Red Riding Hood is a classic tale, remembered and shared in oral tradition for generations and finally written down by The Grimm's Brothers, Charles Perrault and more. There are several variations of Red Riding Hood and aspects of this story also feature in other fairy tales. At its most basic interpretation; it provides "stranger danger" advice for children.
However, there are many lessons in this tale and they can be as deep or as superficial as you care to interpret. Most obvious are "don't talk to strangers" (withhold personal information), "Mother knows best" (listen to the voice of experience) and "don't stray into the woods" (don't get out of your depth). But another that seems very applicable today, as we are more reliant on technology and are divorced further from nature; is to remember to trust your own natural instincts and specifically: 1) to be observant, and 2) to trust what your eyes and ears are telling you - not what someone else insists you must see and hear.
"... Little Red Riding-Hood ... knocked at the door (and) ... hearing the big voice of the Wolf, was at first afraid; but believing her grandmother had got a cold, and was hoarse ... "
Quote from The Young Folks' Shelf of Books, 1948
Now Red Riding Hood knew something was up. That front door shouldn't have been open, Grandmother shouldn't have been hiding herself under the bedclothes and Red Riding Hood shouldn't have felt scared or uncomfortable for no reason. But in her innocence, she chose to ignore this and instead questioned the wolf about his odd appearance: why his eyes, ears and hands were not the same size as Grandmother's eyes, ears and hands; to which the wolf cunningly supplies sweet "love-bombing" answers that his features make it "the better to see, hear and hug you with my dear". By the time poor Red Riding Hood notices his enormous teeth (for which the wolf really has no answer because Grandmother certainly doesn't have those); it is too late and she is gobbled up.
*Of particular note, is that the wolf did not even attempt to fool Grandmother. Upon gaining entry to the inside the house where Grandmother could see him; the wolf immediately ate her up. The wolf knew that as soon as the old woman saw him; SHE would believe her eyes and ears and wouldn't let him fool her into thinking that he was anything but a wolf!
So take a lesson from the age-old storytellers of the sad tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Do not ignore your powers of observation and do not accept every explanation handed to you in an attempt to "Be Kind" -- you might just be talking to a wolf!!
Bibliography: The Young Folks' Shelf of Books, The Junior Classics 1 Fairy Tales and Fables, P.F. Collier and Son Corporation, USA, 1948; Grimm's Fairy Tales to Read Aloud, Compiled by Oscar Weigle, Wonder Books, Inc., USA, Canada, 1963; Grimm's Fairy Tales, Companion Library, Grosset & Dunlop, USA, 1963; Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Folio Society, Great Britain, 2003; Charles Perrault Best Known Fairy Stories, Dean & Sons, Ltd., Hamlyn Publishing Group, Ltd., Great Britain, 1983; Red Riding Hood, James Marshall, Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin, Scholastic Inc., 1991.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan, 2022
My interest in Asian folklore is relatively new and, as such limited, but I understand that these little fellows are moon rabbits, popular in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other folklore.
The oblong dish to the left is made in Japan and depicts moon rabbits with the full moon above them in the dark blue night sky. They are surrounded by eggs. I had forgotten the imagery on it when I stumbled across the little pastel-coloured dish to the right. It mystified me a bit at first, because it is egg-shaped and the bunnies are busily cavorting among pretty pink eggs and a flower. This led me at first to think it was an Easter dish - until I flipped it over and saw an Asian back stamp! But of course, when you compare the two, there is simply no mistake - I believe the pink flower in this case serves as a pretty substitute for the moon.
The white moon rabbit lives on the moon and stirs an elixir of immortality. Sometimes, when you look at the full moon, you can see his image. I'm not sure if the chocolate eggs I intend to place in these dishes will help in the quest for immortality ... but they certainly will satisfy the evening sweet tooth!
Bibliography: Wikipedia, Moon Rabbit, 2019
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2019
I love Alfred Hitchcock! One story he collected, "Curious Adventure of Mr. Bond" by Nugent Barker, portrays Mr. Bond, a lone traveller, who after a wearying journey up the slopes of a valley happens upon a vast tableland and an inn, far in the distance and on the edge of a forest. He is delighted when he is heartily greeted by the landlord, a Mr. Crispin Sasserach and his wife Myrtle, who is preparing "a lovely broth to-night".
After a wonderfully warm and cozy evening of delicious broth and good company, Mr. Bond departs the next morning with Mr. Sasserach who drives him over land bordered by forest on the left and rowan trees leading down to the valley on the right. Mr. Bond is duly deposited at the inn of Sasserach's brother (Martin), "The Headless Man", where he enjoys a meal of many succulent meat dishes and a game of chess with his host (with curious hand-carved chess pieces). Mr. Bond does start to feel a little "obliged" and frustrated by their "over-hospitality" when it is insisted that he visit the third brother's inn, "The Traveller's Head".
He learns on this journey that the three brothers own the entire land above the valley, divided into three equal portions. When prompted by Mr. Bond to discuss the names of the inns, which are seemingly quite common, but nonetheless "turned around"; the manservant, Stennet, who is driving the carriage, enlightens him thusly: the name "The Traveller's Rest" is self-explanatory and so is made poetical by changing it to "The Rest of the Traveller" focusing on the "rest" to be found at the inn. "The Headless Man" is simply grim for the sake of grimness and "The Traveller's Head" pays homage to the traveller himself, in the same manner that many inns are called "The King's Head". By now, however, you must have had some suspicions as to the eventual fate of our poor Mr. Bond.
I took these photos last month when we found ourselves, without benefit of a map, and on the dubious advice of modern GPS, lost and travelling down many of those narrow, winding roads so common in England. We finally pulled up short in front of this inn while my husband consulted his own sources to get us back on the right track. I sat in the car looking up at the sign above the doorway of this seemingly deserted (although correctly named!) inn and was relieved to read that a "Mr. P.R. Barnes" was the proprietor ... and not Mr. Crispin Sasserach himself!!
Cannibalism is common in folklore and fairytales. As the hour of All Hallow's Eve approaches and leads us into the dark of winter, I humbly felt it might be an appropriate time to include one of my favourite tales of this delightfully taboo subject!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
It isn't for me to say if the legendary Avalon existed literally or figuratively, but Avalon, or "the island of apples" was located for some at Glastonbury in Somerset, England. Certainly there is magic in the sight of the serene countryside, gently grazing farm animals, stone walls and weathered wooden gates - not to mention the many apple trees growing amply and fruitfully in fields alongside the path to Glastonbury Tor.
Legend tells that the numerous wild apple trees of Avalon needed no cultivating to grow and gave fruit endlessly - contributing to an easy lifestyle for its happy inhabitants! I have found that nature provides everything spontaneously for our own apple trees to flourish and thrive.
If you want to bring a little of the magic of Avalon into your own backyard - why not consider planting an apple tree or two? There are many varieties that need very little space to grow. The benefits vastly outweigh the initial modest cost and labour involved -- adding beauty and oxygen to our world, blossoms for bees, hiding spots for birds, shade, compost and most importantly -- year after year of free delicious apples!
Apple Trees in Meadow Sweet Grove
Copyright © Meadow Sweet Grove / V. Buchanan 2018/e2019
Cinderella climbs the ranks in society and in wealth, even as she climbs the stairs to the palace. The Shoemaker and Puss n' Boots make good on that as well. In fact, Puss is smart enough to ASK for the boots, as this kitty-cat already knows they are the necessary item to start on a successful journey to status and riches! Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz) and Karen (The Red Shoes) both have spiritual awakenings and realize that "happiness can be found anywhere", even in poverty or uncomfortable circumstances or surroundings. Wynken, Blynken & Nod have, at the same time, already arrived and still have a long way to go. They can afford to literally reach for the stars as they're dreaming safe in bed with a Mother's Love overseeing their slumber.
The Twelve Dancing Princesses require a lot more study - there is just too much going on there and lots of variations to the story. And the Poor Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe? There are many analogies suggested for its possible political meaning, but perhaps she is simply trapped in circumstances. Shoes tied to the back of the wedding carriage, symbolize both a binding contract and fertility. Well, she certainly got both of those in spades! It is perhaps a warning to be wary of what a simple pair of shoes can do for you ... be mindful where yours take you.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017
A: Her Fairy Godmother of course!
Well, although the appearance of the Fairy Godmother to supply the gown is undoubtedly the most common version of the tale - there are others too.
The most popular and most-remembered version was written by Charles Perrault in 1697. His story introduced the Fairy Godmother who provided Cinderella with a beautiful ballgown and transformed a pumpkin into a coach to take her to the palace.
Tree Spirits ("Elder Mother") and Birds
In Grimm's Fairy Tales, such as Ashputtel/Aschenputtel, Cinderella is never visited by her Fairy Godmother at all. She must complete seemingly impossible tasks set to her by her Step-mother before she can attend the King's Feast. The tasks are completed by the birds, ants and other little animals to whom she has been kind. When even this fails to gain her leave to attend, Ashputtel prays and weeps at her Mother's grave, letting her tears water the hazel tree she herself planted. The ball runs three nights in succession and each night she finds a new dress, more beautiful than the previous, folded on top of the grave.
Alternatively, the dress is hanging or falls from the branches of the tree or is brought to her by the birds who earlier helped her to complete the other tasks. The birds also help alert the Prince to the step-sisters' deception when they cut off parts of their heels and toes to fit Ashputtel's shoe and later, at the wedding, they peck out those same offenders' eyes. But there is enough material there for another post ... and we were talking about the origin of the dress.
These versions nod towards tree spirits such as the dryads and tree worship in general. The tree is seemingly absent in other versions but the concept of the "Elder Mother" continues on in the Fairy Godmother.
Walt Disney, forever clever and sometimes misunderstood as one who "sanitized" fairy tales, actually did a fantastic job of working into his animated classic many of the symbols of the original tale. The befriending of the little birds and mice that perform a task and make-over the dress that had originally belonged to Cinderella's own mother. When her step-sisters destroy the dress, Cinderella runs in tears into the garden, where her Fairy Godmother appears and "Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo!"; she conjures up a majestic white gown. Clever, no?
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017
I think most people are familiar with Aesop's Fable about The Fox and the Crow.
In this story, the Crow has found a wonderful round of cheese and is sitting in a tree, when along comes a sweet-talking fox. He wants the cheese for himself, but how to get it? He convinces the Crow that she has a beautiful voice and would love to hear her sing. She is flattered, opens her mouth to sing and, sadly for her, the cheese drops to the ground. Now, when you think about this fable, it becomes apparent that casting is important. Crows are really, really intelligent. Only a sly fox would have been right for this role ... for who else, in the entire animal kingdom would have the ability to out-smart a crow?
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017
(gif courtesy of AnimatedImages.org)
Almost all folk and fairy tales agree ... you truly must "pay the piper" if you are daft enough to enter a fairy ring! The folklore on fairy rings, elf rings and witches' circles are replete with stories of mortals foolish enough, or bewitched enough, to join in the irrepressible dance inside that enticing ring of mushrooms. While it may enable you to see fairies, dance with wild abandon and revel in euphoria ... it comes with a price. Sometimes the little folk whisk you away to fairyland, where you must serve a fairy master or mistress for a year and a day. Sometimes it feels like you have only been dancing for a few minutes; when actually hours and hours have passed. You may even be doomed to dance forever ...
Or sometimes, as in the case of Rip Van Winkle (who also partook in a wee bit of fairy mead), only a mere 100 years passed before he "awoke" to his old home ... and all the changes that had come about during his lost years.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017 / edited 2020
Meadow Sweet Grove claims and owns no rights to this video
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017 / edited 2021
When you're doing your Spring Cleaning this year, also remember to be humble. While an invitation to a Royal Ball may not be in our immediate futures, we can certainly take pleasure in cleaning and tidying our own precious homes and treasured possessions. We may find things to donate along the way that we no longer need, bring out the beauty of furniture and silver cutlery with a good polish or uncover a lost item. To help you along, don't forget that Walt Disney knew a great and powerful magic that he incorporated in many of his productions. Sing while you work! Or put on your favourite music. It really does make the work go faster. There is nothing more enchanting than Disney's scene of Cinderella, in rags, scrubbing the entry hall, masterfully singing, "Sing Sweet Nightingale" ... while her Step-Sisters, with all the advantages in the world, are upstairs butchering the song!
So Spring Clean like Cinderella and watch the good magic come back to you in your fresh and tidy clean home.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017 / edited 2021
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