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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grimm's Saga No. 248: The Saga of the Little Mouse

Mouse Mythology

According to Jacob Grimm in Deutsche Mythologie, the soul is a winged being often likened to cacoon, butterfly, cat, weasel, mouse, or snake. In the moody tale of the Little Mouse, a kitchen maid falls asleep and a little red mouse escapes from the dreaming girl’s mouth. The fate of the girl is unguessable, much less the significance of the meager mouse.  But when the creature is unable to return to its original place because of the malice of a thoughtless kitchen maid, the sleeper is doomed. The soul is unable to reunite with its body and the girl dies.

The Thumbling of Grimm’s tales is a similar being. It departs from the dying, sinking body and if it returns at all it believes it had been sleeping. In other stories the soul slips out the sleeper’s mouth in the form of small child. This reflects the notion that the soul of a dying person migrates to and then takes possession of a new body.

In some traditions souls marry, or lovers exchange hearts.  Or as punishment gods must become mortal in the next life and mortals must become animals after death. 

According to Plutarch, good souls hover for some time over the meadow of Hades where they approach truth. The souls of the dead hang from a weak blade of grass above a precipice. In other traditions the soul is pushed to the tip of one’s tongue or many souls balance on the tip of a nail.

Grimm’s Saga No. 248: The Saga of the Little Mouse 

The following story purportedly took place at the estate of a noble family at the beginning of the 17th century near the village of Saalfeld in Thuringia. The maids and servants were all in the kitchen peeling fruit when one of the girls was overcome by fatigue. Removing herself from the workers, she lay down on the kitchen bench to rest, not far from the others. When she had lain there quietly for some time, a little red mouse crept out of her open mouth.  Most of the workers saw it and silently pointed to the animal scurrying away. The little mouse ran hurriedly to the window that was cracked open, slid out and was gone for some time. Now a saucy kitchen maid became curious. Even though the others warned and  tried to dissuade her, the girl approached the  lifeless, soul-less sleeper, shook her, moved her from one spot to the next, and then walked away. Soon the mouse returned, ran to the prior spot where the girl had lain and where the mouse had crept out the girl’s mouth. But now the little mouse could only run back and forth, and because it could not find the place it had originally emerged, it finally disappeared. And so the girl was dead and remained dead. The saucy kitchen girl regretted her deed, but it was all for naught. It was said that in the same household a servant was often pressed while he slept by the Trude, or night spirit. He could not get any rest. But this finally stopped when the maid died.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fairy Tale of the Foundling Bird




(Click the arrow above to see a video of this fairy tale!)

Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 51: The Foundling Bird


Once there lived a forester, who went into the woods to hunt, and when he entered the forest he heard crying like that of a small child. He followed the sound of the bawling and finally reached a tall tree and at the top sat a small child. The mother and child had fallen asleep under the tree and a raptor had spied the child in its mother’s lap. It flew down and snatched the babe in its beak and placed it high in the tree.

The forester climbed up, brought the child down and thought to himself “You shall take the child home and raise it with your own dear little Lena.” So he brought the child home and the two children grew up together. But the child who had been found in the tree and had been carried away by a bird was called the Foundlling Bird.  Foundling Bird and Lenchen loved each other so, that when the one did not see the other, it was sad.

Now the forester had an old cook who took two pails and began to fetch water and she didn’t go out once but went to the well many times. Lenchen saw this and said “Listen, old Sanne, why are you carrying so much water?”  “If you won’t tell a soul, I will reveal it to you.” Lenchen assured her that no, she wouldn’t tell a soul, so the cook said “Early tomorrow morning when the forester is out to hunt, I will boil water and when it boils in the pot I will throw in the Foundling Bird and cook it.”

The next morning bright and early the forester got up and went out to the hunt and when he was away the children were still lying in bed.  Lenchen spoke to the little Foundling Bird “Don’t leave me, I won’t leave you,” and the Foundling Bird replied “Never and nevermore!” And Lenchen responded “I only want to say that old Sanne carried so much water into the house last night that I asked her why she did it.  And she replied she would tell me if I didn’t reveal it to a single soul. She said tomorrow morning when father goes out to hunt she would boil the pot full of water, throw you inside and boil it. Let’s get up quickly, get dressed and make our escape.”

The two children rose, dressed themselves quickly and went out in the world. When the water boiled in the kettle, the cook went into the bedchamber, wanted to fetch the Foundling Bird and throw him into the pot. But when she entered and approached the bed, both children were gone.  She became hideously fearful and spoke out loud to herself “What shall I say to the forester when he returns home and sees the children gone? Quick! Fast behind them so we can catch them!”

The cook sent out three servants to pursue the children and catch them. But the children sat in front of the forest and when they saw in the distance the three servants coming in pursuit, Lenchen spoke to the Foundling Bird: “Don’t leave me, I won’t leave you.” And the Foundling Bird replied “Now and nevermore!”. So Lenchen replied “You shall become a rose bush and I the roses blooming on it!” When the three servants came to the forest, there was nothing more than a rose bush and one rose at the top, but the children were nowhere to be seen. They said to each other “There is nothing here,” and went home and told the cook that they saw nothing in the forest except a rose bush with a little rose blooming at the top. The old cook scolded them “You simpletons! You should have cut the rose branches in two and broken off the little rose and brought it home. Quickly now, go out and do it!” Now they had to go out a second time and search. But the children saw them coming from afar and Lenchen spoke: “Foundling Bird, don’t leave me and I won’t leave you!” The Foundling Bird replied “Now and nevermore!”  Lenchen spoke “You shall become a church and I the crown inside.” When the three servants came this time, they could find nothing but a church and a crown inside They said to one another “What shall we do? Let’s go home”  When they reached home the cook asked if they hadn’t found anything.  They replied, “No, they hadn’t found anything but a church with a crown inside.” “You fools!” the cook scolded, “Why didn’t you smash the church and bring home the crown?”

Now the old cook set out on her own two feet and went to pursue the children with the three servants. The children saw the three servants coming from afar and the cook hobbling behind. Lenchen spoke: “Foundling Bird, don’t leave me, I won’t leave you.  The Foundling Bird replied “Now and nevermore!” Lenchen replied “You become a pond and I the duck swimming on it!” But the cook came running and when she saw the pond, she threw herself over it and wanted to drink it up. But the duck came swimming quickly, grabbed her by the head with its bill and pulled her into the water. And so the old witch had to drown. The two children returned home together with heartfelt joy. And if they haven’t died, they still live today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 51: The Foundling Bird

Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 51: The Foundling Bird

Once there lived a forester, who went into the woods to hunt, and when he entered the forest he heard crying like that of a small child. He followed the sound of the bawling and finally reached a tall tree and at the top sat a small child. The mother and child had fallen asleep under the tree and a raptor had spied the child in its mother’s lap. It flew down and snatched the babe in its beak and placed it high in the tree.

The forester climbed up, brought the child down and thought to himself “You shall take the child home and raise it with your own dear little Lena.” So he brought the child home and the two children grew up together. But the child who had been found in the tree and had been carried away by a bird was called the Foundlling Bird.  Foundling Bird and Lenchen loved each other so, that when the one did not see the other, it was sad.

Now the forester had an old cook who took two pails and began to fetch water and she didn’t go out once but went to the well many times. Lenchen saw this and said “Listen, old Sanne, why are you carrying so much water?”  “If you won’t tell a soul, I will reveal it to you.” Lenchen assured her that no, she wouldn’t tell a soul, so the cook said “Early tomorrow morning when the forester is out to hunt, I will boil water and when it boils in the pot I will throw in the Foundling Bird and cook it.”

The next morning bright and early the forester got up and went out to the hunt and when he was away the children were still lying in bed.  Lenchen spoke to the little Foundling Bird “Don’t leave me, I won’t leave you,” and the Foundling Bird replied “Never and nevermore!” And Lenchen responded “I only want to say that old Sanne carried so much water into the house last night that I asked her why she did it.  And she replied she would tell me if I didn’t reveal it to a single soul. She said tomorrow morning when father goes out to hunt she would boil the pot full of water, throw you inside and boil it. Let’s get up quickly, get dressed and make our escape.”

The two children rose, dressed themselves quickly and went out in the world. When the water boiled in the kettle, the cook went into the bedchamber, wanted to fetch the Foundling Bird and throw him into the pot. But when she entered and approached the bed, both children were gone.  She became hideously fearful and spoke out loud to herself “What shall I say to the forester when he returns home and sees the children gone? Quick! Fast behind them so we can catch them!”

The cook sent out three servants to pursue the children and catch them. But the children sat in front of the forest and when they saw in the distance the three servants coming in pursuit, Lenchen spoke to the Foundling Bird: “Don’t leave me, I won’t leave you.” And the Foundling Bird replied “Now and nevermore!”. So Lenchen replied “You shall become a rose bush and I the roses blooming on it!” When the three servants came to the forest, there was nothing more than a rose bush and one rose at the top, but the children were nowhere to be seen. They said to each other “There is nothing here,” and went home and told the cook that they saw nothing in the forest except a rose bush with a little rose blooming at the top. The old cook scolded them “You simpletons! You should have cut the rose branches in two and broken off the little rose and brought it home. Quickly now, go out and do it!” Now they had to go out a second time and search. But the children saw them coming from afar and Lenchen spoke: “Foundling Bird, don’t leave me and I won’t leave you!” The Foundling Bird replied “Now and nevermore!”  Lenchen spoke “You shall become a church and I the crown inside.” When the three servants came this time, they could find nothing but a church and a crown inside They said to one another “What shall we do? Let’s go home”  When they reached home the cook asked if they hadn’t found anything.  They replied, “No, they hadn’t found anything but a church with a crown inside.” “You fools!” the cook scolded, “Why didn’t you smash the church and bring home the crown?”

Now the old cook set out on her own two feet and went to pursue the children with the three servants. The children saw the three servants coming from afar and the cook hobbling behind. Lenchen spoke: “Foundling Bird, don’t leave me, I won’t leave you.  The Foundling Bird replied “Now and nevermore!” Lenchen replied “You become a pond and I the duck swimming on it!” But the cook came running and when she saw the pond, she threw herself over it and wanted to drink it up. But the duck came swimming quickly, grabbed her by the head with its bill and pulled her into the water. And so the old witch had to drown. The two children returned home together with heartfelt joy. And if they haven’t died, they still live today.