Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Wood-Wife or Nymph of the Forest

In May time, the poet, wandering in the depths of the forest, is met by the wood-wife  (wood wyf) or nymph of the forest.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The origins of Little Red Riding Hood

Shrouded in Mystery: The Female Hooded Deity

According to the Roman poet Juvenal who wrote around 100 AD, the hood or cucullus was a Celtic invention. It was primarily worn by people close to the land or those routinely exposed to the elements (such as farm laborers, travelers or shepherds). It had a practical funnel-shape, which could be easily pulled over the head and it could also be worn separately or in conjunction with a cape or tunic. Besides having these utilitarian functions, the cucullus could also conceal the identity of the wearer. The most basic information about a person was wrapped in mystery so-to-speak because it was difficult to ascertain the gender, age, occupation or intent of such a cloaked figure.

In areas of Europe occupied by both Romans and Celts, archaeologists have found numerous representations of a hooded deity, which they refer to as genius cucullatus. Some of these figures are considered to be female and are believed to have some connection with earth goddesses. They often carry eggs or other fertility symbols while others carry parchments or scrolls, possibly signifying the wisdom and power associated with healing. It is thus believed these cult figures were revered for their control over prosperity, health and fertility. In 1931 two altars were found in the village of Wabelsdorf, Austria with the inscription “genio cucullato” or “to the hooded deity”. This finding is important because it confirms a formal cult following for these hooded figures. In Britain, genius cucullatus usually appears in groupings of three but in the Rhine-Moselle region of Germany the figure is usually alone and appears dwarf-like. The number three was significant in Celtic thought and the three-in-one function is prominent in the tale of Brigit, who simultaneously represented the functions of mother, guardian of childbirth and goddess of prosperity.

Thus there are ample clues in the archaelogical record but proofs confirming the identity of this figure are slim. All we know with certainty is that a hooded deity has been prominent in the European imagination for thousands of years in an area extending from Bohemia in the East to Ireland in the West.
The Dirneweibl (of Bavarian folk tradition) and the character Little Red Riding Hood share some of the attributes of this mysterious deity: they all wear a cloak, which to some extent conceals their identity; they bring life-giving nourishment in the form of wine, cake and apples and thus represent healing, security and prosperity; the color red ties them to passion, love and fecundity. In short, they represents those basic things associated with the hooded deity. It is perhaps most fitting that such a character be forever shrouded in mystery, leaving most of the story to the imagination.

This article draws heavily on information provided at
It is very worthwhile to read the entire article!

To read the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

On Valentines Day: the mild beam of the soul-breathing glance

βάρβιτος δ χορδας
ρωτα μονον χε.[1]
Anacreon [Ode 1].
Lord Byron

Away with your fictions of flimsy romance,
Those tissues of falsehood which Folly has wove;[2]
Give me the mild beam of the soul-breathing glance,
Or the rapture which dwells on the first kiss of love.

Ye rhymers, whose bosoms with fantasy glow,[3]
Whose pastoral passions are made for the grove;
From what blest inspiration[4] your sonnets would flow,
Could you ever have tasted the first kiss of love.

If Apollo should e'er his assistance refuse,
Or the Nine be dispos'd from your service to rove,
Invoke them no more, bid adieu to the Muse,
And try the effect, of the first kiss of love.

I hate you, ye cold compositions of art,
Though prudes may condemn me, and bigots reprove;
I court the effusions that spring from the heart,
Which throbs, with delight, to the first kiss of love.[5]

Your shepherds, your flocks, those fantastical themes,[6]
Perhaps may amuse, yet they never can move:
Arcadia displays but a region of dreams;[7]
What are visions like these, to the first kiss of love?

Oh! cease to affirm that man, since his birth,[8]
From Adam, till now, has with wretchedness strove;
Some portion of Paradise still is on earth,
And Eden revives, in the first kiss of love.

When age chills the blood, when our pleasures are past—
For years fleet away with the wings of the dove—
The dearest remembrance will still be the last,
Our sweetest memorial, the first kiss of love.
December 23, 1806.

  1. Jump up
    ↑ [The motto was prefixed in Hours of Idleness.]
  2. Jump up
    Moriah[1] those air dreams and types has o'er wove.—[MS. Newstead.]
    Those tissues of fancy Moriah has wove.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
    ^  1. Moriah is the "Goddess of Folly."
  3. Jump up
    Ye rhymers, who sing as if seated on snow.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
  4. Jump up
    With what blest inspiration.—[MS. P. on V. Occasions.]
  5. Jump up
    Which glows with delight at.—[MS.]
  6. Jump up
    Your shepherds, your pipes.—[MS. P. on V. Occasions.]
  7. Jump up
    Arcadia yields but a legion of dreams.—[MS.]
  8. Jump up
    ↑ —— that man from his birth.—[MS. P. on V. Occasions.]

Happy Fairy Tale Valentines Day

There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved. 
George Sand

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Little Frog Queen with the Red Necklace

From the French-speaking part of Switzerland: The Little Frog Queen with the Red Necklace

Once upon a time when wishing still helped there lived a poor hunchbacked woman who ever forth ailed.  Except for one son she had no one, and he wanted to go to school.  The schoolmaster, a good-natured fellow, said to her: “What would you do without your son? He must earn bread for you or you shall perish.”

They lived in a small hut near the forest with a babbling brook alongside. The poor boy went into the forest every day and collected wood to support his mother.  Branch wood and kindling he carried home, but he sold the better wood in the village. Afterward he went to a stream and caught pretty little fishes that he sold in town. Every morning when he entered the forest a beautiful little frog sat there with a red necklace. It blinked at him and hopped around until he was finished. And when he went to the stream to fish, the frog was already there, dove into the water and jumped back and forth with joy.

But what did he see one day when he went to the brook to fish? Behind a broom hedge he saw the trembling little frog held firmly in the bill of a giant bird with long spiny legs and horny beak. The boy grabbed the frog and placed it under his shirt and carried it home.  When his mother saw him she asked “What were you thinking bringing back this frog? There are so many of them hopping around!”

“Oh mother, believe me! This one is quite different from the rest!” And he told her how the frog followed him every day, first in the forest, and then to the stream.  “Alright,” his mother replied. “We shall keep it. Take it to the garden and look after it!”

That afternoon the mother poked around in an old box where she kept scraps of material and found a purse with money.   Amazed she showed it to her son and said she couldn’t fathom how these coins had found their way into the box. After much reflection she said to her son: “By God, I believe this money belongs to us. Take half of it and go to school in the city so you can learn something!” So the boy made his way to France. In the meantime his mother took care of the little frog.  When she ate something at noon or in the evening, the little frog always sat next to her on her leather stool. When the son had no more money, he sent his mother news that he would come home again. One beautiful morning he was there. When she saw him the little frog began to hop around like a fool for sheer joy.

One day the mother received a letter from the city. It said that she had received an inheritance and should come and pick up the money. She didn’’t know anyone in the world who could have left her an inheritance. The mother said to her son: “This small frog brought us luck, of that I am certain!” 

When she had fetched the inheritance the son said to her: “I would like to speak German. If you agree I shall make my way to the city to learn it.” “Good, good, my son. As you wish; I am satisfied.” He set out but he wrote his mother many letters while he was away. One could have sworn that the little frog knew exactly the days the letters would arrive.  It hopped so happily and danced so joyfully before each letter came. But one day the son himself came home. Greetings to you dear mother! This time I will never leave home again.  With the help of my knowledge I will now earn enough so that you can enjoy your dotage!”

The mother replied happily “I will make a good soup and meal to celebrate your return.” She set the table in the chamber and did not forget to set a place for the little frog.

But when the little frog had finished its soup, it became the most beautiful maiden in the world. There was none more beautiful. She said to the young man: “When I was a frog queen I noticed that you were a good and truthful child. Above all you treated your mother well. That is why I ask you now if you will take me for your wife.” 

You can imagine how amazed he was. “I cannot say yes,” he replied, “for all the money we had I spent on my education.”  “Oh, if that’s all,” the frog queen replied, “do not worry. I am rich enough!”

It was decided that they should marry.  The day of the wedding came and they celebrated their marriage in the village. When they returned home instead of their little hut they found instead a beautiful castle.  Many servants came and went from the kitchen to the great hall and from the great hall back to the kitchen to prepare and bring the meal. Now the poor little mother was dressed in fine silk and lace.  They ate and drank for three days. I should know, because I was there and stirred the sauce. When my apron caught fire whilst I bent over the stove, the kitchen maids beat me with wooden spoons round my face until I fell unconscious to the floor . To get rid of me, they kicked me in the behind and shoved me here, where I fell onto this chair to tell my story.

The END many froggy returns!

Read more frog tales!

The Lithuanian Frog, a Tale of Bullets and Love!