Showing posts with label Women who Become Snakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women who Become Snakes. Show all posts

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Fairy Tale of Life as an Enchanted Frog

Life as an Enchanted Frog

A variation of the woman-as-snake theme.

The Lithuanian Fairy Tale of a King’s Son and an Enchanted Maiden

There once lived a king, who had three sons. He decided that they should all marry at once so he said to them “Children, you have come of age. You shall all marry at once! As soon as you ride out to your intended ones, I shall shoot off my blunderbuss. Wherever the bullet flies, ride in that direction. The person who catches my bullet shall be your bride. That is maiden you shall bring home.”

The oldest son decided to ride out to his maiden. His father went out and shot his blunderbuss. The bullet sailed slowly through the air and the son rode after it. He arrived at a kingdom. There at the king’s court a princess stood on a flight of stairs. She caught the bullet in mid-air. This daughter was not particularly beautiful because she had pock marks. The son led her home. He now had a wife. And so the second son wanted to ride out. The father went outside again and shot his blunderbuss. The son rode out and arrived in a kingdom. Here the king’s daughter held the bullet in her hand. She was slightly more beautiful and the king’s son led her home. Now the second son also had a wife.
The third son also wanted to ride out. The father went outside and shot his blunderbuss. The son rode after the bullet and arrived in another kingdom and king’s court. There stood a green frog on the stairs and held the bullet in its mouth. The king’s son was frightened. But what could he do? His father had commanded that he bring back the one who caught the bullet. He took home the frog and placed it under his bed. There it hopped around and croaked. Shortly before the wedding the brides opened their windows. All manner of royal presents flew inside. When the frog opened its window, gifts of even rarer beauty arrived.

During the day, the frog was a frog. But at night, it slipped out of its skin and became a beautiful woman. There was no one more beautiful in all the world. And every night the little frog lay down in the bed and how happy the son was when it became a beautiful woman! But when daylight came, the son was sad, because he knew what he had to do. Finally he thought of a way out of his dilemma. He must burn the frog skin so he fetched coal to do it. In the evening when his wife had removed the frog skin, the king’s son threw it onto the fire and it burned. The wife noticed the smell and jumped up immediately. “Now you have destroyed me.” She sat down and wrote a letter to her oldest sister and said to him: “Go to the smithy and have him forge iron shoes and a sack. He shall give you a piece of iron that is as large as a slice of bread! Place this in the sack and take this letter to my sister! You will find a bed made there for you. As soon as you are there, lay down immediately and place the letter on your neck! If you do exactly as I say, you and I can be together again. Otherwise I will not be yours and you shall not be mine. You have caused the greatest torment for me.” And she flew out of the window.

The king’s son immediately went to the smithy. He made him iron shoes, a sack and a piece of iron as large as a slice of bread. Then he took the letter and went out. He wandered and wandered and finally reached a court. There was nothing there, not even a dog. He went into the house and found a bed made. He lay down immediately and placed the letter on his neck. It wasn’t long before the sister flew inside with the sound of thunder crashing all around. She was spitting and sputtering and screamed: “Who smells like man flesh here? O, brother-in-law, it is you! You are good bird for me to rip to shreds!” But she took the letter from his neck and read it. “So,” she said. “Get up! Come over here. I will give you something to eat! You have come a long distance and are tired.”
He stood up immediately and said: “Here is your iron bread.”

She cut it into little pieces and he ate it. Then she said: “Go into the garden back and forth!” He did this and soon saw that his shoes had become tattered to bits. He went back inside the room. Immediately the thunder roared again as someone approached. She said “Where shall I hide you?” She hid him behind the oven. Then someone entered the room and said mournfully “What did the evil one do? What torment I have suffered!” The sister replied: “If you saw your husband, what would you do with him?” “I would cut him into little pieces.” Then she flew away.

He crept out from behind the oven and the sister said: “Now go to the smithy and have another pair of iron shoes and sack forged. I will give you another letter for my other sister. When you arrive there, you shall find another bed made. Lay down, cover yourself to your chin, and place the letter under your chin." He did everything as commanded, took the letter and departed. He wandered and wandered. Finally he reached a court. Again he found nothing. Then he went into the house, saw a bed made, lay down inside and placed the letter under his chin. It wasn’t long before someone approached amidst great roaring of thunder, entered the house, spit and sputtered and screamed “Who smells here like man flesh? Oh brother-in-law, I would like to tear you to bits!" But then she took the letter, read it and said: “Get up, come here and eat! Do you have your bread?" He gave her the sack. As soon as she touched it with her knife, the iron turned into bread. She cut it and ate it. Then she said: “Go out into the garden and walk back and forth!” He did this too. Then he saw how his shoes had become tattered to bits. He went back into the house and listened as someone approached. “Where shall I hide you?” the sister asked. “Creep behind the bed!” He crept behind it. Someone entered the room and said: “If you only knew how I suffer!” But the sister said: “If you saw your husband, what would you do to him?” She answered “I would tear him into four pieces.” After uttering these words, she flew away and he crept from behind the bed.

Then the sister said to him: “Go to the smithy and have iron shoes and a sack made. I will give you a letter for my youngest sister. When you arrive at court, you shall find a bed made. Lay down to sleep and cover yourself. Place the letter on your breast!” He went to the smithy, who made him the iron shoes and sack and he departed. He wandered and wandered until he came to a court and found nothing there, not a single living being. He went inside the house. There he found a bed made. He lay down, covered himself and placed the letter on his breast. It wasn’t long until someone rushed inside the house, removed the letter from his breast, read it and said: “Get up and eat!” Once again she took his sack. As soon as she placed her knife on the iron, it became bread. She cut it into pieces and he ate. “Now go into the garden and walk back and forth!” He went into the garden and wandered back and forth. There he saw that his shoes had become tattered to bits. He went back inside the house and while they spoke, someone again approached in a roaring, buzzing sound. She said “Where shall I hide you? Creep behind my skirt!”

Immediately he crept behind it. His wife came happily into the room and the sister said: “If you saw your husband now, what would you do to him? “I would do nothing to him, nothing at all.” She immediately lifted her skirts and said “See, here is your husband.”
She welcomed and thanked him for redeeming her. They both returned to their homeland. When they reached the kingdom, they prepared the wedding feast. All three sons married at once and the father gave the youngest son the kingdom. His bride, the princess, had been enchanted before she was born. It was her fate to remain in frog form until her wedding day. If he had not burned her frog skin, she would have become a woman when she married.

More fairy tales can be found by clicking on the link:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Women who Become Snakes

Grimm’s Saga No. 224: Maiden of the Meadows

A boy from Auerbach near the Mountain Road tended his father’s cows on the narrow valley floor, from which one can see the ruins of the old castle. Suddenly he felt a soft hand stroking his cheek from behind. He turned around swiftly and saw a beautiful maiden standing before him. From head to toe she was dressed in white. She was just about to open her mouth to speak and address him. But the lad was terrified as if it were the devil himself and hastily retreated back to the village. But because his father had only one meadow, he had to tend the cows in the same field, whether he liked it or not. A long time passed and the youth had almost forgotten the apparition. But one warm summer’s day something rustled in the leaves and he saw a little snake creeping along. It carried a blue flower in its mouth and suddenly began to speak: “Listen, good youth. You can redeem me if you take this flower that I carry. It is the key to my little chamber high above in the castle. There you will find money and enormous riches.”

But the shepherd boy was frightened when he heard the snake speak and ran back home. And on one of the last days of autumn, he once more tended his cows in the meadow. A third time the apparition appeared, now in the form he had seen first, a white maiden. She brushed his cheek again with her hand and entreated him to redeem her; she would convey the means and the way to do this. But all her pleading was for naught because fear overcame the lad. He crossed and blessed himself and wanted nothing to do with the ghost. The maiden let out a deep sigh and said “Oh, that I placed my trust in you! Now I must sit and wait until a cherry tree grows in the meadow, from its wood a cradle shall be made. Only the babe that is first rocked in that cradle will be able to redeem me.” She then vanished and it is said that the youth never grew to become a man; how he died, I do not know.

More fairy tales can be found by clicking on the link:


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Maidens with Keys and the Passing of the Seasons

Grimm’s Saga No. 222

The Chatelaine of Oselberg

In ancient times a castle stood on the Oselberg Mountain between Dinkelsbuehl and Hahnkamm. Here a widow lived with her father as chatelaine, keeping the keys to all the rooms of the castle in her possession. In the end she fell to her death when the castle walls collapsed. Screams can  often be heard at that place but it is only her spirit that floats round the fallen stone. She often appears on the evening of the four Ember days*; then she is in the form of a maiden, carrying a ring of keys at her side. Old farmers say the land was once owned by her father and the maiden was a pagan daughter of old. She became enchanted and was transformed into a terrible snake; others say they have seen her as viper but with the head and shape of a woman down to her waist. She always carries a ring of keys round her neck.

* Ember days: Four days immediately after 1) the first Sunday in Lent 2) Pentecost 3) Holy Cross Day (Sept. 14) or 4) St. Lucy’s Day (Dec. 13). Traditionally this is a fast day. These days designate each of four periods or seasons of the year, which were times of fasting (but became times of ordination in the Anglican Church).

And here is a beautiful song for the passing of the seasons:

More fairy tales can be found by clicking on the link:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fairy Tale Magic and Mystery Found in Toadstools

Grimm’s Saga No. 223: The Toadstool

Notweiler Castle lies in the Alsatian region of Wasgau. Long ago a duke’s beautiful daughter lived in the castle. But she was a very proud maiden. None of her many suitors were good enough for her and many vainly lost their lives trying for her hand in marriage.

As punishment, a spell was cast over the maid and from then on she had to live in a forlorn cave dwelling. She was doomed to live this way until the spell could be broken, at which time she would be saved. Once a week on Friday she was allowed to appear in visible form. The first time she appeared it was in the form of a snake, the second time in the form of a toad and the third time in her natural form as beautiful maiden. 

Every Friday she bathed in a spring near the cliff, which today is still called Toadstool. While washing, she always cast glances in every direction to see if anyone was approaching to save her. Whoever undertook such a daring deed found a shell lying on the toadstool. It bore three symbols: a scale from a snake, a piece of toad skin and a yellow lock of her hair. Carrying these three things, the youth had to climb the sheer barren rock up to the castle on a Friday afternoon, wait until the maiden appeared bathing and then kiss her on the lips three weeks in a row and in each of her forms without fleeing. Whoever could withstand this trial, would receive peace and all her treasures. 

Many a lad had already found the shell with the three symbols and had dared to climb the rocks toward the old castle. And many a lad had died by being overcome by fear and loathing. Once a brave fellow had already touched the lips of the snake with his own and was willing to wait for the other figures to appear, but he was gripped by such horror that he ran downhill. She pursued rustling and raving in toad form until they both reached the toadstool. 

Through the ages she has always stayed the same and has never aged. She is most frightening in serpent form. But following the old adage “She is as big as a haystack, but in toadly form as large as an oven and then she spits fire.”

To read more about the magical properties of other plants and herbs:

More fairy tales can be found by clicking on the link:

Translation Copyright
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Pass on to friends or link to.
Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks and enjoy!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Grimm's Saga No. 221: The Snake Queen

(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. 
Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)

The Snake Queen

Once a shepherdess found a sick snake lying high up on a rocky cliff, fading fast. The maid took pity and offered the creature her milk can. The snake lapped up the milk hungrily and soon regained strength. The maiden continued on her way and it was not long after that her lover asked for her hand in marriage. But to her rich, proud father, the suitor was too poor and thus was mockingly rejected. He was told to come back when he owned as much cattle as the old herdsman. From that moment on, the old farmer had no luck but only misfortune. It was said at night that a firey dragon hovered over his fields and soon his property lay in ruins. But the poor youth became very rich and once more asked for the maid’s hand in marriage, which was now granted. On the wedding day a snake appeared in the room, on its coiled tail was a beautiful maiden, who said it was she whom the kind shepherdess had fed milk when she lay starving. Full of gratitude she took her brilliant crown from her head and threw it into the bride’s lap. The Queen Snake immediately vanished but the young couple were blessed with abundance in their household and they were very prosperous all their lives.

Snakes and Milk? Where did this come from?
A friend in India writes the following:
On Naag Panchami (Naag in Hindi means snake), we feed snakes milk. It’s symbolic as snakes don’t drink milk. The snake charmers just take the milk with them. Naag Panchami follows some time after the Spring festival. Snakes are sacred to us so we worship them. They are the companion of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is a Hindu God; he wears snakes as garlands.

Thank you reader in India for this wonderful contribution! It is interesting to see the overlap between Swiss and Indian traditions. In fact, I was quite surprised to hear this!

The same reader has sent me an Indian folk tale about a snake. It's wonderful!:
The story tells a different aspect of snake behavior.Though we are all scared of snakes but in the story it is shown that snakes do have feelings of pity and forgiveness.A similar story I would like to narrate which is famous in India. This has been taken from" Panchatantra " a fairytale book famous in India.

"There was once a Brahmin(upper caste person) who had two daughters .The elder daughter was from his first wife ,who died many years ago, while the second daughter was from his second wife who was alive. His wife didnot love the elder daughter.So one day she sent the elder daughter to a forest to fetch some water.In the forest the elder daughter found a snake, who was going to die, but the good girl fed it water and the snake regained its posture, the snake asked the girl if she would marry him? The daughter took the snake to her parents and told them about its proposal. Her step mother immediately agreed as she wanted to get rid of her stepdaughter. So the marriage between the girl and snake took place. They were given a separate room. The snake went inside the room , while the girl had some work to do so after a few minutes she too went into the room. To her surprise instead of a snake she found a handsome young man and the snake skin was lying aside. She immediately took the snake skin and burnt it. The young man was so happy , then he told her that actually he was a prince but was cursed to be a snake and his curse has now been broken .The prince and his wife the lived happily ever after"
Hope you like this story!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grimm's Saga 13. The Snake Maiden

Translation: Copyright
(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)

Around the year 1520 near Basel, Switzerland a man lived by the name of Leonhard, also known as Lienimann, a tailor’s son. He was a foolish and simple man, and words fell heavily over his lips for he stammered. Once this man Leonhard was once walking along the deep gorge called the Schlaufgewoelbe, or the underground corridor, which ran from Augst to Basel and he was able to go much further than it had ever been possible for a man to go. He told of both strange and horrifying things. For he told the story, and there are still people today who have heard from his own mouth, how he took with him a consecrated wax candle and lit it, and entered the cave squint-eyed, with the candle flickering before him. First, he came through an iron gate and then he entered an enormous vault, from which he reached an even larger arched chamber. Finally he walked through endlessly beautiful and cheerfully verdant gardens. But at the center stood a wonderful and sturdily constructed castle, or perhaps it was the hunting lodge of a prince. Inside there was a beautiful maiden with human form down to her navel. On her head she wore a crown of gold and her hair hung loosely over her shoulders. But instead of legs, she had the form of an ugly snake. The same maiden led the lad by the hand to an iron box, on which sat two black dogs barking, so that no one could approach the box. But the maiden quieted the dogs and bridled them so he could approach without any hindrance. Then, she removed a ring of keys, which she wore round her neck, opened the box and removed several pieces of silver and other brightly shining coins. From among these coins the maiden, with her peculiar gentleness, took not a few of these treasures and presented them to the young man. These he brought with him out of the gorge. Many years later he showed these treasures to all who asked. The maiden swore she sprang from a royal line and race, but had been cursed and transformed into a monster. Nothing could save her except being kissed three times by a youth, whose chastity was certain and spirit undefiled; then she could regain her prior shape and form. She would relinquish to her savior the entire treasure, which had been kept hidden at that place for so many years. The youth told how he had already kissed the maiden twice, but both times she had made such a frightful grimace, probably from the immense joy of unexpected redemption, that he became fearful and thought otherwise. She would surely tear to him to shreds and so he did not dare kiss her a third time but hastened away from that place. Afterward, it happened that he was taken away by persons of ill repute and spent his entire life in a whorehouse. Besmirched and imbruted, he could never again find the entrance to the Schlaufhoehle. And this often brought him to tears.