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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Legend of Charlemagne and the Strong Bonds that Bind Us


June is the month of brides and rings and the ties that bind us.

Grimm’s Saga No. 458: A Legend of Charlemagne

The Ring in the Lake near Aachen

Petrarch, on his trip through Germany, heard a story told by priests in Aachen. The holy men purported it was true, for the story had been circulated by word of mouth for many years. In ancient times Charlemagne fell in love with a woman of lowly birth. The Kaiser’s love raged so violently for this woman, that he forgot all his worldly affairs and dropped all earthly pursuits. He even neglected his own body and appearance. His entire court was soon in disarray and many of his subjects became embarrassed by his passion, which showed no signs of diminishing. The beloved woman soon fell ill and died. The people now hoped that the Kaiser would abandon his love for the woman, but these hopes were all in vain. Instead he sat for hours with her corpse, kissed and caressed it and talked to it as if it were still alive. The dead body began to smell and decay but the Kaiser would not take leave from it. Finally Turpin, the archbishop, realized that some sort of magic must lie behind it all. When Charlemagne left the room the archbishop therefore carefully ran his hands over the corpse of the dead woman to see if he could not discover the source of the enchantment. Finally he found a ring in her mouth concealed under her tongue and he secretly removed it. When the Kaiser returned to the room he acted surprised, like someone who had just awakened from a deep sleep. He asked:

“Who carried this stinking corpse in here?” and in that very hour he ordered its burial. This was also carried out immediately. But instead of alleviating the problem the king’s strong affection was now re-directed to the archbishop, whom the Kaiser now followed incessantly. When this wise and pious man noticed the change, he recognized the power of the ring and feared it might fall into the wrong hands. That is why he threw it into the lake near the city. After that, the Kaiser loved the place so dearly, he could no longer find it in his heart to leave Aachen. He had a royal castle and cathedral built and spent the remainder of his days there. It was also in Aachen that he desired to be buried. He decreed that all royal successors would be anointed and inaugurated in that city.



To read a tale about Charlemagne and the Snake:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 172: The Flounder



The mouth of a fish contemplated in a fairy tale:

For a long time the fish in the sea had been unhappy because there was no order in their kingdom. Fish did not give each other any leeway; each swam right and left, whatever he felt like. Some swam in between those who wanted to swim together. Others blocked the path and the stronger fish gave the weaker ones a slap with their tails, hurling them long distances. Or even worse, the bigger fish devoured the smaller ones. “How nice it would be if we had a king, who spoke law and justice amongst us,” they all said. They agreed they would vote one fish to be their leader; they would pick whoever could swim the fastest through the waves and bring help to the weaker ones.

They positioned themselves on shore, one after another in rank and file. The pike gave a sign with his tail and they all swam away. The pike shot through the waves like an arrow and the herring, gudgeon, perch, carp and all the rest as they are called followed after. The flounder also swam along and hoped to reach the finish line.

All at once a cry was heard “The herring is out in front! The herring is out in front!”

Who is out in front?” the bad-tempered flounder screamed morosely. He was swimming far behind. “Who is out in front?

The herring, the herring!” was the reply. “

The bare naked herring?” cried the envious flounder flabbergasted, “the bare naked herring?”

Since that time the mouth of the flounder has always been crooked as punishment for those unkind words.


Click on link to read more fairy tales:

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Monday, May 17, 2010

The Original May Queen, Tacitus and Led Zeppelin

Grimm’s Saga No. 365: The Sacred Sea of Hertha

Seven Germanic tribes lived between river and wood. They were called the Reudigner, Aviones, Angles, Warins, Eudoses, Suarthones and Nuithones*. They all worshipped Hertha, the Mother Earth, believing she involved herself in all human endeavors. The goddess came to the people driving a wagon. Her sacred forest, which had not been desecrated, was on an island in the sea. There her wagon stood enveloped by a cloth. Only a single priest was permitted to approach her. This priest knew the time when the goddess would appear in her sacred wagon. Two cows pulled her cart while everyone else followed behind reverently. Wherever the goddess went and whomever she honored with a visit, happiness and high times followed. No war was fought, no weapon seized, and everything made of iron was locked.

Peace and prosperity ruled the land and were desired by all. This lasted until the goddess had lived long enough among mortals; then the priest returned her to her sanctuary. The goddess along with wagon and cloth were then bathed in a remote lake. But the servants who assisted in this task were subsequently swallowed by its waters.

A secret terror and uncertain solemnity surrounded these matters, because anyone who witnessed the events, died immediately.

(*Names as recorded by Grimm).

A traipse through time: the trajectory of the May Queen, from pre-historical pagan ritual to Tacitus to the Brother's Grimm to Led Zeppelin to modern Druid celebrations.
This German saga by Grimm is based on an account by Tacitus. At first glance, the joyous spring procession described here might seem like a hippie-parade. The goddess Hertha (as translated by Grimm) or Nerthus (the name given her by Tacitus) is driving in a Zeltwagen, a cart covered with cloth or tent-like fabric (imagine a proto-historical VW camper, without any of the bells and whistles). This practical wagon was pulled on wooden wheels and served both as roving domicile and temple for the spring deity. Like a travel trailer, this goddess-vehicle was parked in a safe place for the winter, on an island in a sacred grove of trees. Hertha’s followers, male and female, probably all wore their hair long. According to Tacitus, many of the youthful male members of Germanic tribes combed their long locks to the side and tied these tresses into an enormous knot. Although Tacitus says these hair-dos were principally worn by young people, he sees this as a stature-enhancing ploy not tied to notions of beauty or adornment. Such hair-raising practices were intended to shock onlookers, especially enemies. The spring procession coincided with the first sprouting tree buds and it was the responsibility of the priest-consort to determine when this happened. The ritual was not without danger because the goddess- and cart-bathers did not survive after the wagon was returned to its garage for the winter. Most likely the helpers were slaves, who were subsequently pushed into the water and drowned. Although the spring procession ushered in a period of peace and prosperity (because tribes now turned their attentions to the more important pastimes of growing food and fishing from the sea) an underlying sense of terror and horror was never far from the surface of such celebrations. Remnants of the spring festival survived into the 12th century and beyond. But the goddess was now called the Pfingstkoenigin or Pentecost Queen. Later she was celebrated as the May Queen and her priest-consort became the May King. She was placed on a throne, draped in fine white cloth and honored with song and dance. In the seventies Led Zeppelin revived the May Queen in the popular rock ballad Stairway to Heaven. With her nature-loving ways (roving around in a camper, long hair and summer filled with music, love and peace, not to mention the high times that followed her) it is perhaps no wonder she was popular in the seventies. But May Queen celebrations have continued to the present, see the link below

To see a 2008 Druid's Beletane Celebration of the Blessing of the May Queen and King in Glastonbury, England hit the link and type in Druids' Beltane Celebration 2008 in the search box:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3UHrhfeKHY


If you have the Sitzfleisch and can sit through the whole song, you can see wonderful hair and rather slow-moving pictures of Led Zeppelin performing Stairway to Heaven:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9TGj2jrJk8


Or visit http://www.ledzeppelin.com/
and type in Stairway to Heaven


To read more fairy tales, click on the link:

FairyTaleChannel.com



Friday, May 14, 2010

An Ancient Tribe of Swiss Gnomes called the Gotwergeni

Life on the land can be quite hectic in springtime.
(Click on picture to enlarge.)

For people living close to the land, spring is a busy time and there are never enough helping hands to accomplish all the chores. In this saga lucky farmers in Switzerland are helped by a strange tribe of gnomes until scorn drives the creatures away. Another testimony to the hubris of mortals and a reminder to all gardeners to treat gnomes kindly.

In ancient times the Gotwergeni or gnomes were also at home in the Saas Valley region of Switzerland. In caves and cliffs they made their secret dwellings, where they practiced their peaceful arts and pursued their strange existence. This shy folk eschewed the light of day.

To good people they were known as helpers when there was hard work or distress or danger. They tended the cattle at night, watched over a sick animal in the stall, did their work in the fields of corn or hay when everyone else was sleeping and made sure misfortune did not visit the sleeper. But they were quiet and timid around the houses of godless men.

On starry nights they held their merry meetings on lonely boulders or in a quiet clearing in the larch forest.

But ungratefulness and malice took over the hearts of men and the Gotwergeni departed from the Saas Valley and settled in the crags and cliffs of Zeneggen. And when the people of the Zenegg savagely drove them off, the gnome folk left the region for ever.

Today there is a Gotwergeni grave at Mellig above the Hannig Alps which still reminds us of this lively little folk.

Behind Zermeiggern, the last continuously settled area of the Sass Valley, on the path to the Mattmark Lake, a rock slide ravaged the area in ancient times. A giant sea of boulders remains, today called the ABC-Gufer (gravel pile), and reminds the hiker of this avalanche. There is a Gotwergeni hole in the gravel, which once served the gnomes as dwelling.



Copyright Translation FairyTaleChannel.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fairy Tale of Horse and Fox



Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 132 Fox and Horse

A farmer had a trusted horse, but it had become so old it could no longer work. His master, not wanting to feed him anymore, said “I don’t need you now, but I still want to be good to you. Show me that you are strong enough to bring me a lion. Then I will keep you. But now go and leave my stall,” and he chased the horse far into the field. 

The horse was sad and went into the forest to find protection from the weather. He met the fox, who asked “Why are you hanging your head so and walking around alone?” “Oh,” the horse replied, “Stinginess and trust cannot live together in one house: my master forgot the service I performed faithfully for so many years and because I can no longer toil in the fields, he doesn’t want to feed me and has chased me away.” “Without giving you any consolation?” the fox asked. “The consolation was poor. He said, if I were strong enough to bring him a lion, he would keep me, but he knows that I can’t do that.” 

The fox replied “I will help you. Lie down and don’t move. Act as if you were dead.” The horse did what the fox asked. But the fox went to the lion, whose cave was nearby, “Out there lies a dead horse. Come out with me and you shall have a fine meal!” 

The lion went out and when they stood next to the horse the fox said “It’s not as nice here as you are usually accustomed to. You know what? I will tie your tail to the horse, so you can pull it in your cave and eat it in peace.” The lion liked this piece of advice. He positioned himself so that the fox could tie the horse to him. He stood very still. But the fox tied the lion’s feet together with the horse’s tail, and turned and pulled it tight so that it could not be broken by any amount of strength. When he had finished, he tapped the horse on the shoulder and said “Horse, pull.” 

The horse jumped up and pulled the lion away. The lion began to bellow so loud that the birds flew out of the trees, but the horse pulled him over the field to his master’s door. When the master saw everything, he saw the error of his ways and said to the horse “From now on you shall stay with me and have a good life and he gave him plenty of food to eat until he died.



To read more fairy tales, click on the link:

Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Click on link to read more fairy tales!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Garden-States and Merry Mornings


"Through the hedge and down the furrow,
Till he gets into his burrow." (Nicholas Breton)

This is the time gardeners take a closer look at the state of things. We relish the dewy morning and the glorious task of turning up the soil. We plow furrows in neat rows and plan where the cabbage and turnips will go. This is the season of lush green grass and clouds of lilacs in bloom. It’s only fitting to read a fairy tale in which the primary action takes place in the garden, down in the furrow to be exact!


The Buxtehude Hedgehog (Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 187)

(Or: The Hare and the Hedgehog)

This story is really a lie, but there is some truth in it, for my grandfather who told the story to me, always said the following when he told it: “True it must be, my son, or you wouldn’t be able to tell it.” The story happened this way. It was a Sunday morning in autumn, just when the buckwheat was blooming, the sun had risen on the horizon and the wind blew softly through the stubble. The larks sang as they soared high in the air and the bees hummed busily round the buckwheat. People wore their Sunday best to church and all creatures were cheerful, the hedgehog too. He stood in front of his door with his arms crossed and looked out into the morning sunshine. He warbled a little song and sang as beautifully as any hedgehog can sing on a Sunday morning. While he stood there and trilled like a little bird, he suddenly had the idea that while his wife was washing and dressing the children, he would go out and take a little walk in the field to see how the turnips were doing. The turnips grew quite close to his house and it was his habit and that of his family to eat them. That is why he considered them to be his own.

No sooner thought than done. He closed the front door behind him and took the path to the field. He had not gone very far and was just about to go round the blackthorn bush, which marked the edge of the field, when he saw the hare. The hare was walking on ahead engaged in similar pursuits, namely looking after his cabbage. When the hedgehog saw the hare, he wished him good morning in a cordial way. But the hare, who in his own right was a distinguished gentleman and furthermore, was terribly conceited, did not respond to the hedgehog’s greeting. Instead with a scornful countenance he replied icily: “How is that you are already running about so early in the morning?”
“I’m going for a walk,” the hedgehog replied.
“A walk?” laughed the hare. “You should use your little legs for better things.”
This remark annoyed the hedgehog very much, who was a very good-natured fellow. He could tolerate anything except disparaging remarks about his legs, because they were naturally crooked.
“You imagine that you could do more with your legs?” he said.
“I do indeed,” the hare replied.
“Well, we will have to try it then,” the hedgehog said. “I bet that if we run a race, I will run faster than you.”
“You – with your crooked little legs?” the hare said. “That’s rich! But if you have such a keen desire let’s have a go at it – what shall we wager?”
“One gold coin and one bottle of brandy,” the hedgehog said.
“Accepted,” replied the hare. “Go ahead and we can start the race right now.”
“No, there is no need for such haste,” the hedgehog replied. “I haven’t had anything to eat. I want to go home first and have some breakfast. I’ll be back in an hour.”

With that, he left and the hare was satisfied. But on the way home he thought to himself: “The hare is counting that his long legs will win the day, but I will show him. He is indeed a refined gentleman but a stupid rabbit, and for that he will pay.” When he arrived home he said to his wife: “Wifey, dear, get dressed quickly, you must go with me to the field.”
“What is it?” his wife asked.
“I have made a bet with the hare for one gold coin and one bottle of brandy that I will win a race with him. And you will be there.”
“O my God, husband,” the wife began to cry, “Have you lost your mind? How can you race the hare?”
“Woman, silence your blabbermouth,” the hedgehog said, “that is my concern. Don’t interfere with a man’s business! Go now, get dressed and come along!”
What else could the wife of the hedgehog do? She had to comply but she did not like it. When they were walking together the hedgehog said to his wife: “Now listen very carefully to what I say. I will run the race up there in the long field. The hare will run in one furrow and I in the other. We will start up there. You have nothing else to do but to wait down here in the furrow. And when the hare comes running in his furrow, call out to him as he approaches and say: “I’m already here!”

And so they arrived in the field. The hedgehog indicated the spot to his wife and went up the hill. When he arrived at the top, the hare was already there. “Can we begin?” he asked.
“Of course,” the hedgehog replied.
“Then let’s go.”

Each positioned himself in his furrow. The hare counted: “On your mark, get set, go!” and off he ran down the hill like the rushing gale wind. But the hedgehog ran only three steps, then he crouched down in the furrow and sat there calmly. And when the hare arrived down below at the finish line at full speed, the hedgehog wife called out to him “I’m already here!”

The hare was astonished not a little, but believed that the hedgehog stood before him. For it is well-known that Mrs. Hedgehog looks exactly like her husband. “Something is quite strange here,” he cried out. “Let’s race again, in the opposite direction!”
And once again the hare took off like the storm wind and his long rabbit ears were pressed down to his skull. The wife of the hedgehog remained sitting calmly in her place, and when the hare arrived Mr. Hedgehog called out to the hare “I’m already here!”
The hare was beside himself with rage and cried “Once more, the other way!”
“All right,” the hedgehog replied. “As often as you wish.” So the hare ran seventy-three times, and the hedgehog always kept up. Each time, when the hare arrived at the top of the field or arrived at the finish line at the bottom, the hedgehog or his wife called out “I’m already here!”.

But the seventy-fourth time, the hare did not arrive at the finish line. He fell to the ground in the middle of the field, blood came out of his nose and he lay dead. The hedgehog took the gold coin and bottle of brandy that were his prize and called to his wife at the end of the furrow. Cheerfully they returned home. And if they have not died, they are still living today. And so it happened that on the Buxtehude Heath the hedgehog ran the hare to death and since that time no other hare has dared to run a race with the Buxtehude hedgehog.

The moral of the story is, first, no one (regardless of how distinguished he might be) should make fun of a small man, even if the small man is only a hedgehog. And second, it’s a very good idea to marry a woman of your own stature, one that looks exactly like you. Whoever is a hedgehog must make sure that his wife is also a hedgehog.

More gardening fairy tales:


http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/06/grimms-saga-no-17-giantesss-plaything.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/05/from-gore-to-garden-french-fairy-tale.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/07/king-of-all-carrots.html

Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Monday, May 3, 2010

From Gore to the Garden, French Fairy Tale of the Three Golden Apples




Fairy Tale for Spring Gardeners: The protagonist in this fairy tale shows that the best way to a splendid garden is to sit back and mumble magic spells. (This hasn't worked in my garden, so you might have to try some good ol’ elbow grease in yours.)

This fairy tale is rather long (I suggest printing it out, perhaps, instead of reading it online). I include it here because it forms a nice link between the grizzlier themes found in the preceding fairy tales (Knights Bluebeard, Goldbeard, and Redbeard ) and happier, livelier notions of chutzpah winning the day. It not only features supernatural hair, but talking animals and a lazy gardener, who of course is destined for great things. The story enumerates everything a gardener needs to be successful, including a wide-brimmed straw hat. The only essential ingredients missing from the narrative are thunder, lightening and rain (sounds which should be soothing to all gardeners according to fairy tale wisdom!) It also features tattooing, the only account I am aware of in a fairy tale! To read more about the somewhat gory mythology of fairy tale gardening, hit the link: Goldbeard Variations


The Three Golden Apples

After nine years of marriage, a poor couple had no less than nine children. They were full of despair because they did not know how they would feed them all. In their desperation they decided to get rid of the oldest son. He was already nine years old and could perhaps make his way in the world. They sent him away although he cried and cried. Soon the boy was lost in a foreign and inhospitable land. But look: there came a magnificent carriage, drawn by a white steed. Inside sat a lady clothed entirely in white (she was, of course, the devil incarnate).

The abandoned boy bravely stopped the coach and asked the lady to take him with her. She listened politely, let him climb into the carriage and drove back with him to her house. The boy received everything he desired there. He had his fill of food and drink. The mistress of the house gave him the keys to every room, which he now could visit as he wished. There was only one door, which he was forbidden to open. It was strictly prohibited to enter this room.

In the beginning, everything went well. But gradually curiosity needled the boy and he was soon possessed with a burning desire to enter the forbidden room and find out the secret that lay hidden there. For some time fear held him back, but the temptation of knowing what was forbidden became stronger each day. So he entered the forbidden room. But oh terror! The door slammed shut behind him and he was locked inside.

In this strange room he looked around and saw the dead bodies of people hanging in every corner. He was only a few moments in this chamber when the lady in white entered. She had already searched for him and entered the room in rage. She threatened the curious boy with the same fate that had befallen the others, whose earthly shells now hung in the room.
The child fell to its knees and begged for forgiveness. After hesitating for quite a while, the lady was moved to forgive him. But he had to promise again that he would never enter this room. For if he did, it would be over for him.

Some time passed. But the memory of the forbidden room would not leave the youth, who in the meantime had grown into a young man. One day he believed he had found a solution. He would enter and keep the door open by taking a splinter of wood and slipping it between the door and frame. In this way he would be able to leave the room. No sooner said than done. But in that moment, when he let go of the door, the splinter broke under the weight of it slamming shut and once again he was locked in. The curious youth now believed all to be lost. As he measured the interior of the room, he saw a light in the corner. He approached the luminescence and crept inside. Suddenly he found himself in a stall, in which a horse, mule and donkey stood. All three were wonderful animals. The youth ran his hand over each animal and said in amazement “What a beautiful horse, what a beautiful mule, what a beautiful donkey!”

The first of the animals entreated him not to repeat these words. Then the beast lowered his voice and whispered “What you see here are not the usual animals, but rather unfortunate men, who have been cursed and transformed into animals. You are in the house of the devil, but we can help you escape because we have certain tools at our disposal. Take three hairs from my mane and never release them from your hand. Always when you say “By the hairs of my horse Bayard” all of your wishes will be fulfilled and you will have unlimited power. Also put on this wide-brimmed straw hat and never take it off. Your hair must always be completely covered.” (His hair, which had been black before, was now golden). “And you must take with you three things: a splinter of wood, a pail and a brush.”

Equipped with these tools, he hastened away because the woman in white was certainly already after him

It was true. The runaway glimpsed the white lady behind him getting closer. He seized the tools that had been given him. He threw the wood splinter to the ground and called: “By the hairs of my horse Bayard I wish that a giant mountain would grow between me and the devil!”

In that moment his wish became reality and allowed him to gain time ahead of his pursuer. But after some time she was again hot on his heels. He now threw down the pail and called “By the hairs of my horse Bayard, I wish that an enormous ocean lay between me and the devil!” Immediately an ocean was there and he gained more time.

A third time the hellish lady in white approached, ready to grab the runaway. The youth threw down the brush and called “By the hairs of my horse Bayard I wish that an impenetrable forest would grow between me and the devil!”

This, too, happened. The devil fell far behind the runaway. But now he had nothing more to throw down. Luckily he had reached sacred ground, where the devil has no power.

After he roamed around some time, the youth presented himself to the king, who granted his request to become a gardener. But the king commanded him: “In three days time my oldest daughter shall marry. I would like my garden to be designed according to my plans for this celebration!”

The new gardener promised to do everything that was requested, but instead of going to work immediately, he went out strolling the entire first and second day. The king was astonished at such idle inactivity. On the second day he called the youth and said “Do you not know that my garden must be finished at the set hour? I don’t think you can waste any more time!”

“Fear not,” the gardener replied. “Everything will be completed according to your instructions at the appointed hour.” And to the amazement of the king, the sly gardener returned to his lazy ways.

On the morning of the third day the gardener still did not lift a finger. The king became annoyed, turned green and blue with rage and threatened to dismiss the carefree servant. But when the gardener once again solemnly promised that everything would be ready by the pre-arranged hour, the king calmed down and allowed the gardener to act according to how he saw fit. Finally there were only ten minutes left before the appointed time. The youth now turned to his magic charms and said “By the hairs of my horse Bayard, I wish that the king’s garden would look like he desires it to look!”

Immediately before the eyes of the amazed onlookers, the garden underwent a complete and quick transformation. The king no longer talked about dismissal. The oldest king’s daughter married the prince. Some time later the second daughter also married a man of noble birth. Now the old king searched for husband for his youngest daughter, a suitor who was just as well-bred. But the young maid bridled against her father’s wishes. In the meantime, she had fallen head-over-heels in love with the gardener. One strand of golden hair had fallen out from beneath the hat, which the gardener always wore. This single lock of hair ignited the passion of the princess.

When the king heard the news, he was very surprised. But he had to bend to the will of the obstinate young maid, who refused any other man but the gardener. The gardener became his son-in-law, but he seemed so simple and ungainly, as the other two grooms had been polished and proud. To each the king gave an apple and declared that the one who preserved his apple best and to the greatest benefit of all would be the king’s successor.

Some time thereafter the king was drawn into a war. He was already quite old, but sent the young princes out into the field. The first two mounted fine steeds. The gardener selected the weakest old mare in the stable, despite all the advice given him. They warned him that this animal was doomed to plodding along and in an emergency, he would not be able to escape an enemy pursuit. Still the gardener insisted on his choice and rode off without haste behind his two brothers-in-law, who soon vanished on the horizon ahead. The youth arrived some time later at the place of war. When the enemy was visible, he only said “By the three hairs of my horse Bayard, I wish defeat to the enemy!”

It happened as he wished it. Both princes returned home in haste to report the victory to the king, which they took complete credit for. The king believed them. How could he assume that the blockhead of a gardener, who couldn’t even sit properly on his horse, would even be capable of performing a famous deed?

Soon thereafter the king became ill. The doctor said the king would only recover if he ate the flesh of the largest and most hideous of all snakes. The three sons-in-law went out in pursuit. The first two, sat high and proud on their steeds. The third sat on the same old mare, which had carried him into battle. After many hours of searching in vain and a thousand detours, the two princes wanted to return. But they soon saw the catch the gardener had made. He spoke his magic words: “By the three hairs of my horse Bayard, the largest of all snakes should lie dead at my feet.” In that moment, his wish was fulfilled.

Both princes wanted nothing else but to appear before the king themselves as snake-slayer. The gardener had nothing against this, if they would give him their gold apples. They agreed to the trade. The gardener returned to the castle with empty arms and was greeted with disdain.

The king soon became ill again. This time he desired the flesh of the largest eagle. Once again the three sons-in-law went out together in pursuit. The same thing happened as the first two times. The gardener killed the bird and the two princes brought back the quarry. But in return for the prize, they had to allow three pin pricks to be imprinted in triangular shape on their bottoms, and this did indeed hurt.

Finally the day came when the king would decide who was the most virtuous of his sons-in-law and assume the crown. He called them and their wives to his palace so that they would bring their apples. The first two brought artificial apples, because they had lost the real ones. But the sly gardener placed three apples before the king, who immediately recognized the fruits by a special mark he had scratched into them in secret. The king wanted to know how these things had happened. The gardener explained everything quite precisely down to the last hair. The ruler now knew who had overcome the enemy in battle, who had killed the giant snake and who had killed the enormous eagle. The gardener supplied all the proofs while the princes stood there gaping. He even showed the king the three pin pricks decorating the bottoms of the princes as reward for the eagle.

Because he was now convinced of his virtue and courage, the king declared the gardener his successor. He now had to remove his straw hat and showed everyone his wonderful golden hair. The king was no longer amazed about the choice his youngest daughter had made.


Further reading:

Gardening fairy tales:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/06/grimms-saga-no-17-giantesss-plaything.html



http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/reading-fairy-tales-knight-bluebeard.html

Translation Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dreams of Slumbering Kings


Grimm’s Saga No. 433: The Sleeping King

The Legend of Saint Guntram, the Goodly King

The Frankish King Guntram was a kindly, peace-loving monarch. Once this king went out hunting with companions and servants. The hunting party criss-crossed the forest innumerable times and soon became confused and exhausted. Only a single companion, the king’s dearest and most trusted, remained with him. Overcome with fatigue, the king sat down under a tree, placed his head in his dear friend’s lap and closed his eyes in slumber. When he was fast asleep, a small animal slithered out of Guntram’s mouth snake-like. It proceeded to the bubbling stream flowing nearby. Pausing at the bank, the creature looked longingly across the water.

The king’s companion noticing everything, took his sword from the sheath and laid it across the brook. The little creature now moved onto the sword and in this manner crossed the stream, where it crept into a hole in the mountainside and fell asleep. After several hours, the creature returned over the same sword-bridge and crept into the mouth of the slumbering king. When Guntram awoke, he said to his companion: “I must tell you my dream and the wonderful face I had. I gazed upon a big, big river, an iron bridge had been built over it. I managed to cross the bridge and entered a cave in a high mountain. An unheard of treasure, the hoard of our ancestors lay hidden in the mountain.”

Now his companion told him what had happened while he slept and how the dream corresponded to the actual apparition he himself had seen. They went to the exact spot and began digging in the mountain, where they found an enormous hoard of gold and silver. It had been concealed there in ancient times.

To read more about the Goodly King Guntram, hit the following Wiki-link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guntram


To read about more slumbering kings:
http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/fairy-tale-of-three-slumbering-knights.htm
Translation Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fairy Tale of Three Slumbering Knights


Grimm’s Saga No. 298: The Three Tells

From the wild mountain regions of Switzerland, a Tale of Three Slumbering Knights

According to popular belief among common folk and shepherds, there is a cleft in the rock near Waldsaetter Lake in the wild mountainous region of Switzerland. Here, the three liberators of the country sleep. They are called the Three Tells. They are dressed in their ancient garb but will rise up again from their slumbers as saviors when the time of distress descends over the land. But only the fortunate seeker can find access to the cave.

A shepherd boy told the following story to a traveler: His father pursuing a lost goat among the rocky crevices, entered a cave and just when he noticed that the three men slumbering inside were the Three Tells, the older one, the actual Tell sat up and asked: “What time is it in the world?” In response to the shepherd’s terrified answer “It is close to midday,” the Old Tell replied “It is not yet time that we come.” And he lay down again and went to sleep. However in a time of dire need the boy’s father returned with several companions to wake the Three Tells. Although he often searched for the cave, he never found it again.

More tales of slumbering kings;

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/grimms-saga-no.html

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reading the Fairy Tales of Knight Bluebeard and Knight Goldbeard


Goldbeard Variations

In the debate over the origin of Bluebeard, the identity of the knight has been variously attributed. Some see him as a medieval serial killer of noble birth while others associate him with sundry historical wife-killers. This is an entirely understandable interpretation of the brutal acts at the heart of this fairy tale. But the story also shares many of the elements of a romance and is therefore often read through the prism of such themes: a knight seeks to win the favor of a lady, courtship and marriage follow, expectations and conflicts arise within the marriage, the plucky heroine must develop ingenuity in the face of danger and the trajectory of her personal development is traced.
So how to read this "romance" that is steeped in blood, savagery and barbarism? In defense of Knight Bluebeard, I would argue that the story is not primarily about murder but rather about the cycle of life, death and rebirth. To get at the crux of this fairy tale, the blue beard of the knight offers some clues.

In German mythology the beards of important proto-historical kings were often color-coded. According to folk tradition, Charlemagne had a white, pointy beard, which in some descriptions was said to be gold (although supposedly in real life he was bald and had no beard at all). Kings Otto, Olaf and Friedrich Barbarossa were said to have red beards. The color of the beard was significant because it tied the king to a specific deity. Quite often the deity was Thor or Donar. Thor’s father was Woton, the god of the heavens. His mother was Nirdu-Fricka, the goddess of earth. Thor’s realm therefore was everything in between heaven and earth. His thunder and lightening announced rain, the life-giving element essential for crops, cattle, the fecundity of the earth and life itself. Thor’s beard was red, because this was the color most often associated with lightening in the minds of many Germanic tribes. However the North Friesian and Prussian tribes referred to the blue shimmer of the lightening god. Storms were thought to unleash a blue whip or the blue flame of the god. The beard of the deity was invoked to ward off danger or curse opponents: Donnerwetter! (Thunder Weather!) Blaue Feuer! (Blue Fire!) or in maledictions: Der Donner schlage Dich! (May thunder strike you down!) The lightening itself was likened to the arrows the god shot from heaven or the wedge-shaped stones catapulted by the god with his hammer or axe. Thor drove a cart pulled by goats, which were sacred to him. The skins of sacrificed goats were hung on poles or trees as weather charms. In this role as weather or thunder god, the deity was extremely important to pre-Christian tribes. The Lithuanian thunder god was called Perkunas and he purportedly had a black, crinkly beard. Zeus was the thunder god of the Greeks and by some accounts had a white beard. The Slavonic god was known as the Striker and had a tawny colored beard. In short, you knew the god and the earthly king he was associated with by the color of the beard.

As controller of weather, fertility and crops the god must have seemed fickle, capricious or even bi-polar. The bounty-bringing divinity was just as likely to send a bolt from heaven, striking the head of his victim and severing it from his body with hammer or axe. To appease such an inconstant god, sacrifices were offered. The blood or body parts of the victim were ritually poured or scattered over the ground, the carcass hung on a tree or pole or the body was burned. Animal sacrifice was common but human sacrifice has also been chronicled. It was believed these actions were essential to ward off the wrath of the god and assure the fertility of the earth. Folk memories of these rituals have been incorporated in numerous myths, but perhaps the stories of Osiris and Attis are the most representative. In Norse mythology the god Odin is both sacrificed to and sacrificed as victim. In fact the god-as-sacrifice is a common theme. These myths reflect a belief that the cycle of life-death-rebirth was crucial for the renewal of the earth. In the myth of Thor, the deity kills and consumes his goats each day. But in the evening he wondrously resuscitates them.

Thus the thunder or weather god was viewed both as protector against and unleasher of evil forces. Similarly, earthly kings were judged by the bounty, prosperity or terror created during their reign. A king’s accomplishments were commemorated in folk sayings, songs and stories where his royal parentage and divine ancestry were often emphasized. But this belief in kings as divine beings was changing. When Charlemagne was crowned king, the Church anointed him as God’s representative on earth, underscoring that he was not a deity himself. This was the new party line, so-to-speak and was accepted (at least by some folk). It represents a turning point in how kings and kingship were to be perceived.

In Knight Goldbeard, the otherworldly identity of the main character is suggested in the very first paragraph. Fairy tales and saga frequently use the word knight to denote a person skilled in warfare, usually of royal lineage, who is often imbued with supernatural powers. The specific knight here is further linked to the gods by the gold on his saddle and golden-threaded beard, a color frequently associated with heavenly beings. Like a god the knight freely bestows boons, favors and prosperity on the villagers. But like a fickle weather divinity, he inexplicably turns against those he favors. This fairy tale includes allusions to the sacrifices commonly made to Thor: the girl is described as laughing and jumping like a mountain goat, a reference to the animals sacrificed to the god and the sisters’ fate seems to be a direct reference to the sacrificial offerings hung on poles or trees. It is perhaps shocking to contemplate human sacrifice as a sub-text for a fairy tale, but other tales also include this grim element. The tale of the Goose Girl is probably based on a folk memory of the ritual sacrifice of horses.

In the tale of Knight Bluebeard, meterological elements evoking the weather god feature prominently: Bluebeard thunders (donnerte), the brothers hasten like lightening (wie der Blitz) and they storm up the stairs (stuermten die Treppe hinauf). But this story also contains a marriage and might allude to the sacred marriage between the sky god Thor and his earth goddess counterpart. It fits neatly within the template of myths concerning a union between a mortal and a god. Like the Supernatural Spouse in Fairy Sisters' July Wedding, Bluebeard stipulates certain taboos as condition of marriage. But mortals are frail creatures and mostly unable to fulfill the precepts of the gods. It is the violation of taboo that brings evil, pestilence and calamity into the world. According to Jacob Grimm a very ancient pattern of story telling (and one he traces back to Aeschylus) involves a young woman who, exploring the celestial dwelling of a god, goes from room to room with a key. Finally she opens the forbidden door and unleashes the fury of the gods. It is this crossing of the threshold that often signifies a form of self-destruction for the fairytale protagonist and ultimately redemption and transformation. (Another fairy tale with this theme is Child of Mary).


Read the fairy talea by clicking on link:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/03/fairy-tale-of-knight-goldbeard.html

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Dogs of Dagobert



Grimm’s Saga No. 440: The Dogs of Dagobert
The people of France still commemorate King Dagobert in two adages, the origin of which has been long forgotten:

“When King Dagobert sat down at the table to eat,
His hounds also took their seat.”

And:

King Dagobert, lying on his deathbed, spoke to his beloved dogs:

“The best company is the kind one never has to leave.”

To read more about King Dagobert, hit the following Wiki-link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagobert_I


To read more fairy tales about Dagobert:


http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/king-dagoberts-soul-sails-seas.html

Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Monday, April 12, 2010

King Dagobert's Soul Sails the Seas



Grimm's Saga No. 439: King Dagobert’s Soul in the Ship

When goodly King Dagobert left this vale of tears, the dear God allowed Satan to seize his soul because he had not purged it of every sin. The devil took his soul and placed it on a ship and desired to sail the seas with it. But Saint Dionysius did not forget his dear friend. He prayed to God that he might assist the soul and this request was also granted. St. Dionysius took with him St. Mauritius and other friends who had once honored and celebrated King Dagobert during his lifetime. A choir of angels also followed them and guided them to the sea. But when they met up with the devil, they did battle with him. The devil had little power over the saints, was soon vanquished and thrown out of the ship into the sea. The angels then collected Dagobert’s soul and Saint Dionysisus with his choir of angels and saints returned to heaven.



To read about the Dogs of Dagobert:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/dogs-of-dagobert.html

Or about Saint Meinrad and his ravens:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/02/legend-of-saint-meinrad-and-his-ravens.html

Or to read more fairytales:

FairyTaleChannel.com

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fairy Tale of King Redbeard


King Friedrich Redbeard Sleeps in Kyffhaeuser Mountain

There are many legends circulating about this king. They say he is not really dead but will live until doomsday. No other kings shall come after him. Until he returns, he shall sit hidden in the Kyffhausen Mountain. But when he emerges from his slumbers, he will hang his shield upon a withered tree. The tree will at once begin to blossom and a better time will come. In the meantime, he speaks to all the people who happen to wander into the mountain and occasionally he even looks outside. But usually he sits on a bench before a round stone table. Holding his head in his hands, he sleeps while his weary head nods off and his eyes blink drowsily. His beard has grown long. Some say it has even grown through the stone table. But according to others, it has only grown round the table twice. Folks say it must grow around the table three times before the king can awake. But for now, it only reaches twice around the table.

In 1669 a farmer wanted to take his crop of corn from Reblingen to Nordhausen. A man of small stature led him into the mountain where he had to empty his sacks of corn and fill them with gold. The farmer saw the king sitting at the table, but he did not move.

Once it was told that a shepherd was whistling a tune that pleased the king. A gnome led the shepherd inside the mountain. At once the king stood up and asked: “Are the ravens still flying around the mountain?” When the shepherd replied that they were, the king cried out: “Now I must sleep one-hundred more years.”


Copyright FairyTaleChannel.org

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

German Fairy Tale of King Thrushbeard


King Thrushbeard

There once lived a king whose daughter was beautiful beyond measure. But the girl was so proud and arrogant that no suitor was good enough for her. She haughtily rejected one gallant after the next, but what is worse, she ridiculed them. One day the king gave an enormous feast and invited all the eligible young men from far and wide. He lined them up in rows according to their rank and circumstance. First came the kings, then the dukes, counts, earls, barons and finally all the noblemen. When the king’s daughter was led through the ranks, she found fault with each and every one. He was too fat: “What a wine barrel!” she said. The other was too tall: “Long and slack, has no back!” The third was too short: “Short and fat, has no knack!” The fourth was too pallid: “Pale as death!” The fifth was too ruddy: “Red as a beetroot!” The sixth did not stand straight enough “Green wood, dried behind the oven!”

And so the princess found something wrong with each suitor, but she especially poked fun at a goodly king with a crooked chin, who stood at the very front of the line. “Oh,” she cried and laughed. “He has a chin just like the thrush has a beak!” And from that moment on he was called Thrushbeard. But when her father, the old king, saw that his daughter only mocked and scorned her assembled admirers, he was filled with rage. He swore she would marry the first beggar who crossed the threshold.

A few days later, a street musician stopped below the window to sing and earn a few alms. When the king heard him he said “Let him come in.” The musician entered wearing his dirty, dilapidated clothing, sang for the king and his daughter, and when he had finished, asked for a small token. The king replied “Your song pleased me so well, that I will give you my daughter as wife!”

The king’s daughter was terrified, but her father spoke: “I have sworn an oath to give you to the first beggar and I shall keep my word.”

It was no use to argue, the priest was called and she had to marry the street musician on the spot. When it was done, the king said “Now it is no longer fitting that you, as a beggar’s wife, should remain any longer in my castle. You must move out with your husband.”

The beggar led her by the hand and she had to leave with him on foot. When they reached a huge forest she asked:

“Oh, to whom belongs the pretty wood?”
“It belongs to King Thrushbeard;
Had you only taken him, this would now be yours.”
“I, poor maid so delicate and tender,
Had I only taken King Thrushbeard!”

Then they came to a meadow, there she asked again:

“Oh, to whom belongs the pretty green field?”
“It belongs to King Thrushbeard:
Had you only taken him, this would now be yours.”
“I, poor maid so delicate and tender,
Had I only taken King Thrushbeard!”

Then they came to a big city, there she asked again:

“Oh, to whom belongs the pretty big city?”
“It belongs to King Thrushbeard;
Had you only taken him, this would now be yours.”
“I, poor maid so delicate and tender,
Had I only taken King Thrushbeard!”

“I don’t like it,” the street musician said, “that you are always wishing for another husband. Am I not good enough for you?” Finally they arrived at a small hut and the maiden spoke:

“Ach God! The house is so small,
To whom does this miserable tiny hut belong?”

The street musician replied: “This house is mine and yours, where we shall live together.”

She had to bend over to squeeze through the low door.

“Where are the servants?” the king’s daughter asked.

“What servants!” replied the beggar. “You must do for yourself what you want done. Make a fire immediately and put on some water so that you can cook my dinner; I am very tired.”

The king’s daughter didn’t know anything about making a fire and cooking. The beggar had to do it himself because things were going so badly. When they had eaten their meager fare, they went to bed immediately. But in the morning, he woke her very early because she had to tend the house. They lived a few days like this and finally had eaten their entire larder.

The husband spoke: “Wife, we can’t go on like this! We eat everything and earn nothing. You shall weave baskets.” He went out, cut willow branches and brought them home. She began to weave but the harsh willow cut her delicate hands until they were quite sore. “I see that this won’t work,” the husband said, “you should spin instead. Maybe you can do that better.”

She sat down and tried spinning, but the hard threads soon cut into her soft fingers, so that the blood ran down. “You see,” her husband said, “you aren’t good for any work! I made a poor bargain with you! Now I will try to start a business with pots and utensils. You shall sit at the market and sell the wares.”

Oh, she thought, if people from my father’s kingdom come to the market and see me sitting and selling goods, they will laugh at me!”

But it didn’t help. She had to bend if she didn’t want to die of hunger. The first time, things went well. People liked to buy goods from the woman because she was pretty and so they paid what she asked. Many even gave her money and left the pots behind. Now husband and wife could live from their earnings as long as it lasted. The husband bought more new utensils. The wife sat down at a corner of the market and set up her wares and began to sell. Suddenly a drunk Hussar raced through the market and rode directly into her pottery. Everything was smashed into a thousand bits. She began to cry and was so terrified, she did not know what to do. “Ach, what shall happen to me!” she cried, “What will my husband say?”

She ran home and told him of the misfortune. “Who is so dumb as to sit in the corner of the market selling wares?” the husband said. “Stop crying, I see that you are not good for any ordinary work. I have gone to our king’s castle and asked if they need a kitchen maid. They promised me they would take you and you will get a free dinner there.”

Now the king’s daughter had to become a kitchen maid, had to help the cook and do the most undesirable work. She filled her pockets with a pot-full of food and brought home what was left over. That is how they fed themselves.

Now it happened that the eldest of the king’s daughters was to marry. The poor wife went to the ballroom door and wanted to catch a glimpse of all the finery. When all the lights were lit, people entered the room, each one more beautiful than the last. Everything was illuminated in splendor and grandeur. It was with heavy heart that she remembered her fate. She cursed the pride and arrogance that had brought her so low and had pushed her into such poverty. From the exquisite dishes that were carried in and out, a pleasant aroma drifted over to her and a servant threw her a few crumbs. She was just about to take them home when all at once the king’s son entered. He was dressed in satin and silk and had a gold chain around his neck. And when he saw the beautiful woman standing by the door, he took her by the hand and wanted to dance with her. But she declined and recoiled because she saw it was King Thrushbeard. He had been her suitor before but she had rejected him with disdain. Her protestations did not help; he pulled her into the ballroom. The belt on which her bags were strung fell open so that the soup ran out and the crumbs floated all around. When the people saw it, they broke out in laughter and mocked her. She was so ashamed, she would rather have been lying a thousand fathoms below the ground. Jumping toward the door, she attempted fleeing. But standing at the stairs was a man who caught her and brought her back. And when she looked into his face, she saw it was King Thrushbeard. He spoke to her gently: “Fear not, I am one and the same as the musician. I lived with you in the miserable little hut. For you I have disguised myself, and the Hussar, who rode through your pottery, that was also me. This all happened to bend your proud heart and punish you for your arrogance, and the scorn you heaped upon me.”

The princess cried bitterly and said: “I have done great injustice and am not worth being your wife.”

But he replied “Console yourself, the hard days are over. Now we shall celebrate our wedding.”

The chambermaids arrived and dressed the maid in the finest of clothes. Her father and the entire court arrived and wished her much happiness in her marriage to King Thrushbeard. Now the real joy began. I wish you and I had been there.


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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fairy Tale of Knight Goldbeard


A Swiss Fairy Tale: know them by the color of the their beards.Knight Goldbeard


Once a black horse appeared in the Visper Valley. On its back rode a proud knight, who did indeed look noble, but no one knew him. His saddle was sewn with bright strips of gold and the bridle of his horse was cut from the finest red leather. On his head he wore a silver helmet with an eagle’s plume, but his face was adorned with a beard that seemed to be spun from the finest golden threads. All the young maidens fell in love with this knight for he knew how to flatter them with his fine speech. They thought he had to be rich and he must be a prince because every day he took gifts from his pocket. First he gave presents to this one, then to that one, and then to everyone.

He lived in the largest house in the village. This house belonged to a family with one grown son and three beautiful daughters. The two older daughters were hated by all the villagers because they were haughty. But the youngest was loved by all and held in high esteem because of her gentleness and modesty. The youngest daughter loved music and often played her dulcimer so sweetly and fine that the birds themselves fell silent and the river through the valley rushed forward very softly when she sang. The knight often joked with the three sisters and teased them. First he took the older one aside and then the second sister. To each he said she was the chosen one of his heart’s desire. He whispered into the ear of each maid that she was the dearest of all. But she should not reveal this to the others. And so, each believed he loved her alone and guarded the secret.

Now the knight’s room was above the room of the youngest daughter. Each morning when the knight arose from bed, the youngest daughter heard three types of singing. The girl had never heard anything so beautiful; the sound was more wonderful than the string playing of the dulcimer. From the bottom of her heart she longed to learn this singing. For a long time she didn’t dare speak to the knight about it. But finally, when he declared that she was his dearest and would be his bride and stole a kiss, she asked him to teach her how to sing with three voices. He stroked her cheek and replied “Tomorrow in the afternoon we shall go out walking together, my little bride, high up in the woods. There I will teach you how to sing, so that you will fall silent when you hear your own song!” The girl rejoiced and could hardly wait until the next day.

The next morning she ran back and forth through the village, telling all that she would soon learn how to sing like the knight. He had promised it to her and a knight would surely keep his word. Knight Goldbeard had told the other two sisters the same thing. That morning bright and early he took the oldest daughter with him into the woods. She hung on his arm, looked around arrogantly and was filled with pride and joy. But soon he told her to kneel down, then he tied a a cord around the beautiful girl’s neck and hung her on a tree. He went back into the village and found the second daughter, who had been longing for him and waiting. She did not know what terrible fate awaited her. With pretty words he lured her into the woods, then tied the rope around her neck and hung her next to her sister on the tree.

After lunch, he took the third and youngest daughter out walking. She laughed and jumped like a mountain goat, was filled with joy and imagined how wonderful it would be when she could sing like the knight with three voices. He took her like the other two on his arm and told her beautiful stories. In the middle of the wood, he suddenly changed his voice and had her kneel down. She became terrified, folded her hands and gazed up to heaven. There she saw her two sisters hanging dead on the tree. She let out such a penetrating scream, rung her hands and begged him for mercy. But the knight said:

Now you too must die,
Two now hang on the pole I spy,
but the third shall be you!

When she saw that her pleading did not move the beast, she asked him to let her scream three times before he killed her. He replied with a hellish grin “Sing as you will my little turtledove. It won’t help you!”

They were in the thick forest where the larch trees grow close together and the view of the village was completely obstructed by the dense foliage. She let out the first of her screams

“Father come quickly come fast,
Or I shall breathe out my last!”

Everything remained silent. The knight stood next to her with rope in hand and small birds sang their evening song on the branch overhead. She sighed deeply and let out the second scream:

“Oh mother, come quickly come fast,
Or I shall breathe out my last!”

The wind rushed through the trunks of the trees and softly in the distance a hunting horn could be heard. She looked in to the stone-hard face of her murderer, who indicated she should hurry up and let out the third cry:

“Oh brother, come quickly come fast,
Or I shall breathe out my last!”

Her knees shook and full of terror she gazed on the man, who held the noose in front of her.

Suddenly something crashed through the brush; it was her brother. He had come from the hunt and had heard her screams. When he saw his sister kneeing before the villain, deathly pale and trembling like the needles of a fir tree, he called out:

“Your reward I shall now give,
Let my sister live!”

He slung back his rifle and shot the maiden-murderer through the head. Then he took the shaking girl by the hand and led her home saying:

“Here you can prosper and live,
But nevermore your trust to a knight give!”

The next day the two murdered sisters were buried.

To read more about bearded knights:


http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/reading-fairy-tales-knight-bluebeard.html




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From the original German Text

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fairy Tale of Knight Bluebeard


Fairy Tale of Knight Bluebeard
(Translated from the German Text of Ludwig Bechtstein)


There once lived a powerful knight who had such enormous amounts of money and vast properties, that all his subjects led marvelous and lovely lives in his castle. Because he had a blue beard, everyone called him Bluebeard, but his true name has been lost in time. This knight had been married more than once. Some folks whispered behind their hands that all of his wives had died in quick succession, one after another. But no one could ever find out what the actual illness or cause had been. Now Knight Bluebeard went out courting again because there was a noble woman in his neighborhood. She had two beautiful daughters and several chivalrous sons and these siblings loved each other dearly. When Knight Bluebeard wanted to marry one of these daughters, neither one really had any desire. They were afraid of his blue beard and didn’t want to live apart. But the knight invited the mother, the daughters and the brothers to his large and very beautiful castle and provided them with pleasant pastimes and amusements, like hunting, feasting, dancing, playing and other happy festivities. Finally the youngest sister plucked up her courage and decided to become Knight Bluebeard’s wife. Soon thereafter a very splendid wedding ceremony was held.

After some time, Knight Bluebeard said to his young wife: “I must go away and give you charge of the entire castle, house and court, and everything belonging to it. Here are the keys to all the rooms and chambers. You can enter these rooms at any time. But this small golden key locks the farthest and smallest room at the end of the large hallway filled with rooms. Into this chamber, my dear, I prohibit you from going, as dear as my love is for you and as dear as your life is. If you open this chamber door, the most horrible punishment would await your curiosity. I would have to separate your head from body with my own hands!”

After hearing this speech the woman didn’t want to take the golden key. But she had to take it to keep it safely. And so she took leave from her husband with the promise that she wouldn’t think of opening the chamber door or entering the room.

When the knight had departed, the young wife received a visit from her sister and brothers, who liked to go hunting. Now they enjoyed the many pleasant things in each of the many castle chambers. Finally, the sisters arrived at the small room.

The wife did not want to open the door even though she was needled by enormous curiosity. But her sisters laughed at her concern and thought that Knight Bluebeard was keeping the most desirable and valuable treasures locked within because of his own stubbornness. And so with some trepidation, the wife put the key in the lock and the door flung open with a deep thump. In the poorly lit room could be seen – how horrible and shocking – the bloody heads of all the previous wives of Knight Bluebeard. Like the current wife, they had all suffered from their insatiable curiosity, which they could not overcome. The evil man had cut off their heads with his own hands. Shook to the core, the wife and sister now retreated. But in her horror the wife dropped the key and when she stooped over to pick it up, she saw drops of blood on it that she could not remove. It was also impossible to open the door again because the castle was enchanted. Soon the sound of horns announced the arrival of the knight before the castle gate.

The wife breathed a sigh of relief and thought it was her brothers who were returning from the hunt. But it was Knight Bluebeard himself, who had nothing better to do than ask his wife what she had done. When his wife approached him pale, trembling and troubled, he asked for the key. She said she would fetch it and he followed on her heels. When he saw the red droplets on the key, his expression was transformed into a rage and he screamed “Wife, you must now die by my own hand! I had left all power to you! Everything was yours! Your life was rich and beautiful! Your love to me was so miniscule, you bad maid, that you could not grant my one little request, you could not follow my earnest command. Prepare to die! It’s over for you!”

Filled with mortal terror, the wife ran to her sister and asked her to quickly run up to the tower and look out for her brothers. As soon she saw them, she should give a sign of dire distress, while she threw herself on the floor and pleaded for her life. And in between she called out “Sister! Don’t you see anyone?” --- “No one,” came the hopeless reply. – “Wife! Come down here!” Knight Bluebeard screamed. “Your time is up!”

“Sister, don’t you see anyone?” the maid cried. “A cloud of dust – but that is sheep!” the sister replied. “Wife! Come down here!” Knight Bluebeard screamed.

“Have mercy! I will come at once! Sister! Don’t you see anyone?”
“Two knights are coming mounted on steeds, they see my sign, they are riding like the wind!”

“Wife! Now I will come for you myself!” Knight Bluebeard thundered and he ran up the steps. But his wife gathered her courage, threw shut the door and held it fast. She and her sister cried out with all their might for help. Their brothers hastened like lightening, stormed up the stairs and were just arriving as Knight Bluebeard broke open the doors and entered the room with raised sword. After a brief fight, Knight Bluebeard lay dead on the floor. The wife was redeemed but could not overcome the pangs of her curiosity for a long time.

To read more about the mythology identified in Knight Bluebeard, please click on the link:

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/04/reading-fairy-tales-knight-bluebeard.html

To read about a golden-bearded knight with supernatural powers:




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Translation Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 175: The Moon

Nebra Sky Disk


The days are getting longer as we approach spring! Soon we will be setting our clocks forward so I encourage you to read the following fairy tale about the moon, the cosmos, and time itself (and follow the link below to read about a 3,600-year-old bronze age clock that told man it was spring).
Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 175: The Moon

In ancient times there was a land where night was always dark. It was as if the heavens were covered by a black cloth that hung over it because there was no rising moon  and no star to blink through the vault of darkness. When the world was created, evening light had sufficed.

From this land four young men went out traveling. They reached another realm, where the sun vanished behind the mountains at night and where a bright ball stood on an oak tree pouring soft light far and wide. In this light you could still see everything and distinguish objects even if the light wasn’t as bright as the sun. The wanderers stood still and asked a farmer, who was driving by in his wagon what kind of light it was. “That is the moon,” he answered. “Our mayor bought it for three talers and fastened it to the oak tree. Every day he pours oil into it, keeps it clean, and makes sure it always burns brightly. For this work, he receives one taler from us every week.”

When the farmer had driven away, one of the four said “We could use a lamp like that. At home we have an oak tree that is just as big. We could hang the light there. How happy we would be if at night we didn’t have to grope around in the darkness!”

“Do you know what!” the second fellow said, “Let’s get a wagon and a horse and take the moon away with us. They can buy another one here.”

“I’m a good climber,” the third one said. “I will go and bring it down!” The fourth brought the wagon and horse and the third climbed the tree, drilled a hole in the moon, pulled a rope through and lowered it to the ground. When the glimmering sphere lay safely in the wagon, they placed a cloth over it so that no one would notice the theft. They brought it safely to their country and put it high up in an oak tree. Old and young alike rejoiced when the new lamp spread its light over all the fields and illuminated the rooms and chambers. The gnomes came out of their rock caves and the brownies in their red jackets danced their lovely roundelay in the meadows.

The four fellows filled the moon with oil, tended the wick and each week received one taler in exchange. But they became old men and when one took ill and foresaw his death, he arranged that the quarter of the moon that was his own would be buried along with him in his grave. When he died, the mayor climbed up the tree and using a hedge shear, cut a quarter off and placed it in his coffin. The light of the moon diminished, but not noticeably. When the second fellow died, the second quarter was placed in his grave and the light diminished again. It became even weaker with the death of the third fellow, who also took his portion. When the fourth man was laid in his grave, the old darkness returned. If people went out of their homes without lanterns, they bumped their heads against each other.

But when the portions of the moon were reunited in the underworld, the dead became restless where once darkness had ruled. They awoke from their sleep. They were amazed that they could see again: the light of the moon was enough, because their eyes had grown so weak they could not bear the light of the sun. They got up, became happy and resumed their old way of life. One group went out dancing and playing, others went out to taverns, where they demanded wine, got drunk, went wild and argued with each other. Finally, they raised their clubs and beat each other. The noise became louder and meaner and finally reached heaven itself.

Saint Peter, who guarded heaven’s gate, believed that the underworld had fallen into rebellion. He called out to the heavenly host to come together and fight back the evil one, who wanted to storm the domain of the blessed. But when they never arrived, he mounted his horse and rode through heaven’s gate down into the underworld. There he calmed the dead and told them to return to their graves. And he took the moon with him, where he hung it in heaven.






To read more about the Sky Disk of Nebra, a 3,600-year-old Bronze Age clock that told man it was spring and the oldest visual representation of the cosmos known to date, hit the link:
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/arqueologia/nebra_disk.htm


More fairy tales can be found at:

Translation Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 37: The Remarkable Travels of Young Thumbling


Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 37: The Remarkable Travels of Young Thumbling

There once was a farmer who sat by his hearth in the evening stoking the fire while his wife sat and spun. He said “It is so sad that we don’t have any children! It is so quiet in our house and in the other houses it is so loud and happy!”

“Yes,” his wife replied and sighed, “If we only had a wee child, even if he were as small as a thumb, I would be satisfied. We would love him anyway!”

Now it happened that the wife became ill and after seven months bore a child. All of the child’s limbs were properly shaped but it was not any bigger than a thumb. The couple said it was as they had wished and now the dear child was theirs. They named him Thumbling after his shape. They did not let the child lack for food but still he did not grow. Instead he remained as small as he had been in his first hour of life. But the child was quick-witted and there was a spark of understanding in his eyes. Soon he proved to be a very clever and nimble creature and was successful at everything he undertook.

One day the farmer was getting ready to go out into the forest to cut wood. He murmured to himself “Now I wish there was someone who could bring the wagon after me.”

“O father!” the Thumbling cried, “I”ll bring you the wagon, rest assured it will be there in the forest at the designated time.”

The farmer laughed and said “How will you do that? You are much too small to lead the horse by the rein.”

“That doesn’t matter, father. If only mother will harness up the horse, I will sit in the horse’s ear and call to him which way he should go.”

“Well,” the father replied, “we’ll try this once.”

When the hour came the mother harnessed the horse, placed Thumbling in the horse’s ear and then Thumbling called out which way the horse should walk. “Jueh and joh! Hott and har!” Everything went quite well as if an expert were driving the wagon. The horse followed the correct path into the forest. Now it happened that when he went around a corner and called out “Har, har!”, two strange men observed him. “My, my,” the one said, “what is this? A wagon is moving and a driver is calling to the horse, but I can’t seen anyone!”

“Something is foul,” the other one said. “Let’s follow the wagon and see where it stops.” But the wagon continued driving into the forest and stopped at the right place where the wood was being chopped. When Thumbling saw his father, he called “See father, I have come with the wagon, now get me down.” The father held the horse with his left hand and with his right hand picked up his son from the horse’s ear. Thumbling was so happy as he sat on blade of straw. When the two strange men saw Thumbling, they did not know what to say in their amazement. The one took the other to the side and whispered “Listen, the little lad could be our fortune if we let people see him in the big city for a lot of money; let’s sell him.” They went to the farmer and said “Sell us the little man, he will have it good with us.”

“No,” his father replied “He is my heart’s desire, my little darling! He’s not for sale for all the money in the world!”

But Thumbling, when he heard of the deal, climbed up the folds of his father’s coat, sat on his shoulder and whispered in his ear “Father give me to them, I will come back.” So the father gave him to the two men for a pretty penny.

“Where do you want to sit?” they asked him.

“Oh I will sit on the rim of your hat. Then I can walk back and forth and see something of the world and still I won’t fall down.:

They did what he asked and when Thumbling had said adieu to his father, they went on their way. They walked until it became dark. Thumbling spoke “Take me down, I have a need.”

“Stay up there,” the man replied, on whose head he sat. “What you do up there doesn’t matter to me. Even the birds leave their droppings on me now and then.”

“No,” Thumbling replied, “I know what is right and proper. Put me down quickly.”

The man took off his hat and placed Thumbling on a farmer’s field near the path. Thumbling jumped away and crept in between the clods of earth, then suddenly disappeared inside a mouse hole. “Good night gentlemen, you can go home without me,” he called out and laughed at them. They ran around the field, poking the ground with their sticks. But it was all for naught: Thumbling crept deeper and deeper into his mouse hole. Because it was getting dark, they went home angrily without their prize.

When Thumbling noticed that they were gone, he crawled out of his underground passage. “It is dangerous to walk on the farmer’s field in the dark.” he said. “How easy it would be to break your neck and legs!” But luckily he found an empty snail shell. “Praise God,” he said, “I can spend the night in safety here!” and he sat down inside. It was not long after, just when he wanted to go to sleep, that he heard two men walking by. The one man said to the other “How shall we go about robbing the rich parish priest of his money and silver?”

“I can tell you,” Thumbling interjected. “Who was that?” the one thief asked frightened. “I heard someone speaking!” They stopped and listened and Thumbling continued “Take me with you, I want to help you.”

“Who are you?”

“Look down at the ground and take note where the voice is coming from,” he replied.

The thieves finally found him and lifted him up. “You little shrimp! How could you possibly help us?”

“Look,” he replied, “I will creep between the iron bars of the priest’s chamber, then reach out and give you whatever you want.”

“Great,” they said, “We’ll see what you can do.”

But when they arrived at the priest’s home, Thumbling crawled into the parlor and screamed with all his might “Do you want everything that’s here?”

The thieves became frightened and said “Speak softly, so that no one wakes up!”

But Thumbling pretended he didn’t understand and screamed again “What do you want? Do you want everything that’s here?”

The cook sleeping in her bedchamber sat up in bed and listened. But the thieves had run in terror down the path. After collecting their wits and gathering their courage, they thought to themselves “The little rascal wants to tease us.” They came back and whispered “Now be serious and reach us something through the bars!”

Thumbling screamed out again, with all his might “I will give you everything, just reach inside with your hands!

The maid heard this quite clearly, jumped out of bed and stumbled to the door. The thieves ran away as if wild hunters were following them. But the maid, when she didn’t find anything amiss, made a light. While she was thus engaged, Thumbling snuck out into the barn. The maid carefully searched every corner; but finding nothing, she went back to bed. She thought she had dreamt it all, even with her eyes wide open.

Thumbling climbed into a blade of straw and was ready to make a comfortable spot for the night. He wanted to rest until daybreak and then return to his parents. But that was not to be! There is much grief and misery in the world! The maid got out of bed just as day was dawning. She went out to feed the cattle and her first stop was the barn, where she seized an arm full of hay. She happened to grasp precisely the piece that Thumbling was sleeping in. But he was so fast asleep, he didn’t notice anything until he was in the mouth of a cow, who had gathered him up along with the hay.

“Ach, God!” he cried out. “How did I get in this grinding mill?” But he soon figured out where he was. He had to be careful not to get caught and crushed between the cow’s teeth. Finally he slid down into the cow’s stomach. “They forgot to put in windows here,” he sputtered, “ No sun shines here and no light shines either.” In fact he was quite uncomfortable in these new quarters and the worst was that more and more hay landed on his head. It was becoming tighter and tighter around him. He finally called out in fear, as loud as he could “Don’t bring me any more food! Don’t bring me any more food!” The maid, who was milking the cow, heard the speech without seeing anyone. She noticed it was the same voice she had heard during the night. She was so frightened, she slipped off her stool and spilled the milk. She ran in haste to her master and cried “Ach God! Ach priest! The cow has spoken!”

“You’re crazy,” the priest replied and he went out to the barn himself to inspect the situation. He had hardly placed his foot in the door when Thumbling cried out again “Don’t bring me any more food! Don’t bring me any more food!”

The priest himself was extremely frightened. He thought an evil spirit had entered the cow and ordered it killed. When it was slaughtered the stomach, where Thumbling lay, was thrown on the manure heap. It was all Thumbling could do to break through the stomach’s walls. Finally he was able to stick out his head, but then another mishap occurred. A hungry wolf ran in and swallowed the stomach in one gulp. Thumbling did not lose courage. “Perhaps,” he thought to himself “the wolf will listen to reason.” He called to him out of his belly “Dear Wolf, I know a wonderful meal for you.”

“Where can I get it?” the wolf replied.

“In the house down the lane. Just creep through the back way and you will find cake, bacon and sausage, as much as your heart desires!” He described the precise way to his father’s house. The wolf did not have to hear this twice. At night he found the lane and ate a swath through the pantry. When he was finally satisfied, he wanted to leave, but he had become so fat, he could not take the same way out. Thumbling had already thought of this and now began to make a mighty noise in the belly of the wolf. “Be quiet!” the wolf said, “you will wake up the people!”

“Oh, what!” the little man replied, “You have eaten your fill, I want to have some fun too!” He began to scream again at the top of his voice. Finally his father and mother woke up, they ran into the room and looked through the crack into the pantry. When they saw the wolf lying there, they ran out. The man fetched his axe, the woman the scythe. “Stay back!” the man said when they entered the room. “If I hit him with the axe and he still isn’t dead, you must slice into him and cut his body.”

Thumbling heard the voice of his father and cried out “Dear father, I’m here. I’m inside the body of the wolf!”

The father cried out in joy “Thank God! Our dear child has found his way home again!” He had his wife put away her scythe so that Thumbling would not be harmed. He then hit the wolf so hard on the head, so that it fell down dead. The two then found knife and scissors and cut open the wolf’s belly. They pulled out the little man and the father said “Oh, how we worried about you!”

“Yes, father, I have traveled much in the world, but thank God I can breathe fresh air once more!”

“Where have you all been?”

“Oh father, I was in a mouse hole, a cow belly and the body of a wolf. But now I am back here with you!”

“And we will never sell you again for all the riches in the world,” the parents promised. They hugged and kissed their dear little Thumbling. They gave him food and drink and had new clothes made for him because his own clothes had become ruined on the trip.

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