The spiritual Message of German Fairy tales

Strong Hans

Tale of the Brothers Grimm translated by M. Hunt [1884]
Interpretation by Undine & Jens in green [2020]

There were once a man and a woman who had an only child, and lived quite alone in a solitary valley. It came to pass that the mother once went into the wood to gather branches of fir, and took with her little Hans, who was just two years old. As it was spring-time, and the child took pleasure in the many-coloured flowers, she went still further onwards with him into the forest. Suddenly two robbers sprang out of the thicket, seized the mother and child, and carried them far away into the black forest, where no one ever came from one year’s end to another. The poor woman urgently begged the robbers to set her and her child free, but their hearts were made of stone, they would not listen to her prayers and entreaties, and drove her on farther by force. After they had worked their way through bushes and briars for about two miles, they came to a rock where there was a door, at which the robbers knocked and it opened at once. They had to go through a long dark passage, and at last came into a great cavern, which was lighted by a fire which burnt on the hearth. On the wall hung swords, sabres, and other deadly weapons which gleamed in the light, and in the midst stood a black table at which four other robbers were sitting gambling, and the captain sat at the head of it. As soon as he saw the woman he came and spoke to her, and told her to be at ease and have no fear, they would do nothing to hurt her, but she must look after the house-keeping, and if she kept everything in order, she should not fare ill with them. Thereupon they gave her something to eat, and showed her a bed where she might sleep with her child.

Now that we have got to know a rather dubious path of I-awareness in the “Simeli Mountain”, we would like to use this fairy tale to examine a much deeper view of this topic. “Once upon a time there was a man and a woman...” It begins with the usual polarity of male and female, i.e. spirit and nature or realiser and the realisable. Between these poles, which are actually inseparable, there is a separating principle in nature that we call I-consciousness. And this I-awareness goes a long way, which is demonstrated here in the development of a child with many symbols. Springtime and the first green tips of the fir trees already indicate the awakening of life. This means that the development of I-awareness or the human personality naturally has a lot to do with life, which is initially very closely connected to Mother Nature, i.e. to the sensual world.

With regard to the origin of life, the question is often asked why “life” arises at all. The fairy tale hints at this and says that the child enjoys the colourful flowers, the variety of experiences and therefore goes deeper and deeper into the forest of the world with Mother Nature. But suddenly they are overpowered by two robbers. This could generally mean the worldly opposites or dualities that the I-consciousness encounters with the worldly birth, such as desire and hate, heat and cold, happiness and suffering or hunger and thirst. These “hard hearted” opposites are really not easy to escape from, and the more the I-consciousness is overwhelmed by these “robbers,” the deeper it goes into the darkness of physicality. So it ends up in a “robber’s cave” where a fire burns that can be interpreted on different levels, from the physical digestive fire to the fire of passion to the light of consciousness or even the flame of the “Holy Spirit”. The weapons indicate certain skills and combat, but also a lot of suffering.

Now several robbers are playing at a “black table”. There are probably different principles that govern nature. These primarily include the sensory organs for hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and smelling and, what is more, the thinking and the intelligence. These seven natural basic principles bring the experiences into our dark body and of course also play their games with us. In this regard, they can also be called robbers because they take plenty of food, both physical and mental, and drag it into a personal body, like a cave, for accumulation in the form of memory, character, and so on. This creates our own karma, so to speak. Usually thought reigns here as a captain over the five senses in an outer world, so that he entrusts the “housekeeping” to Mother Nature and with it the order of natural laws. Together they feed the growing child or I-consciousness, which now lives together with Mother Nature in this dark body cave and initially still sleeps a lot.

The woman stayed many years with the robbers, and Hans grew tall and strong. His mother told him stories, and taught him to read an old book of tales about knights which she found in the cave. When Hans was nine years old, he made himself a strong club out of a branch of fir, hid it behind the bed, and then went to his mother and said, “Dear mother, pray tell me who is my father; I must and will know.” His mother was silent and would not tell him, that he might not become home-sick; moreover she knew that the godless robbers would not let him go away, but it almost broke her heart that Hans should not go to his father. In the night, when the robbers came home from their robbing expedition, Hans brought out his club, stood before the captain, and said, “I now wish to know who is my father, and if thou dost not at once tell me I will strike thee down.” Then the captain laughed, and gave Hans such a box on the ear that he rolled under the table. Hans got up again, held his tongue, and thought, “I will wait another year and then try again, perhaps I shall do better then.”

In this body-house the I-consciousness now grows together with the seven natural principles under the order of Mother Nature. With the stories and the book of knights, the child begins to understand, and so courage and self-confidence grow, which are symbolized here with the strong club. The more powerful the senses and their chief are, the more powerful are the organs of action and the child itself. But along with the desire for sensual nourishment, the desire for spiritual satiation naturally also grows. The child soon realizes that the robber chief who rules over the senses with lust cannot be his real father. But it’s not that easy to get rid of. Experience has shown that it is an uphill battle, but Mother Nature desires nothing more for her child than to fight and win this battle to find the true father again. Of course, you won’t succeed the first time, but with patience and growing courage and self-confidence you can win this fight.

When the year was over, he brought out his club again, rubbed the dust off it, looked at it well, and said, “It is a stout strong club.” At night the robbers came home, drank one jug of wine after another, and their heads began to be heavy. Then Hans brought out his club, placed himself before the captain, and asked him who was his father? But the captain again gave him such a vigorous box on the ear that Hans rolled under the table, but it was not long before he was up again, and beat the captain and the robbers so with his club, that they could no longer move either their arms or their legs. His mother stood in a corner full of admiration of his bravery and strength. When Hans had done his work, he went to his mother, and said, “Now I have shown myself to be in earnest, but now I must also know who is my father.” “Dear Hans,” answered the mother, “come, we will go and seek him until we find him.”

For a child, this first victory is above all an awakening of reason, so that it is no longer so dominated by the desires of the senses. It begins to tame the senses and thinking. The robbers are certainly not dead with that, but the I-consciousness can now take control, and that really takes a lot of courage. This is an important turning point in life, where there is also the danger that the I-consciousness will become the robber captain and develop into a greedy ego. Of course, such an ego can never leave the robber cave, makes its home there and will neither seek nor find the true father. But our “Hans” succeeds. The name alone suggests it, since it comes from “Johannes” and means “God is gracious” in Hebrew. Sure, with that you can overcome the “godless robbers”.

She took from the captain the key to the entrance-door, and Hans fetched a great meal-sack and packed into it gold and silver, and whatsoever else he could find that was beautiful, until it was full, and then he took it on his back. They left the cave, but how Hans did open his eyes when he came out of the darkness into daylight, and saw the green forest, and the flowers, and the birds, and the morning sun in the sky. He stood there and wondered at everything just as if he had not been very wise. His mother looked for the way home, and when they had walked for a couple of hours, they got safely into their lonely valley and to their little house. The father was sitting in the doorway. He wept for joy when he recognized his wife and heard that Hans was his son, for he had long regarded them both as dead. But Hans, although he was not twelve years old, was a head taller than his father. They went into the little room together, but Hans had scarcely put his sack on the bench by the stove, than the whole house began to crack the bench broke down and then the floor, and the heavy sack fell through into the cellar. “God save us!” cried the father, “what’s that? Now thou hast broken our little house to pieces!” “Don’t grow any grey hairs about that, dear father,” answered Hans; “there, in that sack, is more than is wanting for a new house.” The father and Hans at once began to build a new house; to buy cattle and land, and to keep a farm. Hans ploughed the fields, and when he followed the plough and pushed it into the ground, the bullocks had scarcely any need to draw.

Now something very wonderful is happening. The I-consciousness leaves the cave of the robbers for the first time, takes a lot of wealth with it and suddenly sees the world through completely different eyes than through the filters of the ordinary senses. It rises from the dark physicality and sees the sun rising in the sky. Anyone who is now not amazed and speechless has never experienced anything like this. With the help of the mother, the son finds his way back to the father who is waiting in front of the famous door that we usually don’t want to open. He even feared that the I-consciousness had completely lost itself in dead matter. But no, it has grown, but still surpasses the father with “one head”. A wonderful symbol! He surpasses him with his physicality, his top-heaviness and his karma sack, which causes the father’s house to collapse and sinks down to the basement of the subconscious. But there is also a lot of merit in this karma sack, and he uses it much better than the poor man used his wealth in the last fairy tale from the “Simeli Mountain”. He allows the robbers’ wealth to flourish in a fruitful and sustainable manner and does not have to return to the robbers’ cave to get more and more.

Altogether one could say that the I-consciousness first went the way of the mother, now goes the way of father and mother, and in the third part of this fairy tale enters the way of the father. This is possible because he feels great power and true courage within himself.

The next spring, Hans said, “Keep all the money and get a walking-stick that weighs a hundredweight made for me that I may go a-travelling.” When the wished-for stick was ready, he left his father’s house, went forth, and came to a deep, dark forest. There he heard something crunching and cracking, looked round, and saw a fir-tree which was wound round like a rope from the bottom to the top, and when he looked upwards he saw a great fellow who had laid hold of the tree and was twisting it like a willow-wand. “Hollo!” cried Hans, “what art thou doing up there?” The fellow replied, “I got some faggots together yesterday and am twisting a rope for them.” “That is what I like,” thought Hans, “he has some strength,” and he called to him, “Leave that alone, and come with me.” The fellow came down, and he was taller by a whole head than Hans, and Hans was not little. “Thy name is now Fir-twister,” said Hans to him. Thereupon they went further and heard something knocking and hammering with such force that the ground shook at every stroke. Shortly afterwards they came to a mighty rock, before which a giant was standing and striking great pieces of it away with his fist. When Hans asked what he was about, he answered, “At night, when I want to sleep, bears, wolves, and other vermin of that kind come, which sniff and snuffle about me and won’t let me rest; so I want to build myself a house and lay myself inside it, so that I may have some peace.” “Oh, indeed,” thought Hans, “I can make use of this one also;” and said to him, “Leave thy house-building alone, and go with me; thou shalt be called Rock-splitter.” The man consented, and they all three roamed through the forest, and wherever they went the wild beasts were terrified, and ran away from them.

Well, a new spring awakens, the I-consciousness dedicates its merits to the father, lets him give it an even stronger will and moves out of worldly life, back into the dark depths of the world. It is not further mentioned here what drives him to do so. This is probably the end of his youth, and the young man goes looking for a bride to start his own family. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he has to leave the natural life of a farmer.

On a spiritual level, the I-consciousness now follows the path of the father to the liberation or redemption of the soul. Here he meets two powerful forces, which he enlists to his service. One force strives upwards and presumably symbolizes the “great understanding”, the comprehensive intelligence, which bundles the individual experiences to a large extent and leads to the understanding of unity, so to speak wisdom. The other power could relate to the deeper feeling of “protecting,” so to speak, a compassion for oneself, but also for other beings. With this compassion everything that has become petrified can also be smashed, especially petrified hearts, but also petrified concepts and views.

But looking at these two separately, two extreme forces of consciousness are expressed. For example, when parents are overly intellectual or rational, they tend to become a fir-twister and may not want children at all because they think it’s not worth it, or that it can avoid many problems. If the parents tend to the rock splitter, they will react emotionally and maybe try to wall their children in a tower to protect them from all the dangers of the world. Of course, a middle path that connects these two would be good.

In yoga, too, the combination of these two forces of consciousness, wisdom and compassion, is very important on the spiritual path of meditation. It is said: Wisdom without compassion is not true wisdom, but only cold sense. Compassion without wisdom is not true compassion, only painful pity. Practically it is about the two limits of a spiritual path. Because every path must have at least two borders. On earth, a path is limited by right and left, in the spiritual one often speaks of above and below, such as the paths between heaven and hell. Without borders there is no way. Thus, every path consists of at least two borders and a direction. This “three-pole” can be found very often in old traditions. It is usually symbolized as a triangle pointing in a certain direction.

And with that, the I-consciousness now goes “in a threesome” with wisdom and compassion through the spiritual world and of course stirs up many wild beings, which initially flee into the depths of the subconscious. On this path, the I-consciousness rises to a higher region, to the famous mountain where the “ancient royal castle” stands and the “true king” should rule.

In the evening they came to an old deserted castle, went up into it, and laid themselves down in the hall to sleep. The next morning Hans went into the garden. It had run quite wild, and was full of thorns and bushes. And as he was thus walking round about, a wild boar rushed at him; he, however, gave it such a blow with his club that it fell directly. He took it on his shoulders and carried it in, and they put it on a spit, roasted it, and enjoyed themselves. Then they arranged that each day, in turn, two should go out hunting, and one should stay at home, and cook nine pounds of meat for each of them. Fir-twister stayed at home the first, and Hans and Rock-splitter went out hunting. When Fir-twister was busy cooking, a little shrivelled-up old mannikin came to him in the castle, and asked for some meat. “Be off, sly hypocrite,” he answered, “thou needest no meat.” But how astonished Fir-twister was when the little insignificant dwarf sprang up at him, and belaboured him so with his fists that he could not defend himself, but fell on the ground and gasped for breath! The dwarf did not go away until he had thoroughly vented his anger on him. When the two others came home from hunting, Fir-twister said nothing to them of the old mannikin and of the blows which he himself had received, and thought, “When they stay at home, they may just try their chance with the little scrubbing-brush;” and the mere thought of that gave him pleasure already. The next day Rock-splitter stayed at home, and he fared just as Fir-twister had done, he was very ill-treated by the dwarf because he was not willing to give him any meat. When the others came home in the evening, Fir-twister easily saw what he had suffered, but both kept silence, and thought, “Hans also must taste some of that soup.”

Thus on the spiritual path one reaches an abandoned castle where no king reigns anymore and wild animals live. Even the originally beautiful garden, reminiscent of paradise, has become completely overgrown, and this is where the wild animal in us comes across that needs to be conquered. This is the beginning of the spiritual hunt and the cooking and digesting or processing of this animal nature. One should not confuse this symbolism with the fact that one has to physically kill many animals and eat a lot of meat. On the contrary, the ancient cultures knew exactly that by consuming meat one also accumulates the corresponding animal essence in oneself. Therefore, the yogis usually live on a vegetarian diet in order to be able to find their inner animal nature and to conquer it. It is important here that wisdom, compassion and I-awareness work closely together as a “trinity” so that at some point a true king can once again reign in the castle on the mountain.

The symbolism of the mountain is reminiscent of the pyramids, which we have already got to know in past fairy tales. From the physical point of view or from the point of view of nature, the higher reason appears on the top of this mountain. In yoga, this is the thousand-petalled crown chakra above the head. From a spiritual perspective, this pyramid is inverted and integral reason becomes the base of the mountain, which is now no longer built on matter, or as the Bible says, on “sand” but on a spiritual foundation that is now not below on earth but is to be found in heaven above. Symbolically it looks something like this:

The path of spiritual development is now the path from material physicality via restraining the senses and thoughts to higher reason, which I-awareness can take together with wisdom and compassion to the “castle” on the mountain, where spirit and nature or soul and body meet and can unite again in holistic reason. But here the three first meet the greatest challenge, namely the narrow-minded, greedy ego, which is often symbolized as an ugly dwarf and is primarily nourished by animal nature, i.e. he demands physical “flesh”. Experience has shown that this ego has tremendous powers, and when it doesn’t get what it wants, it overwhelms us with anger and the hardest blows. Of course, the I-consciousness above all has to face up to this challenge, because this greedy ego-being arose from it.

Hans, who had to stay at home the next day, did his work in the kitchen as it had to be done, and as he was standing skimming the pan, the dwarf came and without more ado demanded a bit of meat. Then Hans thought, “He is a poor wretch, I will give him some of my share, that the others may not run short,” and handed him a bit. When the dwarf had devoured it, he again asked for some meat, and good-natured Hans gave it to him, and told him it was a handsome piece, and that he was to be content with it. But the dwarf begged again for the third time. “Thou art shameless!” said Hans, and gave him none. Then the malicious dwarf wanted to spring on him and treat him as he had treated Fir-twister and Rock-splitter, but he had got to the wrong man. Hans, without exerting himself much, gave him a couple of blows which made him jump down the castle steps. Hans was about to run after him, but fell right over him, for he was so tall. When he rose up again, the dwarf had got the start of him. Hans hurried after him as far as the forest, and saw him slip into a hole in the rock. Hans now went home, but he had marked the spot.

In this way, the I-consciousness also gets to know the insatiably greedy ego being. The message of the fairy tale is very interesting because wisdom and compassion did not feed the ego. And that was certainly not out of hard-heartedness, but even out of wisdom and compassion. Because the greedy ego should not be fed, even if it is begging for food. The I-consciousness is more good-natured at first, but soon becomes aware of the insatiable greed of the ego, finally fights back and does not allow itself to be overwhelmed. The ego now flees into the depths and the I-consciousness falls. This is understandable as it fed the greedy ego. And when the ego has received nourishment, it typically hides back into the depths of our being. But our hero watches carefully where it goes. This mindfulness is extremely important in yoga. It needs the power of concentration and meditation to explore the inner workings of the body and mind.

When the two others came back, they were surprised that Hans was so well. He told them what had happened, and then they no longer concealed how it had fared with them. Hans laughed and said, “It served you quite right; why were you so greedy with your meat? It is a disgrace that you who are so big should have let yourselves be beaten by the dwarf.”

There is a lot to ponder over this symbolism as well. The I-consciousness blames wisdom and compassion for being so stingy, not feeding the ego, and taking the beatings in silence. But this ability should also be developed in meditation, because one cannot constantly fight against the ego and run after it. This makes the ego important, and it can also feed on it. The response of the I-consciousness clearly shows that it is not yet liberated from the greedy ego, for it proudly stands above its two helpers of wisdom and compassion.

Thereupon they took a basket and a rope, and all three went to the hole in the rock into which the dwarf had slipped, and let Hans and his club down in the basket. When Hans had reached the bottom, he found a door, and when he opened it a maiden was sitting there who was lovely as any picture, nay, so beautiful that no words can express it, and by her side sat the dwarf and grinned at Hans like a sea-cat! She, however, was bound with chains, and looked so mournfully at him that Hans felt great pity for her, and thought to himself, “Thou must deliver her out of the power of the wicked dwarf,” and gave him such a blow with his club that he fell down dead. Immediately the chains fell from the maiden, and Hans was enraptured with her beauty. She told him she was a King’s daughter whom a savage count had stolen away from her home, and imprisoned there among the rocks, because she didn’t want anything to do with him. The count had, however, set the dwarf as a watchman, and he had made her bear misery and vexation enough.

Now it gets exciting: How can you defeat the greedy ego? First, with the help of wisdom and compassion, the path goes into the depths of our physical being to the source of life. There one can open a door to make a wonderful realization. One sees the perfect soul bound and trapped by the greedy ego. The ego grins arrogantly and doesn’t think it can ever be defeated. But with one blow it falls dead to the ground, freeing the pure soul from its chains. What was that blow? In yoga one speaks of the great knowledge with the help of wisdom and compassion. And you have to come to this realization that the soul is bound by the ego, not only theoretically, like we are doing here, but purely practically with all your heart. That is the great goal of yoga. And the soul tells it itself: A fierce count, a false king so to speak, uses the ego to bind and torment the soul because she does not want to and cannot unite with him. And who is the false king? It is an ego-consciousness, overwhelmed by illusion and self-interest, which takes over the dominion of reason and locks and banishes the soul into physicality, where it must experience much suffering. With this knowledge alone, as far as it is true, one can free the soul at one blow and raise her back to queen in the royal palace.

And now Hans placed the maiden in the basket and had her drawn up; the basket came down again, but Hans did not trust his two companions, and thought, “They have already shown themselves to be false, and told me nothing about the dwarf; who knows what design they may have against me?” So he put his club in the basket, and it was lucky he did; for when the basket was half-way up, they let it fall again, and if Hans had really been sitting in it he would have been killed.

But now suddenly a dangerous obstacle appears. The I-awareness distrusts wisdom and compassion, and these two distrust the I-awareness and would like to destroy it with the ego-dwarf. This actually stands to reason, because the ego develops from the I-consciousness and is closely related to it. So why shouldn’t wisdom and compassion take hold of the redeemed soul and save it from I-consciousness? But here, too, it is important to use courage and self-confidence, so that the I-consciousness does not encounter annihilation. Why? I-awareness is one of the natural principles of life. If it is violently destroyed, life is also destroyed. And this danger really exists on the spiritual path to salvation, for example when one falls into nihilism and denies everything that is alive.

But now he did not know how he was to work his way out of the depths, and when he turned it over and over in his mind he found no counsel. “It is indeed sad,” said he to himself, “that I have to waste away down here,” and as he was thus walking backwards and forwards, he once more came to the little chamber where the maiden had been sitting, and saw that the dwarf had a ring on his finger which shone and sparkled. Then he drew it off and put it on, and when he turned it round on his finger, he suddenly heard something rustle over his head. He looked up and saw spirits of the air hovering above, who told him he was their master, and asked what his desire might be? Hans was at first struck dumb, but afterwards he said that they were to carry him above again. They obeyed instantly, and it was just as if he had flown up himself.

Well, how can I-consciousness rise? It finds a magic ring on the dwarf’s finger, which strangely enough also fits the gigantic Hans, which again shows the close relationship between I-consciousness and ego. And this ring awakens a higher spirit wherein we can see the higher reason that can carry us and free us from the heavy burden of physicality. This reason is an expression of the universal intelligence that connects all beings with one another, which is also illustrated by the ring as a symbol of unity. With this universal intelligence, the greedy ego can bind the soul when lost in illusion and self-interest. And with the same intelligence, the I-consciousness can redeem the soul insofar as it has freed itself from desire and hatred. That is why the spirits of the air ask about his “desire”, and our hero reacts in an exemplary manner and askes to be lifted out of his physicality.

When, however, he was above again, he found no one in sight. Fir-twister and Rock-splitter had hurried away, and had taken the beautiful maiden with them. But Hans turned the ring, and the spirits of the air came and told him that the two were on the sea. Hans ran and ran without stopping, until he came to the sea-shore, and there far, far out on the water, he perceived a little boat in which his faithless comrades were sitting; and in fierce anger he leapt, without thinking what he was doing, club in hand into the water, and began to swim, but the club, which weighed a hundredweight, dragged him deep down until he was all but drowned. Then in the very nick of time he turned his ring, and immediately the spirits of the air came and bore him as swift as lightning into the boat. He swung his club and gave his wicked comrades the reward they merited and threw them into the water.

The castle is described as deserted and uninhabited, and here again the danger of nihilism becomes clear. His two companions have kidnapped the soul from the world far out onto the great sea, where they threaten to disappear into infinity. Sure, that would also be a kind of salvation if you could simply vanish into nothingness, but it would also be the end of life. Our hero recognizes all this through his higher reason and decides to bring the soul back to the living world so that the castle can be revived. But on this wide sea his physical strength does not help him. On the contrary, it pulls him down and he, too, threatens to disappear into the depths of this sea.

What is this sea? The ancient Indian Puranas speak of the Sea of Causes, the Unformed, the Self or Supreme Soul, from which the universal intelligence and I-consciousness arise to bring forth all creation. Something similar also happens in this fairy tale, and the I-consciousness rises out of this sea through the higher reason of the “spirits of the air”. Freed from sluggish physicality, our hero can now move at the speed of the mind. Then, with the wand of self-awareness, he reunites wisdom and compassion with the sea so that, free from self-interest, they transform into pure self-knowledge and true love. That was her deserved reward at the end of the road. Because when the path is completed, one should of course also let go of the limitations of the path. In doing so, he liberates and redeems the soul on an incomparably high spiritual level, which we can only imagine from afar with our theoretical considerations. But such spiritual paths are explained in many ways in the traditions of the old cultures and are still walked by the wise today.

That the companions are here described as faithless and even wicked are probably the only two words that could be faulted in this wonderful and most profound tale. Even if they carry the danger of annihilating life, they still have their task in the world and can certainly be of great help to the emerging self-awareness.

Then he sailed with the beautiful maiden, who had been in the greatest alarm, and whom he delivered for the second time, home to her father and mother, and married her, and all rejoiced exceedingly.

So now the soul is doubly liberated from her long suffering full of anxieties, first from egoism and then even from death. She unites with the true king, the reasonable I-consciousness, and both return together to the living world, home to father and mother, where the mystical marriage of the unity of spirit and soul is celebrated in the royal palace, which is of course associated with supreme bliss.

With this we have tried to shed a little more light on the spiritual level of this wonderful fairy tale. We are aware that we have not yet reached the full depth. Such profound fairy tales are true pearls of ancient tradition. They can accompany a person from childhood to old age. They give the child courage, self-confidence, self-understanding and reasonable values for a good life in harmony with nature. And for the adult they can lead to the high levels of spiritual realization and liberation. A similar path is also described in the fairy tale “The Crystal Ball”, but with slightly different symbolism and perspective. But here, too, it is emphasized how important it is to preserve the liveliness of the soul.

Today, in the age of modern science, we like to believe that we are particularly intelligent and look with arrogance at the “dark ages of superstition” of our ancestors. However, such wonderful fairy tales show that even among the common people there was a great spiritual wealth that has been lost today, or at least has become very alien to us.

It is a difficult undertaking as a person of today, with a heart that has become so small and a spirit that has almost dried up, to approach the powerful revelations of the past. One feels his powerlessness and often comes close to despair. But then, suddenly, from the great fire of spirit that filled those ancient people, a spark jumps over to the seeker, and often just at the moment of gloomy torpor, and one stands in amazement and awe before the sublime features that appear to reveal now. Then one knows that man was much more than he is and can be today, that with the hemming of his upper being he towered into the streams of crystal heaven, which flooded him with eternal spirit, and that he must again grow up to such greatness. [The Messenger, Arthur Maximilian Miller, 1948]

Finally, we would like to remember Jakob Böhme, a German mystic who lived and worked in Görlitz from 1575 to 1624. The following copperplate engraving was created in 1682 for his work “Of Six Theosophical Points”, which shows a cosmology with two triangles, similar to our picture above:

Jakob Böhme - Von sechs theosophischen Punkten

In the great circle in the background you can see the “unground of eternal freedom”, the unformed sea of causes or “God beyond nature and creatures”. The “mirror of eternal wisdom” belongs to this circle, an eternal consciousness that recognizes itself and is symbolized with eyes that look at themselves, so to speak, the self-consciousness with self-knowledge. The inner circle is the “outer world” of opposites of sun and moon moving between the polar circles of light and darkness. The darkness is represented here as the “father of nature”, the light as the “son of majesty” and in the centre of the outer world the “holy spirit of the world” is at work. Jakob Böhme writes about this:

The Eternal Father is revealed in fire, the Son in the light of fire, and the Holy Spirit in the power of life and movement out of fire and light... (De Signatura Rerum 14.34) It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the Deity to nature: He spreads the splendour of majesty to be recognized in the wonders of nature. He is not the splendour itself, but the power of splendour... (Of the threefold life of man 4.82)

With this a similar trinity appears, as we indicated above in the fairy tale, so that between the boundaries of pure light and pure darkness our externally visible world can form and move in circles like the two poles of a battery drive a motor. And the two triangles of “nature” and “spirit” are also directed towards this worldly movement, so to speak, the natural origin and the spiritual development. On its summit, similar to the mountain in the fairy tale above, where the mystical castle stands, these opposites meet for the union and mystical marriage of nature and spirit, so that here all worldly opposites disappear and only the “pure mirror of wisdom” remains. Whoever reaches this highest peak of self-realization stands in the centre of everything, looks around at how the world is moving and yet remains completely unmoved. Wonderful! Anyone who can draw such symbolic diagrams has seen through this world very profoundly and would certainly also be able to tell a symbolic fairy tale like “Strong Hans”.

Therefore, we should never forget this precious heritage. The writings of Jakob Böhme that have been handed down are extremely rich in content, but also very long and full of intuitive and mystical symbolism. Even during his lifetime he was able to inspire many people. Of course, there were also some who were completely overwhelmed by his spiritual vision and, fearing for their petty world view, abused their political power in the church and condemned the brilliant mystic as a heretic and a pack of devils. But that was basically just an acknowledgment of his genius...

... Table of contents of all fairy tale interpretations ...
The Crystal Ball / Castle of the Golden Sun - (topic: Egoism, defeating the inner beast)
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)

[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
[2020] Text and Pictures by Undine & Jens /