The Fairy Tale, J. Sant
The Power of Stories
Stories are part of childhood. They help us grow, build our imagination, instill a sense of wonder and hope, and help us understand right and wrong. Mothers have told stories to teach children culture and tradition, moral and ritual, and behavioral consequences ever since there were mothers. In the words of Fairy Queen Titania: "Is it not the mothers who bring up the babes, and give the growing child its earliest lesson to know right from wrong?" Fairy tales and folklore provide an entertaining, imaginative way of doing just that.
Once upon a time fairy tales were once known as wonder tales. Oral tradition is as ancient as our voices; as old as our lives. There was a time when the survival of the people depended upon those with the knowledge and skills to read the stars and predict the seasons. When such a gifted person was found, many gathered around her/him to live. They all worked to survive, and their wise one guided the efforts. These collections of souls and wise ones evolved into queens and their people, later to become led by great men and their queens, in kingdoms.
Sadly, with power comes corruption, and many kingdoms became abusive of the trust and dependency of their people, and time changes things. We no longer need a wise one to tell us when the weather is going to be cold, and we don't need to know our astronomy to know where we are on Earth. Today, we can watch a weather channel to find out what Mother Nature has for seasons. Although these are not skills we need in a king, there are other things that would be of great value to a people in their leaders, and perhaps these values can be re-learned from the once-upon-a-time stories our ancient and prehistoric ancestors told to teach their children about the most important things in life.
Among the fundamental impressions made consistently by the oldest of folklore and tales is that of a power greater than the human being; a power both creative and destructive, both compassionate and cruel of spirit, a divine entity to which no human should neglect to make supplication when embarking on anything of importance. In some tales Christian language is employed, God is God, and one should pray to Him accordingly. Yet there are other names for this Great Power; represented as the Great Mother, as powerful fairies or magicians, as old wise men or women, they intervene in the affairs of humans and can take offense or be profoundly pleased with their treatment by mortals. A common situation is misfortune of a princess at the hands of a wicked or offended fairy, whose dooming of the maiden brings sorrow to the king and queen.
Present in many of these wonder tales are those bestowed with the ability to interface with this Great Being on behalf of someone in need of intervention; indeed the intense bereavement of the afflicted magnetizes the assistance of other benevolent and powerful fairies or beings. Another common theme is the stolen damsel, who is kept prisoner by maleficent beings and is rescued by a hero who displays the bravery and courage that flows from love.
Another moral of the story found within these ancient dramas is that magic has a price. Invoking the blessing of deity is one thing, but seeking magic from those capable of it is another. Whether it is to change fate's cruel sentence by way of potion or spell, or to counteract the dreadful curse or magic of a wicked fairy, deliberate interference in the workings of magic has hidden consequences. Yet one cannot always know whether the price is worth the cure unless it is invoked, and a lifetime can pass before the price is revealed. Should one merely struggle with one's fate? Or by seeking the aid of spell and potion change what is undesirable to that so dearly longed for? These questions are struggled with by many characters in fairy tales, and some fare better than others in the end.
Yet, these wonder tales were told to children not just for the moral of the story, but to instill in them respect for and knowledge of history and traditions, and sometimes that history was far from pleasant. Indeed, it is filled with desperate and dangerous struggles represented by symbolic actions and events within the stories that, removed from the context of history, seem quite dark. Assuredly they are not as evil or tragic as was the reality on which they were based; powerful enemies make for dangerous struggles and horrific actions. In spite of this bleak reality, the listeners of these tales could enjoy a sense of wonder and be infused with hope as the stories unfolded, ensuring that these two powerful emotions were maintained in a culture struggling for its very existence.
This is how education was done in our long-ago past – stories and pictures were used to teach industry, science, tradition, and morals. In Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered are presented some of these marvelous tales decoded, revealing a fresh look at prehistory as recorded with oral tradition and symbol since once upon a time.
What we know as fairy tales is a collection of wonderful stories from different places, some from the earliest times that they were first told. The Fairy Tales is a series of four short books presenting fifty-two wonder tales, one for each week of a year based on the phases of the moon: new, first quarter, full, and last quarter – thirteen stories in each.
Once a week teacher Mother Merlina tells a tale to Fair One, who is taught important things with a fanciful story of character and struggle, fate and fortune, wisdom and foolery. The stories are archetypal in nature, and as such are universal in their import and message. Some are long, some are very short, but all are full of fanciful characters, magic, and wondrous events.
The four phases of the moon as taught in The Fairy Tales:
Study at a Reading Desk, Leighton
Once upon a time, in a great kingdom by the sea, there lived a young Fair One. In order that she might receive the best education and become a just and compassionate leader, the young princess sat with her tutor Mother Merlina once a week. Together they would spend hours by the window which looked out upon a vast ocean and its rolling waves, and the wise woman would tell our Fair One the most important stories of all time while the princess looked at a picture from the box with the silken wrap. In it were parchments of colorful pictures, one for each story, made long ago by an unknown artist. They were a treasure. Over the weeks to come many wonderful pictures would be enjoyed. Each quarter of a year, Mother Merlina would begin a series of stories to teach the young princess about the moon, as well as some very important lessons about life.
This is part one of The Fairy Tales, Once Upon a Time Lessons. Fairy tales within a fairy tale, this story reflects the once upon a time people of northern IndoEuropean cultures, and provides a glimpse into the wondrous past of kings and queens, magic and sorcery, youth and bravery, love and loyalty that were the foundation of their society.
About Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. Her artwork has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.
Non-Fiction - Symbology:
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: Art and Symbols
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: World of Symbols
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids
Michelle Paula Snyder
Fiction – Fantasy Wonder-Tales:
The Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time Lessons, First Book
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book one: The Lost Unicorn
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book two The Lost Mermaid
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book three The Lost Dragon