The spiritual Message of German Fairy tales

Hans Stupid

Tale of the Brothers Grimm [1812] translated by Undine
Interpretation by Undine & Jens in green [2024]

There was a king who lived happily with his daughter, who was his only child. But suddenly the princess gave birth to a child and no one knew who the father was. The king didn't know what to do for a long time, in the end he ordered that the princess should go to church with the child, a lemon should be given into his hand, and whoever handed it should be the child's father and the princess's husband. This happened, but the order was given that no one but beautiful people should be allowed into the church.

Well, apparently the belief in a “virgin conception” was not very widespread back then either, although this very possibility was later proclaimed in the Catholic Church in 1854 as a dogma in the sense of divine omnipotence. In our fairy tale, too, the church is seen as a holy place where the truth is revealed, but preferably of course a truth that corresponds to the desired ideas. So, the king wanted a handsome and clever son-in-law, and the princess wanted such a husband. In addition to the golden imperial orb for the royal successor, the lemon also reminds us of the “sour apple” or the bitter pill that the father was supposed to bite or swallow, who apparently did not want to admit his paternity. Although many wanted this coveted position and therefore flocked to the church.

But there was a small, crooked and hunchbacked boy in town who wasn't very clever and was called Hans Stupid. He pushed his way into the church unseen among the others. And as the child was supposed to hand out the lemon he gave it to Hans Stupid. The princess was frightened, the king was so upset that he had her and the child put into a barrel with Hans Stupid and thrown out to sea.

The result obviously did not correspond to the wishes of either the princess or the king. And yet it was a decision made in the Holy Church. The king believed in it, but he could not accept the external form and quickly tried to get rid of it. Likewise, we would like to put our unloved problems in a dark bin, close it tightly and throw it into the sea of consciousness, where they will sink and never come to light again. The psychologist then calls this a repressed problem in the subconscious.

The barrel soon floated away, and when they were alone on the sea, the princess complained and said: “You nasty, hunchbacked, wise-nose boy are to blame for my misfortune! Why did you force yourself into church? The child was none of your business.” - “Oh yes,” said Hans Stupid, “that was indeed my business, because I once wished that you would have a child, and what I wish comes true.” - “If that's true, then let us have something to eat here.” - “I can do that too,” said Hans Stupid, and he wanted a bowl full of potatoes. The princess would have liked something better, but because she was so hungry, she helped him eat the potatoes. After they had had their fill, Hans Stupid said: “Now I want to wish us a nice ship!” And as soon as he had said that, they were sitting in a magnificent ship with everything they could ask for in abundance. The helmsman was just driving ashore, and when they got out, Hans Stupid said: “Now there should be a castle!” There was a magnificent castle, and servants in gold clothes came and led the princess and the child into it. And when they were in the middle of the hall, Hans Stupid said: “Now I wish that I become a young and clever prince!” Then his hunchback disappeared, and he was beautiful and straight and friendly. The princess liked him well and he became her husband.

In the last fairy tale about Okerlo we already thought about whether and how consciousness as an active spirit has the power to realize its wishes. Interestingly, we still have the habit of wishing others well on special occasions. But do we really believe in the spiritual power of our wishes? Or is it just a nice habit in an “enlightened” material world governed exclusively by physical laws of nature? Because our modern natural science has achieved a most astonishing attainment. With the great power of the spirit, it has created a theoretically spiritless world for us, and anyone who still mentions the term “spirit” in natural science is bitten and chased away. That's why we now try to solve our problems, which should be solved spiritually with reason, physically with the mind, i.e. with technology and chemistry from education and scholarship. Where does it come from? Assuming that wishes could really come true, then of course this spiritless world could also have been a strong wish of many people that came true. And we now live in a corresponding world, supposedly safe in a dense network of physical and dogmatic laws. Everything is fixed and built up, so that the spiritual power of wishes no longer finds any space and is just an old fairy tale. Is this possible?

Because why did “Hans Stupid” in particular have this power in a way that hardly anyone can imagine today? Maybe it's precisely because of our ideas, so to speak, of the mental mind, which presents itself with more and more ideas in every direction until its vision is so blocked up that it can no longer see anything else except its own ideas. And that is the “objective world” of smart and educated people in which we live. Ultimately, Hans Stupid also wants a beautiful external world that pleases the princess, and apparently also himself. It is worth noting that there is no longer any mention of his spontaneous wishing power, because now the princess takes over the story:

So, they lived happily for a long time. Once the old king rode out, got lost and came to the castle. He was amazed at it because he had never seen it before and entered. The princess immediately recognized her father, but he did not recognize her; he also thought that she had long since drowned in the sea. She entertained him splendidly, and when he wanted to go home, she secretly put a golden cup in his bag. But after he had ridden away, she sent a few riders after him, who had to stop him and examine whether he had not stolen the golden cup. And when they found it in his bag, they brought him back. He swore to the princess that he had not stolen it and that he did not know how it got into his bag. “That’s why,” she said, “one must be careful not to immediately consider anyone guilty,” and revealed herself as his daughter. Then the king was happy and they lived happily together, and after his death, Hans Stupid became king.

We can now understand the “old king” as a symbol for the mental mind, which likes to lock its unpleasant problems in dark barrels in order to let them sink into the subconscious. But what are these problems? According to the symbolism of this fairy tale, father, mother and child are imprisoned in this barrel, i.e., the generative spirit, birthing nature and worldly effect, which in this way do not drown and perish, but continue to shape worldly reality.


A reality, that the mental mind as king only sees superficially and therefore cannot recognize the true inner being. The golden cup would also fit in with this as a symbol for the desired things in this external world, which the mind more or less consciously understands and grasps in order to hold on to them. And if our wishes are not fulfilled, then we have to consider someone or something to be guilty, as the fairy tale says.

But if the short-sighted mind finally opens up to a more far-sighted reason full of wisdom and can see through the walls of its mental ideas, then it could also become a “new king” of holistic reason. And with this reason, our fairy tale ends well: they recognize each other who they really are and live together “happily”, which in the original sense means “cheerful and contented”. So, we wish “Hans Stupid” with all our hearts that he became King “Hans Wise” in a happy world, as he desired.

Let’s be careful with our wishes so that we don't completely curse ourselves in this obscure and superficial world!

... Table of contents of all fairy tale interpretations ...
The emperor's new clothes - (topic: MONEY-MAKES-BLIND - Memorial 2020)
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)

[1812] Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm: Kinder- und Hausmärchen, 1. Auflage, 1812
[2024] Text and Pictures by Undine & Jens /