What’s your favorite fairy tale? Do you remember from your childhood days? Put on your thinking cap because it can reveal the mysteries of your deeper self. Are you Cinderella, champion of the downtrodden? A maidenly Snow White unhappy with her alter ego, the evil bitch queen? An intrepid wit getting the upper hand on a sinister Rumpelstiltskin? Sleeping Beauty waiting for a wake up kiss? A thrill seeking Little Red Riding Hood? Or are you the big bad wolf?
From a young age my favorite fairy tales were East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Snow White and Rose Red, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and The Snow Queen. Magic runs through all, as in most fairy tales, but a major theme of these four stories is that things are not what they seem. The world is ultimately infused with mystery. This theme speaks to my need to see beyond the superficial, beyond what is in front of my eyes, into the shining dark deep magic of life.
In East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the heroine’s curiosity compels her to sneak upon her lover in the darkness to discover why he forbids her to look at him at night. After she is amazed to see a handsome, sleeping form, he is catapulted away as a beast due to her lack of trust. She must undergo an arduous journey to the home of the blustery North Wind to find her beloved. St. Elmo, a 1896 novel by Augusta Jane Evans, reminds me of this fairy tale. Have you read that fine old melodrama? It is filled with old fashioned literary allusions.
The sisters in Snow White and Rose Red defeat a malicious dwarf when they trick him into letting his beard be cut. Afterward, they are both rewarded with a prince,and their lives are successful mirror images. Snow White rises to pomp and circumstance, while Rose Red lives close to the magic of the earth. She tends the hearth and knows the murmurings of trees. Rose Red was always my favorite. Which do you prefer?
An invisible cloak is used by the hero in The Twelve Dancing Princesses to discover why the girls’ shoes are worn out every morning. For years they’ve trekked down to a secret world below ours and jitterbugged all night. Would you be bold enough to travel into an alternate dimension? What if the dimension is your own inner self?
My favorite part of The Snow Queen is where the old wise woman in the hut writes a secret note to her faraway sister– on a fish. The heroine goes through a lengthy journey to find the whereabouts of her beloved and for a while gets to experience a rollicking gypsy life.
In different ways we all search for mystery and magic. Your favorite fairy tale can tell you something about yourself and your world view. If you believe in fairy dust, beasts are sometimes handsome princes, there are parallel worlds where you can dance all night, and both nature and fish speak volumes. So now and then let’s close our eyes–and listen.
Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic in Romance