Monday, June 20, 2016

Fairy Tale Sprouts

Fairy Tale Beginnings

Fairy tale sprouts show us how these stories about what is right, true, and virtuous change over time to fit the needs of the society in which they are shared.  Such flexibility is how these universal ‘story lessons’  stay alive to be told again and again and again.

Have you ever wondered who and what the inspirations were for these tales? And how they might have been altered over time to reflect the culture they exist within?

We know that many of them are rooted in historical events. For example, the "Pied Piper of Hamelin" is set in the German town of   Hameln where legend reports that more than 100 children left their homes to follow a piper.

Experts note that the “piper” may have been a figure who was able to lure these youth into the Children’s Crusade. This crusade was a European Christian effort to expel Muslims from the Holy Land in the early 13th century.

Here are few other examples of how fairytales may be linked to real people, places, and events:

Snow White

Researchers in Bavaria allege that Maria Sophia Von Ertha is this character. She was the daughter an 18th-century landowner and senior administrator of the Prince Elector of Mainz. After his wife’s death he remained a countess said to be quite domineering.

The most fascinating link, of course, is the magic mirror. According to records, an 18th century mirror had been made for Von Ertha household by the Mirror Manufacture of the Electorate of Mainz. Its attributes included acoustical figurines that made noise.


Earlier renditions of this fairy tale have been traced to the Greek historian Strabo in the first century BC.  The story itself centers on the historical figure of Rhodopis who is referenced in the 6h-century writings of Herodotus. 

According to Herodotus, this slave captured the heart of Sappho’s brother Charaxus. He bought her freedom and, in the end, she lived as a wealthy courtesan.

Strabo’s retelling is a bit closer to the story most of us are familiar with.

With her freedom purchased by Sappho’s brother, Rhodopis one day loses a sandal that is carried off by a bird to Egypt. It lands in the king’s lap and he sets out on a quest to find the shoe’s wearer. In time he finds her and takes her for his bride.

These are only a few examples of how stories may have been altered to suit their geographic and cultural environments.

One can only imagine how future renditions of these fairy tale sprouts. 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Reverence Folklore


Written Reverence

Reverence – a deep respect for someone or something – is at the heart of almost all folklore. Regardless of the form (tales, folk art, folk dance, legends, etc.) the capacity to appreciate and implement truth, beauty and wisdom are highly valued qualities either sought or discarded.

In all cases it is the absence or the presence of these traits that propel forward the morals of a specific culture.

A recent DailyGood.Org article explored the topic of reverence from the perspective of eight well known thought-provoking writers .
Here are two responses that stood out for us: 

Wendell Berry

We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us. We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world - to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it… We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it… We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it. 

Joanna Macy

Spiritual exercises for cultivating reverence for life arise now out of many traditions and are welcomed by people regardless of their religious affiliation…. This is a prayer from the Laguna Pueblo people: "I add my breath to your breath that our days may be long on the Earth, that the days of our people may be long, that we shall be as one person, that we may finish our road together.” 

Writers like these two use their ability to communicate in ways that are intended to uplift life in general. Seeking high ground they have a reverence for their own skills of envisioning and articulating and for the intelligence and compassion of readers what value life in all of its forms.  

Along the way they help us to better see ourselves and our choices.  They do so with compassion which invites us to make decisions based upon the timeless treasures of truth, beauty, and wisdom.
To read the complete article, click here.

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