Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 175: The Moon
The days are getting longer as we approach spring! We have set our clocks forward so I encourage you to read the following fairy tale about the moon, the cosmos, and time itself (and follow the link below to read about a 3,600-year-old bronze age clock that told man it was spring).
Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 175: The Moon
In ancient times there was a land where night was always dark. It was as if the heavens were covered by a black cloth that hung over it because there was no rising moon and no star to blink through the vault of darkness. When the world was created, evening light had sufficed.
From this land four young men went out traveling. They reached another realm, where the sun vanished behind the mountains at night and where a bright ball stood on an oak tree pouring soft light far and wide. In this light you could still see everything and distinguish objects even if the light wasn’t as bright as the sun. The wanderers stood still and asked a farmer, who was driving by in his wagon what kind of light it was. “That is the moon,” he answered. “Our mayor bought it for three talers and fastened it to the oak tree. Every day he pours oil into it, keeps it clean, and makes sure it always burns brightly. For this work, he receives one taler from us every week.”
When the farmer had driven away, one of the four said “We could use a lamp like that. At home we have an oak tree that is just as big. We could hang the light there. How happy we would be if at night we didn’t have to grope around in the darkness!”
“Do you know what!” the second fellow said, “Let’s get a wagon and a horse and take the moon away with us. They can buy another one here.”
“I’m a good climber,” the third one said. “I will go and bring it down!” The fourth brought the wagon and horse and the third climbed the tree, drilled a hole in the moon, pulled a rope through and lowered it to the ground. When the glimmering sphere lay safely in the wagon, they placed a cloth over it so that no one would notice the theft. They brought it safely to their country and put it high up in an oak tree. Old and young alike rejoiced when the new lamp spread its light over all the fields and illuminated the rooms and chambers. The gnomes came out of their rock caves and the brownies in their red jackets danced their lovely roundelay in the meadows.
The four fellows filled the moon with oil, tended the wick and each week received one taler in exchange. But they became old men and when one took ill and foresaw his death, he arranged that the quarter of the moon that was his own would be buried along with him in his grave. When he died, the mayor climbed up the tree and using a hedge shear, cut a quarter off and placed it in his coffin. The light of the moon diminished, but not noticeably. When the second fellow died, the second quarter was placed in his grave and the light diminished again. It became even weaker with the death of the third fellow, who also took his portion. When the fourth man was laid in his grave, the old darkness returned. If people went out of their homes without lanterns, they bumped their heads against each other.
But when the portions of the moon were reunited in the underworld, the dead became restless where once darkness had ruled. They awoke from their sleep. They were amazed that they could see again: the light of the moon was enough, because their eyes had grown so weak they could not bear the light of the sun. They got up, became happy and resumed their old way of life. One group went out dancing and playing, others went out to taverns, where they demanded wine, got drunk, went wild and argued with each other. Finally, they raised their clubs and beat each other. The noise became louder and meaner and finally reached heaven itself.
Saint Peter, who guarded heaven’s gate, believed that the underworld had fallen into rebellion. He called out to the heavenly host to come together and fight back the evil one, who wanted to storm the domain of the blessed. But when they never arrived, he mounted his horse and rode through heaven’s gate down into the underworld. There he calmed the dead and told them to return to their graves. And he took the moon with him, where he hung it in heaven.
To read more about the Sky Disk of Nebra, a 3,600-year-old Bronze Age clock that told man it was spring and the oldest visual representation of the cosmos known to date, hit the link: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/arqueologia/nebra_disk.htm
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