The Message of German Fairy tales

The Message of German Fairy Tales - Introduction

Welcome to the mystical world of old fairy tales. They seem remnants of ancient times, when there were no washing machines, cars, airplanes and supermarkets. Those tales don’t talk of computers or mobiles and still touch us deep inside.

It is strange, but human problems seem to be the same. Greed, hate and illusion, and we still fight for or against nature according to personal interests, just as in those days. Fairy tales are the dinosaurs of our culture. Actually they are extinct, but diligently collectors like the Brothers Grimm preserved the leftovers, at least to save the fossilized letters. But just as dinosaurs can come to life in the imagination of our children, so can also fairy tales. Maybe this is the only reason why they still exist. They have a message for us, otherwise they would have disappeared a long time ago.

Nowadays even psychologists are discovering fairy tales as an access to, or even a therapy for children and adults. That is really a wonder in our scientific times. Apparently, our rational minds urgently need to look from the narrow house that we have built over many years, at least through a small window from time to time in the vastness and depth of a fantastic, almost irrational world. And why not add a little inquiring magic to our defined scientific knowledge, that we usually believe in? Not to create new definitions, oh no, that’s not the goal of this book. This is not about proving any beliefs as true or false. Here are some ideas to think about, to make the mind a little more flexible, to look at the usual things just from a different point of view and maybe here and there to open a small window. Of course, in the end it is also about truth, but in a much higher sense than on the conceptual level. For it is no longer a secret that the good old fairy tales have multiple levels. And as a person develops from a small child to an old man, these levels can open one after the other. The great trick here is the contradictions in the stories, which become increasingly clear according to intellectual development. In the worst case, it says at the age of 20: “Such a nonsense, these fairy tales have nothing to do with this world!” That could then be the end of the fairy tale. Or the magic awakes, and the fairy tale gets really interesting ...

Well, a long story cut short, we would like to give some suggestions for a deeper understanding of the old fairy tales. For this, we have come up with a few symbols that should accompany the reader on the journey, so that the petrified letters are not quite so lifeless in the long line and the children’s eyes have something to look at. The two triangles for female and male have a long tradition as symbols. In medieval alchemy they also stood for the reddish fire and the bluish water, or for wind and earth. Their harmonious connection would be the hexagonal star. Accordingly, we generally use a hexagon here for nature.

The circle and the sphere symbolize the sun, which gives light to the events, and the golden ball that rolls along the path of destiny. The eyes point to life, which is everywhere to be discovered, and the arms and legs to the living work. Some symbols have been borrowed from Indian culture, and we hope that others will be self-evident.

Thus, on the following pages, you will find some fairy tale texts, such as those written by the Brothers Grimm some 200 years ago, together with our comments and interpretations in italics.

With all good wishes,
Undine & Jens

Jorinda and Joringel
Iron John
The Old Woman in the Wood
Hansel and Grethel
Mother Holle
The Youth who went forth to learn what Fear was
Hans in Luck
Godfather Death
One-Eye, Two-Eyes and Three-Eyes
Our Lady’s Child
The Frog-King, or Iron Henry
Sweet Porridge
Cat and Mouse in Partnership
The Fisherman and his Wife
The Golden Bird