The spiritual Message of German Fairy tales

The Drummer

Tale of the Brothers Grimm translated by M. Hunt [1884]
Interpretation by Undine & Jens in green [2024]

This is another ingenious old fairy tale full of the most wonderful symbolism, which we certainly cannot pervade in its entirety, especially not with our linguistic means. And yet we want to try to write down an interpretation with suggestions for further reflection.

A young drummer went out quite alone one evening into the country, and came to a lake on the shore of which he perceived three pieces of white linen lying. "What fine linen," said he, and put one piece in his pocket. He returned home, thought no more of what he had found, and went to bed. Just as he was going to sleep, it seemed to him as if some one was saying his name. He listened, and was aware of a soft voice which cried to him, "Drummer, drummer, wake up!" As it was a dark night he could see no one, but it appeared to him that a figure was hovering about his bed. "What do you want?" he asked. "Give me back my dress," answered the voice, "that you took away from me last evening by the lake." "You shall have it back again," said the drummer, "if you will tell me who you are." "Ah," replied the voice, "I am the daughter of a mighty King; but I have fallen into the power of a witch, and am shut up on the glass-mountain. I have to bathe in the lake every day with my two sisters, but I cannot fly back again without my dress. My sisters have gone away, but I have been forced to stay behind. I entreat you to give me my dress back." "Be easy, poor child," said the drummer. "I will willingly give it back to you."

The “drummer” is reminiscent of our human mind, which usually drives us through life with the loud drumbeats of thoughts. The three dresses remind us of a living spiritual being that has taken on a material body like a dress in external nature, on the shore between the spiritual and material world, the liquid water of life and the solid earth of the field. Without this body it cannot move in this world and appears to the drummer when “going to sleep” on the border between the outer and inner world in order to regain its physicality, and a pure physicality, which is what the “white linen” suggests. When asked “Who are you?” it complains that it is controlled by a witch on a mystical glass mountain. This could remind us of the soul, which is trapped and bewitched by the five physical senses and the power of the mental mind as the sixth in a narrow, superficial life, just as in the term "witch" (in German: Hexe) the number six as Greek "hexa" and Latin “sex” sounds. The number three, as mentioned in the three dresses and sisters, will accompany us as a natural principle throughout the fairy tale. Three is the number of our world, just as our space has three dimensions and everything is basically moved by three forces, which is where the usual triangle symbol comes from. Because if there were only two forces, it would only swing back and forth and there would be no development in a specific direction, which is what the third force is responsible for. Similarly, every way in this world has two boundaries, right and left, and a direction. Accordingly, one of the three sisters stays behind and shows the drummer's mind the way.

He took it out of his pocket, and reached it to her in the dark. She snatched it in haste, and wanted to go away with it. "Stop a moment, perhaps I can help you." "You can only help me by ascending the glass-mountain, and freeing me from the power of the witch. But you cannot come to the glass-mountain, and indeed if you were quite close to it you could not ascend it." "When I want to do a thing I always can do it," said the drummer; "I am sorry for you, and have no fear of anything. But I do not know the way which leads to the glass-mountain." "The road goes through the great forest, in which the man-eaters live," she answered, "and more than that, I dare not tell you." And then he heard her wings quiver, as she flew away.

The “great forest” reminds us of the external human world, where three huge giants rule, who eat us humans inside and thus bring pain and ultimately death. The mind now hears the call of the soul: “Drummer, wake up!” So, it tries to wake up from the dream of the mental world and then, at the dawn of its spiritual day, sets out on the great journey to penetrate the forest of the man-eaters and to reach the mystical glass mountain.

By daybreak the drummer arose, buckled on his drum, and went without fear straight into the forest. After he had walked for a while without seeing any giants, he thought to himself, "I must waken up the sluggards," and he hung his drum before him, and beat such a drum roll that the birds flew out of the trees with loud cries. It was not long before a giant who had been lying sleeping among the grass, rose up, and was as tall as a fir-tree. "Wretch!" cried he; "what art thou drumming here for, and wakening me out of my best sleep?" "I am drumming," he replied, "because I want to show the way to many thousands who are following me." "What do they want in my forest?" demanded the giant. "They want to put an end to thee, and cleanse the forest of such a monster as thou art!" "Oho!" said the giant, "I will trample you all to death like so many ants." "Dost thou think thou canst do anything against us?" said the drummer; "if thou stoopest to take hold of one, he will jump away and hide himself; but when thou art lying down and sleeping, they will come forth from every thicket, and creep up to thee. Every one of them has a hammer of steel in his belt, and with that they will beat in thy skull."

With the three ravenous giants who rule in the dark forest of the outer human world, we can again think of the powerful forces of desire, hatred and delusion or ignorance, which are also considered in Buddhism to be the three fundamental spiritual poisons in the wheel of life. The drummer purposely awakens them from their sleep, which usually come upon us insidiously and unexpectedly, and meets their power with a vision that he has not come alone, but thousands will follow him. This already reminds us of a holistic view of reason to which the intellectual mind can awaken when it overcomes its egoism. In this way he becomes able to transform the destructive and deadly “giant forces” of external nature into healing and invigorating ones that become useful to him on his path. This is possible because:

There is nothing either good or bad,
but thinking makes it so.
(William Shakespeare)

The giant grew angry and thought, "If I meddle with the crafty folk, it might turn out badly for me. I can strangle wolves and bears, but I cannot protect myself from these earth-worms." "Listen, little fellow," said he; "go back again, and I will promise you that for the future I will leave you and your comrades in peace, and if there is anything else you wish for, tell me, for I am quite willing to do something to please you." "Thou hast long legs," said the drummer, "and canst run quicker than I; carry me to the glass-mountain, and I will give my followers a signal to go back, and they shall leave thee in peace this time." "Come here, worm," said the giant; "seat thyself on my shoulder, I will carry thee where thou wishest to be." The giant lifted him up, and the drummer began to beat his drum up aloft to his heart's delight. The giant thought, "That is the signal for the other people to turn back."

Now, reason has the power to defeat these destructive forces at their roots. Because these giants can only harm individual animals, but they are powerless against a holistic being. And the “signal effect” described is of course very important in a holistic world. Because if only one person has found the way, it will be easier for those who follow, as long as we are all basically just one holistic consciousness. And that is probably the reason why we are thinking about this path here and now.

After a while, a second giant was standing in the road, who took the drummer from the first, and stuck him in his own button-hole. The drummer laid hold of the button, which was as large as a dish, held on by it, and looked merrily around. Then they came to a third giant, who took him out of the button-hole, and set him on the rim of his hat. Then the drummer walked backwards and forwards up above, and looked over the trees, and when he perceived a mountain in the blue distance, he thought, "That must be the glass-mountain," and so it was. The giant only made two steps more, and they reached the foot of the mountain, where the giant put him down. The drummer demanded to be put on the summit of the glass-mountain, but the giant shook his head, growled something in his beard, and went back into the forest.

Thus, symbolically, the mind rises higher and higher above the giants, even above the head of ignorance. But where do you get to once you have penetrated the external forest of our world, where the realm of the giants ends and a view suddenly opens up that was previously blocked by the many trees of our mental imaginations? The fairy tale speaks of a “glass mountain” where matter suddenly becomes transparent and a whole new world opens up, on a completely different level of consciousness. In the last century, some brilliant scientists came to a similar place on the path of quantum physics, but they didn't go much further because our mental concepts could not understand and conquer this transparent world beyond time and space. So, it was banished to the realm of theoretical physics and proudly announced that it actually has nothing to do with our practical world. Our drummers' minds initially felt the same way…

And now the poor drummer was standing before the mountain, which was as high as if three mountains were piled on each other, and at the same time as smooth as a looking-glass, and did not know how to get up it. He began to climb, but that was useless, for he always slipped back again. "If one was a bird now," thought he; but what was the good of wishing, no wings grew for him. Whilst he was standing thus, not knowing what to do, he saw, not far from him, two men who were struggling fiercely together. He went up to them and saw that they were disputing about a saddle which was lying on the ground before them, and which both of them wanted to have. "What fools you are," said he, "to quarrel about a saddle, when you have not a horse for it!" "The saddle is worth fighting about," answered one of the men; "whosoever sits on it, and wishes himself in any place, even if it should be the very end of the earth, gets there the instant he has uttered the wish. The saddle belongs to us in common. It is my turn to ride on it, but that other man will not let me do it." "I will soon decide the quarrel," said the drummer, and he went to a short distance and stuck a white rod in the ground. Then he came back and said, "Now run to the goal, and whoever gets there first, shall ride first." Both put themselves into a trot; but hardly had they gone a couple of steps before the drummer swung himself on the saddle, wished himself on the glass-mountain, and before any one could turn round, he was there.

Why hasn't he grown wings? A wishing power alone is not enough; of course, there must also be a corresponding path, at least insofar as we have wished for a world of paths in space and time. This path then became apparent in the two men or spiritual forces who fought over a saddle. We already know this symbolic saddle on which the ego wants to ride as desired from other fairy tales, such as “The Poor and the Rich” or “The Castle of the Golden Sun”. The drummer's self-consciousness now becomes the third force that "carries out" the fruitless dispute between the other two forces and, so to speak, directs it in order to realize his wilful wish. The horse that we do not see under the saddle here is of course the formless consciousness itself, which reveals in the wave of opposites that we encounter here symbolically in the argument between the two men. And on the saddle or the formed wave rides the ego, a consciousness on the level of the mind that we all know well and that was already apparent at the beginning of the path when the drummer exclaimed: “What I want, I can do!” The only problem is: the more this wilful self-consciousness clings to certain forms, the fewer paths are open to it, because it walls itself up all around and ultimately sits in a dark cave or hell. Therefore, people should go on a different way and use the power of desires for healing to open, expand and elevate consciousness.

On the top of the mountain was a plain; there stood an old stone house, and in front of the house lay a great fish-pond, but behind it was a dark forest. He saw neither men nor animals, everything was quiet; only the wind rustled amongst the trees, and the clouds moved by quite close above his head.

So, the drummer can now rise from the obscure forest of the external world to the summit of the glass mountain, where the view expands, the consciousness rises to a higher level and three principles again become visible, which apparently hold the pure soul captive, but actually just separated and held back from the mind. Individual living beings disappear in this view of principles, everything becomes quiet, the loud drum is silent, the mind only rustles quietly in the forest of thoughts, and the drifting clouds of illusions are closer and more penetrable than ever before.

“After you have thought about the importance of what you are trying to do for yourself and the world try to settle down in perfect stillness, remembering only how much you want to reach the light in you today, — now! Determine to go past the clouds. Reach out and touch them in your mind. Brush them aside with your hand; feel them resting on your cheeks and forehead and eyelids as you go through them. Go on; clouds cannot stop you.” (A Course in Miracles, Lesson 69

He went to the door and knocked. When he had knocked for the third time, an old woman with a brown face and red eyes opened the door. She had spectacles on her long nose, and looked sharply at him; then she asked what he wanted. "Entrance, food, and a bed for the night," replied the drummer. "That thou shalt have," said the old woman, "if thou wilt perform three services in return." "Why not?" he answered, "I am not afraid of any kind of work, however hard it may be." The old woman let him go in, and gave him some food and a good bed at night.

The stone or material or physical house is reminiscent of our own body. The drummer approaches this problem consciously and courageously and, as proof of his seriousness, knocks three times so that the door to his inner being opens. There he meets the witch, who is now called the “Old Women” because she has been keeping the soul prisoner in this stone body house for so long. And of course, as a drummer mind, he desires what every mind in this house desires, namely protection, food and a storehouse for his memories and dreams. The witch or “hexa” of the five physical senses with thinking now appears to him with the red eyes of passion, the glasses of supposed cleverness and a dark and ugly face, in order to set him three difficult tasks. Those who cannot fulfil them remain trapped in this petrified witch's house between a large fish pond and a dark forest, which is our usual state of mind.

The next morning when he had had his sleep out, she took a thimble from her wrinkled finger, reached it to the drummer, and said, "Go to work now, and empty out the pond with this thimble; but thou must have it done before night, and must have sought out all the fishes which are in the water and laid them side by side, according to their kind and size." "That is strange work," said the drummer, but he went to the pond, and began to empty it. He baled the whole morning; but what can any one do to a great lake with a thimble, even if he were to bale for a thousand years? When it was noon, he thought, "It is all useless, and whether I work or not it will come to the same thing." So he gave it up and sat down.

What does this big fish pond mean? A more or less cloudy pool of water, artificially dammed up in space and time, in which animal food is grown for the inhabitants of the body house. Practically, one could think here of our memories with all the undigested experiences and repressed feelings that have to be exhausted from the personal accumulation of our own history and our ancestors in order to reclassify the individual experiences into a larger whole or divine. This also includes all our sins, addictions and vices, which must be revealed in the light, just as in India one would speak of the accumulated karma that must be exhausted in order to free the soul from the bondage to the witch of the physical. Everyone probably knows the old saying: “As you have brewed, so you must drink.” This is endless and ultimately pointless work for the mental mind because it has no suitable tools for it. And beyond that, everything he exhausts with the thimble of his narrow thoughts that the witch gives us naturally runs back into the pond of memory. Our drummer also recognizes this, so that his previous belief “What I want, I can do!” disappears and he sits down disappointed.

Then came a maiden out of the house who set a little basket with food before him, and said, "What ails thee, that thou sittest so sadly here?" He looked at her, and saw that she was wondrously beautiful. "Ah," said he, "I cannot finish the first piece of work, how will it be with the others? I came forth to seek a king's daughter who is said to dwell here, but I have not found her, and I will go farther." "Stay here," said the maiden, "I will help thee out of thy difficulty. Thou art tired, lay thy head in my lap, and sleep. When thou awakest again, thy work will be done." The drummer did not need to be told that twice. As soon as his eyes were shut, she turned a wishing-ring and said, "Rise, water. Fishes, come out." Instantly the water rose on high like a white mist, and moved away with the other clouds, and the fishes sprang on the shore and laid themselves side by side each according to his size and kind. When the drummer awoke, he saw with amazement that all was done. But the maiden said, "One of the fish is not lying with those of its own kind, but quite alone; when the old woman comes to-night and sees that all she demanded has been done, she will ask thee, 'What is this fish lying alone for?' Then throw the fish in her face, and say, 'This one shall be for thee, old witch.'" In the evening the witch came, and when she had put this question, he threw the fish in her face. She behaved as if she did not remark it, and said nothing, but looked at him with malicious eyes.

In the midday light of “dis-illusionment” regarding its wilful power, the beautiful and pure soul with holistic reason comes to the aid of the intellectual mind. It is no longer “What I want, I can do!”, but rather: “What I want, can happen.” Because she comes in the spiritual midday light and does not bring any selfish witch food with her, but draws from the pure source of intuition. In doing so, she lets the laborious thoughts sleep or be quiet, as we know from yoga meditation, and uses a completely different power to accomplish this great work. It is a holistic power when the active power of the spirit comes together with the natural power of the living soul. This holistic power, which is also symbolized by the ring, can realize every wish of the active spirit, even beyond the limited paths in space and time that the ego consciousness follows with the mind. Only the witch ensures that our spirit is limited by the fences of egoism and the walls of physicality and separated from this eternal source of omnipotence. That's why the first or last object of memory, which, as personally appropriated property, falls out of line with the divine order, should be thrown in the old witch's face as the original cause for this separation, when she appears in the evening twilight of spiritual darkness. In this we also find another meaning for the term witch or hag, which in the etymological dictionaries is also derived from “Hagazussa”, who “guards the fence” (old German: Hag= fence).

“Now go to the fences and into the wide streets: part of the soul’s powers are “fenced” from the eyes and the other senses. The other forces are free, they are unbound and unhindered by the body.” (Master Eckhart, Sermon 21)

By the way, there is a similar symbolic story in the Indian Mahabharata (Book 3, Chapter 105), when the demons hid in the sea while fighting the gods and the saint Agastya drank the ocean.

Next morning she said, "Yesterday it was too easy for thee, I must give thee harder work. To-day thou must hew down the whole of the forest, split the wood into logs, and pile them up, and everything must be finished by the evening." She gave him an axe, a mallet, and two wedges. But the axe was made of lead, and the mallet and wedges were of tin. When he began to cut, the edge of the axe turned back, and the mallet and wedges were beaten out of shape. He did not know how to manage, but at mid-day the maiden came once more with his dinner and comforted him. "Lay thy head on my lap," said she, "and sleep; when thou awakest, thy work will be done." She turned her wishing-ring, and in an instant the whole forest fell down with a crash, the wood split, and arranged itself in heaps, and it seemed just as if unseen giants were finishing the work. When he awoke, the maiden said, "Dost thou see that the wood is piled up and arranged, one bough alone remains; but when the old woman comes this evening and asks thee about that bough, give her a blow with it, and say, 'That is for thee, thou witch.'" The old woman came, "There thou seest how easy the work was!" said she; "but for whom hast thou left that bough which is lying there still?" "For thee, thou witch," he replied, and gave her a blow with it.

What does this dark forest mean? It reminds us of our mental ideas, which grow like trees from the dark earth or matter to light and even want to reach heaven. But soon our vision is so obscured by ideas that we miss the forest for the trees, i.e. the whole for all the individual parts.

The smallest creaturely image that ever comes into your mind is as great as God. Why? Because it prevents you from having a whole God. Precisely where this image enters (into you), God and his entire divinity must give way. But where this image goes out, God comes in. (Master Eckhart, Sermon 6)

Again, the mind has poorly tools for this, because it itself creates these rampant ideas with the five senses and thinking. Again, he has to despair about this work, can't help himself and finally trusts in the divine or holistic power of the pure soul, which comes to the aid of the active spirit in the spiritual midday light. In this way, the ideas are cut from their roots, made smaller and equal and neatly arranged in stacks, which probably means the divine or holistic order into which all our ideas should fit harmoniously. In this way, the view of the whole or the divine becomes clear again. And the last or first branch should again meet the witch, who binds us there and holds us captive, as the original part, the reason, why we are lost in the dark forest of imagination. But the witch is obviously not yet defeated with this blow in the spiritual evening light.

But she pretended not to feel it, laughed scornfully, and said, "Early to-morrow morning thou shalt arrange all the wood in one heap, set fire to it, and burn it." He rose at break of day, and began to pick up the wood, but how can a single man get a whole forest together? The work made no progress. The maiden, however, did not desert him in his need. She brought him his food at noon, and when he had eaten, he laid his head on her lap, and went to sleep. When he awoke, the entire pile of wood was burning in one enormous flame, which stretched its tongues out into the sky. "Listen to me," said the maiden, "when the witch comes, she will give thee all kinds of orders; do whatever she asks thee without fear, and then she will not be able to get the better of thee, but if thou art afraid, the fire will lay hold of thee, and consume thee. At last when thou hast done everything, seize her with both thy hands, and throw her into the midst of the fire."

The third and final task is to fulfil the meaning of the previous two and to transform all darkness into pure light. We know how much energy there is in embodied matter, and there is even more in our spiritual darkness, which is practically created by the desire, grasping of and holding on to light, similar to how the black holes in space greedily suck in all the light. This seized and held energy is now to be burned, and here too the drummer mind cannot achieve much, because it itself is responsible for the desire and grasping of the light. But when the reason of the pure soul appears in the midday light and the thinking is silent, then this process of transformation can take place thoroughly, and a powerful fire appears as in a sun that destroys all darkness. Fear and anxiety should then no longer exist because these can only exist in the separate ego consciousness, which, like the witch herself, must burn in this fire and disappear in the pure light. Is the active spirit together with the pure soul capable of this?

The maiden departed, and the old woman came sneaking up to him. "Oh, I am cold," said she, "but that is a fire that burns; it warms my old bones for me, and does me good! But there is a log lying there which won't burn, bring it out for me. When thou hast done that, thou art free, and mayst go where thou likest, come; go in with a good will." The drummer did not reflect long; he sprang into the midst of the flames, but they did not hurt him, and could not even singe a hair of his head. He carried the log out, and laid it down. Hardly, however, had the wood touched the earth than it was transformed, and the beautiful maiden who had helped him in his need stood before him, and by the silken and shining golden garments which she wore, he knew right well that she was the King's daughter. But the old woman laughed venomously, and said, "Thou thinkest thou hast her safe, but thou hast not got her yet!" Just as she was about to fall on the maiden and take her away, the youth seized the old woman with both his hands, raised her up on high, and threw her into the jaws of the fire, which closed over her as if it were delighted that the old witch was to be burnt.

Why is the witch cold with her old bones? The famous quantum physicist Hans-Peter Dürr, a student of Werner Heisenberg, is said to have said: “Matter is frozen light.” The song “Whatever you see is just frozen light” by Konstantin Wecker was inspired by this. (Full lyrics translation at the end of the interpretation.)

Well, the witch is basically just pure light or pure consciousness that has been, so to speak, frozen, hardened, condensed and embodied. And when the drummer had the courage to subject himself to this test in the fire, free from fear and therefore free from egoism, where only pure light or consciousness exists, he found the log or “philosopher's stone”, which does not burn in the fire, and recognized in it his pure soul, as it appears in the golden garment of truth. And because he didn't want to let this truth be taken away from him again, he had now completed the three tasks, achieved his freedom and with it the power to burn the old witch and transform her back into the pure light of consciousness in the fire.

Or as Konstantin Wecker’s song says:
… Then don't hesitate to transform yourself,
Take this hour deep within yourself.
So out of time there is no need to act,
And only in the emptiness your being reveals itself.
You may grasp it, you don't understand it.
Whatever you see is just frozen light.

There is also a similar symbolic story in the Mahabharata (from Book 1, Chapter 224) when Arjuna, with the help of Krishna, burned the dark Khandava forest to cure the fire god Agni, who was suffering from a digestive problem.

Then the King's daughter looked at the drummer, and when she saw that he was a handsome youth and remembered how he had risked his life to deliver her, she gave him her hand, and said, "Thou hast ventured everything for my sake, but I also will do everything for thine. Promise to be true to me, and thou shalt be my husband. We shall not want for riches, we shall have enough with what the witch has gathered together here." She led him into the house, where there were chests and coffers crammed with the old woman's treasures. The maiden left the gold and silver where it was, and took only the precious stones.

What has the witch hidden in the body house from our view and above all from our "insight"? So now together they find in the interior of the body house, where consciousness has condensed and "gathered its treasures", the imperishable and limitless treasure of pure consciousness, which can take on any form of wealth because it itself does not cling to any form. This would also make the mystical marriage between spirit and nature possible, the unity between the active spirit and the pure soul of nature as the princess of pure reason. And with this we could also find an answer to all the big questions that our fairy tale still raises: Why should we fulfil the "tasks" of the old witch in order to redeem the soul? How is "giving up" connected with "fulfilment"? How did the three girls who were banished on the glass mountain become one princess, the three souls become one? And how does the play of the three forces in the external world ultimately become a single inner force?

As long as these questions remain unanswered, our fairy tale will not end. And so, it continues, because of all the riches they take only the precious stones with them and return together from the glass mountain to the level of consciousness of the external world. At this point, one can think about whether it is perhaps precisely this "taking of a selection" that makes them return to the external world? Because complete unity and wholeness have obviously not yet been achieved, even if the witch's basic problem has already been solved.

She would not stay any longer on the glass-mountain, so the drummer said to her, "Seat thyself by me on my saddle, and then we will fly down like birds." "I do not like the old saddle," said she, "I need only turn my wishing-ring and we shall be at home." "Very well, then," answered the drummer, "then wish us in front of the town-gate."

This also makes sense, because the pure soul will not sit on the old saddle of ego consciousness, but fulfils its wishes with the ring of wholeness together with the active spirit, because the separation between them in the form of the witch has been dissolved. The question now is: What does the soul mean by "home" and what does the drummer mean by "in front of the city gate"? Could it perhaps have gone up a level of consciousness, to the royal court of the father of the pure soul? But now it goes down a level again to the earthly parents of the mental drummer mind, namely into the external world in front of the gate to the inside.

In the twinkling of an eye they were there, but the drummer said, "I will just go to my parents and tell them the news, wait for me outside here, I shall soon be back." "Ah," said the King's daughter, "I beg thee to be careful. On thy arrival do not kiss thy parents on the right cheek, or else thou wilt forget everything, and I shall stay behind here outside, alone and deserted." "How can I forget thee?" said he, and promised her to come back very soon, and gave his hand upon it.

Is that really possible? Of course, virtually all people forgot their pure soul when they were born into this external world and recognized their physical parents as their source. Pure consciousness also has this freedom and can even forget itself, even if the mind cannot or does not want to believe it. So, he came back into the outer world, but fundamentally changed, because with the witch he had his stubborn egoism conquered and was no longer controlled by it.

When he went into his father's house, he had changed so much that no one knew who he was, for the three days which he had passed on the glass-mountain had been three years.

What does change mean? Ever since Albert Einstein, modern science has known that time is relative, especially when it comes to mobility (see for example: Why don't light particles age?). But this sentence is particularly remarkable because similar calculations can already be found in the ancient Indian Puranas, such as in the Vayu Purana Chapter 1.57. According to this calculation, our drummer would have been in the world or consciousness level of the Indian gods or Christian angels in the heavenly Swarloka. In the same Purana, chapter 2.24, there is a similar story of King Reva and his daughter Revati, who visited for an hour the much higher world of the creator god Brahma, who symbolically also lives on a similarly unimaginably high mountain, the golden world mountain or Mountain of the Gods Meru. And when they returned from there to earth, many ages had passed.

Accordingly, with regard to the world of forms, one could say: the higher and wider consciousness is, the faster time passes until there is no time at all in eternity because everything happens at the same time. That is, everything that comes into being passes away at the same time, and everything that passes away also comes into being again at the same time. So, everything is there and not there at the same time. And the more consciousness tries to hold on to any forms, the slower time passes until the hold is so strong that a dark cave or hell appears like a black hole, where even light can no longer move and time seems to stand still, as if you were trying to stop a movie. Conversely, with regard to consciousness itself, one could say: the higher and wider consciousness is, the less it changes and ages until it is completely unchangeable and immortal as pure consciousness, no longer attached to any forms. That would then be a “white universe” or the “highest heaven”, i.e., pure light in which entire worlds can arise and pass away. And the more consciousness tries to hold on to some form, the more it perceives itself as impermanent, vulnerable and mortal, which gives rise to great fears of loss, suffering and death, which then lead to an ever-darker world where these fears grow ad infinitum. In this way one could imagine how the experiences of heaven, earth and hell arise in consciousness. Why not? Pure consciousness also has this freedom.

At least here one can become aware that time is not an absolute that binds us unconditionally, but rather the relative experience of an observer regarding what he observes, which is also our great joy of knowing.

Then he made himself known, and his parents fell on his neck with joy, and his heart was so moved that he forgot what the maiden had said, and kissed them on both cheeks. But when he had given them the kiss on the right cheek, every thought of the King's daughter vanished from him. He emptied out his pockets, and laid handfuls of the largest jewels on the table. The parents had not the least idea what to do with the riches. Then the father built a magnificent castle all surrounded by gardens, woo     ds, and meadows as if a prince were going to live in it, and when it was ready, the mother said, "I have found a maiden for thee, and the wedding shall be in three days." The son was content to do as his parents desired.

If only he had kissed his true soul instead of his physical parents! Or as the Bible says: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matth. 10.37) So it happened that the mind identified itself again with its physical parents, directed its gaze towards the external world, forgot its pure soul within and invested the heavenly wealth in earthly, transitory goods. But everything without wilful egoism, because “he emptied his pockets” and “was content to do his parents desire”. According to their will, he should now be married or connected to an embodied soul in order to gain external wealth life.

The poor King's daughter had stood for a long time without the town waiting for the return of the young man. When evening came, she said, "He must certainly have kissed his parents on the right cheek, and has forgotten me." Her heart was full of sorrow, she wished herself into a solitary little hut in a forest, and would not return to her father's court. Every evening she went into the town and passed the young man's house; he often saw her, but he no longer knew her.

So, the pure soul now retreats into our subconscious into the depths of nature and waits there until she is recognized again. If she were to withdraw completely from our world and return to her father's kingdom, then we would probably also be completely lost in this external world. Even so, she comes closer to us every evening when the worldly light fades, hoping that the inner spiritual light of knowledge will dawn again with the remembering of what our true source is and who we truly are.

At length she heard the people saying, "The wedding will take place to-morrow." Then she said, "I will try if I can win his heart back." On the first day of the wedding ceremonies, she turned her wishing-ring, and said, "A dress as bright as the sun." Instantly the dress lay before her, and it was as bright as if it had been woven of real sunbeams. When all the guests were assembled, she entered the hall. Everyone was amazed at the beautiful dress, and the bride most of all, and as pretty dresses were the things she had most delight in, she went to the stranger and asked if she would sell it to her. "Not for money," she answered, "but if I may pass the first night outside the door of the room where your betrothed sleeps, I will give it up to you."

"Therefore, prove to whom you are joined forever,
where heart and heart find together.
The madness is short, the remorse is long.”
(Friedrich Schiller)

Wonderful! The pure soul, which can take on any form of nature, now shows herself as the whole nature, first as the sun. A garment that the embodied soul desires and wants to hold on to, while the pure soul wears it only temporarily in order to win her true bridegroom, the active spirit. And in this way, she goes to the door of his senses.

God never goes far away; he always stays near. And if he can't stay inside, he doesn't go further than to the door. (Master Eckhart, Speeches of Instruction, XVII)

The bride could not overcome her desire and consented, but she mixed a sleeping-draught with the wine her betrothed took at night, which made him fall into a deep sleep. When all had become quiet, the King's daughter crouched down by the door of the bedroom, opened it just a little, and cried,

"Drummer, drummer, I pray thee hear!
Hast thou forgotten thou heldest me dear?
That on the glass-mountain we sat hour by hour?
That I rescued thy life from the witch's power?
Didst thou not plight thy troth to me?
Drummer, drummer, hearken to me!"

But it was all in vain, the drummer did not awake, and when morning dawned, the King's daughter was forced to go back again as she came. On the second evening she turned her wishing-ring and said, "A dress as silvery as the moon." When she appeared at the feast in the dress which was as soft as moonbeams, it again excited the desire of the bride, and the King's daughter gave it to her for permission to pass the second night also, outside the door of the bedroom. Then in the stillness of the night, she cried,

"Drummer, drummer, I pray thee hear!
Hast thou forgotten thou heldest me dear?
That on the glass-mountain we sat hour by hour?
That I rescued thy life from the witch's power?
Didst thou not plight thy troth to me?
Drummer, drummer, hearken to me!"

But the drummer, who was stupefied with the sleeping-draught, could not be aroused. Sadly, next morning she went back to her hut in the forest. But the people in the house had heard the lamentation of the stranger-maiden, and told the bridegroom about it. They told him also that it was impossible that he could hear anything of it, because the maiden he was going to marry had poured a sleeping-draught into his wine. On the third evening, the King's daughter turned her wishing-ring, and said, "A dress glittering like the stars." When she showed herself therein at the feast, the bride was quite beside herself with the splendour of the dress, which far surpassed the others, and she said, "I must, and will have it." The maiden gave it as she had given the others for permission to spend the night outside the bridegroom's door.

Well, the pure soul now wears the clothes of the sun, moon and stars one after the other and thus shows herself in the entire natural universe. But the mind has become intoxicated with the wine of the world, falls asleep when the outer light of the world fades, and cannot hear the inner voice to recognize the pure soul in everything. But then he learns from others that this voice exists, just as we sometimes learn from teachers that there is this inner voice of truth or intuition within us. And yet everyone must experience it directly and immediately. So, he now abstains from the sleeping draught, and when everything in him had become calm and quiet, and he still remained awake and did not fall into the stupor of sleep, then he heard her again.

The bridegroom, however, did not drink the wine which was handed to him before he went to bed, but poured it behind the bed, and when everything was quiet, he heard a sweet voice which called to him,

"Drummer, drummer, I pray thee hear!
Hast thou forgotten thou heldest me dear?
That on the glass-mountain we sat hour by hour?
That I rescued thy life from the witch's power?
Didst thou not plight thy troth to me?
Drummer, drummer, hearken to me!"

Suddenly, his memory returned to him.

Anyone who has once walked the royal path to the truth finds it much easier to remember again, to hear the inner voice of the pure soul and to wake up from the dream. And this can happen all of a sudden, like the pure sun breaking through the clouds, the inner light rising and the worldly blindness falling like scales from the eyes. You can hardly believe how stupid and blind you were.

"Ah," cried he, "how can I have acted so unfaithfully; but the kiss which in the joy of my heart I gave my parents, on the right cheek, that is to blame for it all, that is what stupefied me!" He sprang up, took the King's daughter by the hand, and led her to his parents' bed. "This is my true bride," said he; "if I marry the other, I shall do a great wrong." The parents, when they heard how everything had happened, gave their consent. Then the lights in the hall were lighted again, drums and trumpets were brought, friends and relations were invited to come, and the real wedding was solemnized with great rejoicing. The first bride received the beautiful dresses as a compensation, and declared herself satisfied.

This brought back the memory of the true soul to the mind, consciousness expanded again and was able to overcome the narrow boundaries of the external world. The active spirit recognized his true bride, and the physical parents also agreed. This means that the spiritual light now shines even in our worldly darkness, the heavenly drums and trumpets sound, and the true marriage between spirit and nature is completed and celebrated in great joy with all beings in the world in one unity or wholeness. And truly what an unimaginably “great joy” this is can only be experienced by those who achieve this great goal.

The worldly marriage would not have gone well either, because this bride was already married to a selfish mind that greedily grabbed the outward clothes and wanted to possess them. She was no longer free, and it would have been a typically profane marriage in which love is primarily just desire. But it is said that this bride was also satisfied and continues to wear the beautiful clothes of external nature as compensation, which probably means that it should not be to her detriment. For perhaps this wilful mind will also awaken and hear the voice of the pure soul that wears these clothes, so that the active spirit can find and walk the great path of liberation from its desire for external forms. This fairy tale could repeat itself at any time, perhaps even within ourselves, and find its happy ending. For in the whole or divine there is only a single, pure consciousness as a living, animated spirit-nature. Everything else are ideas of the mental drummer mind, which can only think in terms of separations or opposites and imagines itself as a separate ego, so that many different souls and minds appear in nature in which it is reflected. Why not? Pure consciousness can also assume these forms because it has complete freedom to assume any form it desires in the pure light. OM

Frozen Light by Konstantin Wecker (for Hans-Peter Dürr) - Lyrics

When through the cathedral of summer green trees
The lights descend like a blessing
And as crystals in the gaps
Standing from leaves and branches and sky,

Then you sense that what seems to be firmly attached
And reveals itself to us as reality,
is nothing but an image that is sufficient for itself,
Through which a great breath flows dreamily.
You may grasp it, you don't understand it.
Whatever you see is just frozen light.

When in such rare hours
The beauty of existence quietly revealed,
Because - otherwise never connected so easily -
intuition with experience is pairing,

Then don't hesitate to transform yourself,
Take this hour deep within yourself.
So out of time there is no need to act,
And only in the emptiness your being reveals itself.
You may grasp it, you don't understand it.
Whatever you see is just frozen light.


At the end of such wonderful fairy tales the question always arises: Where do such unusual symbols and stories come from? Is it fantasy that someone came up with? Or direct experiences that someone had had and could only describe in this symbolic form? In the following video we would like to present a so-called “near-death experience”, an extraordinary experience that people can have in extreme situations on the verge of death, but which is also possible in deep states of meditation and trance. (The video has English subtitles.)


... Table of contents of all fairy tale interpretations ...
Rat King Birlibi - (topic: Money, Enmity, Addiction, Poverty)
The Ditmarsh Tale of Wonders - (topic: Lies, Thoughts and Reason)
The Robber Bridegroom - (topic: dead soul, spiritual murder)
The Poor Boy in the Grave - (topic: Education, Ego, Fear and Reason)
Simeli Mountain - (topic: material and spiritual world)
Strong Hans - (topic: Ego, robbers and ultimate gain)
The Old Man and his Grandson - (topic: social division, disgusting impermanence)
Allerleirauh - (All-kinds-of-Fur) (topic: sick mind, dying nature and healing)
The Origin of Stories - (topic: material and spiritual world)
Hans Stupid - (topic: realize wishes)
The Drummer (topic: Mind and path to salvation)

[1884] Grimm's Household Tales. Translated from the German and edited by Margaret Hunt. With an introduction by Andrew Lang, 1884, Vol. 1/2, London: George Bell and Sons
[Bibel] Luther Bibel, 1912
[2024] Text and Pictures by Undine & Jens / www.pushpak.de