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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dreams of Slumbering Kings


Grimm’s Saga No. 433: The Sleeping King

The Legend of Saint Guntram, the Goodly King

The Frankish King Guntram was a kindly, peace-loving monarch. Once this king went out hunting with companions and servants. The hunting party criss-crossed the forest innumerable times and soon became confused and exhausted. Only a single companion, the king’s dearest and most trusted, remained with him. Overcome with fatigue, the king sat down under a tree, placed his head in his dear friend’s lap and closed his eyes in slumber. When he was fast asleep, a small animal slithered out of Guntram’s mouth snake-like. It proceeded to the bubbling stream flowing nearby. Pausing at the bank, the creature looked longingly across the water.

The king’s companion noticing everything, took his sword from the sheath and laid it across the brook. The little creature now moved onto the sword and in this manner crossed the stream, where it crept into a hole in the mountainside and fell asleep. After several hours, the creature returned over the same sword-bridge and crept into the mouth of the slumbering king. When Guntram awoke, he said to his companion: “I must tell you my dream and the wonderful face I had. I gazed upon a big, big river, an iron bridge had been built over it. I managed to cross the bridge and entered a cave in a high mountain. An unheard of treasure, the hoard of our ancestors lay hidden in the mountain.”

Now his companion told him what had happened while he slept and how the dream corresponded to the actual apparition he himself had seen. They went to the exact spot and began digging in the mountain, where they found an enormous hoard of gold and silver. It had been concealed there in ancient times.

To read more about the Goodly King Guntram, hit the following Wiki-link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guntram


To read about more slumbering kings:
http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/fairy-tale-of-three-slumbering-knights.htm
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fairy Tale of Three Slumbering Knights


Grimm’s Saga No. 298: The Three Tells

From the wild mountain regions of Switzerland, a Tale of Three Slumbering Knights

According to popular belief among common folk and shepherds, there is a cleft in the rock near Waldsaetter Lake in the wild mountainous region of Switzerland. Here, the three liberators of the country sleep. They are called the Three Tells. They are dressed in their ancient garb but will rise up again from their slumbers as saviors when the time of distress descends over the land. But only the fortunate seeker can find access to the cave.

A shepherd boy told the following story to a traveler: His father pursuing a lost goat among the rocky crevices, entered a cave and just when he noticed that the three men slumbering inside were the Three Tells, the older one, the actual Tell sat up and asked: “What time is it in the world?” In response to the shepherd’s terrified answer “It is close to midday,” the Old Tell replied “It is not yet time that we come.” And he lay down again and went to sleep. However in a time of dire need the boy’s father returned with several companions to wake the Three Tells. Although he often searched for the cave, he never found it again.

More tales of slumbering kings;

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/grimms-saga-no.html

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reading the Fairy Tales of Knight Bluebeard and Knight Goldbeard


Goldbeard Variations

In the debate over the origin of Bluebeard, the identity of the knight has been variously attributed. Some see him as a medieval serial killer of noble birth while others associate him with sundry historical wife-killers. This is an entirely understandable interpretation of the brutal acts at the heart of this fairy tale. But the story also shares many of the elements of a romance and is therefore often read through the prism of such themes: a knight seeks to win the favor of a lady, courtship and marriage follow, expectations and conflicts arise within the marriage, the plucky heroine must develop ingenuity in the face of danger and the trajectory of her personal development is traced.
So how to read this "romance" that is steeped in blood, savagery and barbarism? In defense of Knight Bluebeard, I would argue that the story is not primarily about murder but rather about the cycle of life, death and rebirth. To get at the crux of this fairy tale, the blue beard of the knight offers some clues.

In German mythology the beards of important proto-historical kings were often color-coded. According to folk tradition, Charlemagne had a white, pointy beard, which in some descriptions was said to be gold (although supposedly in real life he was bald and had no beard at all). Kings Otto, Olaf and Friedrich Barbarossa were said to have red beards. The color of the beard was significant because it tied the king to a specific deity. Quite often the deity was Thor or Donar. Thor’s father was Woton, the god of the heavens. His mother was Nirdu-Fricka, the goddess of earth. Thor’s realm therefore was everything in between heaven and earth. His thunder and lightening announced rain, the life-giving element essential for crops, cattle, the fecundity of the earth and life itself. Thor’s beard was red, because this was the color most often associated with lightening in the minds of many Germanic tribes. However the North Friesian and Prussian tribes referred to the blue shimmer of the lightening god. Storms were thought to unleash a blue whip or the blue flame of the god. The beard of the deity was invoked to ward off danger or curse opponents: Donnerwetter! (Thunder Weather!) Blaue Feuer! (Blue Fire!) or in maledictions: Der Donner schlage Dich! (May thunder strike you down!) The lightening itself was likened to the arrows the god shot from heaven or the wedge-shaped stones catapulted by the god with his hammer or axe. Thor drove a cart pulled by goats, which were sacred to him. The skins of sacrificed goats were hung on poles or trees as weather charms. In this role as weather or thunder god, the deity was extremely important to pre-Christian tribes. The Lithuanian thunder god was called Perkunas and he purportedly had a black, crinkly beard. Zeus was the thunder god of the Greeks and by some accounts had a white beard. The Slavonic god was known as the Striker and had a tawny colored beard. In short, you knew the god and the earthly king he was associated with by the color of the beard.

As controller of weather, fertility and crops the god must have seemed fickle, capricious or even bi-polar. The bounty-bringing divinity was just as likely to send a bolt from heaven, striking the head of his victim and severing it from his body with hammer or axe. To appease such an inconstant god, sacrifices were offered. The blood or body parts of the victim were ritually poured or scattered over the ground, the carcass hung on a tree or pole or the body was burned. Animal sacrifice was common but human sacrifice has also been chronicled. It was believed these actions were essential to ward off the wrath of the god and assure the fertility of the earth. Folk memories of these rituals have been incorporated in numerous myths, but perhaps the stories of Osiris and Attis are the most representative. In Norse mythology the god Odin is both sacrificed to and sacrificed as victim. In fact the god-as-sacrifice is a common theme. These myths reflect a belief that the cycle of life-death-rebirth was crucial for the renewal of the earth. In the myth of Thor, the deity kills and consumes his goats each day. But in the evening he wondrously resuscitates them.

Thus the thunder or weather god was viewed both as protector against and unleasher of evil forces. Similarly, earthly kings were judged by the bounty, prosperity or terror created during their reign. A king’s accomplishments were commemorated in folk sayings, songs and stories where his royal parentage and divine ancestry were often emphasized. But this belief in kings as divine beings was changing. When Charlemagne was crowned king, the Church anointed him as God’s representative on earth, underscoring that he was not a deity himself. This was the new party line, so-to-speak and was accepted (at least by some folk). It represents a turning point in how kings and kingship were to be perceived.

In Knight Goldbeard, the otherworldly identity of the main character is suggested in the very first paragraph. Fairy tales and saga frequently use the word knight to denote a person skilled in warfare, usually of royal lineage, who is often imbued with supernatural powers. The specific knight here is further linked to the gods by the gold on his saddle and golden-threaded beard, a color frequently associated with heavenly beings. Like a god the knight freely bestows boons, favors and prosperity on the villagers. But like a fickle weather divinity, he inexplicably turns against those he favors. This fairy tale includes allusions to the sacrifices commonly made to Thor: the girl is described as laughing and jumping like a mountain goat, a reference to the animals sacrificed to the god and the sisters’ fate seems to be a direct reference to the sacrificial offerings hung on poles or trees. It is perhaps shocking to contemplate human sacrifice as a sub-text for a fairy tale, but other tales also include this grim element. The tale of the Goose Girl is probably based on a folk memory of the ritual sacrifice of horses.

In the tale of Knight Bluebeard, meterological elements evoking the weather god feature prominently: Bluebeard thunders (donnerte), the brothers hasten like lightening (wie der Blitz) and they storm up the stairs (stuermten die Treppe hinauf). But this story also contains a marriage and might allude to the sacred marriage between the sky god Thor and his earth goddess counterpart. It fits neatly within the template of myths concerning a union between a mortal and a god. Like the Supernatural Spouse in Fairy Sisters' July Wedding, Bluebeard stipulates certain taboos as condition of marriage. But mortals are frail creatures and mostly unable to fulfill the precepts of the gods. It is the violation of taboo that brings evil, pestilence and calamity into the world. According to Jacob Grimm a very ancient pattern of story telling (and one he traces back to Aeschylus) involves a young woman who, exploring the celestial dwelling of a god, goes from room to room with a key. Finally she opens the forbidden door and unleashes the fury of the gods. It is this crossing of the threshold that often signifies a form of self-destruction for the fairytale protagonist and ultimately redemption and transformation. (Another fairy tale with this theme is Child of Mary).


Read the fairy talea by clicking on link:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/03/fairy-tale-of-knight-goldbeard.html

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Dogs of Dagobert



Grimm’s Saga No. 440: The Dogs of Dagobert
The people of France still commemorate King Dagobert in two adages, the origin of which has been long forgotten:

“When King Dagobert sat down at the table to eat,
His hounds also took their seat.”

And:

King Dagobert, lying on his deathbed, spoke to his beloved dogs:

“The best company is the kind one never has to leave.”

To read more about King Dagobert, hit the following Wiki-link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagobert_I


To read more fairy tales about Dagobert:


http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/king-dagoberts-soul-sails-seas.html

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Monday, April 12, 2010

King Dagobert's Soul Sails the Seas



Grimm's Saga No. 439: King Dagobert’s Soul in the Ship

When goodly King Dagobert left this vale of tears, the dear God allowed Satan to seize his soul because he had not purged it of every sin. The devil took his soul and placed it on a ship and desired to sail the seas with it. But Saint Dionysius did not forget his dear friend. He prayed to God that he might assist the soul and this request was also granted. St. Dionysius took with him St. Mauritius and other friends who had once honored and celebrated King Dagobert during his lifetime. A choir of angels also followed them and guided them to the sea. But when they met up with the devil, they did battle with him. The devil had little power over the saints, was soon vanquished and thrown out of the ship into the sea. The angels then collected Dagobert’s soul and Saint Dionysisus with his choir of angels and saints returned to heaven.



To read about the Dogs of Dagobert:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/dogs-of-dagobert.html

Or about Saint Meinrad and his ravens:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/02/legend-of-saint-meinrad-and-his-ravens.html

Or to read more fairytales:

FairyTaleChannel.com

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fairy Tale of King Redbeard


King Friedrich Redbeard Sleeps in Kyffhaeuser Mountain

There are many legends circulating about this king. They say he is not really dead but will live until doomsday. No other kings shall come after him. Until he returns, he shall sit hidden in the Kyffhausen Mountain. But when he emerges from his slumbers, he will hang his shield upon a withered tree. The tree will at once begin to blossom and a better time will come. In the meantime, he speaks to all the people who happen to wander into the mountain and occasionally he even looks outside. But usually he sits on a bench before a round stone table. Holding his head in his hands, he sleeps while his weary head nods off and his eyes blink drowsily. His beard has grown long. Some say it has even grown through the stone table. But according to others, it has only grown round the table twice. Folks say it must grow around the table three times before the king can awake. But for now, it only reaches twice around the table.

In 1669 a farmer wanted to take his crop of corn from Reblingen to Nordhausen. A man of small stature led him into the mountain where he had to empty his sacks of corn and fill them with gold. The farmer saw the king sitting at the table, but he did not move.

Once it was told that a shepherd was whistling a tune that pleased the king. A gnome led the shepherd inside the mountain. At once the king stood up and asked: “Are the ravens still flying around the mountain?” When the shepherd replied that they were, the king cried out: “Now I must sleep one-hundred more years.”


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