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Monday, July 12, 2010

The King of all Carrots

























(Illustration Tomi Ungerer, Das Grosse Liederbuch, Diogenes Verlag)

Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 146 The Carrot King

Once there lived two brothers, both serving as soldiers. One brother was rich, the other poor. The poor one, seeking to alleviate his dire need, took off his soldier’s uniform and became a farmer. Now he spent his time digging, hoeing and hacking his little acre and sowed a row of carrots. The seed sprouted and a carrot soon grew that was so large and strong and noticeably thicker than the others. In fact, it would not stop growing. One could even say it was the Crown Prince or Ruler of all Carrots because never again has there been such a carrot (nor, I suspect, shall there ever be another one like it). Finally it was so big that it filled up an entire wagon and two oxen were required to pull it. The farmer did not know what to do with the thing, and he wondered whether the carrot was his fortune or misfortune. Finally he thought to himself “If you sell it, what great reward will you fetch? And the smaller carrots are just as good for eating. It is best that you present it to the king and honor him with the gift.”

So he loaded the carrot on his wagon, hitched up two oxen and drove to court to present the carrot to the king. “What kind of strange thing have you brought?” the king asked. “I have seen many odd things in my day, but never such a monster. From what type of seed could this have grown? Or perhaps, the vegetable has only grown this way for you because you are a child of fortune.”

“Oh no,” the farmer replied. “I am no fortune’s child. I am a poor soldier who could no longer feed himself. So I hung my soldier’s uniform on a nail and now tend the soil. I have a brother who is rich, whom you certainly know. But I have nothing and have been forgotten by the world.”

The king felt compassion for him and said “You shall overcome your poverty and will receive presents from me so that you shall be the equal of your rich brother.”

The king gave him enormous amounts of gold, farmland, fields and cattle and made him stone-rich, so that the riches of his brother did not compare. When his brother heard what had been accomplished with a single carrot, he was overcome with jealously and plotted how he, too, could secure such fortune for himself. But he wanted to do it in a much smarter way so he took gold and horses and brought them to the king. He thought the king would give him much greater riches in return, because his brother had received so much for a single carrot. The king received the brother’s gift and said, he did not know what to give him in return that could be rarer or better than the large carrot. So the rich brother had to accept his brother’s carrot as present from the king. He put it in his wagon and drove home. At home he did not know on whom he could take out his rage and anger until finally an evil thought came to him. He decided to kill his brother and so he hired murderers, who were instructed to lay in waiting. He now went to his brother and said “Dear brother, I know a secret treasure. Let us go out together, unearth it and share it.”

The brother let himself be convinced and innocently went along. But when they were walking, the murderers fell upon him, tied him up and wanted to hang him on a tree. They were just about to carry out the evil deed when the sound of song and the beating of hooves could be heard in the distance. Such a terror seized them, that in their haste they pushed their prisoner into a sack, hung it on a tree and took flight. But the prisoner worked nimbly with his fingers until there was a hole in the sack, through which he could stick his head. But who should be the next one to come down the path but a wandering student, a young fellow who rode through the forest singing loudly. When the one hanging in the sack noticed that someone was passing below he called out “Greetings to you in this fine hour.”

The student looked all around and did not know from where the voice came. Finally he said “Who is calling me?” From the treetop the prisoner now called “Raise your eyes. I am sitting up here in the sack of wisdom. In only a short amount of time I have learned many things, among them that all learning is as elusive as the wind. Soon I will have mastered everything, will come down and be wiser than all humankind. I understand the stars and can read the signs of the heavens, can decipher the blowing of the winds, the sand in the sea, know all manner of healing sickness, recognize the powers of herbs, birds and stones. If you sat here in my place, you too would soon understand the wonder that flows out of my sack of wisdom.”

When the student heard all this he was amazed and said “Blessed be the hour when I found you. Couldn’t I too sit a while in the sack?” From above the prisoner replied as if he did not relish the idea. “I will let you sit here for a very short time in return for a reward and good words. But you must wait another hour; I still have to learn a bit more.”

When the student had waited a bit, he began to be restless. The time seemed too long and he begged immediate entry to the sack; his thirst for wisdom was far too great to wait any longer. The prisoner in the sack pretended he had finally given in and said “So that I can emerge from this cocoon of wisdom, you must lower the sack by that rope tied to the tree. Then you can crawl inside.”

The student lowered the sack, opened it and freed the man inside. Then he called out eagerly “Now pull me up into the tree quickly!” He wanted to walk into the sack standing upright. “Stop!” cried out the other. “That won’t do at all!” He grabbed him by the head and pushed him in backwards, tied the opening around his head and pulled the disciple of wisdom up into the tree, where he swayed back and forth in the air. “How do you fare up there my dear fellow? See, don’t you already feel wisdom dawning with experience? Now sit quietly until you become much smarter than you already are.”

And so he mounted the student’s horse, rode away and after an hour sent out someone to let the fellow out of the tree.

More gardening fairy tales:

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

Click on the link to read more fairy tales:

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ringo Starr, Teutonic Knights and Peace in Time


Grimm’s Saga No. 535: Andreas von Sangerwitz, Grand Master of Christburg

600 years ago (plus one week) a famous Teutonic knight broke with tradition and wished for love and peace in his time: his pleas went unheard and the consequences were dire (see fairy tale below). Today on July 7th 2010, we find ourselves wishing for the same thing as Ringo Starr celebrates his 70th birthday with a concert at Radio City Music Hall. Today Ringo instructs us to break with tradition and wish for peace and love in our time. (Click here to read about about Ringo's Birthday with a Little Help from his Friends.) But back to the world of the fairy tale.

The saga below recalls a bloody and violent historical event, which ended poorly for the knights involved. After the battle described in the story, the power and influence of the Teutonic Knights were greatly curtailed (perhaps ultimately bringing a bit more peace and love to the region). The self-igniting beard and other weird hair themes of this story should be read within the overall context of supernatural hair, which you can read about by clicking on the link.

And finally, to find out more about Teutonic Knights, hit the Wiki-link.




On July 15 in the year 1410 near Tannenberg a great battle was fought in Prussia between the Teutonic Knights and Vladislav, King of Poland. It ended in utter defeat for the order of Teutonic Knights. Even Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen was killed in battle. The Polish King Vladislav had the Grand Master’s corpse sent to the Brothers of Osterode and they buried him in Marienburg. But the Grand Master’s chin and beard were cut off and sent to Krakau, where they are still shown today (that is, in the time of Caspar Schuetzen). But at the war council when the Grand Master consulted his advisors, the Grand Master of Christburg, Andreas Sangerwitz a German nobleman by birth, called out for peace even though almost everyone was in favor of war and the enemy was already advancing in the country. This vexed von Sangerwitz to no end for everyone thought he held back out of fear or timidity. But he, having no less heart and even more good humor and intelligence, said: “I have advised Your Grace to strike up peace, because I think and understand it to be the best option in these trying times. But because God has determined otherwise and it is also Your Grace’s pleasure, I must follow you into the future battle, come what may. I will stand by you like a man and give life and limb for you as faithfully as I advised you to seek peace.” As an honorable knight, Andreas Sangerwitz also did what he said. Like the Grand Master, he fell in battle at Walstatt after fighting bravely against the enemy. When Grand Master von Sangerwitz was riding out to battle in full armament, he met the Master of the Choir who ridiculed him and asked him scornfully whom he had left behind in charge of his castle during his absence. Enraged he replied: “I leave it to you and the devils who have advised this war!

Afterward, when the battle was over and the Grand Master was dead, devilry and ghostly specters began to shake and rule that place, so that no human being could remain or dwell within the castle. As soon as the brothers of the order sat down to eat, all bowls and goblets were instantly full of blood. (But when the surviving knights ate outside of the castle, nothing of the sort happened.) When the servants wanted to enter the stable, they found themselves in the cellar instead and drank so much wine that they could not remember their actions. When the cook and his helpers entered the kitchen, they found horses standing there. The room had become a stall. If the master of the cellar wanted to do his work, instead of finding wine and beer barrels in the cellar he found pots, bellows and water troughs. The same nonsense occurred in all matters and in all places. Things were even stranger and much worse for the new Grand Master who came from Frauenberg. Once he was hung up by his beard in the castle fountain. Another time he was thrown onto the top-most roof of the castle. It was only with enormous difficulty and great peril to his person that he was brought down safely from the roof. A third time his beard self-ignited and began to burn, so that his face was severely injured. He also could not extinguish the flames with water and only when he ran out of the doomed castle did the fire go out. That is why no more Grand Masters wanted to live there. It was abandoned by all successors and called the devil’s dwelling according to the deceased Grand Master’s prophecy.


Two years after the battle a man from Christburg returned home. He had been on pilgrimage to Rome during the war. When he heard of the ghostly presence in the castle, he went there at noon one day. He wanted to experience the truth himself or perhaps he had brought a relic with him, which he thought to use against the ghosts. He met the Grand Master’s brother on the bridge, who had also laid down his life in the battle. He quickly recognized the man, because he had stood as godfather for one of his children. His name was Otto von Sangerwitz and because he thought it was a living man that he met, he approached and said: “Dear Godfather, how happy am I to see you so healthy and fresh; someone tried to convince me you had been killed. I am happy that things are better than I thought. And how are things in this castle, of which so many strange things are said?
The devil’s ghost replied: “Come along and you shall see how house is kept here. The smithy followed him up the spiral stair; when they reached the first floor, they found it jammed full people playing cards and throwing dice; everyone was laughing, cursing both the wounded and martyrs alike. In the next room throngs of people sat crowded around a table. Only gluttony and drinking could be seen in that room. From there they went into the great hall where they found many men, women, maidens and gallants. But only the music of strumming, singing and dancing could be heard and only wanton behavior and disgraceful acts seen. Now they entered the chapel. A priest stood before the altar as if he wanted to say mass, but the members of the choir sat on their chairs sleeping. Afterward when they left the castle, they immediately heard such mournful howling, crying and screaming, that the smithy became scared and thought the place couldn’t be more wretched than hell itself.His godfather spoke to him: “Go and tell the new Grand Master what you have seen and heard.” With these words he vanished, but the smithy was so terrified that a shudder went through his body, chilling him down to his toes. Still intending to follow the command, he returned to the new Grand Master and told him everything as it had happened. The Grand Master was enraged, said these were only imagined things that would bring shame upon his honorable order. And so, he had the smithy thrown into a pool of water and drowned.

Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com


External links for further reading:
To read more about the Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulrich_von_Jungingen

To understand the meaning and usage of the term Grand Master:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandmaster

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Legend of Charlemagne and the Snake


Grimm’s Saga No. 459: Charlemagne and the Snake

When King Charlemagne lived in Zurich in the house called Loch, he had a column erected with a bell on top. Attached to this bell was a rope, which anyone desiring justice on a certain matter could pull. Every day when the King sat for his noon meal, he made himself available to those seeking fairness and just treatment. One day it happened that the bell rang. The servants went outside but could not find anyone ringing the bell. When they returned inside, the bell rang again. Now the King commanded the servants to go out and find the source of the ringing. Following his command, they found an enormous snake wrapped around the rope, ringing the bell. The servants, who were deeply dismayed, reported the situation back to the King. He immediately got up from his meal and insisted on speaking justice for the creature, like he would for any human being. After the worm reverently bowed before the monarch, it led him to the banks of a body of water, where, on its nest and its eggs sat an enormous toad. Charlemagne examined the state of things and decided the dispute between the two animals by damning the toad to fire and conceding the snake was right. This judgment was spoken and executed. Several days later the snake returned to court, bowed, and turning toward the King’s table, raised the cover of the goblet standing there. It took from its mouth and placed a costly gem into this goblet, bowed again and went its way. At the place where the snake’s nest had stood, the King erected a church and named it Wasserkilch. But the gem he gave to his dear wife, whom he loved dearly. This stone had the secret power of attraction and the King was now irresistibly drawn to his wife. When he was not in her presence he felt only sadness and a deep longing for her. That is why at the hour of her death, the empress placed the stone under her tongue, knowing that if it came into the hands of another, the King would soon forget her. The empress was now buried with the stone but poor Charlemagne could not take leave from her corpse. He had her body disinterred and carried it around with him for eighteen years. In the meantime a courtier had heard about the hidden powers of the stone. He searched the corpse and finally found the gem lying under the empress’s tongue. He removed the stone and kept it hidden on his own person. Immediately the King’s love was transferred from his dead wife to the courtier, to whom he now was irresistibly drawn. In indignation the courtier threw the stone into a hot spring on a trip to Cologne. After that no one was able to recover it. The King’s fondness for the knight did indeed cease, but now he felt himself miraculously drawn to the place, where the stone lay concealed. Here he founded the city of Aachen, which became his favorite place of residence.

To read another tale about Charlemagne:


http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2010/06/legend-of-charlemagne-and-strong-bonds.html


Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bevy of Butterflies





The butterfly is a symbol of transformation and rebirth in many folk traditions. Emerging from its cocoon as a beautiful, winged being, the butterfly underscores the impossibility of our seeing things as they really are. When we gaze upon cocoon or larva, we can barely grasp the creative energies at work below the surface. It is this astonishing process of transformation that is the heart of many a fairy tale. Some folk tales view the butterfly as a manifestation of the soul and in this capacity butterflies are also tied to elves and fairies.

I can only encourage you to take up the task of making your own butterflies. The pictures provided here do not really express the sheer joy conveyed by a bevy of such winged beings. Hand-made butterflies are the perfect token to commemorate all manner of life changing events. The good-humored butterfly looks gorgeous as a valentine, great as a birthday greeting and delightful around the anniversary cake. In short, it is appropriate to give a butterfly for any of life’s transformative events. All you need is paper, scissors and pipe cleaners. In some cases a bit of glue. Or if you prefer, order a butterfly-making kit. But do make the butterflies.



More Pictures of Fairy Tale Butterflies
How to Make Paper Fairy Tale Butterflies

FolkloreofButterflyproject.blogspot.com

Step-by-step, fool-proof instructions, make in minutes!

Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Bevy of Butterflies




























































































































For complete instructions how to make paper butterflies:


folkloreofbutterflyproject.com

More fairy tales can be found at:
Copyright fairytalechannel.com

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The perfect husband found in this fairy tale from Latvia.



From Latvia: The Little White Dog


A stepmother treated her adopted daughter in a vile way. Although the girl did everything precisely as instructed, she could never satisfy the woman’s demands.

One day the stepdaughter was told to fetch water from the spring well, but in such a way that the pail would not get wet. The poor girl was desperate and cried bitter tears. Suddenly a little white dog came running up to her, as if it had sprung forth from the earth itself. The dog said “If you take me as husband, I will take care of the water.” And so the girl promised. The little dog ran out to do what it had promised, then vanished.

After some time another groom came round and requested the girl’s hand in marriage. She didn’t want to accept his offer, but her stepmother urged her to take him. There was nothing that could be done. On the evening before the wedding, the bridegroom arrived. Everyone rushed out to meet him, even the little white dog. The wedding guests all entered the house, but they left the little dog standing outside. All at once the animal began to sing:

“Let me come inside, my dear little girly,
For I am none other than your dear little burly,
At the well, remember the day,
When you gave to me your heart away?”

Everyone chuckled at the cheek of it all, but for the sake of a good laugh, they let the little dog come in.
The animal trotted into the parlor, gazed upon the bridegroom standing near the bride and began to sing once more:

“Take me as your own, my dear little girly,
It is I, your dear little burly!
At the well, remember the day,
When you gave to me your heart away?”

The bridegroom thought to himself: “What a sweet but odd little creature! We will have to let him sit with us, if he asks in such a polite manner!”

The little dog sat at the feet of the bride and was as quiet as a mouse. The next morning the engagement party began. Once again the little dog began to sing:

“Dear girl, take me as your groom,
Me, your little burly….”

The bride gave the little dog his portion of the feast, and it soon became quiet. After breakfast, they all got into their carriages and rode out to the church to celebrate the wedding. The little dog began to sing again:

“Dear girl, take me in your carriage,
Wed me, in marriage!”

[The groom had permitted his bride to take the dog along with her in the carriage as they rode to church. So they all drove out together.] When they finally arrived at the church, the clergyman began the wedding ceremony. At once the little dog began to sing in loud voice:

“Dear girl wed me in marriage,
Me, your little burly man….”

The pastor asked the bride: “What did you promise? Tell me everything because I can’t marry you until you do!”

The girl now admitted everything, from A to Z. The stepmother stamped her foot in rage, but nothing could be done. The pastor now refused to marry the couple, and the stepmother was momentarily constrained from taking out her anger on the girl. The groom was a compassionate fellow, he said: “Why my dear girl, didn’t you tell me the truth immediately and serve up pure wine? How was I to know your predicament?”

“I would have liked to tell you, but I was afraid of my stepmother!”

When the stepmother heard the accusation, she ran out of the church in rage and the little dog followed her. The stepmother wanted to seize the animal violently, but in that very moment, a beautiful coach arrived pulled by eight horses. A servant jumped down from the step, opened the carriage door and the little white dog jumped inside. Immediately it was transformed into a strapping young prince. The stepdaughter was then married to him and he took her away to his golden castle. But because the first groom had a good heart, he was elevated to the king’s closest advisor, because he had let the little dog in, allowed him to sit at the feet of the bride and took him in the carriage to the church.

Read more fairy tales by clicking on the link:

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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:

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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.”


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