Fairy Tales and Folklore

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Kitty
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Fairy Tales and Folklore

Post by Kitty »

I've been listening to lots of fairy tale podcasts. Some give the origin behind, some just have fun picking these strange tales apart, and all are very entertaining! I'm learning a lot about folklore and fairy tales and their themes.

What folklore and fairy tales do you know? Care to share any local folklore?
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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donnie
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Re: Fairy Tales

Post by donnie »

I don't know too much about fairy tales, other than just the usual common ones of Grimm's and Hans Christian Andersen. What are some interesting things you've learned?

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Kitty
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Re: Fairy Tales

Post by Kitty »

donnie wrote:
Tue Mar 22, 2022 10:40 pm
What are some interesting things you've learned?
Well, one is that there is a categorical system of fairy tales that attempts to follow the patterns or reoccurring themes in fairy tales. It's called the Aarne-Thompson-Uther index (ATU), originally composed in 1910, and has been expanded on as time went on.

I learned about the French literary salons, where women got together and told fantastical stories during their sessions.

And did you know that Aesop's Fables weren't really written for children? For that matter, they're not sure if he really existed, or if it was just a collection of anonymous stories.

It was also news to me that it's accepted that Homer (of Illiad and Odyssey fame) never existed, but his works are collections of stories told by ancient bards and Homer is just the personification of those collected bards.

Well, some of these stories are really interesting, and sometimes the creatures are mysterious and strange, as in the popular Russian fairytale of the Baba Yaga, who lives in a house that stands on chicken legs, and eats children who come to her.

Another fun thing to uncover is all the different versions of even well known tales that will sometimes give a different perception on what the story is trying to say.
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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donnie
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Re: Fairy Tales

Post by donnie »

All that is interesting, indeed! :)
Kitty wrote:
Wed Mar 23, 2022 9:48 am
And did you know that Aesop's Fables weren't really written for children? For that matter, they're not sure if he really existed, or if it was just a collection of anonymous stories.

It was also news to me that it's accepted that Homer (of Illiad and Odyssey fame) never existed, but his works are collections of stories told by ancient bards and Homer is just the personification of those collected bards.
No! I didn't know that. I'm especially surprised to hear about Homer, as I thought he existed, though little about him was known.
Kitty wrote:
Wed Mar 23, 2022 9:48 am
Well, some of these stories are really interesting, and sometimes the creatures are mysterious and strange, as in the popular Russian fairytale of the Baba Yaga, who lives in a house that stands on chicken legs, and eats children who come to her.
Ah, Baba Yaga! That I am familiar with because it is a section in one of my favorite orchestral works, Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at An Exhibition. Mussorgsky's friend, Victor Hartmann, had done a drawing of Baba Yaga, and Mussorgsky put the creature into musical form. (The suite was originally written for piano, but is nowadays more popular in a form orchestrated by Maurice Ravel.)

Here's the orchestral version. See if it conjures up Baba Yaga for you. :D (The Baba Yaga part ends at 3:07)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TIi1lVsnHw
Kitty wrote:
Wed Mar 23, 2022 9:48 am
Another fun thing to uncover is all the different versions of even well known tales that will sometimes give a different perception on what the story is trying to say.
Yes, that and the index you mentioned would make an interesting story.

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Kitty
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Re: Fairy Tales

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donnie wrote:
Wed Mar 23, 2022 3:42 pm
Here's the orchestral version. See if it conjures up Baba Yaga for you. :D (The Baba Yaga part ends at 3:07)
If I heard that without any context, I don't think her image would have appeared before my eyes. :D But everyone's interpretation is different, right?
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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Kitty
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Re: Fairy Tales

Post by Kitty »

Today I learned about the Taniwha, a creature of Maori folklore.

I loved this song that was played on the podcast. It is called One Day A Taniwha.

https://youtu.be/QdCCRFWQHPE
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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Kitty
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Re: Fairy Tales and Folklore

Post by Kitty »

Warning: this is a sad folktale.

This is a sad tale of Danish origin. I want to share it because it struck me and has stayed with me ever since I first heard it back in April of 2022. Even though it is depressing, I believe it is an important story to tell, because think it says a lot about expectations of women regardless of how they might feel. I might turn this into a blog post as well, but I felt like sharing it here first. Please comment your thoughts here.

The Pastor's Wife

There was once a very poor girl who had the good fortune to marry well, for she married a pastor who had a fat living. He was a good man and fond of her, and she was fond of him, and quite contented. But one anxiety haunted her day and night, and that was a great dread lest she have children. There are other women who worry about not having children; but this woman was always afraid that children might be her portion. So one day she went to a wise woman, that is to say a witch in the village, and asked her whether she could not advise her how she might avoid having any children. Yes, that she could do, said the wise woman, and she gave the pastor's wife seven stones; for that was the number of the children she should have had, said the woman, and all the pastor's wife need do was to throw these stones in the well. Then she would be spared having any children.

The pastor's wife took the stones, paid the wise woman well for her trouble, thanked her, and threw the stones in the well. Then she felt quite light-hearted to think that she need fear no more.

Not long after, the pastor was taking a walk with his wife one clear, moonlit evening, and their way led them past the churchyard. As they walked, the pastor suddenly noticed that his wife cast no shadow. His own shadow he could see, it followed him everywhere; but she had none. A great fear came over the pastor, and he asked her how it was that she had no shadow, something every human being had. She must have been guilty of some great sin, said he, since her shadow had left her, and this sin she must confess to him. In the meantime they had reached the parsonage, and the parson kept pressing his wife to confess the grievous sin that had left her shadowless; while she insisted, and finally took an oath that she had knowingly committed no grievous sin. Then the parson grew angry, and striking the stone table with his fist in his rage, he said to her, "It will be as vain for you to hope to find grace as it would be for a red rose to grow from this table." And he cast her out, and told her to leave his house at once, and never more set foot over its threshold.

The parson's wife put on the old clothes that she had been wearing when she came him, and wandered out into the world to regain the grace she had forfeited.

And the parson strictly forbade his people to take any one in at the parsonage, for he feared his wife might return.

For a long time the parson's wife wandered about, seeking advice as to how she might atone for her grievous sin, and none could help her. But at last she did find a pastor who, when he had listened to all she had to say, and had carefully reflected on it, thought that perhaps he might be able to help her; but that she would have much to bear, and she would be able to endure it. Yes, she would dare anything in order to gain peace and forgiveness for the grievous sin that weighed on her. So he took her to church with him, and bade her sit beside the altar. There she must sit the whole night through, he told her. Then he put a book in her hand, and forbade her to give it to any one until he himself came in the morning and asked for it. And she must watch it carefully, for all sorts of people, closely resembling him, would come and demand it of her.

So the pastor went away and she remained in the church by herself. Night fell and she sat alone at the altar with the book. First, a curious fellow came up to her, who said nothing but spat thrice in her direction. Then came seven children, one after another, first five boys, then two girls. These were the unborn children she should have had. They made clear to her what honest, God-fearing men and women they would have become, and how happy they would have been, had she allowed them to come into the world, and they spat at her, one after the other. Then came a man who greatly resembled the pastor. He demanded the book, and came so close to her that he almost touched her; but she did not give it to him. And then other people came, until the woman grew quite dizzy; but she sat quiet, never moved, and clutched the book tightly, and thus she sat when the real pastor came in the morning and asked her for it. She was still so confused that it was with difficulty that he got the book from her. Then he took her by the hand, led her from the church, and said that now she was delivered. But he also told her that she had but this one day to live, and that now she should return to her husband.

The pastor's wife at once set forth: she walked all day long and toward evening, at twilight, she reached her old home. There she asked to be taken in. The people no longer recognized her, but still they refused her request, since they had been strictly forbidden to take in anyone, no matter who it might be. But she pleaded so long and so earnestly that they finally allowed her to lie down behind the stove until daybreak; but then she was to make herself scarce as soon as possible.

In the morning, when the pastor got up, he saw that a beautiful red rose had blossomed forth from the stone table he had once struck with his fist. A great fear seized him, and he knew that his wife must have returned. He went out at once to his people, and asked them whether they had taken in any one overnight. They all said no; but he went about, searching everywhere, and at length came to the stove, and there he saw his wife lying cold and dead. Thereupon a strange feeling came over him, he went in at once, took off his gown, gave it to his people and ordered them to burn it at once. But they thought it would be a wicked shame to burn so good a gown, and burned an old one instead. The following morning they found the pastor in bed; he was quite out of his mind, and died not long afterward.
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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donnie
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Re: Fairy Tales and Folklore

Post by donnie »

Very interesting—but odd. I’m not sure I can see much rhyme or reason behind a lot of the events or the outcome.

Some things I wondered (not that there’s necessarily a discernible answer for these):

What took away her shadow? Following the instructions of the witch?

Why would the pastor—if he is a man of God who believes in love, grace, and forgiveness—discard his wife instead of helping her?? (Maybe that’s what you’re getting at in your comment above.) And if he cares about her at all, why would he be so adamant for no one else to help her?

What is the identity of the curious fellow who first spat at her? What was the book, and how would holding onto it throughout the night “deliver” her? And how is it she has to perform an action to be forgiven of sin rather than just praying for forgiveness?

What is the significance of their burning an old robe instead of the good one? Is that what drove him mad?

Ok, enough questions. :) It just feels like there’s something more here than I’m getting, as if something isn’t clicking. Did you find it confusing in any way? Anyway, an intriguing little story.

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Kitty
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Re: Fairy Tales and Folklore

Post by Kitty »

I'm really glad you liked this story.
donnie wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2023 7:58 pm
Very interesting—but odd. I’m not sure I can see much rhyme or reason behind a lot of the events or the outcome.
I think a lot of fairytales/folklore have cultural or time-frame references that seem strange to those who may not be aware of the background behind some of it. I added a note at the bottom of this post that might be of interest.
donnie wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2023 7:58 pm
What took away her shadow? Following the instructions of the witch?
I think the significance of her shadow being taken away is the belief that the shadow is her soul. She was expected to have children, and she took that possibility away. This is the grievous sin that she has committed rather that solely the fact that she went to a witch for advice. By the way, in these old stories when they mention witches, they are not always witches as in Wicked Witch of the West witch. They are often just wise old crones that have magical abilities.
donnie wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2023 7:58 pm
Why would the pastor—if he is a man of God who believes in love, grace, and forgiveness—discard his wife instead of helping her?? (Maybe that’s what you’re getting at in your comment above.) And if he cares about her at all, why would he be so adamant for no one else to help her?
It is his belief that she has done something evil and has sinned so hard that she is garbage now. How I see it, is that if she can't have children, she's useless.
donnie wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2023 7:58 pm
What is the identity of the curious fellow who first spat at her?
I'm not sure, though perhaps this is something like a spirit of the Would-Have-Been, a la Dickens' Ghosts of Christmas (insert moment in time here).
donnie wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2023 7:58 pm
What was the book, and how would holding onto it throughout the night “deliver” her? And how is it she has to perform an action to be forgiven of sin rather than just praying for forgiveness?
It's strange that it's not specified what the book is. Maybe it is some holy text. For the second question, I'm thinking perhaps it is something like what the rosary is for in the Catholic faith. You say or do some ritual and then you are forgiven.
donnie wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2023 7:58 pm
What is the significance of their burning an old robe instead of the good one? Is that what drove him mad?

I thought this was strange, also. I think there is more cultural or superstitious folklore that would need to be researched to get those answers. I didn't find it confusing exactly, but there are definitely some things that don't seem to make much sense to us without frames of reference.


I found this interesting, it gives a bit of insight on the significance of the rose that blooms from the table:
The Pastor's Wife

"The Pastor's Wife" (Grundtvig, III, No. 6, p. 19), from Thy, sounds like an excerpt from some old book of moral tales. Her penance in the church at night is a curious pendant to the legend of Wolfdietrich, who as an aged man rids himself of all his sins in a cloister in the course of a single night; he sits alone at the altar during the passing of the nocturnal hours, and the spirits of all those whom he has slain surround and assail him. The rose blooming from the dead wood or stone is also a widely known symbol of divine forgiveness, used with especial effect in the Tannhauser legend. http://oaks.nvg.org/dfnot.html#the-pastor's-wife
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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donnie
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Re: Fairy Tales and Folklore

Post by donnie »

Yes, that's an interesting quotation. It does shed some light on the events. Also, this perhaps reflects how other belief systems or folk legends may have gotten mixed in with Christianity in some of these stories. Maybe that accounts for some of the messed-up theology. :P

This is probably an ignorant question, but do folk tales usually have a moral or application à la Aesop? And if so, what would the moral of this one be, do you think?

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