Bring Me….a Fairy Tale Shrubbery!

So, I was thinking about fairy tales, as you do, and something occurred to me: on a surface, practical level, the lesson of an awful lot of them seems to be that the better gardener will win. Check this out:

1. Beauty and the Beast-The Beast gets the girl because he has the garden with the best roses. If Beauty’s family were better at gardening, she wouldn’t have had to ask for a rose and they wouldn’t have found themselves in that problem in the first place.
beautybeastrose

2. Twelve Dancing Princesses-The gardener just is the one who gets the princess, because she would rather marry a gardener.
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3. Rapunzel-If the young couple could have just grown their own garden, they never would have had to deal with the witch.

4. Red Riding Hood-If her family had a pretty flower garden, she wouldn’t have needed to wander about the woods for a bouquet or admiring the floral scenery and the wolf’s trick wouldn’t have worked.
Little-Red-Riding-Hood-Final_small_hr

5. Cinderella-how did she manage to get to the ball so quickly and snazzily, AND run away in time for the prince not to see her transformation back to rags while wearing just one flimsy glass shoe? They had a thriving pumpkin patch.

6. Snow White-If the dwarves or Snow White could grow their own fruit they wouldn’t bother with apple-sellers, would they? (Clothing items like combs and ribbons are a different matter of course, but then those were absurdly easy to undo in any case.)

7. The Princess and the Frog-The only positive thing about the princess in most portrayals is that her family had a wonderful garden for the prince-turned-frog to live in, and that is clearly the underlying reason why she manages to marry well. Also, when you’re a frog beautiful gardens are clearly what you look for when you need a princess to kiss you, so that garden lies at the base of the happiness of both title characters.

8. The Juniper Tree-A well-kept tree can even resurrect the dead, in this one!

9. The Wild Swans-If the sister could just have maintained a royal garden once she was queen, she could have slipped some nettles in and not needed to go running around graveyards, getting accused of witchcraft and all the shirts might have been finished!
plucked-nettles-hans-andersens-fairy-tales

10. The Firebird-With no well-grown cherry orchards, this magical creature would not have shown up.

11. Jack and the Beanstalk-If those giants had simply been attentive gardeners, they could have weeded out troublesome beanstalks and kept all their own treasure, at least before a third visit!

As a matter of fact, a lot of fairy tales seem to show that problems arise when people use being in the woods as an excuse not to do their own gardening. It leaves them open to wildflower delays and poisoned fruit. Clearly, we all need to grow our own gardens instead of just hiding behind trees, which is actually quite disappointing since even as a young girl I wanted a yard full of blossoming flowers so I could have that beauty without having to really garden. Yet, look at the evidence! Witches win when they grow thorns. Beautiful gardens attract firebirds, princes, and insightful beauties. Gardening well can get even “villains” new children or keep them out. Maybe I should get one…

Any other fairy tale gardening/shrubberies you can think of? Bring it here and place it here beside this shrubbery, only slightly lower in the comments, so we get the two-level effect…

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Fairy Tale Food for Thanks

Today is a day to be thankful that:

 

1. There is a variety of food instead of simply a house (full) of dessert.

2. The cooks both appreciate and use salt, but it is not the only gift they’re serving.

3. There are enough greens without attempting to steal, beg, or barter them from anyone, let alone a witch.

4. Even if someone did ruin the loaf of bread, or side of potatoes, or pie, no one sunk down through the earth to be tortured as a statue in a realm more creepy than hell.

5. Since the family is gathered around the table, you can be sure that you didn’t accidentally imbibe the flesh of your son, sibling, or other relatives.

6. No matter what path you take to your family’s house, or how many wolfish problems you encounter on the way, there’s now insurance for that.

7. If you find a piece of jewelery in one of the dishes, you won’t have to try it on half the people in the realm before returning it to the right owner.

8. Even ducklings that grew up as just ugly ducks still taste delicious.

9. If a piece of food like apple, poisoned or not, becomes lodged in your throat, odds are someone will know and employ the Heimlich maneuver instead of imprisoning you in a coffin-like display case.

10. No matter how sleepy the meal makes you, you WILL wake up in less than a hundred years.

 

So raise a glass and give thanks that your holidays are not a fairy tale come true!

(Twelve points for every fairy tale reference you know.  Twenty-five points for any more fairy tale thanks left in the comments that fit the theme.)

Face the (Pied Piper’s) Music

I find The Pied Piper a disturbing tale-the consequences are so dire and the blame so confused.  The following is my explanation.

 

“Blame it on the Rats”

Once, there was a small town where everyone argued.  They yelled, and they jabbed, and they jabbered until everyone was hoarse and no one had been heard.  Still, one could hardly blame them, some would say, for their town was infested with rats.  Big rats, small rats, fuzzy rats, stringy rats, each and every manner and description of rat had fallen upon them, and their numbers seemed trebled each night.  No wonder their tempers were short, each man said.  It’s a marvel we’re talking at all, it’s so depressing.  And we’ve nothing good to eat or to drink.  In their noise and their misery, not one villager had a kind thought to spare, but someone was listening, and took pity on them.

One bright morning a new sound was heard amongst the screeching, and the squabbling, and the squeaking of the rats.  A stranger had appeared.  He wore a bright coat of bright golds like the dawn and soft greens like the woods.  And his voice spoke warm and gently, “I shall kill your rats for you.”  The village grew quiet, the sharp tongues began to blunt, and the mayor could hear himself talk.

“How could you rid us of rats?”

“With the right blessing, any problem can be solved.”

“A priest!” ran the cry.  “He’s a priest!”  “A savior sent by his Holiness!”  “Or by God, Himself!”

“What price do you ask for the killing of rats?”  His hoarse voice reached even the farthest man.

“I ask for a tithe, one man’s foot wide, and just as equally deep.”

Now whispers went up, and the town’s ears opened wide, and the clinking of coins could be heard.  “It’s a tall price to pay, but if the rats go away, your feet of gold coins you shall have.”  The town’s folk held their breath.

A curt nod the man gave, and he turned away, bringing a wood flute to his lips.  Notes much softer, and tones far sweeter, than even the stranger’s words fell on their ears.  The wooden flute piped and the rats ran, as the piper walked for the lake.  With jaws hung open and hopes held high, the village watched as each rat followed after.  When the water was reached, the piper stepped on a boat, and floated away as he played.  The rats scrambled for him, each rat ear adored him, but none of them lived through the lake.

When every rat had drowned, that loud village made no sound.  From noises loud and rude and proud, now only the stranger was heard as he rowed his boat ashore.  He bowed to the mayor, he bowed to the town’s folk, and he held out his hands for his due.

“We won’t pay you,” the mayor’s rasp broke through the stillness.  “Only a heathen who consorts with devils and vermin could have worked that trick.  You’re no savior or blessing!”

“The rats are no more, and that is no blessing?” chided the piper.

“Blessings aren’t worked by heathens!  We need no pagan spells or lies!”  A new cry rose, a loud and ugly shout, and the village railed against the stranger.

Then the piper spoke with a new voice, as strong as their shouts and as hot as blazing fire, “Either I am a priest and shall be paid, or I’m a pagan who can do spells and tricks that you must fear.  Which shall you have?”

“HEATHEN!  HEATHEN!  TRICKSTER!” cried the people.

“So shall it be.”  The piper gave one curt nod and turned away, bringing the wood flute to his lips.  With luring notes and teasing tones, the piper walked for the woods.  As his tune flew through the air, each child’s feet flew through the streets, until all the youngsters were there.  As the piper met the trees, each child followed free, dancing quick to the call of the pipe.  And when the song ended, no matter where they wended, no child could ever be found, only green young trees and thick small ferns.  Only Liza, whose leg wouldn’t hold her, stayed firm and real upon her bed.

As for the village, it ended that day, in one great yelling crash to the ground.  “It’s a sign!” they half said, “Remember what he said!  He’s a pagan who came to claim us back!”

“That’s what we get for believing anyone a priest!  We must find the true church, and beg Christ.”

“We must return to the old ways!  The old gods wish to save us!  In the forest, our kids are just trees.”

“We’ve forgot loving Christ, and forsaken his church-we must find a true priest and be saved!”

“But we all saw Pan show our children the way, if we follow Pan might release them from leaves.”

“That lying priest took our kids back to earth as our punishment; only repentance can win them again!”

Soon, every person and family left, to find Pan or to seek Christ, and each of them after the children.  Each of them saw the same piper that day, but not one of their listeners knew it.

“The pagan way is the one true path, that wonderful god Pan came to prove it.”

“Christ’s holy church is the only safe way-that horrible false priest, well he proved it!”

Only Liza never mentioned the piper.  She said, “People belong together.  One day I shall prove it.”  Most would say she did, for when she was grown Liza returned to that town where she’d been born, and founded an orphanage there.  A new village grew and revived the old town, now surrounding her fort full of children.  And in that new town, they spoke warm and soft, always talking and working together.  As everyone helped to solve bickers or snags, they needed no one to their blame troubles upon, so no rats appeared to be blamed.

Familiars, Ferrets and Fairy Tales

Today marks the anniversary of the trial, in 1549, of Joan Prentice.  She was accused of sending an imp, in the form of a ferret, to bite children.

 

“She confessed that the Devil appeared to her as a dunnish colored ferret with fiery eyes and asked for her soul. She couldn’t give her soul because it belonged to Jesus, but gave the ferret blood from her finger and cheek. His name was “Bidd”, and when she wanted him to do anything for her, she said:

      “Bidd, Bidd, Bidd,
      come Bidd, come Bidd, come Bidd,
      come suck, come suck, come suck”.

Bidd was a “familiar,” or animal kept by English witches that performed evil deeds for them and was rewarded with sucking their blood from witch teats.)

Joan Prentice’s trial was on 5 July 1589,and she was hanged within two hours after sentencing. “(Source: Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York: Bonanza Books, 1959)

Other reports say Joan had two imps, or familiars, named Jack and Jill.

 

Now, here’s the thing: why aren’t witches’ familiars allowed to be so active anymore?  Now they get to be cats that are black or dark birds with knowing looks-sometimes they get to deliver messages.  Always, they are underused.  Think of all the things they could do!  All the things they could explain!

1. Why did Humpty Dumpty fall off the wall?  An imp ferret pushed him off!

2. Why did Snow White actually let the old woman into the cottage after being warned by the dwarves and knowing full well she was in danger?  The imp ferret pushed the door in and the woman was just chasing after her poor, lost pet!

3. Why was Sleeping Beauty clumsy enough to prick her finger on the spinning wheel?  Maleficent’s ferret imp was lying in wait on top of it and Sleeping Beauty was reaching out to pet it, when the imp moved so she pricked her finger instead!

4. How did the witch visit Rapunzel before she was old enough for her hair to grow long?  She’d send up a rope with her ferret imp, he’d tie it securely and she could climb up.  When she left, the ferret would fetch it back down so the girl couldn’t escape.

5. Why does Cruella DeVille want all animals made into coats? As a child a witch sent her imp familiars in their animal forms to bite her!  She particularly likes dalmatians because she finds the spots comforting-the witches’ animals were always all one color!  Hence, her reaction on seeing the spot-less puppies: “What a horrid little white rat-eech!”

Also, I feel this is an entire form of vampirism that has somehow been passed over.  Say!  Perhaps Draco is really an imp!  When turned into an animal his form was a ferret, he’s mighty pale, and he does have an obsession with blood.  This is fun-I am thankful to Joan Prentice and her ferrets for all these scrumptious thoughts.  Anyone else have some theories or uses for a ferret imp?