was Christian. She replied “I am a Christian, but completely uncovered. Give me your coat so that I can hide my shame.” Siegfried threw down his coat and she covered herself. “Woman,” he said “Why don’t you get food and clothing for yourself?” She replied “Bread I have none; I eat the herbs that I find in the wood; my clothing became worn and fell apart a long time ago.”
“How many years have you been here?”
“Six years and three moons is the time I have been living here.”
“To whom does the boy belong?”
“He is my son.”
“Who is the child’s father?”
“God alone knows.”
“How did you come here and what is your name?”
“My name is Genofeva.”
When the Palatinate Duke heard the name, he thought of his wife, and one of the Duke’s men stepped forward and said “By God that looks like our lady, who died some time ago and she had the same beauty mark on her face.” And every one saw that she had the same mark. “Does she still have her wedding ring?” Siegfried asked. The two went out and saw that she still wore the ring. The Palatinate Duke embraced her and took the child in his arms “This is my wife and this is my child,” he said. The good wife now told him everything that had happened, word-for-word. And everyone cried tears of joy. The faithless Golo was also found and brought forth. The crowd wanted to kill him but the Palatinate Duke cried out: “Hold him until we can determine whether he is worthy of dying.” It happened and Siegfried ordered four oxen, who had not yet pulled the plow, to be tied to the four parts of the body, two on his feet and two on his hands and then to make the oxen move forward. When they were tied in this way, each oxen moved forward and Golo’s body was torn into four pieces.

The Palatinate Duke wanted to bring his wife and child home. But she refused and said: “At this holy site the Virgin saved me from the wild beasts and preserved the life of my child by sending a roe deer. I will not leave this place until it is properly consecrated and honored.” The Palatinate Duke immediate sent word to Bishop Hildolf and everything was reported to him. The Bishop was happy and consecrated the site. After the consecration, Siegfried led his wife and son to the spot and they ate a solemn meal. She asked her husband to build a church there, which he promised. The Palatinate Duchess could no longer eat food, but instead ate the herbs she was used to and had gathered from the wood. She lived only a few days and then returned to God in heaven. Siegfried had her bones buried in the Forest Church, which he had built. This Chapel was called Our Lady (not far from Meyen) and many miracles happened there.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Ostara, Easter Bunnies and Colored Eggs

Ostara is the Germanic goddess of spring and the rising morning sun. She represents nature’s resurrection from its deep winter sleep. A daughter of Woton and Fricka, she accompanied her brother Donar when he led the many processions celebrating victory over the winter giants in spring. She was also called the May Queen and the figures known as the May Count and May Countess, who often presided over Easter pageantry and spring festivals, most certainly are references to Donar and Ostara.

Reverence for the goddess was so firmly rooted in ancient ceremonies celebrating the vernal equinox that her name was subsequently transferred to the Christian feast day commemorating the resurrection of Christ. “Ostar” means morning, or rather, the direction from which the first spring rays of sunshine emanate. Easter month is the month of April, the time of nature’s reawakening and the Christian festival of resurrection.

On Easter Sunday the sun purportedly took three leaps of joy – delighting over the return of spring according to early pagan beliefs. The priests said these “jubilatory jumps” honored the risen Christ.

According to folk tradition, Easter water must be collected from a flowing stream at daybreak and the person who carries it home must not let any sound escape from his lips. If he forgets, the Easter water becomes babbling water and it loses all of its healing properties. The water must be scooped up at the precise moment the sun rises and the collector must bow three times in the direction of the sun. Sealed bottles of this holy water were stored in dark places and used throughout the entire year as healing agent against eye ailments and other sufferings.

The rabbit, considered to be Ostara’s favorite animal because of its fecundity, and the egg, considered to be a symbol of germinating life, were therefore dedicated to the goddess and forever associated with springtime celebrations. This gave rise to the belief that the Easter Bunny laid Easter Eggs on Maundy Thursday. Naturally, the eggs were dyed the colors of Donar and Ostara, red and yellow. Such colorful eggs were then brought to the gods as spring offerings. The custom of dying and presenting eggs at Easter has survived to this day.

The first night in the mild month of May was dedicated to the goddess Ostara. Giant fires were lit symbolizing the power of Donar and May flowers were strewn to honor the goddess Ostara. There were celebratory processions and in some locations it was popular to burn an effigy representing the giant-winter. Conquered by Donar’s superior power, this ritual burning signified winter’s power now broken. As Europe became Christianized, this spring narrative changed from “Nature is awakening” to “Christ is risen”.

Later, an attempt was made to remove the fervently revered goddess Ostara from the picture altogether, replacing her with the Holy Saint Walpurga. The saint’s feast day was set on the eve of April 30 to May 1st. Easter bonfires were now referred to as the devil’s fire and Ostara and her attendants became witches. The festival associated with the goddess was now referred to as the witch’s Sabbath and was supposedly held at Blocksberg Mountain. Blocksberg is the Brocken, the highest mountain in the Harz region of Germany. This mountain is closely tied to German folklore as is the Teutoburg Forest. On Walpurgistnacht witches were said to ride their firey broomsticks through the air and meet at this dancing site.

To protect against such dreadful demons, a farmer was advised to paint three crosses on his barn door and place a broom across the threshold because malevolent spirits were said to retreat at the sight of a cross and broom. Whoever did not take such precautions might find that his cows had been visited by a dreadful disease in the morning, or that they now gave red instead of white milk.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Theme of Death and Resurrection in Fairy Tales

Embraced by thorns: the Fairy Tale of Sleeping Beauty, in which a maid is brought back to life.

A long time ago there lived a king and a queen. Each day they said to each other “If only we had a child!” for it was their most fervent desire. But alas, they never had one. Now one day it happened that the queen was sitting in her bath and a frog came out of the water. It crept onto the shore and said to her “Your wish shall be fulfilled, before a year passes you shall have a daughter.” What the frog foretold did indeed happen and the queen bore a little girl. She was so beautiful that the king was beside himself with joy and called together a celebration. He not only invited relatives and friends, but also the Wise Women, so that they would be well disposed toward the child. There were thirteen Wise Women in his kingdom, but because he only had twelve golden plates for them to eat from, one would have to stay home. The party was celebrated in splendor and when it was over, each of the Wise Women presented the child with a wonderful gift: one bestowed virtue, the other beauty, the third riches, and so on and so forth with everything that could be wished for upon the earth. When eleven of these wise women had bestowed their blessings, the thirteenth suddenly appeared. She was ready to take revenge because she had not been invited to the party. Without greeting or even looking at any of the guests, she called out in a loud voice “The king’s daughter shall prick her finger in her fifteenth year and fall over dead!” She did not utter another word, but turned around and left the hall. All were aghast. But the twelfth wise woman still had one wish left over. Because she could not negate the evil spell but could only mitigate it she said “The king’s daughter shall not die, but only fall into a deep sleep lasting one hundred years.” The king, who wanted to save his dear child from this misfortune, sent out the command that all spindles in the entire kingdom should be burned. But all the blessings of the Wise Women were fulfilled for the child. She was so beautiful, demure, friendly and attentive that anyone who saw her had to love her. It happened that on the very day she turned fifteen, the king and queen were not at home and the girl remained all alone in the castle. She wandered through all the rooms and chambers and finally came to the old tower. She climbed the tight spiral staircase and reached a small door. In the lock was a rusty key and when she turned it, the door sprang open. In a small chamber sat an old woman with a spindle and spun her flax skillfully. “Good day, old grandmother,” the king’s daughter said. “What are you doing here?” “I am spinning,” the old woman replied and nodded her head. “What kind of thing is this that spins around so cheerfully?” the girl asked and picked up the spindle and also wanted to spin. She had barely touched the spindle, when the magic spell was fulfilled and she pricked her finger. In the moment she felt the sting, she fell onto a bed beside her and was soon in a deep sleep. A heavy slumber soon spread throughout the entire castle: the king and queen, who had just come home and entered the hall, fell asleep and the entire court with them. The horses fell asleep in their stall, the dogs in the courtyard, the doves on the roof and the flies on the wall. Even the fire in the oven flickered, became quiet and died down and the roast stopped roasting. The cook, who was pulling the hair of the kitchen servant, let go and fell asleep. And the wind quieted until not a single leaf moved in the trees in front of the castle. A thorn hedge began to grow around the castle, which was higher each year and finally encircled the entire castle. It grew over the castle walls and soon, nothing more could be seen, not even the banners on the roof. The story circulated throughout all the land that a beautiful Thorn-Rose slumbered inside, because that is what the king’s daughter was called. From time to time the sons of kings came and tried to penetrate the hedge and enter the castle. But it was not possible. It was as if the thorns had hands, which were clenched firmly together. The youths got stuck in the thick branches, could not free themselves and died a mournful death. After many years another king’s son arrived in the land and heard an old man tell of the thorn hedge. A castle supposedly stood behind it, in which a beautiful king’s daughter, named Little Thorn Rose, was already sleeping one hundred years, and with her slept the king and the queen and the entire court. The man also knew from his grandfather that many princes had already come and tried to penetrate the thorn hedge, but they all became entwined in the bramble and died a miserable death. The youth spoke “I am not afraid. I will go out and try to see the beautiful Little Thorn Rose.” The old man tried to dissuade him, but he did not listen to his words. One hundred years had just passed and the day had arrived when Little Thorn Rose was to awake. When the king’s son approached the thorn hedge, it was full of beautiful flowers. The branches opened for him and the thorns parted and let him through unharmed. Behind him, the hedge closed again. In the courtyard he saw the horses and hunting hounds lying asleep and on the roof sat the doves with their heads tucked below their wings. When he entered the house, the flies on the wall still slept, the cook still held his hand in the air as if he wanted to strike the servant and the maid sat before the black hen that was to be plucked. He entered the hall and saw the entire court lying asleep and the king and queen lay on their thrones asleep. He walked further and everything was quiet, you could hear a person breathing. Finally he came to the tower and opened the door to the small chamber where Little Thorn Rose slept. She lay there and was so beautiful that he could not turn away his eyes and bent over and gave her a kiss. When he touched her mouth with a kiss, little Thorn Rose opened her eyes, awoke and blinked joyfully at the prince. They walked down the winding staircase and the king and queen and the entire court awakened. They all looked at each other in amazement wide-eyed. The horses in the courtyard stood up from their sleep and shook themselves; the hunting hounds jumped and wagged their tails; the doves on the roof pulled their heads from under their wings, looked around and flew out to the field; the flies on the wall began to hum; the fire in the kitchen rose up, flickered and cooked the food; the roast began to get crispy; the cook boxed the youth’s ears so that he cried out and the maid plucked the chicken. The marriage of the king’s son and Little Thorn Rose was celebrated in splendor and they lived happily ever after.

To read more about the Wise Women in this fairy tale, hit the Norns link at the right.
To read more about representations of heaven and the afterlife in fairy tales, hit link at right.
To read more fairy tales about death and resurrection of fairy tale characters, please hit the link Path to Paradise or Little Red Riding Hood.

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