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Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Fairy Grotto and the Palm Sunday Fairy

The Fairy Grotto
Excerpt from The Age of Gold by Lucas Cranach
National Gallery, Oslo

In fernyear there lived many bewitched and enchanted women, who meant well by folk and even offered help in times of need or disaster. In particular, the goodly Queen Berta is well- known for the many beneficial things she did for the earth. She especially liked to hover round the Sourze Tower in Waadt Land. Every winter she was said to appear there in a white, radiant gown. Swinging a winnower filled to the brim, she broadcast seed over every mountain and valley. At Christmas she appeared as huntress with magic wand in hand, and processed through the village accompanied by many spirits. She circled the houses and dwellings to find where industry, diligence and order ruled.
But the good wife Berta was not the only beneficent woman. In the steep rocky cliffs of the Jura Mountains near Vallorbes there is an enormous cave. In olden times many kindly and beautiful fairies lived there, but no one was allowed to intrude into their underground dwelling without punishment. This did not mean you could not see them. One fairy always showed herself from a distance every Palm Sunday. She led a white lamb on a string when a fertile year lay ahead, but in times of misfortune or famine a pitch-black goat followed her. Another fairy bathed at the midnight hour in the blue pools of the Orbe Spring. Two powerful wolves always circled the pool to keep people away.
When it snowed in winter and became cold, the fairies came into the village and entered the empty smithies as soon as the workers had left. They warmed themselves by the fire and a rooster crowing loudly announced the return of the forge workers. Then the fairies vanished from the work place. The appearance of fairies was well-known throughout the entire land. Every herder boy knew that there were tall and beautiful women in white gowns that flowed down to the ground, which carefully concealed their feet. The fairies also sang beautifully. But their abundant and rich hair was the finest attribute of all, for their golden tresses fell round their shoulders and enveloped them like a golden mantle.

Fairy Tale Factum
The German expression in teueren Zeiten (Teuerung) is used in this Swiss saga and appears in other saga of the Brothers Grimm. Its antiquated meaning refers to a time of disaster, famine or need. The modern translation is inflation or a rise in prices. At first glance this modern usage seems to have little to do with the older meaning. Teuerung is a term from economics and describes the cost of living index or the price of commodities. Its ancient meaning often meant death from starvation and its causes included failed crops, mismanagement of agricultural resources or unsustainable economic or farming practices.


Queen Berta is spreading the seed for planting using a Futterschwinge. I would guess that 75 years ago, people were still familiar with this exact implement. Since the word is not included in any of the dictionaries at my disposal, I must derive its meaning from its parts, on the one hand, and a pictorial encyclopedia of early American farm tools on the other. Futter = dried food for cattle such as hay or grain and schwinge = something swung back and forth or a shallow, oval basket. The Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane describes a winnower or winnowing scoop as a tool used to throw flailed grain into the air to separate the lighter particles of chaff. The process of winnowing beats or diffuses something through the air. I suspect the tool was something similar for dispersing seed during the spring planting, perhaps by swinging a shallow basket back and forth.
Fernyear is a now obsolete term which means in olden times or past years. Fern means remote or distant in German.



Read more fairy tale factum:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/03/vernal-equinox.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/04/reading-and-understanding-folk-tales.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/01/more-than-fashion-faux-pas-white-dress.html

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Grimm's Saga 275. The Shrieker


March 12th
On this day in 1753:
Johann Peter Kriechbaum, mayor of the Upper Kainsbach Zent, told the following on March 12, 1753: “In the district called Spreng a ghost or spirit resided, who made all kinds of shrieking noises, like the sounds of deer, fox, donkey, swine or other animals, even every type of bird. For this reason, the people called him the shrieker. He has led many astray and no one dares linger in this meadow, especially herders.” This is what the mayor recently encountered when he was walking at night in his meadow in Spreng. He had used up all the water for watering his herd when a pig squealed in the little woods on the Langenbrombach side. It screeched as if a knife were stuck in its throat. The ghost has been seen as far as the Holler Forest, where they used to burn charcoal seventeen years ago. The coal burners complained bitterly at the time that many had been frightened by this ghost because he appeared in the form of a donkey. The deceased Johann Peter Weber said the same thing. He had loaded coal there at night to take it to the Michelstadt Hammer. Heinrich Germann, the old mayor of the Zent stated that when he was once tending his oxen in the Spreng field, it was as if a fox ran at him, but when he beat him away with the whip, the fox immediately vanished.

Fairy Tale Factum:The Cent was an administrative and judicial unit created in the Middle Ages. It roughly covered 100 families. The spelling was subsequently changed to Zent and was said to cover an area including ten villages (some accounts say 20). The Zent was governed by a count (Zentgraf, usually a farmer) or presiding judge (Zentschoeffen), often the village mayor or sheriff. These districts were marked off with border stones (Grenzsteine or Zentsteine), some of which have survived to the present day.


Read more fairy tale factum:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/04/reading-and-understanding-folk-tales.html


http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/fairy-tale-factum_22.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/01/more-than-fashion-faux-pas-white-dress.html

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Grimm's Saga 123. Woman in White

Marc Chagall, Madonna of the Village




A woman in white appears in woods and meadows. From time to time she even enters horse stalls carrying a burning wax candle. She combs and brushes the horses and droplets of wax fall on their manes. It is said that when she goes out, she can see clearly, but when she is in her own dwelling she is blind.



Fairy Tale Factum
The woman in this saga is described as a “schlossweisse Frau”, which can mean she is white like a castle or white like a hailstone. Another possibility is snow-white (schlohweiss). Radiantly white women are common in German mythology and are frequently depicted wearing a long white dress and having very pale-white skin. The color white was of central importance in ancient ceremony. It represented divinity and was associated with kings. Apparently the purpose of such weisse Frauen was to serve the gods and to prophesy to mankind. This contrasts with the Christian and Jewish traditions, where the role is primarily left to prophets and angels. In the traditions of ancient Germanic tribes, prophecies foretold by women have higher sacredness and significance. According to Jacob Grimm, Germanic tribes esteemed men for their acts, but women were honored for their wisdom.

The horse was considered to be the most noble, intelligent and trustworthy of all animals. The Germanic hero frequently conversed with his horse, the horse empathized with his master’s troubles and celebrated his victories. Horses were used in sacred rituals and their manes were carefully tended and adorned. Apparently gold and silver bands were often woven into their hair. The hair of sacred horses was said to have magical properties and was often preserved as an object of veneration.


Bronze Horse, c. 750-800 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC


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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Dark, Starry Night with Singing Fir Tree


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Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Singing Fir Tree

In Switzerland, a story is told about a man named Hans Kreutz, who lived with his wife on Thun Lake in Ralligen. In the year 1555, a thick black fog descended on the village and it would not dissipate. The alarmed villagers retreated to their homes, closed doors and sealed the windows tightly. But a light blue vapor crept under the window sill and the wife breathed in this vapor and in the evening she lay in bed motionless. Hans looked into her eyes and saw no reflection there and in the morning she was dead. Many villagers died that year and the survivors buried their loved ones in the church yard at the outskirts of town, where the mountain and forest swept down abruptly into the valley. While the bells in the church tower were ringing, Hans buried his wife and returned home. For days he did not leave his house. He neither ate nor slept but could not forget the vacant stare of his beloved wife and the sound of the church bells as he lowered her into the grave.

One evening when Hans sat by the fire, he heard the church bells ring out the Ave and they rang and rang and he lost track of the time. He raised his head, for he thought he heard wonderful and sweet singing up high in the Hohlbach Forest near the tree line. But when the church bells stopped ringing, he heard it no more. The next day he sat with longing and waited for the evening church bells to ring out the Ave. At first he heard only the faintest sound of distant singing, but then the melody grew stronger until there could be no mistake. A woman’s voice sang a mysterious and beautiful song, the words of which he could not quite decipher.

But Hans spread word among the townspeople. At night the entire village listened while the church bells rang and soon everyone heard the wonderful singing daily. The singing was soothing and the villagers listened at the edge of the village until the snow began to fall and then they returned to their homes. All but Hans, who wanted to know where the singing came from. The next night when the church bells were ringing, the villagers assembled in the church yard. Hans lit a torch and climbed the mountainside, following the mysterious melody. He did this every evening until one night he finally found a giant fir tree, and its voice was sweet and clear. He shyly gazed upon the tree and in amazement listened to its gentle song.

But Hans could find no rest. The singing fir tree occupied his waking and sleeping hours and he wanted to be in the presence of its song always. In secret he climbed up the mountain during the day and spent long hours near the tree. Some time passed and Hans was called away to visit his family in the next valley.

While he was away, a wood carver from among the villagers, who had seen the beautiful fir tree, decided he needed it to make a wood carving. Because the tree was so magnificent, tall and straight, with perfectly formed branches and trunk, he had it felled and brought down to the valley. From the wood, he selected an enormous block of the trunk that had no scars or branches. From this piece of wood he began to carve an image of the Virgin Mary. He worked day and night on this carving and saw nothing more beautiful than the image of the Virgin growing out of the wood. And after some time, the villagers came to his workshop and marveled at the beauty of the image, its heavenly countenance and mild authority.

When Hans returned to the village after some months, he climbed the mountain and went directly to where the singing fir tree had stood. In its place was only a stump and Hans was gripped by such melancholy, that a loud moan issued from his lips. It was like the howling of a wounded wolf or the shriek of an eagle flying overhead. The loud cries filled the valley, echoing off the cliffs and rocks. When the villagers heard the loud cries from above, they gathered below near the church. And soon in the distance they heard the beautiful, long-missed song. They turned and saw the woodcarver, carrying his statue and saw that it was singing. He placed the statue in the church, where it stands today. And some say, they have heard it singing when a loved one dies. The place where the tree once stood is now called Marienstein. There is a smaller rock nearby, where Hans once gazed upon the fir tree. It is said that in his grief, Hans turned to stone and the place is now called the Kreutzantisch.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

February Fairy Tale: The Frog King and Iron Heinrich



The following 3 articles deal with themes, symbols and images found in The Frog King and Iron Heinrich. Because of the blog format, you will need to scroll down to find the translation of the fairy tale. The comments on meaning/interpretation appear above the translation. Helpful reading tips for this fairy tale can also be found at Understanding Fairy Tales. See table of content at right.

The lower and higher angels of our nature.

The Sacred Grove


The Frog King and Iron Heinrich. Who are they?

Heinrich is a frequent name for an Elbe (sprite), house spirit or poltergeist in ancient German mythology. The diminutive form Heinz is also commonly associated with these spirits, which are almost exclusively male. The house ghost of folktales is often a talkative, inquisitive fellow, who is friendly, well-meaning but irritating. Such a spirit is often encountered as a cold and clammy presence but usually not seen. He is described as having thin hands like a frog, with cold, moist skin. Like the little Frog King, these ghosts often demand to sleep in the same bed as household inhabitants, insist on a place at the table and want to eat the same food. They assist in doing household chores but are best known for offering unwanted and sometimes comical advice. Once entrenched, it is extremely difficult to get rid of these spirits.

As more and more people in Europe were Christianized, the old deities that lived in water wells or inhabited trees may have gradually come to be considered rustic, unsophisticated or even powerless. The new faith needed to be appealing to potential converts; it offered a vision of justice, forgiveness, redemption and eternal life. The princess in the story rejects the frog king, whose realm is that of water sprite or house spirit. In a fit of irritation, she attempts to smash the little frog and destroy all that he represents. This absolute rejection of the old faith, magically transforms it and yet preserves its most sacred elements.

Iron Heinrich is a more mysterious and complex character. When taken out of his pagan milieu, he is very puzzling indeed. Germanic tribes believed that every person possessed a good and bad angel, (not unlike the later concept of the lower or higher angels of our nature). These spirits brought about good or created evil for their masters. In The Frog King, it is the evil spirit or hex which transforms the prince into a frog. Iron Heinrich, it would seem, is the higher angelic being, interested in preserving and saving the prince. These benevolent angelic beings were apparently thought to be connected to each person with bands or chains that could be severed only by death. By the same token, the malevolent angel could only be subdued by being chained to a pole. At the conclusion of the fairy tale the bands that connect Iron Heinrich to the prince are heard breaking. In the end, the redemptive power of love has prevailed and brought about a startling transformation.

The heart bound by chains is a powerful image. I am not aware of any sources indicating that this symbol was common in ancient mythology. However, it is reminiscent of the Christian symbol of the sacred heart of Jesus, which conveys the idea of death and redemption through the power of love.
The traditional, valentine-shaped heart is an ancient symbol, going back to at least Cro-Magnon hunters who painted it in pictograms. It's precise meaning probably had more to do with fertility than with romantic love. The symbol may have conveyed a stylized female form often seen in representations of fertility goddesses. Only in the Middle Ages did the heart become a symbol of romantic love. For an excellent history of the heart as symbol see Expressions of Innocence and Eloquence, Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana published in association with the "Made for Love" exhibition that ran at Yale University in 2007.

Links:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/frog-king-or-iron-heinrich.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/fairy-tale-factum_22.html



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Friday, February 22, 2008

Fairy Tale Factum



The Enchanted Landscape of the Frog King
Pagan Symbols and Themes: Water Well, Linden Tree and Sun



The early Christian church forbade the veneration of groves, trees, stones and wells. Veneration of such things did not figure prominently in the Christian religion, so presumably the intent of such laws was to end pagan cult practices. Places where water sprang from the earth were considered to be sacred to the pagan. Folktales and saga are filled with the remnants of ancient beliefs concerning the water cult, which are difficult to fully understand today. We know from early historical accounts that ancient Allemanic and Frankish tribes prayed at the edge of springs, lit candles and peered into the reflected light of the pool. They left sacrifices on the banks or threw offerings into the water. Incantations to the water spirit were often recited there. Water had healing, strengthening and redemptive properties and Nordic tribes blessed and sanctified newborns with water. Similar to the Christian custom of Baptism, pagans also believed in human redemption and transformation brought about by water. An ancient rite required that newly married women throw an offering into the water of a well located in a sacred grove, often made up of oaks, ash or linden trees.
The linden tree (British English = lime) is a frequent pagan marker in sagas and fairy tales. Germanic tribes assembled under the linden tree and held celebrations and dances there. But most importantly, judicial or thing meetings were held under the linden semi-annually. It was believed the tree facilitated the discovery of truth and it has been associated with justice and jurisprudence ever since. In rural Germany during the Middle Ages, courts were frequently held and verdicts read under the linden tree (See The Stone Table of Bingenheim).
In ancient mythology the sun frequently appears as a god. A distinctly pagan sentiment is that the gods enjoy gazing at human beauty and often like to mingle with humans. This pagan element is prominent in the first paragraph of Frog King. The sun, which had seen so much in its day, was amazed whenever it gazed upon the princess’s face.


Links:
http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/lower-and-higher-angels-of-our-nature.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/frog-king-or-iron-heinrich.html

Fairy tale factum:
http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/03/saga-123-woman-in-white.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/fairy-tale-factum_22.html

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Frog King or Iron Heinrich


A wonderful and strange fairy tale for valentine's day: only iron bands can keep a true heart from breaking.

In times of old when wishing still helped, there lived a king, whose daughters were all extremely beautiful. But the youngest one was so beautiful that the sun, which had seen so much in its day, was amazed whenever it gazed upon her face. Near the king’s castle lay a dark wood and in the wood underneath an old linden tree there was a water well. If the day was very hot, the king’s child went out to the forest and sat at the edge of the cool spring. And if the child was bored, it took a golden ball, threw it in the air and caught it; and that was the child’s favorite plaything.

Now it happened that the golden ball of the king’s daughter did not fall into her little hands, but rather hit the ground and rolled directly into the water. The king’s daughter followed it with her eyes, but the ball disappeared and the well was so deep that it was impossible to see the bottom. She began to cry and cried louder and louder and was inconsolable. And as she cried, some one called to her “You, daughter of the king, what are you doing? You are crying in a manner that even a stone would take pity.” She looked round to see where the voice was coming from, and there she saw a frog that poked its hideous head out of the water. “Oh it’s you, you old puddle splasher,” she said. “I am crying over my golden ball, which fell into the well.” “Be still and do not cry,” the frog replied. “I can help. But what will you give me if I fetch your plaything?” “Whatever you want, dear frog,” she said. “My clothes, my pearls and jewels, but also the golden crown that I am wearing.” But the frog replied “I don’t want your clothes, your pearls or jewelry. And your golden crown, that I surely don’t want. But if you will love me and I will be your mate and play fellow, I will sit at the little table next to you, eat from your little golden plate, drink from your little cup and sleep in your little bed. If you promise me that, I will dive down and fetch the golden ball.” “Oh yes,” she answered. “I promise you everything you want as long as you bring me the ball.” But she was really thinking “How that simple frog prattles on. He sits in the water with his own kind and croaks and can never be the mate of a human.”

The frog, when he had received her promise, dipped his head below the surface, sank deep into the water and after a while he swam to the top again. He held the ball in his mouth and threw it on the grass. The king’s daughter was filled with joy when she saw her wonderful plaything. She picked it up and jumped away with it immediately. “Wait, wait,” the frog yelled. “Take me with you, I can’t run like you.” But what good did it do that his loud croaking followed her, cry as he may! She didn’t listen, hurried home and soon forgot about the poor frog, who had to climb back to his water well.

The next day, when she sat down with the king and his entire court to dinner and ate from her little golden plate, something crept up the marble steps, plitsch, platsch, plitsch, platsch. When it reached the top it knocked on the door and cried “King’s daughter, youngest one, open the door for me.” She ran and wanted to see who it was. But when she opened the door, there stood the frog. She shut the door hastily and returned to the table and was very frightened. The king saw that her heart was pounding and said “My child, what do you fear, is a giant standing at the door to snatch you away?” “Oh no,” she answered, “It is no giant but a loathsome frog.” “What does the frog want with you?” “Oh dear father, when I went to the wood yesterday and sat by the well and played, my golden ball fell into the water. And because I cried so, the frog fetched it. And because he demanded it, I promised that he would be my mate. I never thought that he would creep out his water. Now he is outside and wants to come in.” And the frog knocked on the door a second time and called

“King’s daughter, youngest one,
Open the door for me,
Don’t you remember yesterday?
What you promised me
By the cool water well?
King’s daughter, youngest one,
Open the door for me.

The king said “What you have promised, you must also keep. Go now and open the door for him.” She went and opened the door and the frog hopped inside, followed right behind her feet and went to her chair. There he sat and called “Lift me up to you.” She shuddered, until finally the king commanded it. When the frog sat on the chair, it wanted to be on the table and when it sat there it said “Now slide your little golden plate over to me, so that we can eat together.” She did it, but one could see she did not do it gladly. The frog ate heartily but almost every bite lodged in the princess’s throat. Finally he said “I’m full now and tired. Carry me into your little chamber and make up your silk bed, where we can lay down.” The king’s daughter began to cry and was scared of the cold frog, which she didn’t even want to touch. And now he wanted to sleep in her beautiful clean bed. But the king became angry and said “Whoever has helped you when you were in need, you should not forget later.” She picked him up with two fingers and carried him up and put him in the corner. But when she lay in bed, he crept over and said “I’m tired, I want to go to bed like you. Lift me up or I will tell your father.” She was seized by such a bitter rage that she snatched him up and threw him against the wall with all her might. “Now you will have the rest you seek, you loathsome frog.”

But when he fell down, he was no frog but rather a prince with beautiful and friendly eyes. It had been her father’s will that he become her dearest mate and husband. He told her he had been hexed by an evil witch and no one but she could save him from the water well. Tomorrow they would go to his kingdom . They fell asleep and the next morning when the sun woke them, a carriage drove up with eight white horses. The horses had white ostrich feathers on their heads and walked in golden chains and behind stood the servant of the young king. It was True Heinrich. True Heinrich was so aggrieved when his master had been turned into a frog, that he had three iron bands placed round his heart so that it would not burst for pain and sadness. The carriage now fetched the young king to take him to his kingdom. True Heinrich lifted up both, stepped behind and was filled with joy over the prince’s redemption. And when they had traveled some distance, the prince heard a loud sound behind him, as if something was breaking. He turned and called

“Heinrich, the carriage is breaking.”
No, dear sir, not the carriage,
But the band round my heart,
In pitiable suffering,
Whilst you sat in the spring
And were a frog.”

Again and again the sound was heard and the prince thought the wagon was breaking. But it was only the bands around the heart of True Heinrich, as they broke, because his master was redeemed and was exceedingly happy.



Links:
lhttp://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/lower-and-higher-angels-of-our-nature.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/fairy-tale-factum_22.html


Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Reading Rapunzel

Very Reverend Vegetables

The earthy hag Mistress Gotel condemns Rapunzel in the severest manner and her accusation is telling: “Ach, you godless child,” she cries. Rapunzel’s crimes are apparently lying and godlessness, strange concerns we might think coming from a sorceress. Mistress Gotel seems to know that where God is not seen or even glimpsed, failure and misery follow. The fairy tale does not prescribe or explain a precise understanding of God. But rather it is the affront on faith itself that is so corrosive.
Here is how the poet Thomas Gray described the area where he lived: “Both vale and hill are covered with most venerable beeches and other very reverend vegetables…” Mistress Gotel would have certainly approved of this sentiment.


Very Rapunzel Salad:
In the spirit of Frau Gotel and her garden, the ingredients for a Very Rapunzel Salad should be all organic, seasonal produce, grown in your own community wherever possible. To make the Michigan version of a Very Rapunzel Salad I add dried cherries, sliced pears, locally made goat’s cheese, and toasted chopped walnuts. To make the Most Rapunzel Salad: I use greens that have been grown in my own garden (or a community garden or garden of your choice that you can visit and where you can harvest the herbs yourself). The greens must be cut in the very early morning hours before it’s too hot and the ground is still cool. How you approach the herb is entirely up to you and your local ordinances.

1 bunch organic greens, washed and dried
½ cup toasted and chopped walnuts (or locally grown nut)
1 apple, sliced into ½ inch pieces OR
1 pear, sliced into ½ inch pieces (OR: a locally grown fruit)
1 handful Michigan dried cherries
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
Crumbled goat’s cheese or stilton cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons vinegar

For the Most Rapunzel Salad:
Germanic tribes considered Herbs potent healing agents, but even more potent were words.
Incantation while cutting the herb:
If you’re still reading you must have an inkling that only you alone can write the incantation. Use the same incantation as the prayer before eating the salad.


Further reading, the fairy tale Rapunzel:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2015/02/happy-valentines-day-rapunzel.html

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Reading Rapunzel

The many ways to approach an herb: clothing and shoes may be optional.
Reminiscent of a monastic environment, the garden in Rapunzel has a mysterious aura and quietude. Tucked safely behind a garden wall, its cultivated beds are tended by a very secretive and forbidding caretaker, who follows ancient customs and shuns modernity. In this regard Mistress Gotel shares the traditions of many Christian monastic orders, who valued the tending of a garden as the perfect complement to the spiritual life.
According to Deutsche Mythologie, ancient pagan rules specified the way each herb was to be cultivated, harvested and used. Certain herbs were picked only with the right hand or only with the left hand, but never with a bare hand. Some plants were never cut, only dug up. The exact time of day for the harvest was specified. Most plants were cut in the early morning hours when they were believed to be most potent. For other plants strict rules were in force about when and how they could be harvested: many before sunrise, in the hour when neither sun nor star was shining. Only a specific part of the plant could be harvested and then the precise type of blade used for cutting was designated: no cold iron should touch the herb, only annealed iron or a golden blade. The cut branch or leaf must not touch the ground and certain incantations must be recited during the harvesting. In some places, the harvester must approach the plant naked and without wearing shoes. These rites express veneration and respect for nature and underscore the power the plants were believed to possess. One herb by the name of Jungfrauhaar was said to have a beautiful golden color and its properties supposedly included giving or taking away manhood. Most herbs were gathered by wise and experienced women, who were renowned herbarists. In Rapunzel it is interesting that the husband does not follow any of these ancient rules nor does he seem to care much about them and his wife eats the herb greedily. But when the sorceress cuts (the hair of) Rapunzel, the exact hand she uses is described
.


Very Reverend Vegetables in the Fairy Tale Rapunzel

The earthy hag Mistress Gotel condemns Rapunzel in the severest manner and her accusation is telling: “Ach, you godless child,” she cries. Rapunzel’s crimes are apparently lying and godlessness, strange concerns we might think coming from a sorceress. Mistress Gotel seems to know that where God is not seen or even glimpsed, failure and misery follow. The fairy tale does not prescribe or explain a precise understanding of God. But rather it is the affront on faith itself that is so corrosive.
Here is how the poet Thomas Gray described the area where he lived: “Both vale and hill are covered with most venerable beeches and other very reverend vegetables…” Mistress Gotel would have certainly approved of this sentiment.

Read more fairy tales buy clicking on the link:

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Fairy Tale Factum

Reading Rapunzel

Mistress Gotel: Who is She?

Before Europe had been widely Christianized, devout pagans believed food offerings were necessary to placate the gods. It was thought that pestilence and plague were sent by spirit deities who had been offended. An example of the persistence of this folk belief is provided by Jacob Grimm in Deutsche Mythologie. In certain areas of Germany when the harvesters went out into the fields and bound bundles of grain, it was custom to leave some of them behind as gift to the earth goddess Frau Gauen or Frau Gode. In Rapunzel, the sorceress is called Frau Gotel. Gotel is an old German word for godmother and is related etymologically to Gode, Gott, Gud, God, Cot, Gup, and Gote. It was believed that the earth goddess’s power affected fertility and nature’s abundance and that her realm included all types of domestic work commonly performed by women. When the earth goddess was appeased, peace and prosperity ruled on earth. When angered, danger and calamity threatened. In Rapunzel, Mistress Gotel or the godmother is imbued with the magical powers of an earth goddess. It is stated that “she had enormous power and was feared throughout the entire world.” Given the description of her splendid garden, it seems reasonable to assume that this hex’s special powers were linked to the fruits of the earth, the harvest, crops and especially healing herbs.



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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fairy Tale Factum


Hag, Hex, Harpy or Hierophant?


Three types of Pictish stones in North Eastern Scotland bear witness to a changing worldview as Christianity spread across Europe, displacing paganism. The earliest Pictish stones contain only carvings of pagan symbols that are mostly indecipherable today. Animals both fantastic and familiar along with domestic utensils seem to have preoccupied the imagination of early Picts.
The second type of stone occupies a middle ground and reflects a transition period when the old faith collided with the new religion. Pagan motifs and the Christian cross sit comfortably side by side on these stones. The third type of Pictish stone, and presumably the most recent, contain only the Christian cross.*
Pictish stones are a good metaphor for understanding the fairy tale. Best represented by the second or middle type of stone, the fairy tale contains both pagan symbols and Christian imagery and often reflects the early church’s endeavors to combat unbelief expressed in polytheism and superstitious myths and cults. In 500 A.D. the majority of people living in Europe were not Christian. But by 1000 A.D. most but not all of the population had been Christianized. As Christianity spread it may have crossed the minds of many pagans to preserve at least part of their old traditions by combining them with the new. In fact early accounts of the Anglo Saxons report that there were people among them who believed both in Christ and the pagan gods, or at least continued to call upon these pagan deities if they had been helpful before. To convert an often reluctant population, early missionaries simply transformed pagan festivals into Christian festivals and gave them a new name. Many pagan religious sites, temples and courts were retained, built over and given Christian significance. Pagan deities were depicted as being weak but not without some power. They became malevolent forces and continued in oral traditions as devils, sorcerers, giants and witches. If benevolent, they were linked to the saints or the Virgin Mary. The earth goddess, a powerful deity in pagan ritual, was transformed into hag, hex or harpy. Instead of keeper of esoteric knowledge and principles, the earth goddess or priestess is often depicted as witch, evil fairy godmother or woman with magical powers. To find the last vestige of paganism in a fairy tale, look to the character imbued with magical powers, quite often a woman.





* To read more about Pictish stones in Scotland see: The Traveller's History of Britain and Ireland by Ricahrd Muir, 1987, Mermaid Books



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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Reading Rapunzel

If reading a fairy tale with pen in hand sounds clunky, I encourage you to first read Rapunzel out loud for the sheer pleasure of it. Then print out a copy and try the clunky approach. This fairy tale is remarkable in many ways that I think are worthwhile noting in a systematic way. Pagan and Christian elements, fantastic twists and turns and references to a long forgotten cultural history make this story both strange and delightful. In the pre-narcissistic world of Rapunzel, the characters move around without any angst or self-consciousness. This primitivism reflects a world where things are different but yet some things are the same. With pen or marker in hand, underline any words or phrases that surprise you, details that seem unnecessary to the plot or words that seem to be markers or indicators of something else… but what? At the end of the week, I will share my list and jottings with you.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Rapunzel, Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 12


The Fairy Tale of Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm

There once lived a man and his wife who yearned for a child of their own. But their longing remained fruitless. At long last, the wife began to entertain hopes that God would fulfill her wish. The couple had a small window in the back of their house from which they could see a splendid garden full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. But this garden was enclosed by a high wall and no one dared enter because it belonged to a sorceress. She had enormous power and was feared throughout the entire world. One day, the woman stood at the window and looked down into the garden. She saw a vegetable bed planted with the loveliest Rapunzel: it looked so fresh and green that she felt an enormous desire and great craving to eat some Rapunzel. Each day her appetite increased and because she knew that she could not get any, her countenance fell and she became pale and miserable. Her husband became frightened and asked “What is wrong dear wife?” “Oh,” she replied, “if I don’t get any Rapunzel from the garden behind our house, I will die.” The man, who loved her dearly, thought “before I let my wife die, I will fetch her some Rapunzel, cost what it may.” In the evening twilight he climbed over the wall into the garden of the sorceress, quickly cut a handful of Rapunzel and brought it to his wife. She immediately made a salad and ate greedily. But it tasted oh so good that the next day she had three times the yearning. To have any peace at all her husband would have to climb into the garden once again. At dusk he made his way. But when he climbed down the garden wall, he received a terrible shock, for he saw the sorceress standing before him. “How dare you,” she said her face filled with rage, “climb into my garden and like a thief steal my Rapunzel? You shall live to regret it.” “Ach,” he replied “Temper justice with mercy! I only acted out of dire need: my wife saw your Rapunzel from the window and was seized by such a powerful craving that she would perish if she did not get some of it to eat.” The sorceress’s wrath abated somewhat and she replied “If things are as you say, I will allow you to take some Rapunzel, as much as you desire, but under one condition: you must give me the child that your wife shall bear. The child will do well and I will care for it like a mother.” The husband in his terror promised everything and when his wife lay in childbed, the sorceress appeared immediately, named the child Rapunzel and quickly snatched it away.

Rapunzel was the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the sorceress locked her in a tower in the forest. It had neither stair nor door, only at the top was a very small window. When the sorceress wished entrance, she stood at the bottom and called

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair.”

Rapunzel had long, gorgeous hair, as fine as spun gold. When she heard the voice of the sorceress, she untied her plaits, bound them round a window hook and then her hair fell down twenty ell and the sorceress climbed up.

After a few years, the king’s son was riding through the forest and passed the tower. He heard a song so lovely that he stopped and listened. It was Rapunzel who in her solitude passed the time sounding her sweet voice. The prince wanted to climb up to her. He looked for a door to the tower but there was none. He rode home but the song had touched his heart so deeply that he went out to the woods every day and listened. When he was once standing behind a tree he saw the sorceress come and heard how she called

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair.”

Rapunzel lowered her plaited hair and the sorceress climbed up to her. “If that is the ladder which you climb to get in, I will try my luck, too.” And the next day, when it began to get dark, he went to the tower and cried

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair.”

Immediately the hair was lowered and the prince climbed up.

At first Rapunzel was violently frightened that a man, such as she had never seen before, had come to her. But the prince began to speak cheerily and said that her song had moved his heart. He had no peace and had to see her for himself. Rapunzel lost her fear and when he asked whether she would take him as husband and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought “He will love me more than old Mistress Gotel does.” She said yes and placed her hand in his. She replied“I will happily go with you but I don’t know how I can get down. Each time you come, bring a strand of silk and I will weave a ladder. When it is finished, I will climb down and you will take me away on your horse.” They arranged that he would come to her every evening, because the old woman visited during the day. The sorceress noticed nothing until Rapunzel chanced to say “Tell me Mistress Gotel, how is it that you are much harder to pull up than the young king’s son, who will be with me in a moment.” “Ach, you godless child,” the sorceress cried. “What must I hear from your lips. I thought I had kept you separate from the world and still you lied to me!” In her rage she grabbed the beautiful hair of Rapunzel, beat her a few times with her left hand and grabbed scissors in her right. Snip - snap, her hair was cut off and the beautiful plaits lay on the ground. She was so merciless that she cast poor Rapunzel out into the wilderness, where she was forced into a miserable and wretched life.

The same day that she banished Rapunzel, the sorceress tied the severed plaits to the window hooks and when the prince came and called

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair”

she lowered the hair. The prince climbed up. But he did not find his dear one, Rapunzel, but rather the sorceress, who greeted him with evil and malice in her gaze. “Aha,” she cried scornfully, “You want to fetch your dear wife, but the pretty bird no longer sits in the nest. She sings no more. The cat caught her and will now catch you and scratch out your eyes. Rapunzel is lost to you, you will never see her again.” The prince was gripped by such pain that in his despair he jumped from the tower: his life was spared, but the thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes. He wandered through the woods blind, ate only roots and berries and did nothing but lament the loss of his dearest wife. Thus he roamed several years in misery until finally reaching the wilderness where Rapunzel lived in wretchedness with the twins she had borne, a boy and a girl. He heard a voice thatt sounded so sweetly familiar: he went toward it and as he approached, Rapunzel recognized him and flung her arms round his neck and cried. As two tears fell into his eyes, they became clear again and he could see as before. He led them back to his kingdom, where he was received with joy and they lived a long time thereafter cheerful and gay.

For further reading:
http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/reading-rapunzel_08.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/reading-rapunzel_09.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/fairy-tale-factum_08.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/02/reading-rapunzel_08.html

Translation Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com
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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Serpent: Symbol of Knowledge and Sexuality

Fairy Tale Factum

Snake images appear in the mythology of ancient cultures across pre-Christian Europe. Serpent symbols have been found carved on Pictish stones in Scotland and in ancient Rome, girls took gifts of barley cake to the sacred serpent to assure their own reproductive powers and the fertility of the earth. In some ancient cultures snakes were worshipped (See 2. Kings 18.4 King Hezekiah breaking the bronze serpent of Moses). In others, myths speak of a snake maiden having the power to confer sovereignty on the king (early Arthurian Romance). Since early myths were first oral traditions and written down much later, often by persons critiquing rather explaining the cult, a precise understanding of the snake’s significance is difficult to fully reconstruct. Recurrent themes seem to suggest that the serpent represented both esoteric knowledge and a divine sexual power. To counter these pagan beliefs, the Bible makes it perfectly clear that it was a snake that led to the downfall of man, linking the serpent forever with Satan and evil. Clement of Alexandria (2nd – 3rd century A.D.) described the snake that tempted Eve as having a female head. Thus, it was a temptress that brought sin and misery into the world and the snake has had a bad reputation ever since.
The Snake Maiden told below has the pagan element of a kindly attitude toward the serpent; snake veneration may even be at its core. But the Christian notion of the need to redeem sinful and pagan practices of the past is evident in this story. The maiden must be freed from the curse of her hideous condition, resulting in physical transformation and spiritual redemption. But perhaps respect for the snake and old traditions had its merits. Fear and loathing of snakes is not necessarily a good thing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grimm's Saga 13. The Snake Maiden

Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.org
(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.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Grimm's Saga 268: More than a fashion faux pas: white dress and black gloves

268. Mistress Berta or the Woman in White
A woman in white appears in castles of many royal families, especially at Neuhaus in Bohemia, Berlin, Darmstadt and Karlsruhe, wherever the blood of an ancient family has mingled with her own race through marriage. She is gentle, harming no one and when encountered, she bows her head and says nothing. Her visit portends the imminent death of a loved one but may also foretell a happy event: as long as she is not wearing black gloves. She carries a ring of keys and wears a bonnet with white veil. Some folk say her name was Perchta von Rosenberg and she lived in Neuhaus in Bohemia. She was married to Johann von Lichtenstein, a mean, mulish man. After her husband’s death she lived as a widow in Neuhaus and began to build a castle to the great distress of her subjects, who had to work like slaves. While they were working, she called to them and urged them to work diligently: “When the castle is finished I shall give you and yours a sweet porridge,” for this is how old folk spoke when they invited someone as guest to dinner. In the autumn after the building was complete, she not only kept her word, but also established the custom that throughout the ages the Rosenbergs would always give their people such a meal. And this tradition continued. If there was a lapse, she would appear with a stern countenance. It was said that sometimes at night she would visit the nursery of a princely house, while the nursemaid slept. She rocked the children in their cradle or carefully carried them to and fro. Once an unknowing maid woke up alarmed and asked “What are you doing with that child?” and scolded her severely. Mistress Berta replied “I am not a stranger in this house like you are, I belong to this house. This child has sprung from my own blood, from my children’s children. But because you have not shown the honor due me, I will never more return here.”



Fairy Tale Factum:

According to Jakob Grimm, Perchta (Berchta or Berta) is mentioned in Old High German in the 10th century as a white-clad Germanic goddess. She is known in the upper regions of Germany from Alsace to Austria and is associated with ancient hunting cultures and with spinning and weaving. She thus shares many similarities with Frau Holle (see Christmas Tales). In Christian traditions she is often associated with St. Lucia and her festival day is January 6. Her name means the Shining One. Wise folk in fairy tales do not provoke the wrath of Mistress Berta and make sure they eat the traditional meal of porridge on her feast day.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sparks of Light on a Halberd Foretell Discord



Fairy Tale Factum:
This story mentions two types of shafted weapons that were used primarily in the Middle Ages. The German Hellebarde (English: Halberd)) and the Partisan, a subsequent form of the halberd. Early forms of the halberd were a combination of spear for military purposes and farm implement for work in the fields. The farmer in the story is carrying this type of combination tool, referred to first as a hay- or pitchfork and then as a partisan. The Swiss Guard, the oldest army in the world, still uses the Hellebarde to guard the Vatican.

Grimm's Saga 280:

The following story is told about the ancient Castle Lichtenberg in Hanau, perched on a tall cliff in Lower Elsass, an hour’s journey from Ingweiler:
When a storm or violent weather advances, one can see many small blue lights on the rooftops and spires of the castle, even on the tips of halberds. The lights have been seen for many years and according to some folk, this is how the old castle comes by its name.

Two farmers went out walking from the village Langenstein (close to Kirchhain in Upper Hesse) and walked toward Embsdorf with their pitchforks on their shoulders. On the way, one of the farmers saw a little light on the partisan of his comrade, who removed it from his shoulder and laughing, swept the eery glow away with his fingers so that it disappeared. After they had walked another hundred steps, the little light was once more at the prior spot and was brushed away again. But a few moments later it returned. The other farmer pushed it away with several harsh words, wiping it roughly once more and then it did not return. Eight days later at the same spot where the one farmer had brushed away the light for the third time, these two farmers met again. Normally they were old friends, but they became irritated with each other and their angry words led to blows. The one farmer stabbed the other to death.


More fairy tale factum:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/03/vernal-equinox.html

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Foreseeing the Coming Calamity: Das Wafeln





Grimm's Saga 281: The Phantom Ship

People who live on the Baltic Sea believe they can often foresee a shipwreck or stranding because the ship appears as a phantom several days or weeks before it sinks, at the very spot of its future demise. In the dark of night all parts of the ship, hull, rigging, mast and sail appear enveloped in fire. This they call wafeln. Men who will drown wafle as do houses that will burn and cities that will fall . On Sundays you can often hear the bells of sunken cities ringing, as they lie beneath the waves.


Fairytale Factum:
Wafeln probably comes from the Anglo-Saxon word wafian or the Old Norse vafra. It means to move unsteadily or flicker. Wafeln describes a swaying motion similar to undulating waves; the object seen is often enveloped in an eery light. According to folk tradition, Wafeln portends coming calamity to those who can perceive it. Waffle, waver and waft probably derive from this word.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A farmer ignores a wee wife’s gift of second sight.

The Wild Huntsman

Grimm's Saga 47
The Wee Mossy Wife


In 1635 a farmer by the name of Hans Krepel lived near Saalfeld. One day in the afternoon he went out to the heath to cut wood, where he met a wee mossy wife. She spoke to him: “Father, when you stop chopping wood for the day, carve three crosses in the trunk of the last tree you fell. Luck will be with you.” After these words, the mossy wife went on her way. The farmer, a coarse and crude fellow, thought to himself “What good is such blabber to me and what do I care about such bogies?” He refrained from carving the three crosses and instead went home that night. The next day just when he was about to go back to the wood to continue chopping, the wee mossy wife returned and spoke: “Ach you man! Didn’t you carve the three crosses yesterday? That would have helped both you and me, for this afternoon the wild huntsman shall chase us and at night we shall have no rest and he will kill us in a gruesome fashion. We shan’t have any peace from him if we cannot sit on such carved tree trunks. He can’t do anything to us when we sit there, then we are safe.” The farmer answered: “Haha, what good would the crosses be? I’m not going to carve any just to please you.” The wee mossy wife was seized by such a rage that she assailed the farmer and pressed him fiercely, a man otherwise strong of nature, until he became quite ill and wretched. Since that time he carefully follows the advice he receives. He has never ceased carving crosses in wood and has never again encountered anything so frightful.


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Friday, January 11, 2008

The Wee Mossy Folk: Excerpt Grimm's Saga 48









Wee folk dwell on the heath, in the woods in dark places but also in underground holes. They make a soft bed on lichens and their clothing is green moss bound round about their bodies. This is so well known that wood carvers have made many images of them. This mossy folk are pursued by the wild huntsman, who often hunts on the heath. Many inhabitants have been heard to say: “The wild huntsman was on the chase again last night. Oh how it rumbled and rustled, creaked and groaned!” (Excerpt No. 48)


The Zeitel Moss

There is a deep wood on the Fichtel Mountain between Wunsiedel and Weissenstadt. It is called Zeitel Moss and there is a large pool in that place. Many dwarves and mountain ghosts live there. Once a man rode out in the evening through the woods and saw two children sitting close together. He warned them to go home and not to linger as night approached. But these two began to laugh quite loudly. The man rode on, and when he had gone some distance he met these same children, who were laughing again. (No. 46)



In this saga, a wee wife foretells war or peace.War and Peace
In the year 1644, on the 18th of August, the Prince Elector Johann Georg I moved his army past the city of Chemnitz. There, his men captured a wild little wife in the thicket of the area. She was only one ell high but otherwise had a human shape. Her face, hands and feet were smooth, but the rest of her body was rough. The wee wife began to speak: “I prophesy and bring peace to all the land.” The Prince Elector ordered that the wee wife be released, because twenty-five years earlier a wee husband had been found with the same shape. He foreboded unrest and war for all the land.

More fairy tales of the Wee Mossy Folk:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/01/farmer-tries-to-ignore-wee-wifes-gift.html

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Carefully aimed bolts of lightning determine fate and a ghostly woman in white haunts the castle.


Ghost of Boyne Castle, Part II
See Part I below.


In 1592 a young prince went out riding with a hunting party in pursuit of a stag. In the heat of the chase he became separated from his knights and after riding many hours alone, arrived at Boyne Castle, tired and hungry. It was early afternoon and he stood in the shade of a tall linden tree. As he rested, he gazed at the lonely castle. Would anyone be living there,” he thought. A bright ray of sun shone on the castle wall and he followed the sunbeam with his gaze upward to the top-most window. There he could see the figure of a woman dressed in white. He waved to the woman and hoped some refreshment would be offered.

He circled the castle looking for entrance. When he crossed the bridge and entered the castle yard, he found a table spread with the finest foods imaginable. At the head of the table sat the beautiful lady of the house, dressed in a radiant white gown.

“Thank you gentle woman for this refreshment. I am in sore need of sustenance,” he said. And she motioned silently with her hand that he should take what he required. He ate eagerly and his speech was merry. Soon he was in very good spirits indeed.

While the young man was eating he thought how mild and lovely the maiden looked. Her properties were vast, her table rich. Surely she would make a wonderful bride. The thought no sooner entered his mind than the maid’s countenance became dark and sad. A servant came to clear the table and the young prince said to him: “I will return with my hunting party three days hence and then I will ask for your mistress’s hand.” The servant looked at him sadly and said. “You shall never marry though your heart be true.”

Without giving a reply the young prince jumped to his horse, bade a hasty farewell and called over his shoulder “Three days hence, look for me, I shall stand under the linden tree.”

Off he rode and was as good as his promise. In three days time, the hunting horn was heard in the valley announcing the arrival of a large procession of knights. It was afternoon and a mighty storm threatened. Thunder could be heard coming closer and closer, and heavy black clouds filled the sky. The prince searched for the linden tree but the landscape looked different now. The castle seemed dark and abandoned. At last he found a dead tree, where the linden had been three days before. The prince stood below, gazing up at the castle wall and the top-most window. He saw a faint figure at the window and he called up “Three days hence and look at me, as I stand under the linden tree.”
His knights urged him to leave the desolate place, as a fierce storm was moving in. Lightning struck on all sides and the spot where the prince stood was bare and exposed. The knights ran to seek cover as a loud clap of thunder was heard. As they turned back to look at the prince they saw the lightning strike him and he was dead.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Carefully aimed bolts of lightning determine fate and a ghostly woman in white haunts the castle.

Grimm's Saga No. 10 The Ghost of Boyne Castle

In olden times, three sisters lived together at Boyne Castle. One night the youngest dreamt it was God’s will that one of the three should be killed in a storm. In the morning, she told her sisters about the dream and when it was mid-day clouds filled the heavens, looming larger and blacker. By evening a mighty thunderstorm darkened the sky. Soon it was completely black. Thunder could be heard coming closer and closer. Lightning struck from all sides like fire and the oldest sister said: “I shall follow God’s will, for I am the one for whom death was foretold.” She carried a stool outside and sat there a day and a night waiting for lightning to strike her. But it didn’t. On the second day, the second sister went outside and said “I shall follow God’s will, for I am the one for whom death was foretold.” She sat all the second day and second night, but the lightning did not harm her either. But the weather also did not improve. Then the third sister spoke on the third day: “Now I see it is God’s will that I should be the one to die.” She called the priest, who administered the Blessed Sacrament, she wrote out her last will and testament and ordered that on the day of her death the entire community should be given a hearty meal with wine. After she had done all this, she went out reconciled. She sat down and after a few moments, lightning struck her down and she was dead.

Some time later, when the castle had been abandoned, she often appeared as a benevolent ghost. Once a poor shepherd had lost all of his possessions. The next day his very last possession was to be seized. This shepherd was grazing his animals by Boyne Castle. He saw in the bright sunshine a snow-white woman standing at the castle door. She had spread out a white cloth and in it lay clumps, which sparkled in the sunlight. The shepherd was amazed to find a maiden in such a lonely place. He walked toward her and said “Oh, what beautiful things are lying there!” He took a few in his hand, gazed at them and put them back on the cloth. She looked at him kindly but with sadness in her smile and said nothing. The shepherd became frightened and withdrew without looking back, driving his herd away with him. But a few of the clumps had fallen into his shoes when he stood there. On the way home, they pressed him so that he sat down, took off his shoes and wanted to shake them out . Five or six gold pieces fell into his hand. The shepherd hurried back to Boyne Castle, but the woman in white had vanished with all of the clumps. But with these gold pieces he was able to clear all of his debts and set up his household again.

Many treasures lie hidden in the castle. One man was lucky and found a compartment within the wall; he pulled it out and found it was full of gold. Once a widow had only one cow and goat and because bright nettles grew there, she went to cut some for her cattle. But when she had picked a bouquet, she slipped and fell down a deep crevasse. She screamed and called for help but there was no one in such a remote place. That evening, her children who were frightened came searching for her and they heard her voice. Lowering a rope, they pulled her up and she told them how she had fallen down below onto a metal screen but behind the screen she had seen a table loaded full of riches and silver.


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

Thursday, January 3, 2008

St. Mary of Egypt and the Legend of the Virgin Mary

The theme of penance and Mary of Egypt....
The legend of the Virgin Mary shares themes associated with Mary of Egypt, patron saint of repentant sinners. Mary of Egypt was a penitent living in the wilderness and was widely venerated during the Middle Ages. Miraculously she was able to nourish herself on plants, nuts and berries. After a harsh life in the wilderness had destroyed her clothing, the only protection from the elements was her long golden hair. The solitude of the desert was the only place she could properly atone for her sins.

War or Peace Predicted by the Wee Wife

ln Saga 169, those who have the power to portend good and evil live among us.

Grimm's Saga 169. War and Peace
In the year 1644, on the 18th of August, the Prince Elector Johann Georg I moved his army past the city of Chemnitz. There, his men captured a wild little wife in the thicket of the area. She was only one ell high but otherwise had a human shape. Her face, hands and feet were smooth, but the rest of her body was rough. The wee wife began to speak: “I prophesy and bring peace to all the land.” The Prince Elector ordered that the wee wife be released, because twenty-five years earlier a wee husband had been found with the same shape. He foreboded unrest and war for all the land.

The ghosts of the past year still haunt familiar places in Saga 167.
Saga 167. The Stone Table at Bingenheim
In olden times it was the Count of a region who meted out justice in a "Zent" or lower court. Here noblemen and landowners met three times each year and the count presided. In the Hessian town of Bingenheim near Wetterau the trials were held in front of the guildhall under the linden tree. This is because many fine noblemen had settled near the Fulda borderland. A stone table stood under the linden tree and it is said that the table had been brought down from the forest of the high mountain near Staden. The stone table of justice had been moved to this spot but it was a mystery how. Years before the Zent Court was held, the place was populated by wild people. You can still see their handprints in the stone. Three stone seats with deep impressions can be seen near the linden tree. In the summer of 1604 , three white figures were observed as they wandered through the town in bright daylight.

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Table of Content

This site contains translations for the following Brother Grimm Fairy Tales and Legends
If you cannot find via the label link, scroll down:

Fairy Tales for Christmas Tide
No. 5 Frau Holla is Stirring
No. 6 Frau Holla’s Bath
No. 7 Frau Holla and True Eckart
No. 314 True Eckart
No. 8 Frau Holla and the Farmer
No. 117 Christmas Eve

Sterntaler

The Virgin Mary and Her Child

More Tales of the Virgin Mary, Christ Child, the Winter Season and Heaven

No. 200 The Golden Key
No. 7 The Cup of the Mother of God
No. 9 The Heavenly Wedding
No. 10 The Hazel Branch

Christmas Stories with Augury:
No. 116 The Lover Invited to Dinner

The Christmas Saints:
No. 180 Eve’s Unequal Children (December 24th Feast Day of Adam and Eve)
No. 3 The Virgin Mary and Her Child
Saint Joseph in the Forest