Child of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet, and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy-tale.
I have not seen thy sunny face,
Nor heard thy silver laughter:
No thought of me shall find a place
In thy young life’s hereafter—
Enough that now thou wilt not fail
To listen to my fairy-tale.
A tale begun in other days,
When summer suns were glowing—
A simple chime, that served in time
The rhythm of our rowing—
Whose echoes live in memory yet,
Though envious years would say “forget”.
~ Lewis Carroll
I’ve just finished reading Alice in Wonderland and I thought that fairy-tales could be an interesting topic to discuss this week.
Once I’ve read in a book that fairy-tales were made to be used, not to lie in a closet of our mind: stories belong to the people who tells them and the fact that stories changed so much with years, or from a place to another is perfectly normal. As a part of folklore, stories reflect people’s hopes, fear, knowledge and give advice on different subject of daily life, but their importance was widen because they filled different part of every days life: stories where told beside the fire when the family, group or clan reunited after a day of work, but where also told as part of work itself (while spinning, for example) and also as part of celebrations. In few words, stories had the power to keep the group together, fascinating the audience.
I think that stories can teach us something both about ourselves as humans and about the world in which we live: the psychological part is not the one I can talk about, for this I suggest you to read “Women who run with the Wolves” by C.P. Estés and “Kin,Warrior,Magician, Lover” by R.Moore and D. Gilette, and maybe some works about archetypes.
But I think there is something more, another level we can use to understand the wisdom stories carry with them: I think that tales can be used to understand better the place we live and the spirits or forces which operate in it. For instance, when we find fantastic beings such as elf, gnomes, dwarfs, trolls, imps etc., we see that in every part of the world they take specific names, identities or functions for every corner of the world and I truly believe that this difference is due to the fact that every place has its own identity and “soul” (or Genius Loci, if you prefer). So we find that the figure of the Kelpie of the Irish and Scottish folklore is known as Bäckahästen in Norse mythology and as Kappa in Japan, but even if they are all considered as water demons they differ from one another, bearing cultural differences.For this reason I think that if we want to work with those spirits, reading and listening what our forefathers had to say about them (how they came in contact to them, the behavior to keep, what to do and what not to do, what they look like etc.) can be very helpful.