I was lying half-awake this morning, as you do on a lazy Saturday, and thinking about fairy tales. Working with myths and legends recently, I’ve been looking into the deeper meaning and hidden teaching behind these ancient stories. Looking at the fairy tale is an obvious next step.
A memory surfaced of a book I read many years ago – Beauty, by Sheri S Tepper. So I found the copy I bought from a charity shop and re-read the introductory page. I was both saddened and heartened, and resonated with what she said. It moved me so much that I took a photo of it to share with you. It was written in 1991 and is still, unfortunately, totally relevant today. I highly recommend the book to anyone who loves a clever story, or loves a fairy tale (or several).
Fairy Story Interpretations
Other thoughts that occurred to me in my semi-somnolent state were:
- The Rumpelstiltskin fairy story is about a woman whose father (or masculine side) knows what she is capable of. He tells the world, hoping to profit by her hidden skill. But she needs to name the fear that keeps her from doing it before it will work for her. When she finds the name of the little man (ie her fear), she can harness it. She can then turn it into a skill (spinning straw into gold), and achieve things she never thought she was capable of.
- Rapunzel is trapped in a tower by her own fears (the ugly witch). She grows the means to escape (her long hair) without realising it. It takes someone who shows her how it can be done (the Prince) to help her overcome the problems she has created in her mind and win her freedom.
- In the original Red Riding Hood story, a robin perches on the windowsill as she talks with the wolf, telling her to run away. She only pays attention when she is almost completely in the wolf’s power. But she leaves behind some of her clothes (the image she presents to the world). If she had listened to her intuition (the robin) earlier, she would have got away more easily, and with her clothing intact. But shedding her outer skin leaves room for improvement. Sometimes, only being badly hurt can make us change.
I’m sure there are many other fairy story interpretations I could come up with, given time. What I’ve discovered is that, like myths and legends, they are far more than bedtime entertainment for children. Looked at in a spirit of enquiry, they can be pointers to better ways of living – like most of the stories I write. It seems the fairy tale might just be an embodiment of all the reasons why I write!